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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, I am very new to the building world, but do like to try things (within reason) and have pretty steady hands with a file.

The title says it all. I don't have a mill and am limited to either using cutting jigs like the Phantom Jig or files. Of course I do have a Dremel but I think it would do more harm than good for the applications I am asking about.

There are two things I am interested in finding out about...

1. There are no cutting jigs for 2011 frames that I know of. So if I was to try to cut the rails on a 2011 frame I would probably use the fixture that I can buy for milling the frame (can use it in the future when I have a mill) and use it as a guide for a rail file. Is this crazy?

2. I have not found a need for a ramped barrel but I would like to experiment and learn to fit one. This would require me to make the bridge and VIS cuts as far as I understand regardless of which ramp I choose - wilson/nowlin or clark/para. Can this be done with files? If it can, which one is easier? I assume W/N due to the VIS being straight but am not sure...

At this point I am not really set on this, but if there is a way I would continue thinking about it. If there is no way, I would like to not waste money.

Would appreciate your responses and guidance.
Thank you.
 

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Cutting a W/N ramp on a frame without a mill....

Yes, it can be done......I know, because I have done it, using only hand tools. I did this on a single stack 1911 frame that was formerly used with a .45 slide. After I cut the W/N ramp, the top end I used is a Commander length slide and barrel chambered for .38 super. The gun is extremely reliable and is now my EDC gun.

Although it "can be done," I have since had project guns where I used STI 2011 frames, but I order them with the W/N ramp cut..... On one STI frame with the W/N ramp cut, I fitted three separate slides of different calibers, so I could switch top ends when desired for another caliber. Since that time, I have ordered more STI 2011 frames with the W/N ramp to make a gun dedicated for one caliber..... I now have two STI Eagles in 9mm, and one STI Eagle in .40....:rock: Although I like the looks of the STI Edge with the longer frame, I don't find any advantage when shooting competition. Although it does add more weight up front, I can do the same with an STI Eagle using different weighted styles of recoil rods. My STI Eagle .40 uses a Bar Sto bull barrel, which is heavier than a bushing barrel, and I used a standard steel recoil rod, which feels good. If I wanted more weight, I could order a tungsten recoil rod. However, too much weight can be a problem when trying to transition the gun quickly between targets.....more weight is more difficult to stop quickly on a transition.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Yes, it can be done......I know, because I have done it, using only hand tools. I did this on a single stack 1911 frame that was formerly used with a .45 slide. After I cut the W/N ramp, the top end I used is a Commander length slide and barrel chambered for .38 super. The gun is extremely reliable and is now my EDC gun.

Although it "can be done," I have since had project guns where I used STI 2011 frames, but I order them with the W/N ramp cut..... On one STI frame with the W/N ramp cut, I fitted three separate slides of different calibers, so I could switch top ends when desired for another caliber. Since that time, I have ordered more STI 2011 frames with the W/N ramp to make a gun dedicated for one caliber..... I now have two STI Eagles in 9mm, and one STI Eagle in .40....:rock: Although I like the looks of the STI Edge with the longer frame, I don't find any advantage when shooting competition. Although it does add more weight up front, I can do the same with an STI Eagle using different weighted styles of recoil rods. My STI Eagle .40 uses a Bar Sto bull barrel, which is heavier than a bushing barrel, and I used a standard steel recoil rod, which feels good. If I wanted more weight, I could order a tungsten recoil rod. However, too much weight can be a problem when trying to transition the gun quickly between targets.....more weight is more difficult to stop quickly on a transition.
Thank you. So, when you did yours, did you also convert it from gov size to commander size, or was it commander in .45 originally? I would like to build a commander in the future, and for sake of learning, I wouldn't mind starting with a gov frame. But I realize that I would have to make additional modifications to the frame. (At least that is what I think has to be done looking at the comparison pictures of the slides) I guess I am trying to find out if you had converted a gov to a commander as well as cutting the W/N ramp cut into the bridge by hand tools.

Unfortunately, I can only get 80% frames, so not too many options. I just realized that limited-10 has 80% frames with Clark/Para cuts, so I guess I would have to simply go with a Clark/Para barrel. This is the frame I am considering. https://limited-10.com/store/products/80percent/steel-1911-80-receiver.html

This is also the frame I would cut the rails on by using a file in the absence of other tools.

If I were still going to try a W/N cut on a single stack frame, would I get all the measurements from the barrel, or is there a standard dimension I could find to follow? Well, at least consider first. I like to think through projects as I gather courage. :)
 

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Cutting a Clark/Para ramp....

I used a W/N ramp cut since I knew I could do it with hand tools....properly fitting a Clark/Para ramped barrel would seem to require a good vertical mill.....if you tried to make the cut with a rotary tool, it might be much more difficult to get a satisfactory result.

