Introduction: Fordite Pendant

About: 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 widely, and I have no clue what I plan to make next...

This pendant is made COMPLETELY from automotive paint. I was given some pieces of Fordite from Carl Jacobson a few years back. Carl worked for 20 years as an automotive painter in the Portland area.

Step 1: What Is Fordite?!

Fordite, Motor agate, and Detroit agate are a few names used for this interesting material that is a by-product of the automotive painting process.

After year and years of spray painting cars and trucks, these blocks of paint overspray accumulate on the racks and corners of the spray booths. Once dry the material is quite hard and workable with woodworking tools.

As you can see the colors almost resemble geological formations, and thus the name that is a play on both the automotive industry and rocks formations.

I decided to start with the smallest chunk of the 4 pieces I had and attempt to make a pendant.

Step 2: Prepping for Turning

I needed a flat surface, so I spent a couple seconds flattening the paint on my belt sander. The process went very fast, and soon I had a nice flat surface.

After a quick inspection, I was already excited about the colors that we might get from the front!

For the shaping process, I'll use my lathe. I've got a waste block screwed to the faceplate and I'm just making sure that the surface is flat. That entails a few light passes with a large scraper.

Next, I use a pencil and mark out a series of concentric circles on the plywood block.

Using the circles helps to get the Fordite chuck roughly centered on the block. For adhesion, I'm just using some hot melt glue. It should hold fine for a small piece like this!

Step 3: Turning Paint!

My lathe is running about 1200RPM and I'm using a 3/8 detail gouge for the work.

Paint is VERY satisfying to turn on the lathe! A super smooth cut and lots of cool shavings.

The shape I'm aiming for a is sort of large button profile. A very simple shape that will highlight all the layers in this block! After just a couple minutes I end up with a finished shape! It is super smooth to the touch, even without sanding!

It can now be removed from the waste block. To do that I simply heated up a putty knife with my heat gun and worked it gently behind the pendant. The glue softened and came free with very little effort.

Step 4: Drilling and Re-mounting

At the drill press, I drilled a 3/8 hole fairly close to the top of the pendant. At this point, you can be done. You have a lovely looking pendant and all you need it to attach some cord for wearing it!

I decided to try and add another layer of interest, and so it was back to the lathe!

Just added another dab of hot glue, and lined up my newly drilled hole with the pencil center mark on the waste block. Hold it for a couple seconds while the glue cools and you're ready for turning again!

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Now that the mounting hole is in the center of the waste block, I just take a handful of light passes, working from just out beyond the hole pushing in. It makes for an attractive beveled edge and a very professional looking pendant! Remove the pendant from the block and you're done!

I then added a couple coats of wipe on poly. to keep the paint from rubbing off and tied on a leather cord. Tthis one has a nice clasp, or you could also just knot it!

Thanks for looking! And there is a bit more detail in the video, as well as some "mishaps" along the way!

Trash to Treasure Contest 2017

Runner Up in the
Trash to Treasure Contest 2017