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How to mount an inlay onto our Home-Made scales

Smythe

Well-Known Member
Preface:
It is my belief that Celluloid Scales were manufactured by a molding the material in dies, the material would be cut to a rough shape and pressed between heated dies.

Perhaps a prototype would be made and mold cavities cut in steel, brass or copper based on the design of that prototype. Celluloid softens at around 120 degrees F and is easily pressed into shape between the dies. It hardens again after cooling and maintains its new shape perfectly.

This is the same technique used to make horn scales long before.

Metal bolsters and inlays would be attached by simply placing them in the mold-cavity just before the rough-cut celluloid. When the die is closed, the heated celluloid would “flow” and form perfectly around the bolster and inlay and also fill the cavity. When cooled, the die is opened and the Celluloid scales are removed with the metal firmly attached.

Molding scales is the most efficient (and cost efficient) way to mass-produce razor scales, in fact, “today” molding is still the method to produce many common everyday items.

Today in our hobby, we make all our scales by hand… it is as if we spend much resources to make a prototype that then becomes the final product for a single finished item. Then we do it all over again for the next single item. This is understandable because most of us do not have access to the tools and machinery necessary to produce scales quickly and efficiently (yet alone, add bolsters or inlay). And may I add, our peevish obsession for articles manufactured with blood, sweat and tears… it is as if the more one suffers and labors over the work, the more valuable it becomes.

While we cannot do much about the way our hobby manufactures scales, at the very least, we may attempt to add an inlay without the need to make molds or melt plastic, and as a bonus, we may inlay on wooden scales.

Finally, I used the word “Inlay”, but the method may perhaps be referred to as “Outlay”, but I prefer to call it “Mounted”.

Now before we begin… for those of us who are “too smart” to wade through “Hand-Holding instructions, please allow me to summarize the process in the following paragraph:

We will make a simple “frame” to cover the scales and catch any glue “spillover”. The frame is a strip of clear tape with an opening cut out to the exact dimensions and shape of the inlay (bear in mind that complex shapes may be difficult to cut… but not impossible). We will then place some mixed epoxy into the opening and then place the inlay onto the scales, a toothpick is used to set and center the inlay in the opening and then we place another strip of tape over the whole and is allow it to cure.
The upper and lower tape is then removed leaving the inlay embedded in a glob of epoxy mounted on the scales… if you are relatively careful it will be neat and clean.
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
Now let’s begin detailed instructions.

Tools you will need:
• 2 strips of clear tape (each wide enough to cover the inlay and scales with room to spare)
• Waxed paper found on the back of a sticker (about same size or larger than a single strip of tape).
• Fine point permanent marker (contrasting color of scales).
• Exact-o knife (with a point).
• A smooth cylindrical object such a pencil, pen or steel rod.
• Clear Epoxy (slow cure - slower the better).
• Toothpick or matchstick.
• Fine sandpaper (800 – 1000 grit).

And last, but certainly not the least - Good eyesight, patience and a steady hand.

Again we are assuming the scales are already finished but not yet pinned to the wedge or blade.

We start with a simple inlay that could be liberated from any damaged celluloid scales
01_StartInlay.jpg

1) Place the inlay onto the center of the waxed paper and place a strip of tape to cover the inlay...
02_PlaceItOnWax.jpg
... so now the tape and wax paper will “sandwich” the inlay between them... press out any air bubbles.
03_TapeToCovrInlay.jpg

2) With the permanent marker draw on the tape across the inlay a series of straight parallel lines Note: this is important, remember the tape is transparent and will eventually be placed onto the scale so you need to see the edge to make sure the inlay is centered in the cutout (don’t worry, it will all become apparent later)
04_DeawParrallelLines.jpg

3) With the Exact-O knife, carefully cut the tape along the edge/outline of the inlay until you have a neat cutout in the tape.
05_CutAllongEdge.jpg
The inlay, and the tape still attached to it will easily lift out because there is nothing holding it. So now you have an inlay with a bit of tape attached to it... and a strip of tape with a hole in it (cavity) still attached to the wax paper.
06_LiftCutOutAndInlay.jpg
07_RemoveCutOut.jpg
NOTE: The tape with the cavity (now called the Frame) will separate from the wax paper easily without damage… but you need not separate just yet. However I do not recommend you try to remove the tape from the inlay as the metal is delicate and the tape may hold so strongly that the metal may bend and kink as you attempt. Instead, I suggest you soak them in some naphtha or goo-gone for a few minutes. This will dissolve the adhesive on the tape and it will slip off easily.
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
4) At this point I assume the scales are already polished. Now wash the scales in soap water to remove and grease and oils, and don’t touch the scales with your finger. When it’s dry you may now separate the tape (the Frame) from the wax paper and carefully place it onto the scales, make sure the opening is exactly where you want the inlay to be.
08_PeelFrameFromWax.jpg
So now you have the frame mounted.
09_AttachFrameToScales.jpg

