Gun grips and display case for Dad

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Project by larryw posted 08-03-2014 07:14 PM 4555 views 12 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

About three years ago, my Dad asked me to make him some custom grips for his S&W .38 special revolver.Being a Texan , and a Texas history buff, he wanted a Texas flag, or something along those lines inlayed into the grips. I thought this was a great idea , but decided to do more than just make new grips for the gun.,I thought that it also needed a nice place to be kept and displayed. To that end I decided to build a theme around the gun, more specifically a period of about ten years in Texas history when Texas was a republic (1836-1846).The decision also included using only Texas grown hardwoods. Many of the well known species of hardwoods used in woodworking, and usually attributed to the north or north eastern U.S. also grow here in East Texas, being on the far western edge of the great eastern forrest of the U.S. The grips are made from figured eastern black walnut, the Texas flag inlays are walnut , holly , and cherry. The star in the flag is mother-of-pearl. The circle and star on the grips is sterling silver. The cradle that the gun rests in is lined with doeskin leather, and has a figured cherry veneer laminated to Baltic birch ply surrounding it, with a hard maple star displaying the 6 rounds of ammo. The inlay medallion on the inside of the lid is walnut, red oak, and hard maple. The S&W logo in the center of the star is made from holly and walnut. The inlayed medallion on top of the lid is made from red oak, walnut, and sweetgum root burl.The stringing around the lid perimeter is spalted hackberry (end-grain). The bottom panel is eastern red cedar laminated to Baltic birch ply, with my leaf logo branded into a piece of walnut, surrounded by a ring of quartersawn cherry. The box feet are spent .38 shell casings. The box/case also features a tiny “hidden” drawer that holds the key for the lock. The star key/lock escutcheon on the front of the box is made from brass., hand cut , like the rest of the inlays using a jeweler’s saw., Oh and that brings up another point., all the surface decoration is actually “inlayed” into solid wood. Technically no true marquetry methods were used, although I love true marquetry and respect those who do it ( fellow LJ’er Paul aka shipwright for one), each piece is cut one at a time and a cavity routed to accept the piece which is glued in place. After starting the project, it was shelved for awhile so that I could build my new work shop, hence the reason it took so long to complete. Every time I complete a project, I stand back and look at it and start critiquing everything, wishing that I would have done this or that different or a little better, but I guess the only person I needed to worry about pleasing here was my Dad, and he is quite happy with the end result. Thanks for looking. Oh one more thing, the side rail hinges used here are very high quality, purchased from friend and fellow LJ’er Ian Hawthorne.

-- "everything is beautiful, but not everyone sees it" ~confucius-551-449 b.c.~

26 comments so far

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4242 days

#1 posted 08-03-2014 07:34 PM

Wow. Your usual magnificent work. Great theme and flawlessly executed. A fine resting place for a fine Smith, and all the more meaningful that it’s for your dad. So many lovely details that it takes a while just to take them all in. A box anyone would be proud of!

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View larryw's profile


335 posts in 3951 days

#2 posted 08-03-2014 07:37 PM

Thanks Roger, comments like that coming from a master like you mean alot

-- "everything is beautiful, but not everyone sees it" ~confucius-551-449 b.c.~

View Boxguy's profile


2904 posts in 3556 days

#3 posted 08-03-2014 08:25 PM

Larry, this is great work. I like the theme and the careful workmanship. I am sure your father will want to show it off to all his friends. The hidden key is another good design concept. This is a gem.

I liked your write-up as well. I know what you mean when you say you stand back and look at the work you have completed. Though this may sound strange, I often can’t really “see” my work until I study the completed project. I get so focused on the parts and details while I am building the project that I don’t see the totality of what I am working on until I look closely at the end of the job. Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View tinnman65's profile


1419 posts in 4703 days

#4 posted 08-03-2014 09:22 PM

That is one beautiful box. I enjoyed every aspect of this project, the design, the inlays, even the story.Well done

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View rance's profile


4279 posts in 4449 days

#5 posted 08-03-2014 10:00 PM

Obviously lots of thought went into the design. Very well executed. I’m curious about the two dowels sticking out the back. Or is my eye fooling myself again.

It was a pleasant surprise to see how you used the spent shells for the feet. Too cool.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View larryw's profile


335 posts in 3951 days

#6 posted 08-03-2014 10:23 PM

Hi Rance, thanks for the nice comments. Those protrusions you’re seeing, looking from the bottom of the box are the hinge knuckles.

-- "everything is beautiful, but not everyone sees it" ~confucius-551-449 b.c.~

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3581 days

#7 posted 08-03-2014 10:42 PM

Without a doubt, this is the most outstanding revolver (and pistol) display case I’ve seen. Beautiful!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2859 posts in 4881 days

#8 posted 08-03-2014 11:07 PM

That is one cool looking box, And one big gun! Perfect style of Parquetry and Marquetry to go with the gun.

-- Dennis Zongker

View Matt's profile


190 posts in 2707 days

#9 posted 08-03-2014 11:28 PM

The whole thing is fantastic, but the key drawer and the feet are such great details. Love it!

-- I do this for fun.

View shipwright's profile


8761 posts in 4087 days

#10 posted 08-04-2014 12:01 AM

Just perfect Larry.
Every detail is excellent but my eye goes to the circles and lettering, both inside and out. Cutting irregular shapes is very forgiving. Lettering and circles…...not so much, and you carried both off perfectly.
I also really like the end grain banding. That must have been fun but well worth the effort.

As for “true” marquetry techniques …. according to no less an expert on the subject than Pierre Ramond what you have done is one of the earliest forms of marquetry. In his book “Marquetry” (on the first page no less) he refers to inlay in a solid substrate (by the Italian tarsia certosina) as the “first technique used” in early marquetry.

Love the box Larry !

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View rtbrmb's profile


833 posts in 3677 days

#11 posted 08-04-2014 12:36 AM

Incredible-so many details & all executed to perfection.

Thanks for sharing

Bill in MI

View larryw's profile


335 posts in 3951 days

#12 posted 08-04-2014 01:01 AM

Thanks everyone for all your kind comments.

-- "everything is beautiful, but not everyone sees it" ~confucius-551-449 b.c.~

View larryw's profile


335 posts in 3951 days

#13 posted 08-04-2014 01:40 AM

Paul, thanks for your comments, and you’re right, the first marquetry was done as inlay during the roman era, and as you stated is known as tarsia certosina, but in the modern era inlay and marquetry have come to mean two different things, although similar. The predominant use of mostly wood veneers for inlay( although fairly thick 1/8 inch or so) in this project would probably classify it closer to marquetry and, as Dennis Zonger stated some parquetry too, with the geometric shapes of the stars. I guess when I think of marquetry, I think of thin veneers of wood cut to shape, assembled with tape and glued directly to a substrate. Inlay on the other hand ,and I quote from well know inlay artist Larry Robinson’s book-The Art Of Inlay- has traditionally been a composition of shell, metal, stone ,and tusk ( with wood to a lesser degree) that is glued into a cavity that has been hollowed out of the surface. Thanks again Paul

-- "everything is beautiful, but not everyone sees it" ~confucius-551-449 b.c.~

View Spoontaneous's profile


1340 posts in 4619 days

#14 posted 08-04-2014 10:55 AM

Signed in just so I could salute you. What a gift for your Dad!!

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

View 489tad's profile


4081 posts in 4300 days

#15 posted 08-04-2014 11:58 AM

What a fantastic gift.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

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