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Here's a recent project. A few years ago I bought a mid-1950s Smith & Wesson "38-44" that was (reportedly) a police officer's duty weapon in Arizona. (Certainly the wear on the gun indicates many years of carry in a right-handed duty holster . . .) For those who don't know, the 38-44 was a model that S&W introduced in the 1930s, a few years before the .357 Magnum was introduced. The 38-44 was a .38 caliber revolver built on the N-frame, which was the frame used for .44 caliber revolvers. Ergo, the name. Because the gun was built on the larger frame, it could handle very heavy loads. For years there was a special 38-44 "express" load that -- literally -- had higher chamber pressures and velocities than the current SAAMI spec for .357. Anyway, suffice it to say that I always thought the 38-44 was a very cool revolver.

Up through the 1950s, Smith & Wesson serial-numbered grips to guns. The grips attached to this gun were orginal (matching #) but they were chewed up. There was quite a bit of wear to the right grip, several "chunks" of wood were missing, and some idiot had put a couple coats of polyurethane over everything:
DSC_0520.jpg

The first thing I did was to strip all the polyurethane, etc. off. Here are the grips after stripping:
DSC_0522.jpg

The next thing to do is raise the dents. I like easy solutions -- get some towels, get them damp, then use a hot iron with steam to "iron out" the dents. It works better than you might think . . .
DSC_0525.jpg

Then I re-cut the checkering. Can't really show a picture of that because both hands were occupied. But here is something important to show -- this is the *sawdust* I saved from this operation, mixed with wood glue:
DSC_0528.jpg

I used that wood glue-sawdust mix to build up several areas of wood damage. While most of the dents came out with the ironing, places where wood was actually missing -- where the grip had been banged into something -- needed to be filled:
DSC_0527.jpg
 

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Part 2

These are the grips after final sanding, 2 coats of Permalyn sealer, and 10 coats of Permalyn finish, rubbed in. Note how the wood grain really stands out now:
DSC_0532.jpg

On the gun:
DSC_0534.jpg

One result of years of good service was that the bottom "corners" of the grips had been broken off. I used the wood-glue/sawdust mixture to build these corners back up, as the below two pictures show. (The camera flash makes the fill material stick out more than it does -- but it does stick out a little. Also note that serial # has been obliterated.)
DSC_0530.jpg DSC_0536.jpg
 
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