How to make a wood and resin pendant
Hello again! So today I will be showing you all how I create wood and resin jewelry. These resin pendants are easily my most talked about item at craft shows. They require power tools and a lot of elbow grease, but the result is something people are always in awe of. There’s a lot to cover in this tutorial, so let’s just dive right in!
-Square Mold (mine is 7×7)
-Tree Wood Slice
– Lots and Lots of Sand Paper (80, 150, 250, 800, 1000, 1500, 2000 Grit)
-Table Saw (not pictured)
-Belt Sander (not pictured)
SUPPLIES POTENTIALLY NEEDED:
–Resin Polish (not pictured)
-Soft Cloth (not pictured)
STEP 1: MOLD RELEASE
So like I stated above, my mold is a 7″x 7″ plastic mold but if you have a mold similar in size and depth (at least 1 inch deep), then feel free to use what you have. Before starting, I pre-condition my mold with some mold release being sure to cover the whole surface area. Let this dry before pouring resin into the mold. This step can be omitted if you have a silicone mold. The brand I am using is Castin’ Craft.
Note: You could work with a different size, either larger or smaller, for this project. I simply find that 7 inches square is what works best for me.
STEP 2: WOOD PREP
Let me start this step with a little advice.
If you are going to buy your wood from the craft store (I got mine for $6), here are some tips on picking a good slice:
-Look for a piece with noticeable age lines (some are too bleached).
-The more ridges in the bark, the better!!
-Pick a piece that isn’t too thick. About 1″ thick will be the easiest to work with.
After you pick the perfect slice, its time to measure out your cuts. If your mold is 7″ squared then you want the woodcuts to be equal or less than 7″ wide so that it fits into the mold. You will notice that I divided mine into four cuts, leaving a square in the middle, this is because I want to get as much use out of the bark as possible.
͛STEP 3: WOODCUTTING
Now that you have your cuts drawn out, its time to take your wood to the table saw. I’m using a Dremel Moto-Saw that I found for about $60. Some tips I have for using this particular table saw is to hold the wood firmly to the tabletop and go very slow to get straight cuts. I will admit that my cuts are always wavy and curved, but in the end, it really does not make a difference because it will all be sanded down.
STEP 4: WOOD PLACEMENT
In this step, plan out where you will be placing your wood in your mold.
There are three things to keep in mind when placing the wood:
-How big you want your pendants
-Whether you want wood on both ends of the pendant
-What shapes you want to get out of the pendants.
There is no right and wrong way to place the wood just as long as you ALWAYS place the bark side of the wood toward the inside of the mold.
STEP 5: SET THE WOOD
Once you have an idea of where you want to place the wood, remove it from the mold and mix up approximately 1 1/2 ounces of resin (based upon this size mold and amount of wood I used). Pour it into the bottom of the mold and make sure it covers the whole surface.
Then, place the wood back into the mold where you had planned. This is a step I initially did not do when I first started making these pendants, but what I noticed happening is I would do a large pour of resin and the wood would float to the top and change positions. I set some “weights” onto the wood and let it cure for twenty-four hours.
STEP 6: RESIN MIX UP
Once you let the wood slices cure to the base of the mold, set it aside and mix up a batch of resin. The brand I use is Easy Cast, and I use 3 ounces of Resin to 3 ounces of Hardener, making a total of 6 ounces. This amount will vary based on how much wood you are using and the size and depth of your mold. Leave the mixture for about 5 minutes to allow larger bubbles to pop and smaller bubbles to surface so you can pop them by breathing into a straw.
Next, add your coloring! I use basic acrylic paint, but whatever you typically use to dye resin will work fine. I used 7 dots of color to achieve an opaque purple, but if you want something a little more translucent just add less color.
STEP 7: RESIN POUR
Once your color is mixed up and bubbles are gone, its time to pour the resin into your mold. Pour slowly to minimize bubbles and be sure to pour into all the crevices to ensure the resin will distribute evenly across the mold. Let cure for at least 24 hours.
You might notice that I don’t fully fill the mold with resin.
I leave some of the wood exposed for a few reasons:
-It leaves a place to anchor down the wood to ensure it doesn’t float.
-I can save resin by not fully covering the wood.
-It ensures my pendant isn’t extremely thick and heavy.
STEP 8: POP OUT OF THE MOLD
Releasing the resin from the mold is actually pretty easy. I pick up the entire mold and give it a little twist like I would an ice cube tray and then flip it over to push up on the bottom corner until I can grab it with my fingers to pull it the rest of the way out. YIPPIE! You have a block of resin!
