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I smeared tung oil on my wood calibers fairly thick, let em set overnight and they was just like I left them.
Nothing absorbed in really.
Wiped them down and I believe they are sprayed with a matte urethane which would explain why maybe.
I too prefer them to age & darken naturally and believe a finish will impede that.
I have some urethane stripper but I haven't been able to bring myself to try it lol
Afraid it will leave the wood soft.
All speculation on my part tho. Only part I'm positive about is they didn't absorb anything.
 

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Some woods darken when certain naturally occurring chemicals in the wood oxidizes with exposure to air and, to some degree, light.

Problem is, you may not like the result of wood that darkens this way. Many rosewoods, including Cocobolo, are brightly colored with yellow/orange/red contrasting streaks when freshly cut or sanded but darken quickly. The contrast between the original colors begins to dim and eventually the whole piece will become a dull, muddy brown. Scuff up the surface and POW, the colors pop again.

Ironwood will oxidize, too. A remarkable one is Brazilian ebony. Freshly sanded it is pistachio green but it darkens very quickly and intensely to become dark brown, almost black in just a matter of weeks.

Some people think penetrating oils like tung oil or linseed oil are "responsible" for the darkening. Perhaps, but I think it's more likely they just "allow" the darkening to occur because they don't seal the wood against air oxidation. Thus, to preserve the colors and contrasts of freshly worked wood, a coat of polyurethane or lacquer will provide a barrier layer and the colors will remain light/bright for years.

Some freshly worked ironwood starts off lightly colored, some very dark. My advice is to pick the colors you like when the wood is freshly cut and then apply lacquer. Ready-made grips will likely already have been lacquered. So, if you like dark grips, search for dark grips.

If you have some smooth ironwood grips you can strip the finish and watch the darkening for yourself. Then, if you don't like it, you can sand lightly to recover the color and spray with lacquer to "freeze" it. Unfortunately, if you strip checkered grips and don't like the darkening, you would have to recut the checkering to restore the colors.
 

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Some amazing grips here!

The one annoying issue I've noticed on a couple of my different wood-grip 1911s is warping. Not sure if certain wood species and/or finishes are more prone to warping, but it can be a bummer if/when it happens on your $$$ grips!
 
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