News — The Dailey Grind

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Custom Bottle Openers

Custom Bottle Openers

A couple weeks before Father’s Day I was asked to make some custom acrylic handled bottle openers. Not a problem, I can do this and the primary color was to be orange. Once a again not a problem or so I thought.

Two finished bottle openers with custom handles - Dailey Woodworking

I decided that a good secondary color would be yellow or gold. So Mary (my lovely wife and assistant) and I got to mixing up the Alumilite. I poured parts A & B and Mary stirred them together. I added orange coloring to the Alumilite and it turned red. Wait red? So I put in more orange coloring and it was still red. More coloring, still red. I added gold flakes to the other clear Alumilite that we had stirred up and that was gold. We were running out of time. We have seven minutes from the time that part A and B start being mixed together until the mixture has to be in the mold and under air pressure or else the urethane acrylic starts to harden and the air bubbles are too big and will leave voids in the acrylic. The air pressure makes the air bubbles so small that they aren’t a problem. I realize that seven minutes sounds like plenty of time but it can get intense especially if things don’t seem to be going quite as planned.

So we are at five and a half minutes and things aren’t looking good. Actually they are looking great but it’s red and not orange. We pour the colors into the mold and mix them together to get some swirls working for us. We just made it under the allotted time and the proof will be once they are turned.

Block of Alumilite that will be turned into handles - Dailey Woodworking

The next day I took the block out from under pressure and, yup, it’s still red and gold. I cut the block up into the 4 blanks that I needed and the block is still showing red and gold but the shavings that were created during the cutting process are orange. Well all right, now things are looking up.

I start to turn the first handle and the handle looks like it’s red and gold but the shavings on the floor, the lathe and me are orange and gold. I get the handle done and polished up and it’s a beautiful red and gold but not orange, unlike my shop. These shavings are clinging to everything. You can see every place that I walked because I am leaving behind a trail of orange shavings.

My shop floor with orange Alumilite shavings everywhere - Dailey Woodworking

We show the customer two of the openers to see what she thinks of them, and luckily for us, she loved them. They really are spectacular. The coloring has a lot of depth to it and if you rotate the handles in the light things seem to change and shift.

Close-up of finished handle for the bottle openers - Dailey Woodworking

Close-up of finished handle for the bottle openers
Two finished bottle openers with custom acrylic handles - Dailey Woodworking
Two of the finished bottle openers
Recent experiments

Recent experiments

Recently I've been experimenting more with stabilizing wood and also with dying wood during the stabilizing process. So far I've stabilized the following woods: Birdseye Maple, Box Elder Burl, Cherry Burl, Curly Maple, Maple Burl and Redwood Burl. I've dyed and stabilized the following woods: Box Elder Burl with the color blue and Curly Maple with the color green. 

Stabilizing is a process where as much moisture is cooked out of the wood as possible and then the wood is put in to a vacuum chamber with resin. The vacuum pulls the air in the wood out of the wood and replaces it with the resin. If I want to add color to the wood I just mix the resin with a dye and then do the process of putting the wood into the vacuum chamber with the dyed resin. The wood is generally under vacuum for an hour or more and then left to soak in the resin (or resin and dye) for hours or sometimes a day or more. Once this part is done, I then take the wood out of the chamber and wrap the pieces in aluminum foil and put them in to the oven to cook the wood again. Don't worry, I have a separate toaster oven that I do this in and I don't use our kitchen oven for this process. After allowing the wood to cool sufficiently, I take off the foil and I'm ready to start the turning process with the stabilized wood. 

 

Dyed and stabilized woods used in bottle stoppers and pizza cutters

From left to right in the picture above

Dyed Green Box Elder Burl t-handle bottle stopper and corkscrew combination

Dyed Blue Box Elder Burl t-handle bottle stopper and corkscrew combination

Dyed Green Curly Maple handle on the pizza cutter

Stabilized Birdseye Maple t-handle bottle stopper and corkscrew combination