What is Bookmatching?
Bookmatching, according to Wikipedia, "is the practice of matching two (or more) wood or stone surfaces, so that two adjoining surfaces mirror each other, giving the impression of an opened book."
Ok, now that's all cleared up, let's move on to how we make a pair of wood dangle earrings.
Our Wood Earring Workflow
- Select and mill the wood.
- Transfer and cut the design.
- Slice into book-matched pairs.
- Rough sand & drill holes.
- Vacuum Stabilize (if needed)
- Finish sand
- Seal & Clearcoat (if desired)
Selecting and milling the wood.
Once we have chosen a piece of wood to use, we decide which direction we want to orient the grain before we begin cutting.
- End Grain: The grain is perpendicular to the largest surface of the earring. This orientation is excellent for showing off Spalting zone lines and the circular growth rings of the wood. However, it can be fragile and requires vacuum stabilization with Cactus Juice resin.
- Face / Edge Grain: The grain is running with the longest dimension of the earring or at a slight angle. This type of orientation is great for showing off the flowing silk-like curls in the grain of some wood. Stabilization is optional.
|End Grain||Face / Edge Grain|
Transfer & Cut the Design.
We use blank shipping labels to transfer our designs to the wood, or sometimes we will draw them directly. Finding the perfect spot where the grain and patterns line up can be very satisfying.
- Stick or draw the design on the wood
- Cut out the designs, this can be done by hand, but we prefer the Bandsaw.
- Use a belt and spindle sander to get the profile perfect.
Cutting the wood into book-matched earrings.
After we finish profiling on the sander we move back to the Bandsaw. We use a modified push-stick to support and push the earring block, while another push-stick is used to support the pieces against the fence.
- Set the saw fence to the desired finished thickness plus 20%-40% for sanding and saw kerf. Using a fine-tooth, thin kerf blade will lessen the amount of finish sanding needed.
- Use the two push-sticks to support the block against the fence and from behind, then begin slicing away.
Rough Sanding & Drilling
- Using 120 grit sandpaper we remove any saw marks and bring the earring to the desired thickness.
- We then measure, mark, and drill the hole for the finished jump-ring and ear-wire.
Vacuum Stabilizing and Curing
Vacuum Stabilization uses a vacuum pump and chamber to remove the air from within the dried wood, allowing a low-viscosity, heat-cured resin to penetrate deep into the wood fibers. The pieces are then placed in an oven to cure the resin.
- Each pair is tied together so they don't get mixed up in the chamber.
- After all the air has been removed the earrings are allowed to soak for about 24 hours.
- Each pair is then wrapped with tinfoil and placed in an oven to cure.
Finish sand and seal/clear-coat
The finish sanding starts with a quick once over with 150 grit to remove any leftover stabilizing resin on the surface.
Sanding will progress through the grits up to usually 400. The earrings are then cleaned and allowed to dry before applying a finish clear-coat or sealer.
This last step depends entirely on how the finished earrings are to look. Some pairs look beautiful in a more natural matte finish while others may need a glossy shine to show off the curly grain.