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“Careful man, there’s a beverage here!” — The Dude
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The frame is from a series 80 colt commander that gave me no end of trouble. Turns out the slide rails were not cut parallel with the widest point at the rear. After measuring, found the frame rails were w/in spec so kept it for some future build. Recently found the gumption to try undercutting the trigger guard and checker the front strap.

After searching in vain for a DC checkering jig for about a year, I gave-in and sent more money to Brownells. I like the jig but constantly checking to see if everything is tight was a lesson I learned the hard way. Worked out but man, anytime you make a mistake checkering...it is a time suck. My (already immense) admiration for the 'smiths on this board grows exponentially each time I try something like this.

This took me almost a week, I'd cut a little, then run out of time or start to get frustrated. Hand checkering is not a science, there were irregularities in the front strap I found while I was cutting. BTW, the umbrella was originally going to take the edge off the natural sunlight glare from the steel - it turns out taking pictures of checkering isn't easy either. Taking pics like this is useful though, I'll be damned if I don't see some areas I cut deeper than others. I could not see this as clearly - even with a 10x visor (yeah my back is sore from leaning over while my head 2 inches away from the work).

I realize it's not going to be perfect, already seen to that - but I'll have to go back and take care of the irregular areas I can fix. I don't know if bluing tends to hide or highlight checkering blunders, it looks like I'm going to find that out the hard way too.

Gun Trigger Shotgun Tan Gun accessory
Blue String instrument accessory Hardwood Guitar accessory Wood stain


Still trying to figure out how aggressive to be on the undercut, it fits my hand pretty good right now so I think I'll just blend it and let it sit for a while until I have a little more time to plot the rest of the build.
 

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Deo Volente
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David Clevinger says that Lou Rosso of Rosso's Gunwork checkering is excellent. Lou has over 50 years under his belt and I would love to see someone pick up any skills that Lou may have. Checkering isn't easy!

That looks excellent, but when you are the one doing the checkering with a visor+loop then you will see the smallest imperfections. Don't beat yourself up, but try to find help in order to figure out what is wrong.

Is it wrong? What is causing the problem? I would be willing to bet that someone like Lou could say that you are doing this or that.
 
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Avatar is back to my favorite things!
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Nice job I think it looks good. Just curious is the hand checkering traditionally done with files or gravers? I'm a machinist by trade so would build a fixture and do it on a rotory table or put it in a CNC and cheat. I have a cheap 1911 that I plan to try some stuff on when I get some free time and was just wondering about the process?
 

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Deo Volente
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Nice job I think it looks good. Just curious is the hand checkering traditionally done with files or gravers? I'm a machinist by trade so would build a fixture and do it on a rotory table or put it in a CNC and cheat. I have a cheap 1911 that I plan to try some stuff on when I get some free time and was just wondering about the process?
Babboonbobo, Machine checkering is perfect, if it is done correctly. Engraving is a different matter and it shows. This Fall I am going back up to the Cody Museum in the hopes of getting a close look at some fancy firearms up close and personal. It is, I hope a white glove affair.

Checkering around a two plane radius is a challenge,

Rock On! :)
 
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“Careful man, there’s a beverage here!” — The Dude
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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks fellas, I appreciate the kind words. I imagine the old-timers fabricating everything by hand must've developed an incredible repitoire.
A checkering file and two riffler files is what I used. I don't think using a mill is cheating, machining is just another kind of magic.
 

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“Careful man, there’s a beverage here!” — The Dude
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
JJ Roberts engraving school is not too far from where I live, I've been wanting to take a class on the Lindsay palm control graver to see how it works. If it wasn't for the twin obstacles of time and money...
 

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“Careful man, there’s a beverage here!” — The Dude
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I did the undercut after the checkering using a rat tail file, half round and eventually a Dremel for evening the surface and polishing tool marks. Also sanded the heck out of it using various grits shoe shine style
 

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Never Forget
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First, it looks great. Did you start on the trigger guard or magwell end? I see the overruns taper off towards the magwell end. Just curious.

I have never checkered a gun, but would hope my first try comes out half as good as yours.
 

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Most excellent example of craftsmanship!
Be proud enough to post your accomplishments on forum of critically opinionated gun fanatics.
Good job and keep 'em coming.
 

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You are off to a great start. It looks like the area at the top new the trigger just had not been cut deep enough yet. It is the hardest area to get worked to full depth. Try running the spacing file longer.

Jason Burton has amazing skills at hand checkering look for some of his build pictures on line. He said on thread to cut as much as possible with the spacing file and only use the single file to point up small areas. Other guys told me to get the pattern started with the spacing file and cut most of he way then work the whole area with the pointing file. It is much easier to use the spacing file to keep all the edges straight.
 
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“Careful man, there’s a beverage here!” — The Dude
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
First, it looks great. Did you start on the trigger guard or magwell end? I see the overruns taper off towards the magwell end. Just curious.
Thanks man!
I have never checkered a gun, but would hope my first try comes out half as good as yours.
You are off to a great start. It looks like the area at the top new the trigger just had not been cut deep enough yet. It is the hardest area to get worked to full depth. Try running the spacing file longer. Jason Burton has amazing skills at hand checkering look for some of his build pictures on line. He said on thread to cut as much as possible with the spacing file and only use the single file to point up small areas. Other guys told me to get the pattern started with the spacing file and cut most of he way then work the whole area with the pointing file. It is much easier to use the spacing file to keep all the edges straight.
Yeah the pictures really emphasize this, I will repost once I get this cut deeper. Good point on my empahsis on the riffler file, probably not getting deep enough cuts due to this.
First, it looks great. Did you start on the trigger guard or magwell end? I see the overruns taper off towards the magwell end. Just curious.

I have never checkered a gun, but would hope my first try comes out half as good as yours.
The jig sets the first cut line up on the top of the front strap, I probably could have set the jig to start lower or at the bottom. The mag well area is where the frame is not square, so I figured I could take a little off the bottom to fix that issue. Not sure if that is a good idea or not, haven't really noodled through the unintended consequences of shaving a few thousandths off the bottom of the frame.
 
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