Author Topic: How to make a sterling silver pistol triggergard from scratch.(pictures fixed)  (Read 10626 times)

Offline Rolf

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The triggergard is made of three parts, the foot, bow and rail. These are made separately and silver soldered together. I used 3mm sheet stock for the foot and the bow and 2mm sheet stock for the rail (tang).

1.Draw the triggergard you want to make.
2. Use the”hole” in the bow to make a pattern and make these jigs.

B) Bow hole pattern cut out of plywood

A) Bending block for the trigger bow. Use a router to make a copy of the bow hole pattern in 1.5” thick hard wood. Attach a piece of steel flat stock to the top of bending block and screw it to a hardwood base.

C) Anchor block. A piece of 1.5”thick hard wood.

D) Trigger bow holding block. Use a router to make a copy of bow hole pattern in 1.5” hardwood, but this time leave a base attached.

E) Bending block for triggergard tang, cut out of 1.5” thick hardwood.

F) Bending plate for triggergard tang. Take a 1.5” wide strip of 3mm(1/8”) brass and bend it around the bending bock for the trigger bow, the same way as with the bow blank ( will be explained later).

3.Designing blanks for triggergard parts.
Start with the bow blank. To find the length of the bow, Use a piece of paper to measure around the bow bending block. Remember to add 2.5 times the thickness of your sheet stock or the bow will be too short. Now draw your bow, then add ˝” rectangle to each end of your bow. Your bow blank pattern should look like this.

Now decide where the rail is going attach to the rear part of the bow and draw it on the bow pattern and add the tang. It should look something like this.

When you order sheet stock, its cut with big metal sears. This squashes the edges of the sheet. When placing the pattern for rail on the metal, make sure the front end of the rail is well away from this squashed edge or you will get a gap when you solder the rail to the bow.

Wait with drawing your foot until your bow is finished shaped and you can measure how wide it has to be to fit the bow.

4.Cutting out the parts.
Glue your patterns to the sheet stock. Don't use water based glues. Paper absorbs water and distorts the patterns. I use a spray on stencil glue. To avoid smudging the patterns when cutting the blanks, cover the paper with scotch tape.

I cut the blanks with a  jeweler's saw and try to stay 1/16” outside the lines. I also angel the saw away from blank because I can't keep the blade square on the blank when cutting curves. Next step is to file the blanks exactly to the lines. When I do this I angle the file towards the paper pattern glued to the blank.

Next I true up the blanks by putting the file in a machinist's vice and drag the blanks across the file

5.Bending the trigger bow.
 Attach the trigger bow blank to the anchor block and attach the anchor block to the bow bending block as shown.

When bending the bow, be sure to keep both square ends of the blank in contact with the base of bending block to avoid twisting the bow crooked.

Anneal the blank often. I had to anneal the blank five times to complete the bending.

6.Filing the bow flat.
When you bend the blank, the metal on the inside of the bow is compressed and has to go somewhere. It takes the path of least Resistance and causes the outer edges of the blank to thicken.

The bow is now 3.3 mm thick at the edges and 3mm in the middle and must be filed flat.

7.Filing the on the edges of the bow.
Use a pare of calibers to mark the bevel on the bow. I paint the bow with lay out blue so I can see the marks better. NB!!! Do not file a bevel where the rail is going to be attached to the bow. Holding the bow in your hand while filing is awkward. Use the trigger bow holding block. You can screw the bow to it using the same hole in the blank that attached it to the anchor block.

8.Cutting off the square ends.
Place the bow on the bow bending block without the anchor and saw off the square ends against the steel plate on the top of the bending block.

9.Level the bow.
Stand the bow on the table and check with a square that its level. If not adjust carefully with a file.

10.Solder on "ears" to bow.
The ears are made of brass sheet stock, 3mm thick for the bow and 2mm thick for the rails. Use medium hard silver solder (640 Celsius) for this and weak silver solder(540 Celsius) to attach the rail and foot to the bow. The ears are attached below the point where the rail is supposed to bend away from the bow. This is important. The rail and bow will be pinned together through the ears and will only be possible to bend the rail above the ears.

11.Solder "ears“ and "nose" on the rail blank.
The two ears are soldered with medium solder and the nose is done with weak solder. Now put your rail aside for the time being.

12.Now make your foot.
 Measure the width of the bow where its going to attach to the foot. When designing the foot, make sure its wide enough for the bow. Cut out the foot and do as much shaping as possible. Don't file a bevel where the bow will attach to the foot.

13.Attaching the foot to the bow.
Soldered a strip of thin(0.5mm)  silver sheet metal across the rear end of the foot with medium solder. This makes an edge to align the bow against. Place a piece of scrap metal , the same thickness as the foot, under the rear end of the bow. This keeps the bow level on the foot. I've wrapped a thin iron binding wire around my soldering block. This reduces contact between the triggergard and solder block and makes it easier to heat. Paint the ends of the foot and bow with liquid flux and position as shown. Place a few strips of weak silver solder in the angel between the bow and the thin metal strip on the foot. When heating, direct the flame from the front of the bow. When the solder melts, it will flow under the bow towards the heat, causing no slipage and making a strong thin joint. Do not “tin” parts prior to solderding. If you do this the parts will move when reheated and the solder flows.