5) As mentioned your should soak the inlay with the tape still attached in some solvent to dissolve the adhesive and the tape will easily peel off.
10_PeelTaprFromInaly.jpg

6) Now because the inlay is flat you need to bend the inlay into a curve so it fits snugly on the rounded scales. You do this with a hard cylindrical object and a relatively soft and flat surface – stack 3 – 4 sheets of paper (this is the soft surface) on the surface of a table. Place the inlay "Reverse Side Up" in the center of the stacked paper (in this case I am using a sheet of paperboard as a soft surface instead of stacks of paper).
11_TurnBackwardsOnSoftSurface.jpg
... now press hard and roll the cylindrical object over the inlay and it will cause the inlay to be accurately curved enough to fit the scales snug…
12_PressHaedAndRollToMakeCurved.jpg
Flip it over to examine your work.
13_FlipOverToSeeCurve.jpg
Seen for another angle.
13_FlipOverToSeeCurveAnotherAngle.jpg

Now you may “test fit” the inlay and repeat the rolling if necessary.
14_TestFitInlayInFrame.jpg
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
7) With the sharp point of the Exact-o knife lightly scratch the exposed part of the scales to create a rough surface so the epoxy will stick.
16_RoughenScalesWithPointOfKnife.jpg

8) Mix up some epoxy and avoid bubbles. The best way I know to avoid bubbles when mixing epoxy is to place the parts into a small zip-lock baggie...
17_HardnerInBaggy.jpg
17_ResinInBaggy.jpg
... Squeeze out as much air as you can and seal the bag.
17_SealAnaMassageBaggy.jpg
Then gently massage the baggie until the epoxy is thoroughly mixed. When ready, snip one of the corner of the baggie and squeeze the bag and watch the mixed goo come out.

9) Place few drops of goo onto the exposed (roughened) scales… and in this case allow the epoxy to overspill, remember the Frame will protect the rest of the scales so don’t worry about it.
17_SnipOneCornerAndSqueezeOutGoo.jpg

10) Place the inlay exactly into the opening of the Frame and sink into the still liquid epoxy. Use the toothpick to help set it down onto the scales so it is completely submerged into the epoxy (if you are so inclined you may scoop away some of the excess epoxy, but it doesn’t really matter). At this point the parallel lines you drew on the tape is helpful when centering the inlay in the frame. At this point you may use the toothpick to help liberate any bubbles.
23_SetInlayInGoo.jpg

11) Now place another strip of tape over everything and press down to make the “sandwich” tight.
24_PlaceAnotherLayerOfTape.jpg

12) Use a cylindrical object such as round pencil or pen to rub/roll and press and “move” excess epoxy away from the inlay and out to the sides between the upper and lower strips of tape, as a bonus as you rub you can also nudge the inlay while the epoxy is still liquid to help accurately center the inlay in the cavity of the frame. Again, the parallel lines you drew on the tape will be helpful.
25_UseCylinderToPressGoo.jpg

13) Now set everything aside and allow the epoxy to cure.
26_SetAssideToCure.jpg
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
14) When the epoxy is cured (after 24 hours) gently remove the upper layer of tape… there will be a thin layer of epoxy covering the “exposed” surface of the inlay. At this point you may lightly sand the area of the inlay to remove the thin layer of epoxy and get down to the bare metal and then polish to an even finish. Remember, the frame and spillover epoxy still on top of it will protect the rest of the scale as you polish and finish the surface of the inlay.
27_WenCuredPeelTopLayerTape.jpg


15) Finally, (after polishing) you may remove the Frame and it will carry with it the spillover epoxy leaving the inlay embedded in a neat frame of epoxy mounted on the scales.
28_SandPolishThenPeelLowerLayerTape.jpg
30_Finish.jpg
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
Some notes:
• You could take a shortcut and simply bend the inlay to fit the curve of the scales, place the tape over the scales with the inlay in place, cut-out the hole for the frame and proceed from line “7”… however, there is a chance you may “slip” and cut the scales… if that happened with the wax paper you simply start over, but it is difficult to hide a stray cut in your nicely finished scales… it’s your gamble.

