Introduction: How to Make Handmade Ear Gauges/Plugs
I put this tutorial together to recap and update and just put the extra thing's on here that i forgot the mention in the How To Make Handmade Ear Gauges/Plugs video, and mention things and put extra tips and correct where i went wrong,
so i hope you all enjoy and find this tutorial useful,
Video link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3i37a3mMM-o
Step 1: Marking Out You're Circumference.
You might have realized i said YOU'REthe reason i say that is because the plug will be made to you're specific size, E.G, my ear is 36mm but i make the plug 38mm, the reason of that being is i allow 2mm for my flares, but by this time you're ear should be that size (E.G 36mm), as you should be aware, you should not stretch with hardwood plugs, so back onto this subject, allow at least 1mm for the flares you will be cutting into the plug, so grab you're marking tools, compass, calipers, and draw it out if you're making a 10mm plug then measure out 6mm on you're ruler then draw straight around, i went with 36mm so i mesured out 19mm a drew around and marked out the circle.
Step 2: Cutting Out.
Now were past the boring part of marking up we can finally get suited and booted meaning, PUT YOU'RE DAM PPE ON!!!, done that, good, now we can move on, so as show in the picture on here and on the video i decided to take this approach on the Band-saw, but you can use what ever you have, Hand saw, Jigsaw, can even use a file or rasp if you're persistent enough, i cut just around my lines not exactly to them, leave some extra waste on their to sand off later.
Step 3: Sanding.
So you left some waste to sand off? good, so at this stage it would be good to have a belt sander but, like i said if you are persistent enough you can use a file or a rasp i can't be certain that it will be round tho, or you could just not make these by hand and use a lathe, but that defies the point of hand made, so back to sanding i'm going to explain it with a belt sander, so set you're belt to the table 90 degrees this (i can not stress enough is crucial) and get sanding. Moving constantly in a rotating motion, till you get close to the lines, i use a 40 grit zirconia belt shown in the video but their for i make knives and metalwork and i only have these belts spare, so you might use something a little smarter than as i like to call though experience the "finger grater" then i use either a wore out 60 grit or a nice fresh 120 grit aluminum oxide then sand still rotating straight up to you're lines, it should, if executed properly be nicely circular if not, touch up the areas still rotating in areas not circular so to speak, notice the smaller the plug the harder it is, i have made many plugs, but the smaller ones are not easy, i no, but that's fine, refine you're technique and practice the size you desire. also this is where you determine you're thickness, standard is 10, but i have huge lobes so i'll go about 14mm for my final thickness, so sand down square to the table to you're desired thickness suiting you.
Step 4: Starting the Flares
Alright, the fun step, "did you hear the sarcasm screaming" so what we are doing in this step is filing in the recess i want to call it for the flares, if you see the picture and watch the video you will understand it's a channel for just creating the slope then i'll come in with a used (120 grit sanding belt rip of piece) so i'm using a 6mm round file single edge, also if you do have a good vice, that would be a good upper-hand, i use a cast iron "ye-olde" 1800's blacksmiths vice, but anything is better than nothing, i begin by positioning the file in the middle off the plug, supported by my finger's on each side, then counting my strokes, E.G. I do 10 forward and back stokes then turn it slightly, 10 strokes then turn, until i have an even channel all the way around, about a mm deep, then i put a piece off wore out 120 grit belt over the file (must be a belt), as shown and yet again with the 10 stroke method and supporting with you're fingers start sanding all the way around, then turn it around because one edge will be thicker than the other and yes, you guessed it, sand all around once again. "Alot of work and pain and time isn't it"? yeah, i no but carry on, all worth it in the end savvy. :) So once you have done this step you will notice you have high spots and flat corners and the flare's aren't necessarily "round" so for the exiting parting part "just what we need, more sarcasm Josh" hold it in you're hand and sand around, you will notice after a little while it seem's to become more round in shape, then lay a piece of sand paper on a flat surface, and rotate it on the piece of sandpaper, be careful because if you don't rotate, it could flatten the plug, then you will, scream, curse and kick the dog and have to start again if you don't like flat plugs.this should get rid of some of the high spots on the flat corners.
Step 5: Finish Sanding.
At this stage you shouldn't have any high spot's, you should just have you're flares and nice flat surfaces, so now if you have what at i call flat sides, if you have made it slightly thicker then a this point you should start rounding them over by rubbing the sandpaper, this time using (120 fine hand wet & dry sandpaper not belt), is rounding motion, i shown it on the video, and round over all the corners, and lay the sand paper on a flat surface once again and sand the surfaces (front and back) at this stage the should look like proper flares if you rounded them over properly. then round over the front and back corners so you don't slice you're ear, using a forward and back sanding motion, always rotating, then this is a step i said is optional, (in the video anyway) but i do this you should, it's going inside the flares and on the faces and so with 240 grit wet & dry sandpaper paper this time, to properly sand it and make sure there is no rough spot's and anything that can hurt you're ear, then i go up to 800 grit wet & dry personally, overkill i no, but personal choice it just, sand's and smooths it out nicely, and make's sure their are no rough spots.
Hope you found this useful and enjoyed the tutorial and video.