Try practicing with 20 lpi files. I've been practicing on round steel bar stock from Brownell's. MSC has stock for even cheaper, but I didn't want 6' of it. I have 1" diameter, but I think 7/8" is closer to a 1911 front strap.
Speaking of checkering... "IF" I happen to "win" a little ebay auction for a flat MSH with loop, what's the going rate to get it checkered, or even serrated? probably looking at 20 lpi, maybe 25... TIA
I've got a permanent squint and sore elbow, not to mention a left thumb with poor circulation, so feel qualified to advise you.
Get a piece of either 1"diameter heavy wall pipe or solid round bar, mill or file it to 3/4" wide - this gives you the appearance and width of a 1911 front strap. Get a 20LPI Brownells checkering file. Get Wilson's 4 volume video set on gunsmithing the 1911 auto (that one taught me a better way after 12 years). Get one of those Magni-visors so you can see what you're doing. At least 3 power, probably if you're like me - past 50 - a 5 power plus reading glasses - and here's the most important tip. Use DYKEM or similar marking dye to coat everything between every pass so you can see the cuts you are making. Last item, have an old Heinie gun there so you know what it's SUPPOSED to look like.
Good luck (and it actually is cool when you do it right).
BTW, you aren't finished when all the passes are perfect with the checkering file, now you go to the single files, starting with coarse,going to the finest to point up the tips and add that extra quality that's only seen under a magnifying glass, usually by another gunsmith. Go to 30 LPI later, MUCH later.