Introduction: Make Your Own Fabric Micarta!

About: Just another tinkerer

Hello everyone,

In this Instuctable I'd like to show you how I make my micarta ( fabric composite ) that can be used in a variety of ways like handles for knives, jewellery, custom grips or even automotive interior decorative pieces instead of carbon fibre.

I mostly make mine with old jeans but just about any fabric can be used, I've seen anything from burlap to scotch brite being used.

I made this Instructable as DIY as possible so that you don't need any industrial equipment to make your own sheet of micarta.

Let's get going...

Step 1: To Make Your Own You'll Need:

For this Instructable you'll need the following:

- Fabric, I like using denim as my main material as we all have that old pair of jeans laying in the closet just waiting to be repurposed, it makes a sturdy composite and simply looks great! With this I like to include one layer of brightly coloured fabric to give the composite a pop of colour on the edges when cut/sanded.

- A piece of felt, this has to be roughly the size of your composite, I always use leftover pieces from other projects as this will be discarded afterwards.

- Resin, Either epoxy or polyester resin. Epoxy resin has a better life expectancy and strength but is more expensive than polyester resin, I would suggest starting out with polyester until you get the hang of the process and then moving to epoxy.

-> Polyester -> Epoxy

- A sheet of glass bigger than your composite

- A transparency sheet (viewfoil)

-> Transparency sheet

- A hobby knife

- Vacuum bags/Zip-lock bags

-> Vacuum storage bags

- Bees wax/Candle wax

- A resin laminating brush

-> Laminating brush


- Depending on the type of vacuum bag you use you might need a vacuum frog and a vacuum pump. Otherwise you could just use one of the pre-made vacuum bags made for storing textiles that work with a vacuum cleaner.

- I like placing a sheet of plexiglass on the top of my composite when vacuuming as it gives me a better surface finish.

* Amazon links included for reference.

Step 2: What Is Micarta?

Micarta is a brand name for composites of linen, canvas, paper, fiberglass, carbon fiber or other fabric in a thermosetting plastic. It was originally used in electrical and decorative applications. Micarta was developed by George Westinghouse at least as early as 1910 using phenolic resins invented by Leo Baekeland. These resins were used to impregnate paper and cotton fabric which were cured under pressure and high temperature to produce laminates. In later years this manufacturing method included the use of fiberglass fabric and other resin types were also used. Today Micarta high-pressure industrial laminates are produced with a wide variety of resins and fibers. The term has been used generically for most resin impregnated fiber compounds. Common uses of modern high-pressure laminates are as electrical insulators, printed circuit board substrates, and knife handles.


Step 3: Optional: Vacuum Frog

If you have some of those vacuum bags used to store clothing in, that attaches to a vacuum cleaner this step is not necessary.

But if you are interested in doing more composites I would highly recommend buying some vacuum sheeting and printing a few of these, they are also available in aluminium but I personally prefer these.

The one I use is by Rinou on Thingiverse

When printed at 100% it uses a 18mm O-ring to create a seal against the bag when tightened.

I recommend printing in PLA+

Step 4: Getting Started:

First we are going to get everything prepped.

Start by cutting your fabric to size, you will need to cut it about 10mm larger than the final piece as you will trim off the edges when your composite is done. For this Instructable my pieces were 100mmX150mm and I used 3 pieces of denim and one piece of brightly coloured ShweShwe a unique local South African cotton fabric.

Cut a piece or get a piece of left over felt that is larger than your fabric.

Next you will need to cut the transparency sheet just slightly larger than your fabric. Then using a hobby knife we need to perforate the sheet, I placed the sheet on a chopping board and poked the entire sheet full of holes.

We do this so that when we vacuum the composite excess resin and air can get pulled out of your fabric and into the sacrificial felt layer.

I also cut a piece of plexiglass slightly larger than my fabric to go on top of the composite stack before vacuuming.

Lastly I give the glass sheet a rub down with some bees wax to aid in releasing your composite once cured.

Step 5: Vacuum Bag:

When using a sheet of vacuum bagging and vacuum frog you will need to create your bag before you start making your composite.

To do this I cut my sheet of plastic about double the size of the glass sheet when folded in half. Then I use masking tape to seal off the two sides so that there is one side left open to slide our glass sheet in when we are done assembling the composite.

Now cut a small hole into your bag for the vacuum frog to push through and tighten it with the nut and washer.

Step 6: Resin Lay-up:

Now gather all your materials because this step will need to happen fast.

First I just do a mock-up of how I want to assemble the composite so that I have everything ready and in order when I start laying them with resin.

Your stack will be:

1. Glass










11.Transparency sheet



In a disposable cup/bowl mix your resin according to the manufacturers instructions, it's best to use a scale to measure out your quantities.

I start by applying resin to the glass first with the brush, this will reduce any air bubbles on the surface of your composite.

Then lay down your first piece of fabric on the glass and saturate it with resin, Remember this will be your surface so make sure there is no creases.

Now repeat this with the remaining pieces of fabric making sure you saturate each piece of fabric with resin after laying it.

Place your perforated transparency sheet on top of the last piece of fabric, cover with the felt and if you're using the plexiglass sheet put that on top.

Now slide the entire stack into your vacuum bag and seal it up.

Connect your vacuum line/vacuum cleaner pipe to the bag and pull a compete vacuum.

Close your valve and keep under vacuum until your resin has cured, This will depend on the resin that you used.

Step 7: Release Your Creation!

Once the resin has cured ( I usually leave mine overnight ) you can cut open your vacuum bag, pull off the felt and transparency sheet and then lift your composite from the glass sheet.

Mine usually comes away from the glass as I'm removing the felt but if yours is a bit stubborn you can just use a knife to gently peel it off.

Now you should be left with a nice and shiny piece of micarta, at this stage I use a pair of surgical scissors to trim the rough edges but you might need to use a dremel with a diamond cut off blade depending on the resin used.

Step 8: You're Done!

And that's it!

Now you can either leave it as is or you can sand it down to give it a nice matt texture and revealing the gorgeous pattern of the denim.

When using this as a handle for knives a sanded finish would cause the material to absorb moisture this will give you an excellent grippy handle!

I hope you guys enjoyed this Instructable and share all of your wonderful creations with me.

Happy making!

Fiber Arts Challenge

Runner Up in the
Fiber Arts Challenge