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I’m going to be making some Micarta for the handles on a couple bottle openers.

This will be my first attempt at making it I will be making both a traditional as well as a rag style.

 

Does anyone here make their own ?

 

 

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I was going to pop out a Frosty wise crack about a couple spots on my pants but have an interest in making some myself so I'll be good and read along. . . For now. :ph34r:

Frosty The Lucky.

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I went to JoAnn fabric today with my wife and didn’t even complain!

I bought 4 yards of three different colors and 1/2 gallon of resin.

I’ll be making a press frame this week (we’ll see how that goes) and hopefully get around to making some the end of this week or next.

I really like the look of the Rag style, but I’ll just bet that’ll be the one that gives me fits.

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Hmph. D'you know, it never even occurred to me that I could make my own?

I'm definitely interested in seeing how this comes out.

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I made some of my own from an old pair of faded ripped blue jeans.

My dad does custom cabinets so I just took some 3/4 cabinet grade plywood scraps and built a little box that the lid would just fit inside. Lined it with wax paper, then used a couple clamps to compress the lid down.

 

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I actually just used fiberglass resin for body repair. Only thing I could get locally. It turns fairly dark though, so probably not something you want to use on a nice wood or something you are trying to show colors on. I just was doing it more for proof of concept to myself.

 

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Casting resin is pretty clear. I picked up some for thick coating things like table tops and such at Home Depot that claims to set up clear. I used it with a little xylene as a thinner and retarder to stabilize Myrtle wood for scales to finish the seax collaboration project I got involved in. The quart mason jar I used for a vacuum chamber worked a treat but the left over resin set up even with the xylene. I guess it's ability to retard setting is limited. 

Anyway, the resin is a very pale amber at 3.5" thick. Also I cut bright green felt for spacers the G Flex epoxy I used to glue the handle made it into micarta in place. I should've used 2 layers but it didn't discolor in such a thin layer.

Have you thought about collecting lint from the clothes dryer for micarta?

Frosty The Lucky.

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I've also used fiberglass resin to make micarta.  I've used blue jeans, cotton shirts, and construction paper with good results.  The resin by itself cures to an amber color and changes the color of most things I've used roughly the same as wetting with water.

Once you mix the resin your time is limited, so make sure you have everything laid out before mixing.  Put your stack in the order you want, have your boards, or whatever you use to compress the layers coated with wax paper and ready, and set your clamps so they are open where you want them.  Time goes fast when you're trying to saturate 20 or 30 layers of material and get them stacked properly in about 10 minutes.  Disposable nitrile gloves should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway.

You should be able to use acetone to clean resin from surfaces that you don't want it on before it cures.

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I've heard that the surf board resin works pretty good too. Guess it would depend on price over normal casting resin as to which would be better.

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Does anyone use anything as a releasing agent if you’re using a mold?

I was planning to coat the inside of my molds with Paste Floor Wax then add the wax paper on top of that.

Also I’m getting different answers so I’ll ask you guys, how much pressure is just enough as I don’t want to squeeze too much of the resin out.

I’ve seen folks simply set a paving brick on top & I’ve seen folks clamp it down tight.

* here’s the 3x9” molds I made from scrap oak & MDF. The lids are a loose fit to accommodate the double wax paper on the top & bottom.

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I just used wax paper. I wrapped around the lid and put a couple staples in the top to hold it in place so I didn't have to fight it, and then just lined the inside of the box. Mine are basically the same thing as what you made. 

I'm no expert, but the pressure sort of depends on what you are using. Blue jeans or flat material you aren't (shouldn't be) getting big amounts between the layers, but being flat could handle a little more pressure. Using something like scotchbrite or wood chips, you aren't going to want massive amounts or you will squeeze all of the resin out of your piece(s).

I just used some of those quick grip bar clamps on each end and snugged them down just to hold the lid even and in place. Snug, but not reefing on them at all.

