Pistol grips- finish advice appreciated

Hello all,
A guy at work has asked me to make him some custom pistol grips, and I'm wondering if anyone has any recommendations for a good finish for them.
They're going to be Lacewood, and are going to a non-woodworker, so I'm looking for durable- not traditional.
I'm sort of leaning towards spar varnish or poly, but I had this terrible thought that with the various powder solvents and oils used in cleaning a pistol, there might be an issue with the finish dissolving.
Any good suggestions? What does a gunstock manufacturer normally use for this?
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No suggestions except to steer clear of a Spar Varnish.
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There is little risk of solvent or powder issues with the finish. What is the pistol? Is it really a pistol or are you using the term interchangably for either a pistol or a revolver? I shoot and I prefer a rubbed finish on my handgun grips. I have a revolver with poly'd grips and I really do not like the way it holds in my hand. That said, the bigger thing is that the grip properly fit the shooter's hand. Close is much different than proper.

Everything from rubbed finishes to poly, to rubber to composites.
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wrote:

It's a Spanish automatic pistol, not a revolver. I haven't seen the weapon itself, just the grips. I'll be making the new ones slightly thicker so that they can be tuned to the guy's hand, but otherwise identical.
The basic rationale behind the project is that the original grips are pretty grimy, and were cheap walnut end-grain that was not very smooth to begin with. Some nicely finished lacewood should brighten the thing up quite a bit, and look sharp with the stainless finish on the gun.
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A much easier project to worry about in my opinion. You have lots more latitude in your decisions. Kudo's on the idea of making them oversized for tuning.
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Prometheus wrote:

Every wooden gunstock or pistol grip I ever saw was done in an flat, dull, unshiney, oil finish, a soak-into-the-wood sort of oil, most likely linseed oil. The wood either is walnut or is stained walnut brown (or both). I have seen ads in gun mags for fancy shoulder arms with a glossy finish, but I never saw one for real. The purpose of pistol grips is to stick to the hand and prevent the grip from slipping under the recoil. Gloss finishes are slippery.
David Starr
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On Wed, 31 Jan 2007 08:41:48 -0500, David Starr

Never seen a Weatherby?
Prior to the advent of synthetic stocks, one occasionally saw laminated stocks on competition firearms, made with a combination of woods intended to produce maximum stability. Some were quite wild in appearance.
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J. Clarke wrote:

No, never seen one for real. Seen a lot of nice ads with gorgeous color photos of really nice rifles, but I have never seen or handled a live one.
David Starr
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On Wed, 31 Jan 2007 17:02:51 -0500, David Starr

Weatherby was at one time famous for their very high gloss finish, and glossy it was.
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On Wed, 31 Jan 2007 05:52:46 -0600, Prometheus

