I'm really enjoying making rings at the moment and experimenting with some unusual materials. For this instructable I wanted to try and make a ring from card stock and see if card could be used to make a stunning ring. The card is soaked in resin to make micarta which is a very hard material that can be shaped as needed. Having completed the ring, I love it and will definitely be making more rings and other things from Micarta.
For the micarta:
1/ Some card in a few different colours ( I used 10 sheets of A4 but that would be enough for a few rings)
2/ Some Epoxy or Polyurethane Resin ( I used Alumilite Amazing Clear Resin)
3/ A container to use as a mould
4/ A couple of pieces of wood to apply even pressure to the card whilst the resin sets
5/ Clamps to compress the card / resin
6 / Some parchment or grease proof paper to wrap the wood to make it easier to unmould
To make the ring:
1/ Tools to shape, I used a lathe ( actually I used 2 lathes, a wood lathe and a metal lathe and a bandsaw but 1 lathe would be plenty and this could be done with hole saws or a drill or a multi tool or even hand tools
1/ Sandpaper ( various grits)
2/ Finish ( I used CA / Super glue)
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Step 1: Make the Micarta
Micarta is made from layers of paper, card or fabric compressed and cast in resin to make an extremely hard and durable material.
It's ideally suited to ring making given it's strength, durability and resistance to water damage whilst at the same time, with modern resins, it can be made easily at home with colour combinations that are almost limitless.
Step 1: gather your materials and tools, you will need
- A mould for the micarta ( strictly this isn't necessary but it will be more messy if you are squeezing the resin out with nothing to capture it). I recommend a mold just slightly bigger than the sheets of card. Depending on the mould material and how flexible it is, you may also need mould release. I used a "really useful box" which I think is made from HDPE. It has a good mix of reasonably structure but will flex a bit to allow demoulding and the HDPE prevents the resin sticking.
- A spreader to spread the resin, I used a divider from a multi compartment box
- Some resin, I would recommend something that's clear with a relatively long open time for your 1st attempt. I used Alumilite Amazing Clear Cast resin. It has a working time of 30 minutes and a demould time of 24 to 48 hours and it's quite workable when set. I'd be happy to recommend this resin. I would choose an epoxy or polyurethane avoid polyester resin, although polyester is cheaper, the fumes are disgusting and not good for you and the resultant micarta can be more brittle when working.
- Card, I used 10 A4 (approx letter) sheets of 265 GSM cut into quarters.
- Some scrap wood or MDF and some clamps to create a makeshift press
- Some parchment paper to make it easy to release the micarta from the scrap wood.
- (Optional) a craft knife to cut through the parchment
Step 2: Order your paper
- Work out the pattern you want to make with the card and arrange your card in the order you want to have your final micarta (you want a nice pattern when you look at the stack of card from the side
Step 3: Mix your resin
- Follow the instructions on your resin carefully or it won't set properly
Step 4: Coat your card (this is the key step)
- Put your 1st sheet of card in the mould and pour on all of your resin (you can mix more if needed). This step is different that many of the videos you will see on youtube where the resin is poured a bit at a time.
- Spread the resin over the card making sure it's all covered
- put your next sheet of card on the 1st ( a tip here is to use your spreader to push most of the resin to one end and then push your sheet of card under the resin onto the previous sheet of card
- Spread your resin over the card again squeezing as much resin as possible from the between the card with your spreader
- Keep doing this, adding card and spreading until you have created as many layers as you need ( you can add more resin if you run out but make sure you've pressed down hard with your spreader to get the excess out and to the top of the pile
- When you get to your desired number of layers wrap your wood or MDF board in the parchment paper. It should be about the same size as the sheet of micarta you are making but there needs to be a small gap around the side of the mould to allow any excess resin to be squeezed out.
- Add your clamps to press the wood down on top of the stack of card, you will see resin forced out from between the layers of card, this spare resin can be poured off to make the demoulding easier later. If your mould is soft, you may need a sheet of wood / MDF under the micarta as well so that appropriate pressure can be added. You do want to squeeze the stack of card quite hard to avoid any gaps between layers.
Step 5: Leave to set
- Leave your micarta to set at least as long as the maximum setting time and ideally a bit longer to make sure it's fully cured.
- If you've mixed your resin correctly, the resin should set hard
Step 2: De-mould and Prepare the Blank
- Remove your clamps
- Push the micarta out of the mould. You may need to push a knife down the side to help it release
- Remove the parchment paper and the wrapped up wooden blocks ( I used a craft knife to cut round the edge)
- (Optional) trim round the edges
You should now have a sheet of rock hard micarta
Step 3: Make the Ring
Micarta can be worked using pretty much any tools deigned for wood or metal working so you can adapt these steps to the tools you have at your disposal.
Step1: Create your blank
- Mark out a square of micarta big enough to make your ring (either trace round an existing ring leaving plenty of leaway or cut a 1.5 inch ( about 40mm) square, this would be plently big enough.
- I cut with a band saw but you could equally use a jig saw or hand saw for this.
Step 2: Roughly shape the outside - still keep it oversize by at least 1 to 2 mm at this stage
- I glued my micarta to a waste block and turned it round at my lathe. Other options would be to use a belt or disk sander, a hole saw, a band saw, a jig saw or a fret saw,
Step 3: Cut out the centre hole
- Choose a drill a bit smaller than the size of ring you are aiming for and drill your finder hole , get it as close to the centre as you can. I used my lathe but you can use a drill press or even a hand drill. Just keep the hole as close to the centre as you can and a bit smaller than your finished ring.
Step 4: Make the centre hole the right size for the finished ring,
- I turned mine to size using a boring bar on the lathe but this could be done with files, or a dremel type tool with a sanding drum attached
- As the final size approaches sand to a good finish going up through the grits, checking the fit regularly. I sanded mine up to 600 grit.
Step 5: Reduce to final thickness.
- I turned to thickness on a lathe but once again, this could be done using a belt or disk sander or even careful sanding by hand.
- Once again, go up through the grits to get a good finish, I sanded to 600 grit
Step 6: Finish
- There are loads of finishes that can be used and actually a good finish can be obtained on micarta simply by using a plastic polish. I used CA Glue on mine ( Super glue) applied with a shop towel in very thin laters and dried with activator between coats. I used about 10 coats.
- I finished mine off by using a plastic polish to buff to a shine
Step 4: Potential Changes or Improvements
Things I want to try in the future include:-
- Setting jewels or crystals in a ring made from card micarta
- Trying an inlay of opal or crushed semi-precious stone
- Using a metal core
Thanks for looking and I hope this has been helpful
Participated in the
Cardboard Speed Challenge