Silicone rubber has many properties that are ideal when coating metal tools and other objects. It can greatly improve your tactile grip, reducing the risk of dropped tools. Because it is a poor thermal and electrical conductor, it is very useful in protecting you from hot or electrified surfaces. Coating metal in silicone is not complicated, but it does require a few steps in advance to ensure a good bond.
Things You'll Need
- Grinder or metal file
- Silicone base
- Ceramic mixing bowl
- Scale (optional)
- Silicone catalyst
- Mixing stick
- Thixotropic agent
- Duct tape (optional)
- Tape (optional)
Score the metal surface you wish to cover with a grinder, metal file or other tool. These scratches will give the silicone rubber areas to grab onto.
Pour into a bowl enough fast-curing silicone base to submerge the metal you want to cover. If the silicone is mixed with its catalyst by weight as opposed to by volume, subtract the weight of the empty bowl from the total weight to deduce the weight of the silicone.
Mix the catalyst into the silicone base, following the mix ratios on the container. Most silicones have either a 10:1 or 1:1 ratio by weight or volume.
Stir the silicone base and catalyst thoroughly, making sure there are no unmixed areas. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with the mixing stick several times.
Add a few drops of thixotropic agent to the mixed silicone to thicken it. Mix it in thoroughly. Thickening the silicone greatly reduces drips while the silicone is curing.
Dip the scored portion of the metal into the thickened silicone, then pull it straight out. Dip and remove the metal slowly to reduce the risk of trapping air bubbles against the metal.
Hang the metal from a clothesline to allow the silicone to cure for up to 24 hours. Hold it in place with tape if necessary.
Tips & Warnings
- Place a sheet of newspaper under the hanging tool to catch any drips.
- If you want to completely cover an object, you must dip the first half in silicone, let it cure, and then dip the second half.
- You can wash the bowl and reuse it when you're done. Simply soak it in a cleaning solvent and scrub it with a brush to remove any remnants of the silicone.
- Once the silicone and catalyst are mixed, it needs to be used within a day for optimal results. It can not be saved and reused later.
- This process is great for coating the handles of homemade metal tools such as hammers, trowels, scrapers and axes.
- Smooth-On: How to Make Molds and Castings
- "The Prop Builder's Molding & Casting Handbook"; Thurston James; 1989
- Photo Credit pliers image by Pavel Bernshtam from Fotolia.com
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