• I used clear epoxy (they say it’s clear but it more like amber) I also mounted on white scales so the amber shows up a little, on the other hand, if your scales are some other color, then it’s moot, but if you are concerned about the color of “cheap” so-called clear epoxy, then genuine “water clear” epoxy is available… of course, at an elevated price.

• Be careful when sanding after the epoxy is cured as you may remove too much metal (Notice in this demonstration the first “e” in Wedge” is missing part of its lower leg). You may also unknowingly abrade through the frame and mar your nicely finished scale. However, you could initially use two strips of tape (to make a thicker Frame) on top of the waxed paper, or use thicker tape.

• If your scales are “flat” then things become simpler as you don’t have to deal with the curve. You could place a flat slab of metal with a smooth surface over the upper layer of tape and clamp them together (of course while the epoxy is still fluid).

• If your inlay was pre-polished then you don’t have to sand at all. You may leave the thin layer of cured epoxy that covers the inlay and (theoretically) it will never tarnish.
• Finally, if you are careful, the mount will be very neat and have a professional appearance as if done at the factory.

Final notes for our perfectionists:
Please forgive me, the finished example above is good but not great... and the inlay was rough-cut for these instructions.
Add to that, it is very difficult to snap perfectly focused photos while concentrating on the work (15 minute working time passes all too quickly).

So please have a look at the following photos, of one example I did for a client a few months ago.
HENCK_FR2.jpg
HENCK_FR2_CL.jpg
HENCK_CLO.jpg
HENCK_CLO_CL.jpg
HENCK_POZ.jpg
In this example the inlays were cut from brass, if you look carefully at the close-ups you may see the subtle frame that forms the mount… almost looks like embossing.

Indeed, it was quite a few months of trial and error to effect this "Method of Mount", But it is my hope that you may take these ideas and improve upon it.

Have a good one my friends.
 

decraew

Well-Known Member
Ah, I was waiting for that! Thanks Cedric, I read through it, great stuff!
I'll try this out asap! :w00t:
 

maro

Well-Known Member
Yup, really interesting! I was wondering for some time already how to place an inlay. Thanks for sharing. :thumbup:
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
Cedric you are a genius :thumbup:

Wonderful wonderful stuff

Best regards to you my friend
Ralfson
 

Bart

Well-Known Member
[c]:w00t: Coticule.be official "August Vacation Project"!:w00t:
now brought to you by our Resident Restoration Guru, the venerable Cedrick Smythe.:love:

[/c]

Cedrick, you never cease to amaze me.:thumbup:

Bart.
 

Paul

Well-Known Member
I think I'll give that a whirl during the vacation. Excellent post, Cedric. Thanks:thumbup:
 

Toff

Well-Known Member
I am late to the table but I can state, without reservation, that the meal is exquisite!
The quality of the instruction cannot be improved upon. The clarity of the photographs is top and they clearly depict the information in the line of text.
The craftsmanship clearly shows the results of what may have been a long and frustrating series of experiments and trials.
Thank you Cedric!
Very humbly
~Richard
 

Matt

Well-Known Member
Cedrick, that's been a great reading (and watching). You're the man!

Oh heck, you make three-pin scales? Did I say, you're the man?!? :)

Robin, is it (i.e. the Friodur) still a you-know-what department for you? :)

best regards,
Matt
 

Deckard

Well-Known Member
Supurb!
I'm so grateful to those guy's that take time out to provide good quality instructions for sharing these techniques. Excellent pictorial and hints also,

Joe:thumbup:
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
Gentlemen I thank you for your comments, they are truly appreciated. I only regret that at this time I am unable to contribute such articles as often as I would like (family issues, hopefully they will be resolved soon:cry: ).
But so long as I am able to draw breath, I will post :) .

Have a good one my friends.
 

Harvitz81

Well-Known Member
Absolutely great stuff here! Thanks for taking the time and giving detailed instructions :thumbup:
 
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