From the men who brought you bakelite, Tesla, and air brakes came Micarta: a super-tough fiber and resin composite that has been in use since the early 20th century. Micarta is used in a huge variety of applications, from power generation to countertops. In this writeup, two knifemakers show you how you can make your own generic version from epoxy and blue jeans that will stand up to a sledgehammer.
Micarta and similar composites are made by impregnating layers of fiber with an epoxy resin and pressing them together as they dry. As the resin cures, the whole mess becomes one incredibly tough solid. It is a simple process and it can be duplicated successfully in a workshop with clamps and fiberglass boat epoxy.
Mike Carter and Cliff Fendley have put together a step-by-step description of their process and their results, replete with photos. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 for the description of their procedure and the lessons learned. And check out the strength test to see how the homemade Micarta fares against a gauntlet of increasingly large hammers.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.