Here are some links with some commonly used gunstock finishes <http://www.brownells.com/aspx/ns/store/catsearch.aspx?c 92&pH12> <http://www.birchwoodcasey.com/sport/index.html <http://www.huntamerica.com/linspeed/
There used to be an epoxy called "fullerplast" available but it seems to have vanished.
Any decent quality urethane should be fine--basically has to stand up to a high quality oil and to a nitro powder solvent, which is actually pretty mild--alcohol, kerosene, ammonia, and a couple of "trade secrets". Lacquer should also be all right and some of the new precatalyzed lacquers are nearly as durable as urethane. I've heard of using automotive clearcoat, which should be pretty nearly indestructible.
If this is going to be a shooter and not a presentation piece, then don't get too shiny--you want to maintain enough friction that he can maintain control.
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Birchwood-Casey Tru-oil http://www.birchwoodcasey.com/sport/wood_index.asp?categoryID=5&subcat 
It's offensively shiny to real woodworkers, but shooters love it. Easy to work with, reliable good results and resistant to gun cleaning afterwards.
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Wed, Jan 31, 2007, 5:52am (EST-1) snipped-for-privacy@NOSPAMcharter.net (Prometheus) doth query: <snip> What does a gunstock manufacturer normally use for this?
Plastic grips.
Well, the last grips I made, for me, I am sure I brushed on poly. Nowadays I'd use water-base poly. However, they were not fancy wood, in fact molded from wood dough for a custom fit, and they go a lot of handling, so wanted something that'd hold up. Damn, wish I still had that gun. Ah well. The grips still looked as pristine as they day they were finished. When I finally finished molding the grips, didn't even need to aim, just point, and it was right on target - very nice house gun.
Lacewood, eh? Probably not going to be handled a lot. Hell, in that case I might just use paste wax - if it was for myself anyway - but I'd probably opt for water-base poly instead. However, I've got a very nice set of factory Ruger wood grips. From the look, and feel, it doesn't have any finish at all, but I'm sure it does - after all this time, the grips still look like new. If it was me, I'd get ahold of them, and ask what they use - worst they can do (probably) is not just tell you no but Hell no..
For rifle stocks, especially those tht are expected to get a lot of rough use, several high end rmanufacturers spray the stocks with some type of poly. Makes the stocks shiny and pretty much scratch resistant as I understand.
JOAT Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily. - Johann Von Schiller
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Birchwood Casey gun stock finish. Available at any gun store or sporting goods center. I have used it on numerous firearms with excelent results. It you want a flat finish rub it with crushed pumise after it has dried.
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I strongly agree with the poster who said to use the Birchwood Casey product. Either that or a simple BLO or similar finish is most appropriate unless it is for some kind of showpiece or commemmorative pistol. The oil finishes are about the only ones that can be reasonably easily maintained and reapplied for touch-ups without removing the grips from the gun.
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On Thu, 1 Feb 2007 03:40:58 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@sdf.lNoOnSePsAtMar.org (Larry) wrote:

Well, that's three in favor of the Birchwood Casey stuff- sounds like a winner. Removing the grips doesn't appear to be much of a chore in any case, they're just held on with a pair of screws in each side.
Thanks for all the advice!
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On Wed, 31 Jan 2007 13:05:30 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (J T) wrote:

No, it sounds like it will probably see a lot of range use. Lacewood was my choice, not the guy who asked for it. He didn't care too much, and I have a bit of lacewood scrap in the shop- since it's so nice to work with, that was my suggestion for him, and he liked the sample I brought in.
The guy has done a lot of free welding work for me, so it's kind of a tit-for-tat job, and I figure I parting with a couple little fancy pieces of wood won't kill me.
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Thu, Feb 1, 2007, 6:39am (EST-1) snipped-for-privacy@NOSPAMcharter.net (Prometheus) doth sayeth: No, it sounds like it will probably see a lot of range use.<snip>
Just recalled. Some time back I was experimenting with neutral shoe polish as a finish. Had some Turtle brand left over, and bought some Kivi rrand.
Both went on well, altho the Kivi seemed to have a faint "haze", while the Turtle was absolutely clear. Both had a good "grip" feel. The turtle stayed perfectly clear and clean, while the Kivi rapidly pickud up a grime look. This was becasuse I rubbed or touched each several times a day. Unfortunately I only had an almost can of the Turtle, and it rapidly ran out, and I haven't found any since - I think it may not be made any longer. Too bad, because it was an interesting experiment and one I think would have worked quite well as a finish, and should have worked very well on pistol grips. I haven't asked the maker if it's still available or not, tho I did cruise their site. I'm talking about the paste shoe polish, not the liquid stuff. Anyone know if it's still made?
Hmm, I wonder how non-slip liquid floor wax would do? Time to do some more 'speerminting I guess.
Oh yeah, my painted .22 rifle stock is holding up very nicely. I will probably eventually refinish it tho, probably using very thinned latex paint, as a "stain" or "wash". And then probably use thinned Titebond II as a finish coat - all my tests doing that are working out nicely. Gods above, woodworking is fun.
JOAT Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily. - Johann Von Schiller
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I've had polyurethane on three different pair of curly maple handgun stocks I made 20 years ago... they still look good.
John
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