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Learning to carve wood and lucite

Hello All!

I want to learn how to carve wood and lucite for jewelry. I already
carve wax and cast it for my line. I also very often work with a
lathe for my work. I have lots of ideas for pieces that would never
work in fine metals because of the expensive and I thought wood or
lucite would do. I just have no idea where to start- for example
what woods would be best- where to buy lucite - can you plate both
materials in find metals…and hundreds of other questions. Any
direction would be appriecated!


   I want to learn how to carve wood and lucite for jewelry. 

G’day; the difference between carving lucite ( we call it Perspex)
and wood is well, like carving lucite and wood! Wood is fibrous,
needing extremely sharp chisels,gouges and blades, whilst lucite has
no grain but is far harder than wood and the same tools won’t work;
they just blunt… Lucite gets hot quickly when worked, and tools like
saws and files will jam and clog easily. It is best carved with sharp
burrs and a hand piece either under water or with a continuous water
flow. Finishing is best done with ‘wet ’ n’ dry’ papers of various
grits of fineness down to about 400 grit, always well wetted. Do not
use a grindstone without plenty of water (you’ll get soaked) Final
polish is easily obtained by hand using ordinary Brasso metal
polish,and a soft cloth but a buff will only make a nasty mess of the
surface. Lucite can be etched, using chloroform, but don’t think
you’d want to do that. Chloroform is also an excellent glue , but you
can buy lucite glues formulated for the job.

Plating can be done on anything (even insects and leaves) by
coating with an electrically conductive paint, giving an
electrolytic plate of copper, then any metal you wish

I can’t tell you where to obtain materials in your part of the
world. I have had experience with both materials.

Had you considered inlays?
Cheers for now,
JohnB of Mapua, Nelson NZ

Look for fine grained hardwoods in good woodworking stores. Bass
wood is often used by carvers and I think that I have seen it for
sale in Michael’s. Fine grained woods will not split along the grain
lines as easily as say, pine.

Marilyn Smith

Close to Tucson, Arizona is a small community called Catalina. There
is a wonderful woodcutter there who has a website for his creations.
His name is Robert Raikes. He teaches woodcarving and I imagine
would be very willing (as he is a very pleasant gentleman), to give
you any tips on woods and such for jewelry. You can either send an
email to: , or go enjoy his wonderful website which
is just

Go and enjoy! If you live in the area, you can call and ask when a
good time to stop in and see his studio would be. They are all
personable, and show you proudly around the entire place. It is mind
boggling to see such incredible craftmanship, and unique items.

Maribeth Terry

Hi DeDe,

I just started doing wood and acrylic inlays in my titanium rings,
and just this week added a line of acrylic and wood pens as well.
I’ve found some great exotic hardwoods to work with at woodworkers
supplies online. These are usually made for pens or knife handles.
Some of the nicer woods I’ve found include Bocote, which has very
defined stripes of yellow and brown, Brazilian Cherry, which is a
beautiful colored wood, Cocobolo, which has a dark exotic look,
Zebrawood, which has a nice pattern of light and dark lines, African
Blackwood, which is totally black and very dense, and lots of
others. My favorite is African Olivewood, which has awesome gnarled
grain patterns and sandstone colors. It also smells like pizza when
you cut it. Other jewelry-class woods for turning include burl maple
and other burls. Most of the suppliers I’ve seen online can sell
small blocks of any of these woods.

The acrylics I’ve used look awesome. They usually have a nice
mixture of colors and have a deep shimmering look. They are perfect
for jewelry. The woodworking supplies have sanding sponges that go
to 12,000 grit, and a perfect glasslike surface is easily doable. I
turn the acrylics fast (around 7000 rpm) on a CNC lathe with lots of
coolant to keep them from chipping or hazing. They come off the
machine ready to do a final polish. I use a polishing compound on a
manual lathe with a cloth for the final whammy.

There are blocks of materials that are reprocessed stone which look
awesome as well. I did a pen in marble that looks and feels exactly
like a single piece of stone. The material is pressed back into a
single block from powder and a polyester binder so that it can be
turned without chipping. I really like the look of that. There is
white marble with black veins, turquoise, and a dark red, and a
green stone available.

Bruce Boone
Boone Titanium Rings

Hi all

Just a thought on using exotic woods. Before using these materials
check out ‘toxic woods’ on google. Sorry I don’t have the addresses
on hand but there are charts out there that will give you the toxic
levels of various woods as well as their effects on our humble

I’ve recently had an experience with Cocobolo dust from a small belt
sander that resulted in rashes [eczema] on my face [eye bags turned
into suitcases], inside of elbows, armpits and around the neck, not
to mention all the sneezing. It has cleared up now but do take care
and only use these materials with a good dust collection system and
a mask.

And now on I shall take my own advice.

Ladysmith, Vancouver Island, BC

I've recently had an experience with Cocobolo dust from a small
belt sander .... 

I’ll second that. And I can say from personal experience that repeat
exposure will just make matters worse in that your allergy reaction
will become more and more severe.

I made the mistake of ignoring these reactions when I first started
working with exotic woods and learned the hard way that that was a
bad idea.

Take these woods seriously folks, they’re not kidding when they list
the dusts from them as “irritants”.

Trevor F.