Wooden earrings, and how to cut wood with sandpaper

Mari is a lucky woman! After buying a rotary tool, her boyfriend has showered her with wooden rings, a plywood ring, and now – earrings. Not to mention that he doesn’t look half bad in a pair of safety googles!

Dremel 4000 blueprint - earringsMore to the point of this post – making wooden earrings with the Dremel 4000 (click the image on the left to embiggen). Overall, this was little different from the rings I had made before – a shape (though not a circle this time) with an internal hole. Most of the steps were similar to what I had described before (e.g. here) – drilling, cutting with a high-speed cutter, cutting with a cut-off wheel, shaping with a sanding band, finishing with a grinding stone and an abrasive buff. I wouldn’t have written this post were it not for one thing that I did differently.

I initially cut a single 1cm-thick earring shape out of the same long-suffering piece of wood that I got in my early Dremel days. What I needed to do now was split this thick shape into two thinner ones. The EZ456 cutting wheel, which is what I had been using for majority of my cuts, would have worked OK save for one thing: the cut it makes is quite thick, and I didn’t want to give up too much material, with the resulting earrings being thinner than I had planned. Now, I wouldn’t call this a stroke of genius, as I am certainly far from the first person to have done this, but I still felt a bit proud: The cut-off wheel is just a disc. Its sides aren’t even sharp, just kind of rough. The cut essentially happens because the wheel spins so fast. You know what else is just a disc? The sanding discs that come with every Dremel 4000 kit! Sure, they are not fibreglass reinforced, but it was worth a try.

Dremel sanding discs, before & afterI did a quick test on a scrap piece of wood with the 411 180-grit sanding disc, and it actually worked better than expected. I then drew a line along the centre of the earring shape’s thickness and got to work. I went slow and easy, somewhat worried about the sandpaper disc exploding if excessive pressure gouged its sides and unbalanced it at 30,000rpm. However, the only thing that happened to it was that it smouldered, its paper backing clearly coming very close to that critical point of Fahrenheit 451 (available in paperback or Kindle format. I know this is a Dremel blog, but when else will I have a chance to recommend that excellent work of literature?!). Actually, there was one other thing: the sanding disc shrunk rapidly. Clearly not designed for such (ab)use, the disc’s edges appear to have been only marginally harder than the wood they were cutting. By the time I got to the thicker top portion of the earrings, the sanding disc was too small to get all the way through, and I had to swap in a new one.

In the end, I got the desired result – a smooth thin cut that split the shape into two nearly identical earrings. Since I wanted them to taper from bottom to top, I continued shaping with the 408 60-grit sanding band, followed by my usual finishing process.

One last bit of info: Since the disc’s front surface is, by design, more abrasive than its sides, it is important to keep the disc completely perpendicular to the material being cut. Tilting it, especially forward, will bring the sanding surface into action, making the cut thicker and/or uneven.

I am still looking for a suitable piece of wire to make earring hooks, but here’s the almost finished product:

Dremel 4000 - earrings

Update: Mari has repurposed some old earring hooks and these are now fully functional! She was even kind enough to model them:

Dremel 4000 - earrings on Mari

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4 comments

  1. Pingback: Earrings update « The Dremel Amateur
  2. Pingback: Made – Hello Kitty café « The Dremel Amateur
  3. Pingback: My Dremel 4000 review – Part II « The Dremel Amateur
  4. Pingback: Maori design « The Dremel Amateur

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