Refinishing cap & ball revolver grips

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One of the things which I don't enjoy about the various of Italian reproduction cap and ball revolvers is the grips, more specifically the grip finish. The grips of Uberti and other importers sometimes have a reddish look due to the lacquer they use. It's also applied too thick for my liking. For these reasons I almost always refinish the grips of my revolvers to have what I consider a more natural and appealing look.

I do this first by stripping the lacquer finish. Though some use chemical strippers I just use an abbrasive pad ( the green ones sold in all hardware stores) and slowly scrub the lacquer off. I then 'age' the wood with various bumps and dings common to natural usage over time. I then apply leather stain to the grips, a combination of black and brown. After that dries I start applying thin coats of True Oil, one at a time; apply True Oil, rub it in with an old flannel shirt and then, lightly, remove it with fine steel wool. Then I do it again, apply a light coat of True Oil, rub it in ( I'm actually polishing the wood) with my old flannel shirt. I repeat this process until the grips begin to have the look I want.

I realize this is not new info to many of you but I thought it might be helpful to others also interested in refinishing their cap and ball revolver grips. Here are a few examples;

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Dashing Leper

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I tried taking just the clearcoat off my Ubertis to use the red as an undercoat for something in black or brown but the Uberti stain itself is some kind of plastic, so I had to sand all the way down to the bare wood.
0699A80B-CA97-41CB-95CA-E0832945AFD7.jpeg

Uberti Leech & Ridgon with a new grip stolen off a dead Cattleman, stained with Minwax Espresso color.
 
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When I refinnish the grips on my revolvers, I do not sand off the factory finnish, as you take the chance of sanding them undersize. I always use Paint Stripper. Wear gloves, and smear it all over the grips. it only takes about 5-10 minutes to soften the factory finnish, then you can use a stiff bristle brush, and remove the finnish/stripper. After removal, rinse well with water. I do all this in a deep sink in basement.
After the grips dry use steel wool to smooth the wiskers taking off the minimum of material.
When smooth to your taste, then you can apply what ever finnish you choose.
Works for me.

Dave
 

sourdough

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I tried taking just the clearcoat off my Ubertis to use the red as an undercoat for something in black or brown but the Uberti stain itself is some kind of plastic, so I had to sand all the way down to the bare wood.

Yeah, I don't know what they use for stain. I have a Uberti Whitneyville Hartford Dragoon CT/2018 that has that color. I think they use some quarter sawn European hardwood as it definitely not walnut. The older Ubertis seem not to be as red.

Uberti Leech & Ridgon with a new grip stolen off a dead Cattleman, stained with Minwax Espresso color.

Looks very good! Now all you have to do is procure a plain non-engraved cylinder for it like Uberti used in their early production of those L&R revolvers. I will ignore the blued backstrap and trigger guard. ;)

I have a Pietta L&R (no, Pietta never marketed one) parts gun that I created from an 1851 Navy and the plain cylinder and part round/part octagon barrel from a Pietta G&G that I bought from VTI separately. The original wood was quarter sawn (straight grained) walnut which I replaced with wood that had much better figure (also hardwood, not walnut).

Leech & Rigdon 001.JPG


Regards,

Jim
 
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Yeah, I don't know what they use for stain. I have a Uberti Whitneyville Hartford Dragoon CT/2018 that has that color. I think they use some quarter sawn European hardwood as it definitely not walnut. The older Ubertis seem not to be as red.



Looks very good! Now all you have to do is procure a plain non-engraved cylinder for it like Uberti used in their early production of those L&R revolvers. I will ignore the blued backstrap and trigger guard. ;)

I have a Pietta L&R (no, Pietta never marketed one) parts gun that I created from an 1851 Navy and the plain cylinder and part round/part octagon barrel from a Pietta G&G that I bought from VTI separately. The original wood was quarter sawn (straight grained) walnut which I replaced with wood that had much better figure (also hardwood, not walnut).

View attachment 78250

Regards,

Jim
Quite a few of my older Ubertis had walnut grips and some are very nice European walnut. The wood they’re using now is nowhere near as nice hence the dyed beechwood and other species used. The Europeans know how to handle that stuff, (although the red used is pretty strong stuff) but most hobbyist refinishing jobs don’t really equal the factory finish, IMO. Speaking only of beechwood and a few other lower quality woods...
 
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I just refinished my first set of grips, lots of room for improvement but I’m happy with them. I used a chemical stripper, followed by dark brown leather dye and some steel wool to bring out some variation. I actually started with Arrow finish next, but didn’t like the finish I was getting (user error no doubt) and switched to Tru-Oil.

I should have gotten a better before picture, but you can get idea from this one. I had wrapped the handle in electrical tape to protect it during another procedure, and knew I would be refinishing the it anyway, but was suprised by how much finish the tape lifted.

Jake
 

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sourdough

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I have been using Tru-Oil for a long time. If that finish is too glossy for you and you desire a more satin-type finish, after the the application of the oil has dried/cured for 3-4 days use #0000 steel wool to knock down the high spots and then use an old piece of denim to polish it.

Pietta Dance .36 C00013  Cased 004a.jpg


Regards,

Jim
 
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