STEP 9: PLAN YOUR CUTS
Now here’s the thing, if you are a pro at using a table saw, then I suggest you draw out the shape and size of each pendant directly onto the wood. It will make your belt sanding experience so much better. But if you are like me, just draw out some lines on your wood that you want to use to approximate what you want your pendant to look like. There are no right or wrong cuts. You will see the belt sander will transform everything!
STEP 10: BACK TO THE TABLE SAW
I am using the same technique as before when using the table saw, slow and steady. I only cut up a small portion of the block for demonstrating purposes, and I got 4 pieces out of it. So from the whole block, I will get about 10-12 pendants of varying shapes and sizes. As you can see, these are VERY rough cuts but pick your favorite and we will shape it into something beautiful using the belt sander!
BELT SANDER TIPS:
I feel like I need to go over a few things about the belt sander before you get going. This thing is very intimidating and can potentially be very dangerous. I have it set on the floor of my basement because I have more control sitting, but it should probably be placed on a sturdy workbench.
-Wear short sleeves and do not wear gloves! Lose clothes like sleeves and gloves can get caught and jammed into the belt sander, which as you can imagine would be extremely painful!
-Trim your nails. Yes, I have broken a nail by it scraping against the sandpaper and yes, it hurts.
-Wear goggles or glasses, dust will be flying all over the place
-Read the safety instructions of your belt sander for further precautions.
PS: My belt sander is from Harbor Freight and I am using 80 grit sandpaper.
STEP 11: SHAPING
Now that I have scared everyone, let’s begin shaping! My machine was off for the photos for obvious reasons but I wanted to show my hand placement when shaping. I always start by sanding down the face of the pendant first, so that the wood and resin are flush.
Hold the piece against the running belt being sure to have a strong grip, with your fingertips as far from the belt as possible. Once you have a flush pendant you can start shaping. Like before, have a strong grip, with your fingers safely placed. Always start with one edge and slowly lower the rest of the pendant towards the sander. You don’t want the belt to catch a corner and send your pendant flying across the room (yes, it happens). Try and make your pendant as symmetrical as possible, but just remember that your hand sanding will correct any slight mistakes.
Notes about using the belt sander for resin pendants. I use the belt sander dry. I have had no issues with the resin melting or getting soft on these larger pieces but when I shape and sand the face of the pendant, I do lift the piece off the sander often so that it doesn’t overheat. In other projects I have had issues with the resin becoming soft, but these are so thick that as long as you wait a full 24 hours there shouldn’t be any issues (at least I haven’t had any.)
STEP 12: LAY OUT YOUR SANDPAPER
As I stated in the supplies list, you need sandpaper grit 80, 150, 250, 800, 1000, 1500, and 2000.
Lay them out on your table in numerical order from smallest to largest as shown in the photo. This will essentially be your assembly line. The goal is to buff out all the scratches from the belt sander to return the resin to a shiny clear finish. I also set out a bowl of water because sandpaper grit 800-2000 should be done wet.
STEP 13: ARM WORKOUT
This step is pretty exhausting and takes at least 40 minutes to get through, but this is the final step before you make your pendant into a necklace. You are almost there! Typically I will spend about 2-3 minutes sanding per side at each sandpaper station. I have no specific technique, just quick back and forth movements. If at the end you notice there are tiny white scratches going through your pendant in certain spots, it just means you didn’t buff enough. When this happens to me, I start at grit 250 and go back through the rest of the paper.
STEP 14: POLISH!
This step can be skipped if you decided to go for me more opaque color like mine. But if you chose to have some translucency to your piece then I would suggest polishing it. What I will do is dab some polish on an eyeglass cleaning cloth and buff it into the resin in circular motions. Try to avoid using it on the wood parts; sometimes it can slightly discolor it. Polish will not hide or get rid of any of the scratches left behind from the sanding but will make the resin shinier and more see through.
I do not polish or seal the wood! This is something I have tried many times with different products to get a glossy look over the wood but it always comes out streaky or the wood absorbs the liquid. So in my process, for now, the wood stays unfinished after the sanding process.
STEP 15: ATTACH NECKLACE CHAIN
This step can be done in two ways. If you have wood at the top of your pendant where you want the necklace to dangle from, then it’s easy just to screw in the eyehook. Just keep twisting until it is flush with the wood. But if the top of your pendant has resin instead of wood, you will need to use a power drill to drill a small hole at the top. I will then use a little bit of diamond glaze super glue on the screw portion of the eyehook and place it in the hole you created with the power drill.
STEP 16: ENJOY!
Enjoy your new wood and resin pendant!
What has been your experience making wood and resin jewelry? Is this something you want to try?
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