14.Bending the rail.
Mark on the base of the bending block where you want the rail to attach to the bow. Place the bending plate(F) on the bending block and transfer these marks to the plate. Remember first to file the plate flat like you did to the bow.Take your rail pattern and glue it to the plate aligned with these marks. Slip the plate on to the bow holding block (D) and drill a hole where the middle of the rail “nose” will be. Drill the same hole in the rail “nose” and screw it to the plate. Use the rail patterns as guide lines when bend the rail. Anneal often. 

Your rail has now a curve that fits the bow. Remove the rail and heat until the nose falls off.

15.Pinning the rail to the bow.
Drill a hole in each of the rail's ears. Glue the rail to the bow with epoxy. Make sure it hangs straight.

Now you can drill the holes in the bow ears without the parts shifting. Remove the epoxy, paint parts with liquid flux and pin them together though the ears with brass nails.

16.Bending the rail tang away from the bow.
Put the triggergard on the bending block and attach the tang bending block(E) to the base, Make sure its tight up against the triggergard where you want the tang to bend away from the bow. The shape of the block is not important. It's purpose is to avoid pulling the rail lose from the bow when you bend the tang away from the bow.

17.Soldering the rail to the bow.
Place the triggergard on the solder block with the foot up and the bow down. Place weak silver solder in the angle where the tang bends away from the bow. Make sure the solder lays across the whole width of the bow and rail. Direct the heat to the tip of the rail so the solder flows down between the parts and fills the whole joint.

18.Finishing the triggergard.
Cut off the ears. File the gard to its finished shape. Polish to 800 grit. If you know where you want the lug, solder it to the foot with soft tin solder.

As long as the silver is brightly polished the solder seams won't show. When it tarnishes , they will be visable as thin grey lines. There is two ways to fix this.
a.Depletion gilding. Heat the gard with a propan torch until it turns black. The black stuff is cobberoxide. Now “cook” the gard in a hot sulfuric acid bath. This removes cobberoxide (and zinc) from both the seams and the silver. When finshed the gard will be coverd with a white layer of pure silver. Buff carefully a polish rag. The seams are now invisible as long as this layer is intact. I used to do this in the kitchen, until I dropped a jar of hot acid on the floor and my wife outlawed the process.
b.Silver plating. Send the gard to a firm that does silver plating. Ask for tableware/restaurant grad plating. This is thick and durable. Avoid jewelry grad plating.

19.Final comments.
I recommend you do a test run in brass, so you know your pattern turns out the way you want. I'm making a par of pistols. I do the steps on both gards in tandem. I find it's easier to get them identical that way.

Best regards


« Last Edit: January 13, 2020, 09:06:23 PM by rich pierce »

Offline Ky-Flinter

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Re: How to make a sterling silver pistol triggergard from scratch.
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2008, 08:37:11 PM »

Great tutorial.  Thanks!

Ron Winfield

Life is too short to hunt with an ugly gun. -Nate McKenzie

Offline Dennis Glazener

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Re: How to make a sterling silver pistol triggergard from scratch.
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2008, 11:01:16 PM »
Thanks for the great tutorial. I will be using your methods to make a brass pistol trigger guard in the very near future. Glad to have it to go by.
"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend" - Thomas Jefferson


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Re: How to make a sterling silver pistol triggergard from scratch.
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2009, 02:50:34 AM »
Rolfkt -- Wonderful tutorial on building triggerguards. (Re. you request that I post images of brass triggerguards using brass-colored solder, there's nothing I can show you that you don't already know . . .) I have puzzled over how to make "forms" for various elements of triggerguards, and have resorted to the crude method of trying to form these with a ball-peen hammer and various diameter steel pipes -- with little success. With your plywood "forms" for bending the elements, that removes the crude blacksmith-type forming (with which I have virtually no expertise/skill). I'm going to give it a try with brass. While I can teach you nothing, if I get it to work, and the results are at least marginally acceptable, I'll email you some images. Thanks for the help! -- paulallen

Offline Rolf

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Re: How to make a sterling silver pistol triggergard from scratch.
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2009, 02:35:55 PM »
Thank you for your kind comments. There are probably a lot of alternative ways to make triggergards, but I couldn't find any information on the subject.  I worked out this process by trial and error. I made 5 triggergards before I got it right. I hope the tutorial will help you avoid some of the pitfalls I fell into. Good luck with your project! Hope we get to see the results.

Best regards



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Re: How to make a sterling silver pistol triggergard from scratch.
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2009, 10:29:06 PM »
I have been looking for a trigger guard that matches a original Vincent and have found none that match.  Well now I will try to make one with your lesson!! I love this site!!!


Offline John SMOthermon

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Re: How to make a sterling silver pistol triggergard from scratch.
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2009, 09:35:49 PM »
Thank you for your time and the info. Great job.

Good Luck & Good Shootin'