Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hile, Gunslingers

It has been quite a while since I had a few moments to actually contemplate, let alone MAKE, any grips. While I am not the most proficient gripmaker by ANY means, I do happen to have the material, tools and persisitence to knock them out, from time to time.

I wish my favorite material were a bit "cleaner," - that is, a bit more free of what are visual defects.
It is a type of hardwood that takes 60-80 years to mature, if you want any substantial amount of wood, and even then, 90% of it (or more) is ground up, chipped, or steamed for its valuable oil. Much of the rest goes for funerary purposes. Currently, when it can be found, it goes for about what ivory does- in fact, ivory poachers have been known to give up whacking elephants in favor of obtaining this hardwood.

Of course, I am talking about the wunnerful wunnerful world of Sandalwood.

I do NOT mean the Tamboti that some folks eBay, calling sandalwood; nor do I mean the dark-streaked hedgewood that is made into grips, although it is pretty too- I mean the Australian variety (most of which gets exporeted to India, since they so tightly regulate and quickly consume their own.)

(Tamboti is awesome in its own right, but the sawdust needs a darn MSDS sheet, as the wood contains some sort of neurotoxin.)

I wanted to be able to have a set of Sandalwood grips on a nice .45 wheelgun one day- a "Big Iron," so to speak, in a "hard caliber." I am a recovering "prop nerd," and LOVED the Dark Tower series (thanks, Korey!) So when I stumbled across the chance to obtain what was probably the only substantial quantity of Yellow Australian Sandalwood inside the US, I jumped on it (although like several other decisions, it hurt financially.)

Well, until recently, nobody MADE a wheelgun I would want that I could slap my fancy (beat up, worn looking, well loved and yet to be made) gunslinger's grips on. So, a large part of one gunsafe has been (insanely?) taken up by a REALLY expensive log. It is likely 10-30 years old, as it was cured well when I got it, and the old woodsmith that had it said he had it for quite a while.

Obtaining the revolver itself, well- that is going to be a serious savings project. HERE is what I am after.

I sporadically made a few sets of grips here and there, some for eBay, some not, and old some pen blanks, and a couple of sets of grip blanks, and LOTS of sawdust for incense makers.

Well, now with S-MArt out of the picture, I managed to grab an Essex arms Commander frame, and knock out a couple of pair. There are worm tracks in the wood, from some type of butterfly larvae that love the stuff, so to prevent cracking. Neither pair is set up for extended OR Ambi safeties; one set is drilled for the cross pin for the mainspring, the other set is not.

At this point, everything has tasted like sandalwood for days. I have about 4 oz (by volume, not weight) of sandalwood dust ready to go, so if any of you Wiccans want it, make an offer.

I have more information & refernece on why I am convinced that Roland's grips would be most accurate made of the Aussie sandal, versus anything else. Link is here.

So without further adieu...

No, the dark streak is NOT sharpie- it is an epoxy-fille worm track. The screw/bushing hole right there was also reinforced with a brass insert, to prevent cracking along the track.

The Skinny Pair:

All 4 screw/bushing holes on the skinny pair are brass insert & epoxy reinforced, as is the crack along the main vein in the right hand grip panel.

THIS is why I wish there was better quality sandalwood available. If I could find it, I'd get it.
Neither pair is for sale, at the moment, other than to the one fellow that has "dibs," since I have made him wait since January.

Thanks to my buddy Craig in NM & his Mrs. for the sweet photo tags.


Anonymous said...

Would you make a pair for a Ruger Blackhawk? What would they cost? If you didn't want to make them, would you sell me enough to make them myself? Please email me at

Long days and pleasant nights.


Michael said...

Hello, my name is Michael and I'm 25 years old.... I just bought my first gun, A Ruger Blackhawk chambered in .45 Colt. I love it. For years since reading the tower, I've wanted a tough sixgun. Sir I would give anything to have some raw sandalwood grips for this baby, nothing fancy, no frills. If you could help me out sir, I would pay and I would be extremely thankful. My email is Please help me out and God bless!

James Baird said...

I've also got a Ruger Blackhawk. I've always been the gunslingin' type, and I've packed iron as a private citizen and for pay from Uncle Sam overseas with the Marine Corps. I try to always remember the face of my father.

If you still have any of this running around, and you have the knack to make a set of grips for a Ruger Blackhawk, I'd be eternally grateful, sai.

Long days, pleasant nights, fair winds, and following seas from a gunslinging Marine.

James Baird