From Marxism to American Marksman, 3d Printing new Pistol Grips 

Yugoslavian M57 Tokarev (7.62x25mm) circa 1960s



All photos of completed project at bottom of page.

The story:

In 2014 I purchase the Ugly Duckling of pistols.  A heavily modified, drilled, tapped, and died hard in the wool project Tokarev.  This thing was missing the trigger assembly, and various parts from the slide.  It had some seriously home made wooden grips (think pressed board, a file, and drill; now throw it off a tall building), which I threw into the trash. 


After transforming the pistol to a nearly operational state: from home rebluing to new parts & magazines, I discovered it to be inoperable.  For the sole reason that the slide action would cause the trigger assembly to, well, disassemble itself without pistol grips to keep it in position.  So it sat for almost 6 years, alone, in a drawer…… finally, it was ready to be reeducated and proceed with the process of normalization.


It must have been sitting with books by William Blackstone, John Locke, and Ludwig von Mises, because it called for me to voluntarily give it a new perspective and lease on life.

The Solution:

We take you from start to finish on creating new, attractive pistol grips; Using Reference Photos, 3d Modeling, 3d Printing, Finishing Techniques, Finalizing the Hardware, Fine Tuning, and Mounting.  Make sure to consider the software below and prepare for a journey into this restoration.


You can download Blender, GIMP, Cura, & Chitubox through their links, all free software (Chitubox requires free registration).  They all run on Mac, Linux, and Windows.

Note: Click on any image to view a large version





The Problem Child 

Unfortunately, this guy had been heavily modified, from a welded beaver tail & trigger guard (done quite well IMHO), to drilled holes for the pistol grips, a lanyard delete, and import safety holes with no safety.  While the drilled holes may have lined up with a standard 1911, the reverse side wouldn’t of had the correct recesses and protrusions to allow proper operation of the firearm.


This meant I couldn’t just purchase something online. While this would have been the “free market thing to do” we finally decided to create a pair from scratch.  


Setting scale, adjusting reference, and generating reference object (Essential for all projects)

First, we must set the scale in blender and adjust the reference photos to represent the real world.

Setting Scale in Blender to mm


Reference Photos


Next, we will create a 2d model of the open area for the grip seating, alignment, and scale.

Import into GIMP (or Inksape, if comfortable), and create a Bezier Curve of the open area

Generate a selection from the path (You could skip this, but solves issues if the path is not closed)

Next, Selection to Path, and export to SVG

Finally, open in Inkscape, double click, select any color (which creates a face for Blender), and overwrite/save the SVG file


Note: It is only necessary to do one side because the holes are the same dimension, mirror images, of each other.


Importing Reference Photo & Principle Shape

Next we will set up the reference photo(s) in Blender, and import the SVG file from earlier.



Important: Make sure to take a Y axis measurement of the opening in real life, and then scale your SVG/Curve in Blender to match (an X axis may not work because Blender will measure opposite corner points, which is not what you want). Next, scale and position your reference image to match from Top/Bottom Views (Tip: adjust image transparency to fine tune position)


Modeling Basic Shape

After everything is set up, we are ready to start modeling.


First, convert our curve to a mesh (Tip: these menus can be found by pressing F3 and searching)

Lets Extrude (E), press Enter immediately, and then Scale (S) to our desire grip size

Then, Extrude (E) again, and choose desired thickness, in this case 3mm (3), after, lets press Delete the faces to clean up the geometry for later (Del, select Dissolve Faces)

A Bevel (CTRL+B) with a bit of smoothness (Mouse Wheel Up) is pretty essential.  In this case we didn’t use Clamp (C) and choose to clean up the geometry after.




What is a pistol grip without grip one may wonder, and then assert.  Now we make sure it may only be pried from one’s cold dead hands in the time between passing and rigor mortis.


The “Grip”

There is no right way, while arguably there are a million wrong ways to do this.  Here is a summary of how I accomplished it.


Standard Tokarev Grip (Notice grip goes from top-bottom giving lateral/rotational grip)

Credit Wikipedia

Creating Texture

Now this is where you can get creative, but repeating shapes always call for an array

A rectangle, rotated on the Z axis to match grip, and Y axis 45°

Array Applied

Object copied and rotate 180° on Y Axis(R, Y, 180).  Array adjusted, and object re-positioned.

Create a box where we want the bling, the apply a Boolean Difference modifier.

