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Thread: DIY Acrylic scales

  1. #1
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    Default DIY Acrylic scales

    A couple of people have suggested that they are quite comfortable sanding and polishing their own blade but are not too sure about making scales. This means that they are either stuck with the mangy old scales the razor came with, or else they have to buy those pre made scales which, chances are, will not be a 100% fit.

    A while ago I was making a set of scales for my first blade restoration, so I clicked a couple of photos to act as a reference. I found the photos on my drive last night so I thought I might post them in case anyone finds them useful. I don't have pics of a few steps so I'll try to explain what happened and maybe slot in some photos from the next resto later.

    First draw your design on a piece of paper and cut it out. Stick your two bits of acrylic together with double sided tape. Glue your pattern to it with paper glue. LEAVE THE BROWN PAPER ON THE ACRYLIC! It will not get in the way and it will protect the surface.



    Go to your band saw and cut the booger out. You can also use a scroll saw or even a coping saw if you put the acrylic in a vice. A scroll saw can possibly run the risk of melting the acrylic if you go too slow, as the same part of the blade is used to whole time and can get hot. A band saw blade has time to cool as it goes around and does not have that problem. You don't have to be too neat. Just make sure if you deviate from the line you go OUTSIDE rather than inside the line. You can tidy it up when sanding.



    LEAVE THE TWO PIECES TOGETHER. Next you are going to be sanding and shaping. It will be far easier to keep both halves exactly the same if you work on them together. The best tool I have found for this is the sanding drum on a Dremel. You could also use some sort of router to round the edges, but I like to do it by eye. Go slow and keep sighting down the edge to make sure it is even.



    Part two on the way...
    -David

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  2. #2
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    It's nice! You will fit a Wedge in there?
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!

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    Right. So you have you scales roughed out. Now it is time to sand those edges. I start with a 240 grit wet/ dry sand paper. Using it dry, just sand the heck out of those edges to remove any scratch marks from the sanding drum. once this is done I move to 600 grit, then 1000, then 1500. Like sanding the blade, don't move to the next grit until all the scratches from the previous grit is gone.

    Next you want to drill a 1/16 hole where the blade is to be pinned. Now IMO this is the ONLY part that really needs a power tool. All the other parts can be done by hand if you are patient. But if you do not drill this hole perfectly straight your blade will not travel straight in the scales, and it will probably catch the edge. You need a drill press. One possible alternative is this attachment for the Dremel. It is not very heavy duty but for this sort of small work it is fantastic and takes up very little space.



    Wedge time! Take a piece of acrylic that is a bit bigger than you need, and sand its sides while putting more pressure on one edge than the other. Keep sanding until the plastic becomes a wedge shape. One trick, if you are brave, stick the wedge to your fingers using double sided tape and use an electric sander. This works, and is much quicker, but not necessary. Do NOT do this with a belt grinder! I have one flat finger tip which explains why. Sand and polish the wedges widest edge (the one that will be next to the blades toe) now, you will not be able to get at it once it is in place.



    Separate the scales and remove the paper from the inside. Put a 1/16 rod (the one you will be making your pins from later) into the pivot hole to keep them even. Using two part, 5 minute epoxy give your wedge a thin coat and glue into place. You will have to experiment with using stands, levels, props and other things to keep it all in place until the glue dries. Normally I would just clamp it but the wedge shape means that the wedge is always squeezed out of position by the clamp. Make sure everything is square and in the right place. If you put these three pieces together out of position, even by 1mm, the blade will not centre properly. Check it three times before walking away to let the glue dry.



    Once the glue has set, back to the drill press to drill the hole(s) for the wedge pin. At this point I like to put small micro fastener nuts and bolts into all the holes and tighten them down. This holds it all together for part three...
    -David

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    So now the wedge is glued into place and you have some micro fasteners or clamps holding it all together.

    See those edges on the wedge that are hanging over the sides? What you need to do is take your Dremel sander and carefully grind them away. I like to stop about 1/2 mm away from the scales and make it flush by hand with the sand paper. You do not want to take a chunk out of your scales at this point. Sand the wedge with progressively finer paper the same way as you did the sides of the scales.



    As a final step, take a rag and polish all the cut edges with Brasso. Brasso is a very fine abrasive which will make those edges as polished and shiny as the sides.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. Your scales are finished and ready for peening onto your blade. You will also need to peen in the wedge pin. I have decided to not go into that just yet, as it is really a lesson all of its own. If there is interest I might take some pictures next time I do one and make a new thread just for that.

    Hopefully this has helped someone and not been too confusing. If you have any questions or noticed things I have obviously left out feel free to comment or PM me. Also, if you have any cool hints or tricks please add them to the thread.

    The process is pretty much the same for most materials, be it acrylic, horn, bone, wood. I just think acrylic is easiest for the beginner, as it is easy to get and doesn't have some of the quirky variables that natural materials have. It is strong, colourful and fairly easy to work. Give it a go, you have nothing to lose but your fingers.*







    *(I accept NO responsibility if you lose your fingers.)
    Last edited by Legion; 10-22-2010 at 06:03 PM.
    -David

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  5. #5
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    Great tutorial man! I did one a few months back, but yours is much simpler and has nicer pics!! I also use that same dremel drill press. Its perfect for drilling those holes. Not sure if you have this problem, but i find that the dril press is a little loose in places, i took two strong rubber bands and out them around the dremel and the pole in the back! That helps keep it center and from wobbling! Again, nice tutorial and nice razors!

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    Very good!

