Ive been carrying my Spyderco bug on my keychain for a year now but recently decided to jazz 'em up with a little colour. Heres how I did it =D
Step 1: Shameless Plugs
Step 2: Materials
Besides tools and consumables like sandpaper and mixing cups you will need:
Polyester resin and MEKP hardener (Or any other resin system)
Scrap wood to make mould
24 hour 2 part epoxy
Step 3: Micarta Mould
The micarta mould was made as simply as possible by screwing two blocks of wood to a 2x4 with enough space between them to fit another block of wood.
Step 4: Preparing the Cloth
The layers of cloth used to build up my micarta blank were cut from an old singlet. I chose this material as it was white and hence easy to dye, but more importantly it has a very tight weave that mimics the look of looser weaves of fabric such as burlap which is often used to make full scale knife handles.
First I cut the fabric into strips as thick as the my mould and about 2 inches long. I used 18 strips but could have easily got away with more, I was aiming for a blank about 6-8mm thick such that I could split it in half and get two 3-4mm scales. As you can see later on this does not go exactly as planned.
I then used some powdered Rit dye (just follow the instructions on the box) to dye the fabric purple.
Finally you want to dry the strips thoroughly as moisture will prevent the resin we will use from curing. To do this I used a clothes dryer to make sure my fabric was bone dry.
Step 5: Making the Micarta
Now that our fabric is prepared we can make the micarta.
Get out a set of weighing scales and put them inside a ziplock bag to avoid getting resin on it.
Weigh out and thoroughly mix the resin.
Each strip must then be individually "wetted" with resin and lay up in a stack on some wax paper. After making several resin layups of this style Ive found the easiest way to do this to be using your hands and a pair of gloves.
Once the stack is made I place two pieces of sacrificial, scrap wood on either side of the stack to keep the blank a uniform thickness when clamped.
Finally the stack and sacrificial wood can be placed into the mould with the wax paper. The wax paper is then folded over the stack, a block of wood placed on top and the whole thing clamped down.
Step 6: Demoulding the Micarta
As our mould is screwed together and our blank encased in wax paper, demoulding is trivial. We will then cut off the sacrificial ends of our blank.
Step 7: Problems Making the Micarta
As I am using the last of a very very old batch of resin to make this blank I heated up the resin to make it less viscous. For my first batch of resin however this set the resin off much quicker than I expected (a couple of minutes) and made a very brittle yellow final product. As the first few layers were wetted with this bad resin they did not get compressed and would not have had the same strength as the rest of the blank (not that that would matter with a handle this size anyway).
As such I was not going to be able to split the stack in half and get two blanks the way I though as I had to sacrifice what would have been my second scale. Luckily I had just enough material left to split the stack in the other direction and get two scales anyway.
Step 8: Adding the Black Top to Our Scales
To add the black top to our scales we will cast some black resin directly on top of our current blank.
First make sure that the blank is squared, clean and dry. Then use tape to create a mould for the resin and pour it in.
Again as the resin I am using is the last of a very old batch it did not pour and due to its viscosity, contained many air bubbles.
Step 9: The Finished Blank
To finish the scale blanks I sanded the sides flush, cut away the bad resin and split the blank in half and was left with two ~3mm thick scale blanks.
Step 10: Preliminary Modification of the Knife
For easier sanding later on, I started by filing away the bump that created the two finger groves of this tiny knife. This could have been left in but I much preferred the cleaner look of the knife with the bump removed and it added very little to the grip of such a small knife anyway.
I also taped the blade and scuffed the surface of the original stainless handles with 240 grit sandpaper to the give epoxy something to stick to.
Step 11: Gluing Up the Scales
To glue up the scales we will first drill a hole in each blank within which we will stick a rod. This rod will be used to locate the blanks during glue up.
I glued up the scales with 24 hour epoxy to give plenty of time to work the glue and plenty of strength once cured.
Make sure to remove any excess epoxy with acetone especial in key areas such as the spring steel on the back which could bind up with epoxy.
The whole glue up process took 40 minutes and was then lightly clamped and left to cure.
Step 12: Shaping and Finishing
I used a file for rough shaping of the micarta and 240 for the rest of shaping. I then went up the grits to 1200 on the scales to polish them up.
Once I was close to my desired final shape I tried to fill in the holes in the black resin with more epoxy however most of the holes were just too small to fill.
Step 13: Done!! =D
Lastly I made a little rattlesnake weave keychain out of thin nylon cord. I am rather pleased with the result of this project and hope the photos speak for themselves. I am very happy to have such an elegant and custom item on my keychain =D.
Participated in the
Colors of the Rainbow Contest