Introduction: Blue Jean Pocket Watch

Picture of Blue Jean Pocket Watch

Denim micarta is a fun material to work with and super easy to make and it's a very durable material! So I decided to take a crack at a Blue Jean Pocket watch!

Step 1: Getting Started

Picture of Getting Started

What is micarta? Micarta is the general term for a material that is made from layers of cloth or paper glued together with resin. It's a very strong and durable material! it's very popular with knife makers, but I find as a wood turner it's perfect for working with lathe tools!

I started with a pair of jeans from a stranger. I didn't have any pairs near death so I visited the Goodwill and got a cheap pair with a nice deep blue dye. They were washed....several times...

Next, I cut them up into 2" squares. Nothing too precise as I will be turning this on the lathe.

NOTE: I didn't need ANYWHERE near this many squares or for them to be this large. A much smaller batch of micarta would have sufficed. I appear to have Italian grandmother syndrome, I cannot make a small portion of anything resin to save my life...

This is an old plastic food container. It makes for a great mold. I give it a couple sprays of mold release and set it aside as it needs to dry before we pour the resin.

Step 2: Making Micarta

Picture of Making Micarta

The resin I'm using is called Total Boat. It's a marine epoxy primarily used for fiber-glassing boats but I've had good luck with this type of resin for making micarta. One of the reasons why I like it is the ease of dispensing it.
This particular system is a 3:1 mix of resin to hardener but with the pumps provided I just have to do one pump from each. I started with 3oz as wasn't sure how much this would require. About 2/3 of the way through I needed more so I mixed up another 2oz. Easy.

As for the process, it is simple and goes quickly. Add a few squares of fabric, then some resin. I press then it down with my gloved fingers and repeat. In about 5 mins or so I've used 30 squares and 5oz of resin. Again. WAY MORE THAN NEEDED. (You'll see the object size at the end)

I don't clamp it. The voids add interest stand the resin will more than hold. If anything delaminates, you can always brush on some more resin for a patch.

Step 3: Prepping for Turning

Picture of Prepping for Turning

24 hours later it was ready to be machined. The micarta is super hard but works easy with woodworking tools.

It's really odd when you first de-mold it. Nothing looks different than before. It appears to be a wet block of jeans. BUT it's very heavy and hard as a ROCK. I cut it flat on the band saw (probably unneeded) and then took it to the drill press where I bored out a hole.

I used a 1 3/8 forstner bit to drill out a recess. This hole serves two purposes.

1. It will be used for mounting the blank on my wood lathe
2. It matches with the clock insert that I purchased

Step 4: Turning the Shop Blue

Picture of Turning the Shop Blue

I'm using my 4 jaw chuck to hold the block on the lathe. It has jaws that fit inside the recess and then expand out for hold it steady. I then bring up my tailstock for extra stability.

Once the jean block is mounted on the lathe, I use my roughing gouge to turn it into round. Sharp tools make short work of the jean material and it really works very nicely. You'll get long shaving and a dusting of blue denim all over you.

At this point, the lathe station is in full 1986 mode. I'm singing "Electric Blue" by Icehouse and working on my mullet.

I round over the back with a scraper and lightly sand the watch cover to 120 grit. It doesn't need much in my opinion.

Step 5: Managing My Expectations

Picture of Managing My Expectations

I'm quite pleased as I take it off the lathe, but once I test fit the timepiece OK.

That looks ridiculous. The field of blue is huge. I've never seen a pocket watch that looks like that! Obliviously I need to turn it down a bit more...

And so I do. As you can see from the final dimension I lot less resin and denim could have been used to get here.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

The clock movement fits in the recess with a satisfying click but can still be easily removed to replace the battery or adjust the time.

I drill a small hole in the least safe manner. (oh the joys of getting a good camera angle) This is where a small silver eye hook will screw in and then I added a chain on.

No finish for this piece. You can add a finish, like lacquer or poly but I really like the feel of the jean.

I then took a couple of glamor shots! Thanks for looking!


tejolote (author)2017-12-10

Incredible. I sent this to my dad to expand his views of what his lathe can do.

vishnumaiea (author)2017-08-22

Wow, never new of Micarta. Really cool. Thanks for sharing :)

bwittle-gaylor (author)2017-08-04

Very cool and interesting process and outcome!!!

kludge77 (author)bwittle-gaylor2017-08-08


Graymayne (author)2017-08-05

Dident know peter brown was on here

kludge77 (author)Graymayne2017-08-08

I love it here!

About This Instructable




Bio: Come spend some time in the shop. I'm a hobbyist woodworker and professional computer geek in Northern California. I guess my projects will vary ... More »
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