some questions on micarta, G10 and kydex

Joined
Aug 23, 2003
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185
Sorry for lumping all these together but I figure the questions are somewhat related to each other..

1) I'm getting confused about differentiating micarta, G10 and FR4. I've read somewhere that one or two are just different form of the third or something like that, while some info I've come across indicates that they are i fact different materials. So what's the truth behind the three, are they similar or completely different materials?

2) between the 3 materials, which is more hazardous to grind and sand?

3) when I heat, cut and sand kydex, it gives off this smell. I just use a dust mask, but this smell is making me consider getting a respirator. What are the fumes composed off and what kind of filter do I need? the local shops have filters for organic and non-organic fumes.
 
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
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Unless you get them hot enough to burn they will not gass, the smell is particulate and a dust mask is ok for some use but you really need a good respirator. If you smell or taste, you are not protected. Most hardware stores have good respirators. This is really important when grinding metal. There are different in materials used to make but are all layers of a fiber material held together with epoxy. I prefer linen micarta, paper doesnt really have much of a pattern and canvas is too rough. I have used G10 and it seems more plastic than micarta. Most of my customers really like a good linen micarta, black is the favorite.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2000
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5,179
Someone please correct me, but I believe G10 is laminated with fiberglass? I could be way off base, but that's been my ongoing reason to steer clear of the stuff.

Many makers create their own micarta substitute using denim or other fabric pressed into epoxy. Always keep in mind that epoxy fumes are carcinogenic, so use only with good ventilation! I don't know what the binder is for Micarta or G10.

I've never heard of FR4, but now you've given me a research topic for the morning! :D

A good respirator really is a necessity. An alternative is powerful ventilation and dust collection, which has the added benefit of keeping the shop a bit cleaner. For those of us with facial hair, a positive pressure respirator costs about $2,000 - you could probably do reasonable dust collection for less money and be more comfortable, but they're noisy as all getout and the wife and/or neighbors might take exception. That's my choice anyway.

If you choose to use a respirator, I would suggest you purchase it from MSC or Travers or the equivalent, and ask their recommendation for the filters given your applications. You can get pretty good information simply reading their catalogs if you're so inclined.

I've never heard any warnings about the smell of working Kydex, but chemical fumes can't be good for you! If they were they'd put the stuff in vitamins and advertise it on the morning news. I haven't seen that yet.
 

fod

a la sombra
Joined
Dec 6, 2006
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1,194
Simply put, they are all laminates...some type of cloth held together with some type of adhesive.

The micartas are paper, linen, canvas, etc held together (typically) by epoxy resins

The G10, G11, FR4 are fiberglass with phenolic resins. These are formulated more for high temp application.

As far as hazard, ALL grinding dust is bad for you. The cured resins I would guess are the primary nasty in the mix, but I would not advocate breathing powdered fiberglass, paper, linen, graphite (ie carbon fiber) cotton, etc. with or with out the resin constituents. The dust from woods are bad to breath and the dust from stabilized woods I'm sure are similar to a paper micarta.

I suppose that is a lot of words to say...

Don't breath dust...It is all bad for you, it is a matter of degrees.

A little G10 dust might equal alot of canvas dust health wise...just buy and use some quality protection regardless of what type of dust you are making.
 
Joined
Jun 14, 2007
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Yes always try to use at least some sort of protection as they say an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure in this case the protection may be priceless. Unless of course it is ones goal to destroy their lungs with dust. Dust can kill! The big thing her is not short term but long term. Some particles will never leaver your lungs. They stay there scar tissue will build up and it can eventually lead to cancer! The dust in wood can have bacteria and fungi that can actually rot your lungs!
 
Joined
Mar 24, 2008
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For those of us with facial hair, a positive pressure respirator costs about $2,000

I'm pretty sure I'd just shave before I shelled out that kind of cash.

A good respirator is smart for anyone who grinds and sands. I find that comfort is an important consideration when choosing a respirator. You will be more likely to use it when doing marginal tasks. Go to an industrial safety supply and try a bunch on. Their prices tend to be better than the hardware store, too.
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2006
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606
I've never heard any warnings about the smell of working Kydex, but chemical fumes can't be good for you! If they were they'd put the stuff in vitamins and advertise it on the morning news. I haven't seen that yet.

It gives off a formaldehyde when over heated
 
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Dec 7, 2000
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5,179
I'm pretty sure I'd just shave before I shelled out that kind of cash.

:D You haven't seen me without a beard! If I look goofy now - and that's not an uncommon remark - then without the beard, well, it's pretty ugly. Even my straight-arrow father says I look better with a beard, and my daughter literally started crying the last time I shaved it off (that was quite some time ago). Aside from the Army, I've had a beard for 30 years. Gotten kind of used to it.

Now whether all that's worth two grand is another thing. Probably not. If I were going to work in dust full time so that dust collection didn't seem adequate anymore, then I'd probably just bite the bullet and shave it off. It's not like I'm trying to get dates anymore anyhow.
 
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