Hardwood Comb




Introduction: Hardwood Comb

After seeing the idea on Reddit, I couldn't resist having a go at making one of
these hardwood combs.

The original used walnut and mahogany but I wanted something a little different so I used walnut and purpleheart instead.

I made the comb at Techshop SF.

Step 1: Basic Shape and Cutting the Rabbets

Sorry, missed the photo for this step but you can see the profile and the rabbets cut out for the inlay.  Just ignore the prongs for now!

I used a belt sander to shape the basic profile. Working with the grain of the walnut, which runs along the prongs for strength, I shaped the profile you can see.

Then I used the table saw to cut the rabbets. This was tricky and I messed it up a few times. I ran the piece through on end with the saw very close to the fence. The problem I faced was that the cutout for the saw blade was too big and the piece wanted to fall down. That made the cut inaccurate as I was basically free handing it. Next time I'd use a sacrificial board with the blade raised through it but I couldn't see a way to fix that down at Techshop, where I was working.

Step 2: Cutting the Prongs

I used the cross cut sled to cut the prongs. I tried adapting it with a nail to align the previously cut prongs but the sled was a bit warn and the nail wouldn't stay put so I just made a pencil mark for alignment and cut the prongs one by one.

Since I wanted the prongs to be as closely spaced as possible, I got one of the staffers to change the saw blade for a laminate cutting blade, which has a finer kerf.

Since the profile of the comb was rounded, it tended to rock as I was making the cut. It might have been better to wait until after cutting the prongs to do the shaping. My thinking was that the prongs might be damaged by the shaping process but, in hindsight, I don't think that would have been a problem.

I was mainly working by eye for the whole project and I realised that the rabbets were too small after I cut the prongs.  I went back and carefully recut them to be longer afterwards.

Step 3: Glue Up

I had some precut strips of purpleheart that I got from Woodcraft. I cut a couple to length and used some Titebond III to glue them in. The rabbets were intentionally a little smaller than the inlay so I could sand them flush afterwards.

Step 4: Final Shaping

I used the belt sander and disc sander to shape the comb and sand the inlays flush. Then I sanded the prongs by hand up to 240 grit and grave the whole comb a coat of walnut oil.

I had intended to add some dowels in the corners as in NoCleverNickname's original design but I ran out of time today. I think I'll go back and do that later.

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    11 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago

    I keep looking all over the web and was hoping this would be the stop, what is the width and height? of the blank and what is the spacing of the "prongs" hard to make without the info.


    Answer 1 year ago

    Kind of up to you and your creativity really. Want a long comb, use a long blank. Want a short comb, use a short blank. The gap between the prongs is the kerf of your saw, prongs need to be 0.5 to 1.5x that size; make some test cuts and see how they look and how strong in your chosen wood. Blank should be about 0.5cm thick.


    4 years ago

    beautiful. I just lost my favourite sandlewood beard comb in mexico, so I'm thinking of making a replacement. I have some spare pieces of Brazilian hardwood, maybe cocobolo? - sitting around that I could use. do you think the top having the grain run contrary to the tines makes it stronger overall? or could I make it out of one piece of wood and get good results?


    Reply 4 years ago

    It definitely makes it stronger but as long as you don't make the flat part too thin or too short then it should still be strong enough. You can make the comb quite thick at the flat end if needed.