This wooden comb project is a perfect gift for beardy folks and curly-haired mer-people; it's both useful AND beautiful. Choose a piece of hardwood with figured grain to make this piece even more gorgeous.
Tools & Materials
- 1 piece hardwood 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 3", grain as shown
- 2 pieces hardwood 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 1", grain as shown
- scrap wood, 1/2" thick (approx 4" x 4")
- belt sander with 80 grit belt
- wood glue
- round files / rasps
- sand paper (from 60 to 220+ grit)
- non-toxic oil finish (non-toxic salad bowl oil, for example)
Choose your hardwood pieces, 1 piece 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 3", grain running along the 3" length. 2 pieces 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 1", grain running along 4 1/2" length. The grain direction is important because you don't want the teeth to snap, and the support pieces with opposing grain will prevent the handle from cracking above the teeth. You could use local maple, or an exotic hardwood such as mahogany or purple heart. Choose a piece with interesting grain for an impressive finish.
Draw your comb teeth outline on the large piece (along the 4 1/2" edge). You could trace a wide-tooth comb, or draw the teeth so the points are about 3/8" apart, and the teeth are about 1 1/2" long. Carefully cut the teeth out with a bandsaw.
Draw a curve on the top of the comb (see drawing from step 3). Support the teeth with your scrap 1/2" wood, and cut the curve out using the bandsaw.
When you have the comb's curves the way you like them, begin sanding. Work from 80 grit up to 220 or more, depending on the finish you desire. Use strips of sand paper to floss your way between each tooth (or support the strip with an old saw blade). Take your time making the teeth smooth as any rough bits will snag hair and make the comb frustrating to use.
Oil your comb with a non-toxic oil (like a salad bowl oil). If you are giving your comb as a gift, consider filling a small container with oil to include with the comb so it can be oiled regularly (especially if it will be used while wet). Proper care is important to maintain the finish and prevent cracking.
- Use contrasting wood types for the three pieces.
- Carve a pattern or word into the hand grip.
- Instead of gluing the two support pieces on each side, cut a slot into the top of the comb and glue in a narrow strip instead.
- Inlay a coin or shell piece or copper wire on end (to create copper dots).
- Change the shape to make a pick-style comb, or include a handle.
- To make a thin comb without the hand grip, glue up layers of veneer to make 3/8", alternating the grain to improve the strength. Cut your comb outline and sand until smooth.
- Make a jig for a table saw to cut the teeth at 5 degree angles, 3/8" apart (cut along the first side and then flip the comb to cut the tapers on the teeth). This would be especially helpful if you're making more than one comb at a time.