i am looking for a set of blueprints for a fixture to f.s checkering on a mill, or if someone has a fixture for sale or trade.i know the "big" boys do it by hand, but i am a much better machinist than an artist. please help!? thanks mike
Although Neil makes a superb fixture for checkering the front strap, there are enough dink factors present to make checkering a miserable job.
Most front straps are not uniform. If you use a radius gauge on one, you will get the point rapidly. Not only are radii ad-lib, but different manufacturers use entirely different shapes and locations.
So, Neil's fixture is not to blame for lopsided work, it is the original radius.
Uniformity of machine checkering is predicated on a uniform dimension between the surface of the outside frontstrap radius and the interior magazine well radius. If this varies even a few thousandths, the work will not be uniform. Some professionals advise welding and re-shaping or in some cases, re-contouring.
Ask yourself this: Do you really NEED a checkered frontstrap that will anchor your grip and not allow a slight shift of position during a draw?
The original GOld Cup pistols had a perfect compromise: Frontstrap grooving. Gripping down will anchor the position solidly, while a lighter grip will allow a shift.
Before you spend $500 plus bucks on a checkering fixture, measure all of the aftermarket frames and compare the dimensions. Fixtures such as Neil's are usually based on the blueprint dimensions of (idealized) Colt frames. And, incidentally, many professional shooters hate sharp points and will blunt them off before firing the pistol, anyway. Perfect rows of perfectly pointed checkering is an obcession with certain pistolsmiths. I wish them lotsa luck and continue to produce workable, practical grooved frontstraps that meet with approval from most shooters. (If you really can't live without checkering, all you have to do is cut cross lines to turn grooving into checkering.)
If you want a simpler solution, learn to hand checker. Better still, avoid it entirely and apply grooves or skateboard tape or a Wilson insert.
well john thanks for the input. i called neil, but i cannot justify the price because i am just an amatuer doing this stuff for myself. so i have started building my own design of fixture and hopefully it will address the different radius and shape issue. we'll see.
Well, if it solves the problems, and you decide to sell them, contact me.
I think that if the fixture is insulated from the mill table you could use the contact principle of certain edgefinders, then adjust the depth of each cut. You would still have to float your radius cross cuts to make a uniform depth. If I were doing the latter, I'd use the edge finder light and make quarter length cuts (4 in all) around the radius, resetting depth between quarters. Your cuts would have to overlap, rather than be continuous.
Maybe you have a much better idea. In any event, good luck. This is probably the most difficult aftermarket modification to a frame if you want to have it look like perfect rows of lines and points on a lopsided frame.
john, the basis of my idea was to make the frame slide in a fixture this way you could adjust the distance of the frame from center of the fixture and then have the frame itself turn with the fixture, this would allow you to compensate for different radii from different companies,unfortunately my first prototype didn't work. the idea will work but the way i had built the fixture did not.it will work for the long cuts but not the short cuts; however prototype 2 which is now in the works using the same concept but setup differently will work(i think). i'll keep you informed of the process.
I really cant understand all the talk about hand checkering front straps in this day and age. I checkered my share in my early days and finally decided that there must be a better easier way. When I brought out my checkered front strips for most popular pistols. These were machine checkered by the shop that was doing my dropin sears and hammers too. These strips were .035 to .040 thick and were perfect. Tig welded to the frame you would sware they were part of the frame, and boy did it save time and elbows. For my money, this is a minor part of customizing and should not consume many hours of your time. I have even tigged strips on the front of squared trigger guards for better hold. All the smiths who learned from me are using them. They also can be used to cover up a botched job on a front strap.
As John stated, this is the most difficult job to do while customizing. With the ad on strips you can laugh at the radius changes of the front strap and every line is perfect. You only do the very difficult jobs by hand if there isnt any other way to do it. As has been stated here many times, you never will get rich being a gunsmith, but always look for ways to help yourself. At least, these days, you have a variety of sources to get aftermarket items from. I find myself really envying you guys.
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