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Polymer Pick Handles

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PickForge

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Post Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:40 am

Polymer Pick Handles

Gentlemen,


TL;DR

get sculpey
roll sheets
cut scales
bake scales
attach with epoxy
?????
profit.



Step 1. get the stuff....
pictured below is my ghettofab handle fabrication station. it consists of a cookie sheet, aluminium foil and a pasta roller! if you dont have a pasta roller I picked one up for this project for around $35, you could also use a rolling pin.
Image

you will also need sculpey clay softener, I learned this the hard way, if you do not use this stuff you end up with air
bubbles and other weirdness going on inside the clay that you cannot see until you start sanding... it's ~$6
Image

and finally Sculpey!! there are a lot of polymer clays out there I prefer Sculpey III for my pick handles. it gives a pretty good hardness while still being workable plus they offer a ton of colors.
Image

final finally, gloves. just cheap latex ones work, the softener makes stuff get messy.

Step 2!! knead that stuff.
I didn't take any pictures of step 2 as I had gloves on and they were covered in sculpey slim.
but the jist of it, use you hands and the roller to knead in the softener into the clay, when you first open the packet the clay is kind of crumbly. we want it to get it some where between a play-do and silly putty consistency for the 2oz block of clay I used 6-8 drops total to get the clay moving right.

Step 3. roll that stuff
again not many pictures here right now. but Step 3 is form sheets!! this is where that pasta roller earns that $35 take the softened clay and run it through the roller a couple of time until you end up with a nice even sheet of clay. most pasta rollers have a thickness setting and a bonus the setting for fettuccine is right around 1/8" which is prefect IMO for handles to start. roll sheets, cut of excess and you end up with...
Image

Step 4. cut that stuff
once you have your sheet. time to start cutting "scales", the sharper the knife the better and a ceramic knife might work better as it may be a bit more "slippery" through the clay. if the knife is dull or the clay sticks it will deform the sheet slowly with each cut. I use a pick blank as my guide/straight edge for cutting the scales, leaving about 1/16-2/16" over hang on each side.
Image

Step 5! bake it.
follow the instructions based on your clay although honestly the sculpey instructions kinda suck for this and I semi wing it. 275f for about 10-12 minutes seems to work really well for me.
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Step 6. out of the oven.
once out of the oven and cooled!(it is a bit brittle right out of the oven) you can snap apart your cut sheet. and you'll end up with a pile of scales.
Image

Step 7. drill and prep.
Alright, at this point we have a nice stack of polymer scales and a pick shaped and ready to handles. I like to add rivets just because I like the look, they are not needed though so drilling is optional. if drilling I use the pick as a template for the holes in the scales, I used 1/16" carbide bit and dremel with drill press stand. use a fine tip sharpie make to mark the holes, drill them out then I use a carbide cutting bit on the dremel to counter sink.
Image

Step 8. rough sand / scuff surface.
I take a 180 grit diamond coated file and rough up the surface of the pick where the handle will be attached. then I take 220 grit sanding screen and sand the inside of the scale, I also fold the screen over a few times to sand a shallow trough down the center of the scale to give a little more surface for the epoxy to grip.
Image
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Step 9. JB Weld! / epoxy
I love this stuff, this and duct tape holds the world together. I use JB Weld "original" cold set formula. you dont need a lot, use cut down street sweep bristles for mixing sticks, take a bead of epoxy and drag it down the center of the scale then I go back and evenly cover the surface. do this for both scales.
Image
Image

Step 10. Assemble and wait....
assemble the pick/scale sandwich, hammer rivets clamp the pick down and then wait... with the jb weld I let it set over night/ 12 hours before shaping.
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Step 11. Power sanding.
Once the epoxy is set I take my dremel with a 220 grit sanding drum to get rid of all the extra material and epoxy from the top and bottom of the pick, I then use the dremel to clean up the rivets and go over the sides just to even things out a little.
Image
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Step 12. shaping and more sanding.
this is just finishing now, I like to round off all the edges of the handle for rough shaping I use 220 grit sanding screen, sand paper would work also but not nearly as well, paper tends to get gummed up quickly. after getting it shaped then I move up to 320, 400 then finally 600 girt sand paper this leaves the picks smooth but still have a matte finish, going higher the surface will shine up a bit and be more plastic feeling.
here is the pick after sanding with 320.
Image
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the handles end up pick width and around 3/8" thick so they fit nicely in any case.
Image
Image

final thoughts
if you need handles for a bunch of picks that are similar in size polymer clay scales are the shit! :hbg:

p.s. the king isn't finished still needs a lot of shaping done. just wanted to get this tut finished.

coming soon....

