Jigs needed?

Marc

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I was toying with the idea of starting a sub-line at my shop of customizing 1911s. My understanding is that there are some special jigs needed for machining. Problem is, I don't' know what they are for, or what they look like, or where to get them. Can anyone school me on this? Steep learning curve.....
 

Mike Galway

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I was toying with the idea of starting a sub-line at my shop of customizing 1911s. My understanding is that there are some special jigs needed for machining. Problem is, I don't' know what they are for, or what they look like, or where to get them. Can anyone school me on this? Steep learning curve.....
Get Patrick Sweeney's , or similar , book on Gunsmithing the 1911 . Or , DVD course . Brownell's is the go to source for tools .
 

GunsNgeeks

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I was toying with the idea of starting a sub-line at my shop of customizing 1911s. My understanding is that there are some special jigs needed for machining. Problem is, I don't' know what they are for, or what they look like, or where to get them. Can anyone school me on this? Steep learning curve.....
What functions do you want your jigs to have?
 

mchasse

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Marc, Building custom 1911's is a bit more involved than building an AR15. Most parts on a custom 1911 are hand fitted. Jigs and fixtures will help, but those alone are not enough to build a reliable 1911. Pacific Tool and Die has a good selection of 1911 jigs and fixtures, but the tool that we use the most here in the shop are a good set of Swiss files and knowledge. If you have never built a 1911 from the ground up, I would recommend attending one of the 5 to 6 day course offered, by some of the pistol smiths out there. C&S, Bob Marvel and Bob Rodgers all have a good 5 to 6 day class.

Mike Chasse
Thunder Mountain Custom
www.thundermountaincustom.com
www.1911parts.com
 

GunsNgeeks

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Couldn't have said it better Mike. I've never built a custom 1911 that didn't require a lot hand-fitting.

Also, take your time Marc, it's easier to take off then to put back. I tend to test fit after every few file or stone strokes. Get some Dykem too, it's wonderful stuff and shows exactly where you're making contact.
 

mchasse

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Couldn't have said it better Mike. I've never built a custom 1911 that didn't require a lot hand-fitting.

Also, take your time Marc, it's easier to take off then to put back. I tend to test fit after every few file or stone strokes. Get some Dykem too, it's wonderful stuff and shows exactly where you're making contact.
GunsNGeeks, We have gotten away from the Dykem for fitting stuff like the slide to frame and barrel lugs. We have always used the old Plumbers candles. Light the candle deposit a light coating of soot on the part you want to fit and you can see exactly where material needs to be taken off. The layer of soot from the candle is about 1/4 of the thickness of Dykem. And the plumber candles are very low cost.
 

GunsNgeeks

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GunsNGeeks, We have gotten away from the Dykem for fitting stuff like the slide to frame and barrel lugs. We have always used the old Plumbers candles. Light the candle deposit a light coating of soot on the part you want to fit and you can see exactly where material needs to be taken off. The layer of soot from the candle is about 1/4 of the thickness of Dykem. And the plumber candles are very low cost.
Thanks for the tip. We used to do that with a zippo years ago. I like the plumber's candle idea way better and at a quarter the thickness I can be more precise.
 

Marc

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Awesome sauce. That's great advice! I will look into the classes. Thanks so much!
 

Mike Galway

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That was part of the initial question. I don't know what folks use.
That's why I recommended Sweeney's book . It shows the jigs . There's a sear jig , a jig for the hammer , a fixture to hold frame . That's just off the top of my head . People spend years getting good at this . Larry Vickers used to have a class where you build a 1911 . Probably still does .
 

mchasse

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Well, Here's a list of what is my tool box:

Slide Holding Fixture, 3 different types, all in shop made, but can be purchased from PTG. Used for milling work on the slide

Barrel alignment block - used for keeping the barrel aligned while fitting - PTG

Bushing staking tool - used for staking the grip bushings ours are shop made but can be purchased from PTG

Plunger tube staking tool - used for staking the plunger tube - ours are shop made by modifying a pair of Vise Grips, but can be purchased from multiple sources.

Barrel Bushing mandrel - used for turning the OD of the barrel bushing. ours are shop made but can be purchased from PTG.

Rail swaging punches - used to tighten up loose slides - PTG

Marvel Checkering fixture - used to do hand checkering of the front strap - Midway

Power Custom Hammer / Sear fixture - used for cutting the correct angles on the hammer hooks and sear.

Beaver Tail Jig - Used for modifying a GI Spec frame 1911 to fit a .250 beaver tail grip safety.