Boolean objected created, using copy of first object.  In Edit Mode, Selecting the two extreme X&-X faces, Then CTRL+I to select everything else, and deleting.  After that the two faces left are extruded creating the beast below.

Finally we are left with this:


I know that was a lot, and in fact you may need to apply a remesh modifier to some objects if the boolean operations are not operating correctly.  Then you can apply a Decimate modifier as not to bog down your computer. I suggest then copying, and the Joining (CTRL+J) everything for the mass boolean operation later in the tutorial.



Now, we have to express ourselves.  Choose whatever you wish, however, in this tutorial we choose to pay homage to the US Constitution and Texas.

Download the SVGS here


Going to start with the Texas Flag, import SVG, and scale and position.  Then we will reset the the scale using CTRL+A.

Next lets copy the blue section, and in edit model delete the four corners, we’ll be left with a solid star.  After, we will set the origin (F3, search origin) and scale each section down.

Set the solidify modifier on each to about 0.75mm.  They should all be snapped to the face of the grip, then moved up 0.01mm for the following boolean operation to work correctly.


Now lets set up the other image.


Solidify & “Garnish” w/ rectangles

Convert to mesh

Position & Boolean





Finally, we will use our reference photos to make some holes.  I did this quite a few times, and then got different bolts, so the bottom will show the final boolean object.


Two Cylinders

Positioned appropriately

Our Screws

Let model up a facsimile, Then F3, “Bridge Edge Loops”, Face Each End (F), then extrude the top face 1mm


Now we’ll make some room for the magazine button

Here is the result

Printed a couple of these in the FDM printer to verify the fit and seating. 7 minute print.


Additionally, my pistol required a couple protrusions and recesses to keep the trigger in place, and another to allow the magazine safety to have room to operate.  


The opposite grip

I focused on making one side very well, and my strategy for the other side was to use the Mirror modifier.  You’ll want to make sure you apply this to a copy of the original.


The Boolean Stack

The process is to use the Mirror Modifier on the X axis at the very bottom.  Apply the “Grip” boolean, and then apply the Mirror.



Next, in edit model select linked (L), and delete those vertices.


Follow the above directions to get the results you want, line up the screw holes, apply the booleans. Now we are good to go!





Exporting & Printing

Use the Decimate Modifier, and export both grips in STL.

See our previous tutorial for more details (Set Z up on export to Z)

Here, Scroll to Step #4


Use Cura and a FDM printer for prototypes ($$$), position at about 80 degrees tilt, and use a raft with supports.


For Resin Printers, Chitubox does best with a 30 Degree tilt, and plenty of supports








Now we need to make these look “purdy”. We add in each color, and cure in between to avoid mixing.


Curing Unit

Fill with PK tool (or similar)



Blue (or “Cyan” darn you Amazon)

Lets wet sand with 600 grit


Finally, I dip a brush into the black and paint a “clear coat” all over, and cure again.



Screw selection from Home Improvement store

Blue solution

Blue the screws


Mounted and displayed.







In Conclusion

Thank you so much for checking out another Third Dimension Texas tutorial.  We really hope you enjoyed and look forward to see what y’all come up with.


If you have any questions, don’t be shy to contact us.


We would provide STLs, but I believe the screw holes are unique to this pistol and the previous gunsmith’s caprice.  If interested in them, contact the address above.


If you are interested in getting started with 3d printing, be sure to check out our store.




Using 3d printers to Repair a Shift Cover

2011 Nissan Sentra (B16/Sixth Gen)

Let you in on a little secret,  it gets hot in Texas, really hot.  In the post we will create a shift cover for a six speed Nissan Sentra which was destroyed by the Texas heat.


Here we’ll go from start to finish to create a whole new one from scratch, all for around $1-$2.


Using a 3d printer, open source software such as Blender, Gimp, & Cura, reference photos, and a little bit of patience, we will gussy up this poor little shifter knob.

You can download Blender, GIMP, Cura, & Chitubox through their links, all free software (Chitubox requires free registration).  They all run on Mac, Linux, and Windows.

Note: Click on any image to view a large version




Reference photos

First we will need to take the photos to import into our modeling software.  The crop them in Gimp, and then import them as reference photos in Blender


Reference photos


Cropping in GIMP


Imported in Blender on correct planes


Setting scale and adjusting references, and first modeling

Okay, we have taken the time to get clear, cropped reference photos, and imported them into blender using orthographic mode and setting the correct orientation using the (CTRL+)1/3/7/9 on the number pad.

