Building tips # 4 “Making Homemade Micarta”

Discussion in 'New project ideas' started by LW, Nov 27, 2013.

  1. LW

    LW New Member

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    After many attempts and some unsuccessful results, this is the way I do my Homemade Micarta.

    I'm not saying that this is the best way, but for me it works very well.

    I cut a few strips of “Kapa fix.”
    For those who do not know, architects often use this for architecture models.

    MI01.jpg

    One side is provided with an adhesive film. You can easily cut this with a knife or a cutter.

    MI02.jpg

    Then I glue the strips to a wooden board. (As well you might use thin strips of wood)
    It creates a rectangular shape like a small pool.
    As you can see on the picture, the mold is a bit wider on each side as the material I want to laminate. I chose about one or two cm.

    MI03.jpg
    MI04.jpg

    Now I take aluminum foil and press it gently into the mold. It is very important that the foil is nowhere torn and that there are no wrinkles in the middle.


    MI05.jpg

    The next step is the most important one. As you can see on the picture I have prepared everything well.
    For the laminating I use Polyester Resin, it is way cheaper then Epoxy Resin and it does its job too.
    You see some foil on the table, some old Clamps, a container where I mix the Resin, the material I want to laminate (three different colored textile), disposable gloves (I always wear two superimposed, you can quickly pull out one pair of and still has some new ones under it.) a second wood panel wrapped with aluminum foil (Also, pay attention that it has no wrinkles)

    MI06.jpg

    For this kind of lamination I use about 300 Gramm of resin and only a few drops of Hardener. For 300 grams Resin is recommended 7.6 gram hardener. But this is way too much. Then the mixture is hard in about 5 minutes. You can’t work that fast.
    I cannot say exactly how much hardener I use, but maybe there are 1 or 1.5 gram hardener.

    I have not taken photos about what comes next, that's a ****ing work.

    I put cloth for cloth in the mixture, and then I press each of the cloths in my hand like a handkerchief, what you want to throw away. Every part of the cloth must be covered with the Mixture. You could easily see this, it looks like a small wet towel. Then I put each layer in my mold. This work has to be done very carefully, no wrinkles. It took me about 10 minutes.
    Now the stack is about 15 - 20 mm high. Gently I put the second board with the aluminum foil on it and use my clamps.
    In some YouTube videos I have seen people put a lot of force on the clamps. This is wrong. Sure you need a little pressure, but if you press too hard, it just pushes the whole Resin from the cloth.
    I start slowly on the side and then a last clamp in the middle.

    Now, the big advantage comes from the Mold. With this Method it is not so easy to press the package oblique since the edge of the mold is about 5 mm high. Also it prevents all the resin from pouring out.

    MI07.jpg

    When everything is hand-tightened you have to wait a day.

    MI08.jpg

    As can be seen in the pictures, you can easy remove the aluminum foil from the package.

    MI09.jpg

    This method gives me a very good uniform result. The differences from side to side are only 0.05 mm.
    I have built myself different size of Molds for different sized Micarta plates 15 x 20 cm to 18 x 24 cm.

    MI10.jpg



    What was built from the Micarta in the pictures, I will introduce here very soon. :D



    I hope it was helpful for you, and it saves you a few failures.
     
  2. BeMahoney

    BeMahoney Builder of things

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    Like a gearbox!

    Hey LW,

    this Is a forum working like a gearbox.

    :)

    Good to know you,
    hoping to meet you!

    McFriend!

    (your PM-box needs to be emptied..)

    p.s.:

    The press supports 20 x 20 cm..
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013

  3. Tilia

    Tilia Junior Member

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    great how thing progress if noses are pointing the same way :)
     
  4. JohnKrakatoa

    JohnKrakatoa Loudest boom on Earth

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    very nice. Thanks a lot LW. Cant believe forum tech is not capable of opening a new section for these tips and how to's.

    Seeing this I gotta say clamps are better for resin pressin Be... your press will stick together after some use.
     
  5. artons

    artons New Member

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    I-MUST-TRY-IT
    Thank you for this tutorial, i think that is the best on the net.
    I watched a lot of videos about micarta but this is surely the most useful :)
     
  6. Withak

    Withak aka Whitehawk!

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    Good thinking LW! I've seen a few videos on making micarta laminate on YouTube and I had wondered how people were able to get a consistent thickness. Your solution makes a lot of sense. So many great minds working here, it's great to see the ingenuity and innovation. Nice job.
     
  7. kohlqez

    kohlqez Accident-Prone

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    :D I just asked Be how to do this yesterday! Thanks for the tutorial, could you clarify what you mean by "I put cloth for cloth in the mixture, and then I press each of the cloths in my hand like a handkerchief, what you want to throw away. Every part of the cloth must be covered with the Mixture. You could easily see this, it looks like a small wet towel." That part threw me off a little bit. Also what kind of materials can be micarta-ed? I've only seen cloths like denim and burlap, but is it possible to do I don't know like a leaf or really thin plywood or leather? I imagine that the most important thing is the absorbing quality of the cloth but I really haven't got much insight into the science of this process. Ooh maybe you could do a sponge!
     
  8. dolomite

    dolomite Banned

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    looks way less messy than the way I made mine, I'll have to try it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  9. beaverIII73

    beaverIII73 Junior Member

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    Can't wait to see what you make, and thanks for the "how to".
     
  10. Ghosth

    Ghosth Over the hill but still swinging!

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    Kohlqez, I could be wrong, but I read/interpreted that something like this.

    He has all of his cloth to make a given batch in a stack. And he has some kind of container of resin.

    I put cloth for cloth in the mixture,
    Take a cloth off the stack, put it into the resin,

    and then I press each of the cloths in my hand like a handkerchief,
    Then he is squeezing each cloth, probably so that each piece of fabric gets a measured amount of resin, not too much, not too little. Too much is wasted, too little makes dry pockets or bubbles where it won't be stuck together.

    what you want to throw away. Every part of the cloth must be covered with the Mixture. You could easily see this, it looks like a small wet towel.


    Then I put each layer in my mold. (And repeat until the stack is done.)

    From what I have read, video's watched, mastering this is about mastering getting the exact right amount of resin on each piece of fabric. Manage to do that and I suspect you will have material you can work with.

    Dry pockets means wasted material and resin that are thrown away, an entire batch gone, because of poor quality control.

    I suspect that polyester resin is considerably cheaper than good epoxy.

    All of the above is based on my "best guess" with not much experience and could be wrong.
    Use at your own risk.
     
  11. kohlqez

    kohlqez Accident-Prone

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    But could you do a sponge? I think I wanna try that
     
  12. Ghosth

    Ghosth Over the hill but still swinging!

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    The holes would be cool.

    Yes I suspect if you worked at it you could probably do sponge. Both alone or with cloth over or under it.
    Sponge "islands" rising out of a blue denim sea on a slingshot or knife handle.

    A batch or 2 of resin, some cure time, sponge would be quick and easy to work, but I suspect hard to finish. :)
     
  13. Courier

    Courier Senior Member

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    This is a great method to make micarta!
    You did a wonderful job, LW.
     
  14. Snader76

    Snader76 Dysfunctional Member

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    Thank you for tutorial.