The single stack frame I used was set up for a Commander .45 slide, so changing to a .38 super using a Commander slide did not require further modification to the frame.
 

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If you can only get 80% frames, are you prevented from buying a firearm for some reason? If not, ordering a frame the way you want is your best option, with a FFL transfer. If not, you likely shouldn't be mentioning building a firearm on the internet. :)



Jeff
 

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80% frames are not just for criminals wanting to circumvent the law. Some people like the challenge, and the pride in ownership, of having something that you did much of the work on yourself, rather than just bought. Also, with all the gun control nuts pushing for registration/confiscation, it's not a terrible thing to have something that's legal, but not on an official list.
 

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I'm looking at that site that sells 80% gear, and their rail files are sold out. I tried making one out of an ordinary bastard file ground down on my surface grinder, but it warped. What's the secret to making this work? Coolant?
 

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80% frames are not just for criminals wanting to circumvent the law. Some people like the challenge, and the pride in ownership, of having something that you did much of the work on yourself, rather than just bought. Also, with all the gun control nuts pushing for registration/confiscation, it's not a terrible thing to have something that's legal, but not on an official list.
I haven't had the desire to build a pistol from the ground up, or an 80%er for that matter. But I make all of my 1911's mine, excepting 2 so far, by reworking and refining the internals. I do a complete teardown and polish everything that benefits from it and throat the barrel if not done already.

It aint rocket science but you do have to take your time, explicitly follow directions, and try not to go farther than required. I typically use 1,200 grit paper on all parts - using a light touch, you polish but don't remove material on the slide stop, extractor, firing pin stop, hammer, sear, sear spring, disconnector, trigger hoop, and hammer strut. I also deburr all edges on the rails and trigger groove and stone that groove too. After the initial shooting, I'll stone the rails.

It's all simple work that will leave you with a handgun that has a 4# trigger and is smooth as glass in all respects. It will be more accurate and reliable than you expected. I'll keep the stock parts rather than replacing them with aftermarket items as the original parts will help the gun retain value - particularly important for Colts. About the only thing I do change is the grips and add Challis grip products to protect both the frame and the grips.
 

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I'm looking at that site that sells 80% gear, and their rail files are sold out. I tried making one out of an ordinary bastard file ground down on my surface grinder, but it warped. What's the secret to making this work? Coolant?
I tried it too Joe but it quickly became apparent that I needed to buy the tool needed for the job. See Brownell's here: http://www.brownells.com/search/index.htm?k=1911+rail+files&ksubmit=y

They have almost every tool you'll need as well as jigs that make the job easier. If you plan on working your own guns for the next 20, 30, or 40 years, add the tools slowly as you get into more advanced jobs. If money is no object, spend what I guess might be $8K - $10K for almost all the hand tools you'll need.
 

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I've already spent close to $3000 with Brownells, but now that I have precision gear like a surface grinder, not to mention lathes and a mill, it's time for me to start making my own tools when I can. I'm sure that I'll spend countless thousands over the next several years, but I have to try to spread it out, minimize the impact, and at least make it look like I'm trying to save money. One of my selling points for my wife for the big equipment was that I could start making my own tooling, within reason. There's got to be a way to surface grind down a file to size, and make safe sides. I'm guessing that this is what the manufacturer of this tool does, no?
 

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By the way, Mosin; I probably don't need to tell you this, as I'm guessing you know your way around a file, but just in case you don't: get good files. Don't waste your time and money on cheap garbage that's going to either mangle your frame, do nothing at all (not cut for s**t), and most certainly piss you off. Ask me how I know.
 

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By the way, Mosin; I probably don't need to tell you this, as I'm guessing you know your way around a file, but just in case you don't: get good files. Don't waste your time and money on cheap garbage that's going to either mangle your frame, do nothing at all (not cut for s**t), and most certainly piss you off. Ask me how I know.
Been there, done that, got the tee shirt and the movie! Right Joe? You realize that you can't go cheap on tools. Think of all the folks that go to Northern Tools. After beating your head on the wall for tool failures for a few years you finally learn that the right tool, though it may cost twice what another might, will save time, money, and do a better job.

I don't do everything - time and age make some things impractical. But the things I do, I enjoy and can do well and quickly for myself, family, and friends. I also build AR's but then one could train a chimp to do that job. Not to say I don't enjoy it but the availability of quality components reduces gunsmithing to near 0.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
If you can only get 80% frames, are you prevented from buying a firearm for some reason? If not, ordering a frame the way you want is your best option, with a FFL transfer. If not, you likely shouldn't be mentioning building a firearm on the internet. :)



Jeff
Not a prohibited person. Just in Ca they don't allow buying an incomplete firearm from dealers due to having our stupid roster of handguns. So I would not be able to order a frame by itself.