Now, we must set the scale in blender and adjust the reference photos to represent the real world.

Setting Scale in Blender to mm


Here we set the dimensions of the cube to the 3 dimensions we took with a caliper of the shift knob. (This step must be precise).  We then scale/move each image (using num pad and ortho. view) to fit nicely into the cube.  Take your time here!  

If the above step is an issue, you may need to change the opacity of the images.  The cube may also be moved only on one axis, but should be zeroed to the origin again for each view.




We then create a plane, delete two vertices, and position accurately in front/back/side views. Then we use Extrude (E) in orthographic side view to the shape of the shift knob.  Use front and back views to see where to start and stop.

(NOTE: this image was taken after many iterations, the first version was perfectly aligned to the image and was a slight bit off.  The far left vertices are a loop cut which was Scaled (S) to ad a curve to the shape.)


Procedural Shaping 

Now that we have a 2.5d plane, we can start to add some thickness and features.


Subdivision and Solidify (Smooths and thickens, making a 3d object)


Model the shift numbers, screw hole and miscellaneous bits which need to be cut out or added to our basic shape


Apply bool(Union & Difference) modifiers


Finally we have the result:



Exporting and Slicing

Now we are ready to export the file to STL and plug in to Cura for the prototype prints.


To limit the STL file size, I recommend a decimate modifier.  Also this can prevent the FDM style printers from becoming overloaded by too many points.  This removes 85% of the geometry and still maintains the curves, shapes, and dimensions.


In Blender, export as STL (now the scale setting from step #2 is important here)


Make sure to set “Selection Only”, “Apply Modifiers”, & Transform, UP to “X UP”

Now, drag into Cura and set High Quality, choose to add supports, block supports which may be unnecessary, and set adhesion  to “raft” (otherwise it risks not sticking).  It is about a 1hr print.




First Printing & Fitting

While our final goal is the print in a resin printer, we will print in our Creality Ender 3 becuase it is quick and cheap in comparison. 


Just finished printing. Green was loaded up so green it is!

Checking fit and seeing where it is too short/long, or curved incorrectly



Fixing Model

After taking precise measurement of the prototypes short…or long comings, then we use the proportional editing tool in blender.


In my case, I went through steps #05 & #06 about 5 times resulting in 5 fit tests. Extended end points, moved bolt shank, and took larger recess cuts out after adjusting my prints.


Proportional Editing (O), select two vertices, and then Move (G), constrained to one axis (Y in this case)(Y hotkey)


Pile of progress


Resin Printing (Slicing, Printing, Post Processing)

In order to get superb results, and with stand the Texas heat (PLA “melts” in a hot car) I decided from early on I’d print in my Elegoo Mars SLA printer.  (The Creality LD-002R would work just the same for this purpose)


Slicing in Chitubox

I give the it a slight rotation so it’ll be off the build plate (Elegoo Mars, while awesome, has a flaw where anything touching the build plate loose 1-2mm in height, making precision impossible)


Also add some supports around 1mm in width.  

Slice, and then load on the USB stick.


Resin Printing

We level our build plate, clean everything with a microfiber cloth, load up the resin and press print!  3 hrs later here is what we have:


Post Processing and Finishing

Scrape off the build plate into some denatured alcohol (Isopropyl is best, but too expensive right now due to 2020 being the most interesting year)


Shake in a bowl filed with the denatured alcohol, removing excess resin.


UV cure for some time.  I made this unit with some parts I purchased off of Amazon.  The solar power tray spins with the UV lights.




To finish off the part, I grabbed the white resin for my printer and used a small tool to pick up drops of resin fill the recessed portion with the shift number diagram,  Leaving it slight domed, then UV cured again; Finally we sanded the whole piece with 600 grit wet/dry sand paper to smooth and level out the text portion to be even with body.


After white fill-in

This whole process left quite a “chalky” appearance, so I grabbed a brush, dipped it into the original black resin, wiped off most of it, then proceeded to paint on a thin coat to the whole piece.  Another UV cure and here is the result I was left with:

In its natural habitat


Follow Up (July 17th)

Here is the latest, better formed, version:


If you have the same vehicle, shoot me an email and I’ll send you the STL


If you enjoyed this article, please consider subscribing to our Email List and we hope to add more articles like this in the near future!


Good luck!



-Karlan T. Mitchell