Thanks to Wirecutter at Knuckledraggin' My Life Away, we find a link to a new way of making a 1911 from an 80% frame without a milling machine. Designed at Stealth Arms, the new fixture, called a Phantom Jig, guides your cutting of the necessary features by hand. The operations required to complete their version of the 80% frame are to drill a couple of holes, cut the slide rails and the barrel seat. The Phantom Jig performs the cutting operations that would usually be done on a milling machine.
Wirecutter embeds this video, but I didn't watch all of. It's 45 minutes long - and the video author said it took 40 minutes to finish his frame. Stealth Arms has a video on the Phantom jig's page showing how this all works.
I post this because I like clever, and this approach just exudes clever. If you have even a table top drill press, you can drill the two holes you need to drill. (Seriously - get a drill press if you don't have one.) Then all you need is this fixture, a bench vise, an hour, and some good old fashioned elbow grease. I think I should warn that this fixture isn't going to get you there if you're trying to complete a steel frame. I think that requires more shear force than you can generate. Stealth Arms' frames are made of 7000 series aluminum, which is heat treated to a higher hardness than the more-common 6061-T6 "aircraft aluminum". 7075, for example, is used in high-end mountain bikes.
Making a 1911 is pretty high on my list of projects right now, and I'm keeping an eye out for a steel frame. Since I have a milling machine, and making one without the jig is cheaper, chances are that's the way I'll go.
Keep us posted!ReplyDelete
I'm "this close" to buying the jig and a couple of frames.
It is essentially a hand operated planer-a tool that used to be common in machine shops prior to high speed rotary tools AKA milling machines. With a sharp carbide or HSS cutter it would probably cut steel just fine.ReplyDelete
Check out Tactical Machining in Deland. They make 80% 1911 frames and AR 80%.ReplyDelete
Anon - I was going to say I have Tactical Machining on speed dial, but that's a slight exaggeration. I just have them bookmarked in the browser and visit fairly regularly.ReplyDelete
To reinforce what Anon 5/21 at 8:53 AM said, here's a YouTube video of a steel Tactical Machining steel frame cut with the Phantom Jig.ReplyDelete
Bottom line: the barrel seat was cut with a mix of the jig and a hand file. The rails were cut entirely with the jig, just as the jig design intended. And the result was a functional 1911 finished without a milling machine.
If you want a nice feature article on how the 1911 was made during wartime, "Machinery" magazine, December 1942, vol.49 number 4 has a nice insert article- machining steps, types and sizes of steel used for every part, etc., Written by Colts production manager, E. Herrick.ReplyDelete