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I decided to give it a go today.
As something different I’m attempting some Scotch Brite Micarta.

I decided to make a mold that can be disassembled should the resin seep past the wax paper.
I also used floor paste wax to coat the inside of the mold to work as a releasing agent.
I found a scratch pad that’s 1/2” thick.
Way better than the thin ones as it gets thinner as it’s compressed.
I should be able to get a 3/8” thick piece of Micarta if it turns out.
Supposedly this type doesn’t need much pressure so I’m using a 4lb Warwood cross peen hammer head as a weight.
I also tinted the resin to more of a black in hope that it’ll make the blue stand out better.

 

I ‘ll  see how it turns out tomorrow.


 

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Turned out well.

The floor wax helped as it popped right out after scraping the over flow that squeezed out the top.

 

 

 

 

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My fear of having to tear apart the 3”x9” molds was unfounded.

I glued it up so disassembly wasn’t really an option.
The floor wax made it come out without any issue.
One actually came out with the lid .
 
I now have three blanks to experiment with.

 

YouTube Video link to the removal from the mold.

https://youtu.be/o8qtxoz7dL0

 

 

 

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Has anyone polished Micarta & if so what grit did you go up to?

did you progress to a polishing compound as well ?

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Well, now I know what I’ll be doing with the mold once I finish making my NARB. 

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An alternative to waxed paper is mylar sheet.  It's been ages since I did resin casting but back in the day, mylar sheet would not stick to the resin and would leave a glossy surface to start with (handy in some situations).  Gotta be decent sheet....and I'd run a simple test just to make sure nothing has changed between 1977 and now in materials.

Waxed paper aint what it used to be--the wax used to be far heavier.  I always get a kick out of it being mentioned because it reminds me of my Dad.  He always called it "bread paper" because in the 20's, "store-bought" bread was always wrapped in it.  The benefit to him was that you could slide down the playground slide on it and get the thing really slick and fast to make sliding more fun.

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9 hours ago, GrumpyBiker said:

Has anyone polished Micarta & if so what grit did you go up to?

Yes.  I've taken it up as far as 2000 grit.  That's probably overkill for most things and does result in a somewhat slippery handle.   Start around 200 and go up until you find what you like. 

I did put it on the buffer briefly once, but again you create a potentially slippery handle which is not ideal for most applications. You can't stay on the buffer long either.  Too much heat is not a good thing for fiberglass resin micarta.

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Well, here it is....
It’s both a success & a failure.
It turned out fine but it’s not the effect I’d hoped for.
It appears I needed more pressure in the mold to compress the scratch pad.
As it is I can take it as a learning experience as my first interaction with making & shaping Micarta. 

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That's a pretty neat effect I like it. 

A few points from an old rubber plant employee and surfer:

Fiberglass resin as used on surfboards or Corvette bodies, etc. is "laminating resin" and is darker.

Casting resins are intended to set and cure clear, take dyes and not form bubbles. You've seen a scorpion in a block of "Lucite" yes? Polyester casting resin. 

We used to hot wax for a release agent, a blow drier and bar of paraffin wax works perfectly, warm the surface and wipe the wax on from the bar when it feels slick. Just like buttering a warm baking dish. 

Paste wax works a treat, no need to change what works.

The problem with using wax paper or saran wrap is preventing excess resin escaping the micarta. You want the press to press the excess resin out of the piece, forcing the components, fibers, particles, strings, Levis, etc. into close contact. That's not to say you want to crush everything together completely, the look, texture and various effects change with compression. The less resin the stronger the product but we're not looking for much strength here.

You can slow setting by cooling the block or accelerate by warming. Making resins set fast is considered a B-A-D thing. The other way to adjust set and cure times is adjusting the catalyst, slower is stronger. Adding more catalyst than called for is called "mixing it HOT" mostly because it'll get hot as it sets. Too hot and it'll spontaneously combust. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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