Raw-edged Carbon Fiber Mask




About: Former Artist in Residence at Instructables, currently Hacker Advocate at Hackster. Cofounder of ProtoTank, a hardware prototyping startup. FIRST kid (rock on, team 677!). Former board member at AHA (Ann Arb...

This mask enables you to freak out your friends. Turns out, people really don't like it when they can't see where you're looking. :)

Weirdly, this mask actually makes it easier to see, at least in some lighting situations. It reduces visibility to pinpoints, which makes everything darker, but sharper.

Disclaimer: This instructable assumes that you are familiar with working with carbon fiber, and understand how to protect yourself while doing it (even if what you are making is stupid sharp). Follow the usual safety procedures like using epoxy in a well-ventilated area, grinding only with a mask and safety goggles on, etc. Here's a quick guide to CF safety specifically, but you should really learn in person from someone.

Step 1: Obtain and Coat Paper Craft Mask

You can buy cheap masquerade masks at most craft stores.

In future, I'll be sure to paint the paper black before covering it; while it's not obvious through the carbon fiber, you can tell upon close examination.

Then, cut it into a rough shape that you like. Scissors will do the trick.

Put on disposable gloves and cut a piece of carbon fiber that's a bit bigger than the mask.

Coat the mask in 2-ton epoxy (I use Devcon, in the big red-and-blue bottles). If you like to tempt fate, use 5-minute epoxy instead.

Before this dries, press the carbon fabric into it.

Add another coat of epoxy on top, just so it's smooth; I didn't cover the eyes, as there was nothing behind them, and I suspect that might distort your vision. Only cover the mask area with epoxy. Let it dry.

Step 2: Shape the Edges

Now, pull apart the fibers at the edge of the mask. Make it look raw and frayed. You may end up cutting some of the points a bit shorter. Then, coat the edges with epoxy, using your (gloved!) fingers to saturate and shape the carbon.

Set the thing down to dry such that you'll get the least possible distortion. (If I were to do this again, I'd probably leave the strings on the mask and hang it up; as it is, one side ended up a bit bent.)

Careful! - Make sure the frayed bits point outward, at least enough so they won't go into your face. This is very important.

Once the epoxy dries, every single little frayed end becomes a formidably sharp point that loves nothing better than piercing and tearing our fragile, soft, delicate human flesh. And bags. And anything else you put near it. (I have drawn blood on this mask through inattentive handling.)
One of our commenters suggested using a flexible polyurethane resin, instead of rigid epoxy, for wearables; that is a great idea I'd like to try.

Step 3: Rock It!

The world is your (somewhat unsettled) oyster. The second picture here is a view, through the mask, of my colleague Ryan.

I later added a few holes and threaded leather cord through them, in such a way that the mask can be hung from the front of my NeuroHawk. It also looks like eyebrows. Pictures soon!



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    17 Discussions

    spark master

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Looks nice obviously t can hurt or blind you if not done right, but all carbon issues aside. EPOXY resins (uncured) if allowed to get on your skin, can cause your body to react to dust from said objects, real nasty apparently if you one of the people with a predisposition for it.

    I found this out while looking up info on how to do epoxy/fiberglass/carbon fiber projects. It does happen and to enough people to be warned of. Gloves and masks and skin protection all around.

    You could curl the edges like parchments , won't nice and ragged looking, but nifty anyway.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Raw edges... cool looking, BUT HORRENDOUS TO PUT NEAR SKIN. Carbon fiber splinters are the biggest bitch to deal with.

    9000+ warnings aside... I find this really cool. Great work.

    I love unique masks and this one is absolutely fun to look at!

    I might attempt to make one myself next time I've need of one. I'll try to see if I can find a softer epoxy, and I'd like to try to make it look dry too.

    The texture of dry carbon fiber in some of these hyper cars is too cool.


    4 years ago

    I wouldn't put carbon fiber cloth on my face.


    4 years ago

    cool idea but be very carefull working with epoxy resin and carbon fiber after the cure the fibers sharp as a knife and its really easy to cut yourself!

    4 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Yep! Great point. I have a warning in the step where this becomes important.

    I also considered leaving the edges completely "raw", with no epoxy, but then you'd get little CF slivers in your face. This way, it looks better and isn't itchy, but you do have to watch out for the points... it's a tradeoff. For the record, I've only gotten hurt by handling this thing inattentively, never when wearing it.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I vote this one for darwin awards - inventing new ways of hurting yourself

    As someone already said - those "raw" ends may be needle sharp, it will not only cut your skin, but will leave residue of broken-off particles of epoxy and CF, and those are difficult to dig out and cause irritation later, if those cuts are not completely clean, will take a long time to heal, it is like a very very nasty case of wood splinter in the skin.

    These materials were never ever meant to be used in such ways.

    if you still want to make this sort of mask out of carbon fiber (which is a bad idea anyway), do NOT use epoxy, you need something soft and transparent to hold the shape, look for polyurethane resins, and black colored glass fiber, it looks very similar to real carbon fiber fabric, but the individual strands are much thicker, they will saturate and bond better with urethane resin, the end result will not be as rigid, but pretty much totally safe to use, as opposed to this accident waiting to happen.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    These are awesome points. I should probably be less flippant when talking about this material; when working, I tend to be overly careful if anything, since my teachers were very clear about the safety hazards. Raw carbon fiber against skin is no joke, and I've added a warning in the first step. However, part of the interest of the mask is the danger of the larger, epoxy-coated points; this fascinated me when I first started using CF.

    The polyurethane resin is a great suggestion I hadn't thought of. Thanks for commenting!


    4 years ago

    The phenomenon you experienced swing everything sharper has an explanation. Look for pinhole photography physics, the very small hole acts as a optical device (not a lense but sort of) and gives a very high depth of field. Thus, objects you look at through the hole are sharp, whatever distance these are.


    4 years ago

    Carbon fibre is a very potent physical skin irritant