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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am wondering what type of files are used for fitting a beavertail grip safety with a jig? The frame is 4140 Steel.

Would something like this Nicholson 6" Bastard Cut flat file work for removing the extra material? It seemed to be one of the suggestions after adding the jig to the cart on MidwayUSA. I know there are some nice machinist files out there but I am not looking for a $50+ file. Just for hobby use.

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/169517/nicholson-6-bastard-cut-flat-hand-file
 

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I have heard that even Nicholson has gone to China for some of their files, if not all. I browse old Mom and Pop hardware stores for old stock that was US made. If you can find any Nicholson or Simmons US made files, buy all you can afford.
To answer your original question, I use a larger, maybe 10 or 12", mill bastard for most of the frame filing. The larger files are thicker and easier for me to control and hold flat. I get the fit close then finish the job with various grits of emery cloth stretched over the file. Also, I always safe one edge of a file before using it.
 

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The Nicholson 4" mill bastard files are now made in Mexico.
Maybe not as good as they once were, but not too bad.

I use a 60 grit belt on a 1" x 42" belt sander to remove the bulk of the material,
then the above 4" to finish.

Why a safe edge on the file for a grip safety fit?
 

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"You will need to polish and smooth the filed area."

Well, maybe?
I finish using the file.
Look at a few examples of my work?
 

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My files get used for everything in the shop, not just grip safeties. If I safe edge it initially , it is ready for any task.
 

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Same here, except my belt sander is a 6 inch. Using a file sounds unnecessarily painstaking. Especially when it comes time to blend it. That's what dremels are for.
 

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Just a little Nicholson info. They were a major employer in my area (Cullman, Alabama) until last year when they shut it down. Most of the operation shut down about 3 years ago. They were here about 40 years. They had annual sales to the public of files, other individual tools and small, medium, and large tool sets. A solid 50% discount. Sure do miss that and of course the good paying jobs. As reported: "Cullman production was moved to Cali, Colombia, Tlalnepantla, Mexico, and Sorocaba, Brazil."
 

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Regardless take it slow. Do use a vise with something between the vise jaws and frame to avoid damaging the frame while working on it. That said, you do not want the frame to move as you fit it.

http://www.homemadetools.net/pistol-frame-vise-jaws

This one idea.

You will need to polish and smooth the filed area.
Jon here from HomemadeTools.net.

Thanks for the mention.


To celebrate our 20,000th homemade tool, we made a new ebook featuring our top 50 homemade tools. You guys are welcome to it for free:

http://download.homemadetools.net/50MustReadTools.pdf

 

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Fitting a beavertail grip safety.....

Many years ago, I bought a jig to allow fitting a specific brand of beavertail grip safety. The jig looks similar to the Ed Brown jig:

https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/handgun-tools/grip-tools/1911-beavertail-installation-jig-prod1319.aspx

I used my bench grinder to remove the metal off the rear tangs of the frame, and when I got close to the jig after removing the bulk of the metal, I then finished with files and emery cloth..... it turned out very well.......
 

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I use the same file as Chuck and prepare it by using the belt sander to reshape the end into a nice radius with chamfered corners so I don't booger up the inside of the frame while working around the tang radii. I also safe one edge for working small flat under the tang when I'm close to and against the frame. I start with a fresh one every few beavertail jobs and as the start to dull, they become part of the gagggle of general purpose files that lay out on my bench.
 
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