80% frames are not just for criminals wanting to circumvent the law. Some people like the challenge, and the pride in ownership, of having something that you did much of the work on yourself, rather than just bought. Also, with all the gun control nuts pushing for registration/confiscation, it's not a terrible thing to have something that's legal, but not on an official list.
It is not even about registration for me, as I would have no problem registering it if I had to, I simply can't get a frame by itself.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
"There are no cutting jigs for 2011 frames that I know of."

Matrix has jigs that work on 2011

http://www.matrixprecisionparts.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=8
I have seen those, but I only have a crapy drill press and doing milling operations with a drill press seems pretty bad to me.

You could cut for a N/W ramp but I can't see how one could cut the radius pocket for the P/C ramp.
It looks like both VIS need to move back quite a bit... Radius cut would be more difficult I think since it not only has to be straight vertically, but also make even contact around the circumference. Though I am sure it can be done with a lot of dykem.

I used a W/N ramp cut since I knew I could do it with hand tools....properly fitting a Clark/Para ramped barrel would seem to require a good vertical mill.....if you tried to make the cut with a rotary tool, it might be much more difficult to get a satisfactory result.

The single stack frame I used was set up for a Commander .45 slide, so changing to a .38 super using a Commander slide did not require further modification to the frame.
Thank you. I don't think I would be able to do Clark/para cut correctly.

I'm looking at that site that sells 80% gear, and their rail files are sold out. I tried making one out of an ordinary bastard file ground down on my surface grinder, but it warped. What's the secret to making this work? Coolant?
I would buy it from brownells.

I haven't had the desire to build a pistol from the ground up, or an 80%er for that matter. But I make all of my 1911's mine, excepting 2 so far, by reworking and refining the internals. I do a complete teardown and polish everything that benefits from it and throat the barrel ...
I want to learn as much as possible about building, so even if I did start with a complete firearm and then tried to fit all new parts to it, I would spend a lot more money because I already paid for all the parts once in a complete firearm and then again for the new parts. That is why 80% makes more sense in my case.

I tried it too Joe but it quickly became apparent that I needed to buy the tool needed for the job. See Brownell's here: http://www.brownells.com/search/index.htm?k=1911+rail+files&ksubmit=y

They have almost every tool you'll need as well as jigs that make the job easier. If you plan on working your own guns for the next 20, 30, or 40 years, add the tools slowly as you get into more advanced jobs. If money is no object, spend what I guess might be $8K - $10K for almost all the hand tools you'll need.
We are planning to buy a house in the near future, so I don't want to a) cut into our down payment budget, b) not have any money left to buy machinery.


I've already spent close to $3000 with Brownells, but now that I have precision gear like a surface grinder, not to mention lathes and a mill, it's time for me to start making my own tools when I can. I'm sure that I'll spend countless thousands over the next several years, but I have to try to spread it out, minimize the impact, and at least make it look like I'm trying to save money. One of my selling points for my wife for the big equipment was that I could start making my own tooling, within reason. There's got to be a way to surface grind down a file to size, and make safe sides. I'm guessing that this is what the manufacturer of this tool does, no?
I would also get a small-ish kiln. I currently don't have space for the machinery I would like to have... But from what I know about making knives from files before, heating them up when grinding is never a good idea if you want to keep using them as files.

By the way, Mosin; I probably don't need to tell you this, as I'm guessing you know your way around a file, but just in case you don't: get good files. Don't waste your time and money on cheap garbage that's going to either mangle your frame, do nothing at all (not cut for s**t), and most certainly piss you off. Ask me how I know.
Absolutely. My wife always says "we are not rich enough to buy cheap crap"

Been there, done that, got the tee shirt and the movie! Right Joe? You realize that you can't go cheap on tools. Think of all the folks that go to Northern Tools. After beating your head on the wall for tool failures for a few years you finally learn that the right tool, though it may cost twice what another might, will save time, money, and do a better job.

I don't do everything - time and age make some things impractical. But the things I do, I enjoy and can do well and quickly for myself, family, and friends. I also build AR's but then one could train a chimp to do that job. Not to say I don't enjoy it but the availability of quality components reduces gunsmithing to near 0.
Agreed.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, I went ahead and tried to make a C/P ramp cut... I wanted to see if I could do it with a dremel and files. Left a bit of material for final fitting. Right now, I can still see the a sliver of bottom lug through the slide stop pin hole when the frame is all the way back.

I figured I will wait until I can actually manually cycle to start final fitting the vis.

Here is a video of how I did it.
https://youtu.be/EuzQ_Hyup44
 
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