How to Make Linen Phenolic

By Russ Barber
Printer-Friendly Format

Time to make some linen phenolic.

I have been asked on more than one occasion why I make my own linen phenolic. Well the simple answer is I want to save money and that when you add the shipping charges to the commercial stuff then it is just too expensive and you are limited to the colors they have, usually red, black and white.

Now phenolic can be used in a wide variety of applications from riser accent strips, re-enforcing limb tips, limb butt overlays and knife handle scales to name a few. The big plus is you can make it any color you want and you can use any cloth fabric including denim, which by the way looks absolutely awesome on a knife handle.

Now if your wife is like mine and makes patch work quilts then all you have to do is sneak some material out of her supply. Of course she will already have a rubberized cutting board and rotary knife for her quilting if not then just a measuring tape and a pair of scissors will get the job done.

If your wife or girl friend does not have any fabric then just head down to the local sewing, craft or any store that sells fabric and pick some up in the color that you want. If you decide on denim then head to the local second hand clothing store and pick up a pair of used jeans for a couple of dollars. (The amount of fabric will depend on the length and width of your finished piece. Buy a little extra just to be safe.)

Ok, the first step is to cut your material into strips. For this exercise I have 1/2 yard of fabric and elected to cut my strips 3 inches wide and about 20 inches long. Seeing the length is longer than the board I keep the material folded in half and cut the strips.

You will have to play around a bit to get the thickness you want I am aiming for about 1/16". Once I have the strips cut (in this case 12) it's time to prepare my very expensive press form.

My press is just two pieces of ¾" plywood that I have run through the drum sander to get smooth and perfectly flat. First I give both inside sections a good coat of paste wax or floor wax, it don't matter which. What this does is stops the two pieces being glued together if any epoxy escapes during the pressing.

Then I lay some saran wrap over one of the boards.

Now it's time to mix up some epoxy. I use Aero/Marine 400, the same epoxy I use to glue up my bows.

Lay two pieces of fabric on the saran wrap and cover with the epoxy; spread the epoxy out so it is roughly covering all the cloth.

Then all I do is keep layering the cloth two at a time and adding the epoxy till all the strips are used. I do not put epoxy on the top of the last two strips of cloth, as the pressing will force the epoxy through the cloth.

Now I fold the saran wrap back over the cloth from both sides and both ends, place the other board on top and then, with 4 G clamps, clamp them together as tight as I can get the clamps.

Then place it in the heat box for a few hours to cure. If you don't have a heat box then just leave the form clamped for a couple of days. Once the epoxy has cured remove the clamps, take the form apart, remove the saran wrap and trim the edges. I use the band saw.

There you have your home made linen phenolic ready to use for what ever reason you want to use it.