Introduction: Wooden Veneer Sunglasses
This is a step by step instructional article on how I made sunglasses out of solid wood. I am sure there are different ways but this is kind of a mix of all the ways I have seen it before but with a couple differences. The main one being the recycled skateboard veneer. All the veneer is made in my shop and drum sanded to the thickness I require.
3 pieces of wood milled to .1 inch thick. The middle piece grain should run perpendicular to the outside pieces. Polyurethane glue. Super glue and activator. Sunglass hinges (linked). Dremel and various bits. Sanding drums for drill press or spindle sander.
Step 1: Laminating Veneers
I start out by cutting thin pieces of wood, including the skateboard blank. Then I run them through my drum sander until they are a uniform thickness of 1/10 of an inch. I cut a curve into a 2x6 and this is my form that will squeeze the pieces into their final shape. I use polyurethane glue from Titebond to glue the three layers together. In my experience the polyurethane glue doesn't spring back like other glues. I also tape the layers together to keep them from sliding around while being clamped down. Once glued and taped, place them between the matching curved cuts of the 2x6 and clamp them till it curves with the form. It will take a lot of pressure. Let it dry overnight and even when you take it out it may still be kinda sticky from some areas not getting air. Let it sit a little longer out of the form. I do this operation twice, one for the frames and another for the ear pieces which I found have a similar bend in them.
Step 2: Cut Out Eye Holes
Now that you have your bent blanks, it's time to cut and shape them. I start with a pair of sunglasses I like and trace them onto the lens blank. This insures you will make a pair that fit and look good. I used my drill press to punch a bunch of holes into the eye sockets and then used a drum sander attachment on the drill to clean them up. Very quick and easy to control. Don't go past your line. You're gonna want to sneak up on the line with a finer tool like a dremel.
Step 3: Shape Outside
I cut the outside of the frames on the bandsaw. Be very careful and stay outside the line. Use the same sanding attachment on the drill press to sand to your line. I use all the same techniques to shape the ear pieces. Those are much less crucial though.
Step 4: Cutting Lens Groove
I used a dremel sander to get as close to the line as possible and frequently tested my lenses against the line. Keep sneaking up on it and leave a very small reveal. You need room to pop the lenses in but don't want to have a gap.
The most intimidating part of the entire build was cutting the tiny groove for the lenses to sit in. I found a dremel bit that is a tiny saw blade. It worked perfect and was very easy to control. The arbor on the bit makes it easy to get your depth correct. Of course still be careful not to cut too deep. Keep your fingers clear of that bit.
Once I get it where I want it, I use another sander that will ease the edge and make it easy to pop the lenses in. Test fit them, don't force them, and keep carefully removing material until they fit.
Step 5: Pop Lenses In
Now to pop in the lenses. Now take a deep sigh of relief. Once I popped mine in, I left them and taped them off for the rest of the project. I guess I was nervous. Can't imagine why.
Step 6: Mortising and Installing Hinges
For the hinges, I start with the ear pieces. I find the center line and layout the hinge from there. I found a forstner bit that was the same width as the hinge and used it on my drill press to make the recess. I dry fit the hinges to make sure they sit straight and then I use super glue and activator to hold them in place. I will eventually put a tiny screw in to hold it.
I use the ear piece with the hinge in place and hold them to the frames to see where they will fit best. I transfer the mark with a pencil and match the layout to the other side. I use the same forstner bit to make the recess in the lenses. I use super glue again to hold them in place. It works surpisingly well.
Step 7: Spray Water Based Poly to Finish!
I finish sand everything to 320. I could've gone to 400 but I felt like this was pretty smooth to the touch. I use water based polyurethane spray to finish the sunglasses. Water based finishes don't yellow like oil based finish. I wanted the skateboard veneer to be as bright as possible. I think it worked.
Participated in the
First Time Author Contest