Polymer Pick Handles II: the mold...
Last edited by PickForge on Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:18 am, edited 3 times in total.
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elbowmacaroni

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Post Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:27 am

Re: Polymer Pick Handles

Nice write up (so far, since there is more to come...)

Sculpey III is good stuff for pick handles for sure, although it does seem to be very touchy to the baking being EXACT or it gets very crumbly IME (anyway.) The Sculpey Premo is MUCH more forgiving, as is plain 'ol Original Sculpey. And I don't know if you've tried it or not, but the "Craft Smart" brand of polymer clay at Michael's (and maybe elsewhere, not sure if that is a house brand or not) is quite good as well.

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AULockpicker

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Post Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:57 am

Re: Polymer Pick Handles

That pasta roller is a fantastic idea, you could use that with Polymorph for handles as well. I'll be filing that idea away for future reference <thumbs up>.
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femurat

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Post Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:41 am

Re: Polymer Pick Handles

Great idea the pasta roller :)

Since you're just making scales, what's the advantage of making and baking them rather than just getting some plastic sheets and cut them? I'm not criticizing your choice, I'm just wondering.

Cheers :)
An old post of mine that you'd like to read is missing pictures? PM me and I'll fix them.
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PickForge

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Post Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:32 pm

Re: Polymer Pick Handles

femurat wrote:Great idea the pasta roller :)

Since you're just making scales, what's the advantage of making and baking them rather than just getting some plastic sheets and cut them? I'm not criticizing your choice, I'm just wondering.

Cheers :)


good question. for a couple of reasons.

1. the clay is soft and cuts really easy with a knife hell you can even use a dull piece of metal like a ruler just to get a gap then snap the pieces apart after baking. this to me is a lot easier then setting up the dremel with cut-off wheel to cut the sheet into strips.
2. it's not set so if you change your mind or slip it's easy as balling the clay back up and running it through the roller again to get a new sheet. if you slip or mess something up after the clay is set that scale is done and gets wasted.
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zazoola

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Post Thu Sep 05, 2013 5:58 am

Re: Polymer Pick Handles

Love orange. Never knew clay was used as pick handles.
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femurat

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Post Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:55 am

Re: Polymer Pick Handles

Thanks for the answer PickForge, you make two good points.

What about doubling the width of your pasta roller and inserting the pick inside two soft sheets??? then you could cut the excess on the sides and bake the whole pick!

Cheers :)
An old post of mine that you'd like to read is missing pictures? PM me and I'll fix them.
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GWiens2001

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Post Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:09 am

Re: Polymer Pick Handles

What wine do you serve with polymer pick pasta? Red? White? Key-anti? :cool:

Gordon
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Oldfast

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Post Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:02 pm

Re: Polymer Pick Handles

Great stuff... lookin' forward to the ending. And the little details you've included
will certainly help others forgo the headaches you've already been through. Nice!

And a pasta roller! lol.... hoodathunk?! :)
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."
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PickForge

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Location: Phoenix

Post Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:20 am

Re: Polymer Pick Handles

it's all updated guys.

femurat wrote:Thanks for the answer PickForge, you make two good points.

What about doubling the width of your pasta roller and inserting the pick inside two soft sheets??? then you could cut the excess on the sides and bake the whole pick!

Cheers :)


I have tried to do this is the past with picks, but they would never attach well, even cutting slots in the pick didn't seem to help as trying to get the clay to fuse in through the slots it would deform the handle. I do have another idea but it's going to require a mill, make a 2 piece mold out of aluminium around 1/8" deep on each face then press mold the handles on then bake, I'll see if I can get a mold made in the next few weeks to try this out.
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femurat

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Post Sat Sep 07, 2013 5:41 am

Re: Polymer Pick Handles

you've already tried that? never mind. many pick handles are molded, but I've never seen a pasta rolled pick :)
An old post of mine that you'd like to read is missing pictures? PM me and I'll fix them.
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Alera

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Post Mon Jan 20, 2014 7:35 am

Re: Polymer Pick Handles

What an intuitive idea! And to think I was just going to wrap mine in cordage...
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Genolution

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Post Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:13 pm

Re: Polymer Pick Handles

Just before reading this I watched a "How It's Made" episode where they were making candy canes. I wonder If it's possible to work it into long thins strands of different colors, twist them together and fold them on top of each other for a swirl effect. I never worked with this material before but it seems feasible.
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1mrchristopher

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Post Mon May 19, 2014 3:26 pm

Re: Polymer Pick Handles

GWiens2001 wrote:What wine do you serve with polymer pick pasta? Red? White? Key-anti? :cool:

Gordon


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