Exclusive: From The Bench — TIG Weld Your 1911?

By Roy Huntington

See how the groove points on the 1911 are convex rather than concave? This is what Roy was tasked with helping to change. The copper piece is a “dam” to keep the TIG weld from flowing into the border cuts.

Okay, so I’ve been helping my friend with his 1911 builds. I’ve stumbled my way into learning how to TIG weld over the past few years, at least good enough to “get the job done” at times. My young friend called not long ago and sort of casually mentioned, “Um, think you can weld up some lines on the top of a 1911 slide for me? Sorta’ soon?” I asked him what’s the real question …

Seems he had milled some decorative lines into the top of a friend’s 1911 slide, after he has milled it flat. Then his friend decided he wanted the lines “different.” Oops. My friend thought we could TIG weld the old work over, then he could mill it flat again and re-machine in the lines. I said “sure” and acted like it was no big deal.

Actually, it was a big deal because I had never done anything like that before! Note how the little line points make what looks like an arrowhead in the first photo. That was the issue, you see. He wanted the points to be concave rather than convex. Yikes! The copper piece is a sort of “dam” I put in place to keep the TIG weld from flowing into the border cuts. Hopefully …

This pic shows where Roy has plenty of TIG weld material on the top of the slide.

The second photo shows the “not that pretty but at least plenty!” of TIG weld over the cut lines. I tried to weld just the back but it kept melting the sharp line tops so ended up running weld the length of the slide. I showed the pic to my friend and he just said, “Well, cross your fingers!” The vote of confidence wasn’t inspiring.

A milling machine is shown here cutting the material back to the proper depth.

The third photo shows the mill in his machine making the final cut to depth. When he sent me this picture I started to breathe again! Bingo!

Finished, with concave point tips rather than convex.

The last photo shows the final lines cut with only final finishing by hand to do. Note how the points are now concave. While we both thought it was fine before, but evidently it was important to my buddy’s friend to have it this way!

Thought you’d enjoy this little adventure I had, and we’ll post more as time passes.

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