    I like the white acrylic with black wedge.
    Phil

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerdman View Post
    Great tutorial man! I did one a few months back, but yours is much simpler and has nicer pics!! I also use that same dremel drill press. Its perfect for drilling those holes. Not sure if you have this problem, but i find that the dril press is a little loose in places, i took two strong rubber bands and out them around the dremel and the pole in the back! That helps keep it center and from wobbling! Again, nice tutorial and nice razors!
    I almost just ordered that same stand, but decided not to after reading the amazon reviews on this very problem. I opted for a Proxxon stand that supposedly is much more stable.
    ~Custom Straight Razors~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerdman View Post
    Great tutorial man! I did one a few months back, but yours is much simpler and has nicer pics!! I also use that same dremel drill press. Its perfect for drilling those holes. Not sure if you have this problem, but i find that the dril press is a little loose in places, i took two strong rubber bands and out them around the dremel and the pole in the back! That helps keep it center and from wobbling! Again, nice tutorial and nice razors!
    So far my Dremel press has been tight as a drum, although it hasn't really been used for anything tougher than this sort of thing. I now have a proper bench drill press for heavier work. But I guess time will tell.
    -David

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    Perfect timing on this. I was finally going to have a chance to make my first scales tonight, after watching undream's videos and reading this I think they came out pretty nice.

  10. #10

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    Thanks, legion. Very handy post. Like any good tutorial, you made it look easy! The white scales came out particularly nice.

    So, can you describe how to assemble a pinless wedge? I assume it's held with super glue but is there more to it than that?

    Quote Originally Posted by legion View Post
    If there is interest I might take some pictures next time I do one and make a new thread just for that.
    I'd watch it.

    ...Ray

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    Nice work!!
    Cheers, Luc - My Gear(Wiki) - Have a question, PM a mod. That's why we're here!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harvitz81 View Post
    I almost just ordered that same stand, but decided not to after reading the amazon reviews on this very problem. I opted for a Proxxon stand that supposedly is much more stable.
    I did an impulse buy, and i figured I would only be using to drill pins. A few were a bit off at first. Then I did the rubber band thing and it works great!

    Quote Originally Posted by legion View Post
    So far my Dremel press has been tight as a drum, although it hasn't really been used for anything tougher than this sort of thing. I now have a proper bench drill press for heavier work. But I guess time will tell.
    Thats good man! glad it worked fine! Im going to give mine a once over and retighten all the small screws, I just realized one is missing, that may be why it wobbled.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sando View Post
    Thanks, legion. Very handy post. Like any good tutorial, you made it look easy! The white scales came out particularly nice.

    So, can you describe how to assemble a pinless wedge? I assume it's held with super glue but is there more to it than that?

    I'd watch it.

    ...Ray
    I have only made ones with pins (I actually quite enjoy peening. Weird.) but a pinless one would just use glue. You can buy special glue that is used just for acrylic. It holds it strongly and dries very clear.

    If I was not using transparent acrylic I would probably just use the extra strong two part epoxy, but I would rough sand the surfaces to be glued. This will give the glue more to "grip" onto, rather than the shiny smooth surface.

    One day I plan to use a acrylic rod as a plug. I'll get a 1/4" rod and put that in a hole through the scales and wedge, then sand it flush with the sides. That way I can add another colour detail, a little circle inset into the scales, maybe matching the wedge colour. Might look cool.
    -David

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    Quote Originally Posted by legion View Post
    I have only made ones with pins (I actually quite enjoy peening. Weird.) but a pinless one would just use glue. You can buy special glue that is used just for acrylic. It holds it strongly and dries very clear.

    One day I plan to use a acrylic rod as a plug. I'll get a 1/4" rod and put that in a hole through the scales and wedge, then sand it flush with the sides.
    Legion, Sando, when I do a pinless wedge, all I use is a super strong CA from the hobby store that I use on my RC cars. It works great!

    I shared that same idea with a couple of members recently, about the plug, but I was thinking about doing it with wood. I dont have tools nor much knowledge for woodworking, but my idea was to somehow counter sink the pins, and plug the holes using the same wood to try and match the grains, giving the illusion of a complete pinless scale. If some of you wood scale makers can try this, I would be very interisted in seeing it done!
    Your Idea with the rod to match the wedge would look very cool!! Il be waiting for you to post that up!

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by legion View Post
    I have only made ones with pins (I actually quite enjoy peening. Weird.) but a pinless one would just use glue. You can buy special glue that is used just for acrylic. It holds it strongly and dries very clear.

    If I was not using transparent acrylic I would probably just use the extra strong two part epoxy, but I would rough sand the surfaces to be glued. This will give the glue more to "grip" onto, rather than the shiny smooth surface.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nerdman View Post
    Legion, Sando, when I do a pinless wedge, all I use is a super strong CA from the hobby store that I use on my RC cars. It works great!
    Thanks for the info. Sometimes, I like the look of pinless wedge.

    ...Ray

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sando View Post
    Thanks for the info. Sometimes, I like the look of pinless wedge.

    ...Ray
    Yeah, they can look cool. If I was going to make it pinless I would probably make the wedge less wedge shaped. Without the strength of the wedge pin you would not want the strain on the scales having them bow to an acute angle, if you know what I mean.
    -David

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  17. #17

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    You've inspired me. I've got a couple of small sheets of acrylic at home to have a go. I think my acrylic is a little thin but I'll still be able to have a go at making up a set of scales out of it in the next week or so.

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    Nice job. Thanks for the info.

  19. #19

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    What is the width of the acrylic in the photos? I can't tell if it's 1/8 or 1/4 or something else. What width do you use for the wedge? Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffE View Post
    What is the width of the acrylic in the photos? I can't tell if it's 1/8 or 1/4 or something else. What width do you use for the wedge? Thanks.
    3mm (or about 1/8 in old fashioned speak)

    The wedge is the same but you can sand it thinner for thinner blades, if you want.
    Last edited by Legion; 10-28-2010 at 04:36 PM.
    -David

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