Beaver Tail blending retainer - holds the grip safety fully out so it can be blended to the frame.
.
Multiple different barrel crowning tools.

Well that's the top drawing of my tool box.

There's also a long list of files and stones for working on the 1911.

If you want to we can take this off line and I'd be more than happy to help you out. I've also have a spare Power Custom fixture and a Marvel Checkering fixture that we do not use any more.
 

Marc

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Thanks so much for this list! Yes, I'll get Sweeney's book. Now I have to figure out the best places to get the forgings. Mike G and Mike C, God's blessings to you. I'll be in touch!
 

Marc

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Well it certainly looks like you had fun. I suppose you're keeping the jigs to have more fun!
 

gundoc1988

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Oct 23, 2019
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Thanks for the tip. We used to do that with a zippo years ago. I like the plumber's candle idea way better and at a quarter the thickness I can be more precise.
I've used a black sharpie for many years, works very well and stays where you put it.
 

gundoc1988

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Well it certainly looks like you had fun. I suppose you're keeping the jigs to have more fun!
Marc, there's alot of good suggestions here, I would suggest going onto Brownells site, you'll find all the 1911 tools and most fixtures, even pre selected tools for specific jobs. You will also find "things" that you don't need, or can make yourself. Go slow, whatch, look, and learn, ask questions. Checkering, my 2 cents, you don't need a jig, fixture except to hold the frame, practice on 1" round stock. I've done hundreds, and wish I had NEVER learned, add in 4-5000 barrels, S/F fitting very hard on the body, checkering-worst. Best of luck.
Retired 1911 Master Pistolsmith
 

Liggett

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It's sad that many experienced 1911 smiths are retiring, and in my case, moving away to a more gun friendly state. It's GOOD to see that someone new want's to get into 1911 smithing. I hope it doesn't go the way of Colt Python fitting and tuning.
 

Marc

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It's sad that many experienced 1911 smiths are retiring, and in my case, moving away to a more gun friendly state. It's GOOD to see that someone new want's to get into 1911 smithing. I hope it doesn't go the way of Colt Python fitting and tuning.
Thank you for your support! You fellas have been awesome and I'm very thankful! MChasse: I got the lapping jig today and I'm a happy critter!
 

gundoc1988

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Oct 23, 2019
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Thank you for your support! You fellas have been awesome and I'm very thankful! MChasse: I got the lapping jig today and I'm a happy critter!
Marc, just a small bit of advice on lapping, you probably already know, but do not use Clover lapping compound or Valve lapping compound, regardless of the grit it will embed and lap forever. Instead use J-B bore compound from Brownells, takes longer but its worth it. Also most Hi-End custom shops use it, it works.
Good luck.
 

gundoc1988

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Oct 23, 2019
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Well, Here's a list of what is my tool box:

Slide Holding Fixture, 3 different types, all in shop made, but can be purchased from PTG. Used for milling work on the slide

Barrel alignment block - used for keeping the barrel aligned while fitting - PTG

Bushing staking tool - used for staking the grip bushings ours are shop made but can be purchased from PTG

Plunger tube staking tool - used for staking the plunger tube - ours are shop made by modifying a pair of Vise Grips, but can be purchased from multiple sources.

Barrel Bushing mandrel - used for turning the OD of the barrel bushing. ours are shop made but can be purchased from PTG.

Rail swaging punches - used to tighten up loose slides - PTG

Marvel Checkering fixture - used to do hand checkering of the front strap - Midway

Power Custom Hammer / Sear fixture - used for cutting the correct angles on the hammer hooks and sear.

Beaver Tail Jig - Used for modifying a GI Spec frame 1911 to fit a .250 beaver tail grip safety.

Beaver Tail blending retainer - holds the grip safety fully out so it can be blended to the frame.
.
Multiple different barrel crowning tools.

Well that's the top drawing of my tool box.

There's also a long list of files and stones for working on the 1911.

If you want to we can take this off line and I'd be more than happy to help you out. I've also have a spare Power Custom fixture and a Marvel Checkering fixture that we do not use any more.
Nice to see Marc getting good help, the Powers Custom srs 1 Hmr-Sear fixture is the absolute best. Just my 2cnts, using tools without knowledge can go bad real quick, also there are many different radius on beavertails, and some standard 1911 frames will not take a .250 radius cut- without lots of work, like Springfield Armory. Smith&Alexander sell jigs, safeties, lots of 1911 stuff, #1, also if I may, blending the grip safety in the out position looks good "standing still" , but has to many sharp edges when depressed, not good if u shoot alot, esp a competition gun, or a hard use work gun. Nice to see you helping.
 
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