[sdiy] OT: how can i make bakelite?

metasonix at earthlink.net metasonix at earthlink.net
Thu Jun 27 06:05:34 CEST 2002

>but i would like to make a bakelite cabinet

You cannot. Bakelite, by definition, is injection-molded
phenol formaldehyde resin with fiberfill---injected into 
a steel mold under great pressure. 
Some early versions were cast from liquid resin, 
one usually sees that form used in 1920s/30s costume jewelry.
(Which now sells for outrageous prices.)

The later liquid-cast version is usually called Catalin. Famous for its
use in (now overpriced) small table radios of the 1930s. 
You could reproduce this at home, but I do not recommend it. Required are
extremely noxious chemicals. Phenol, formaldehyde and NaOH or
some other alkaline catalyst, all cooked in a temperature-controlled
vessel. All 3 ingredients are toxic, and two are carcinogenic.

You COULD make a version of "Beetle" resin at home. It is a
urea-formaldehyde cast resin. Major drawbacks, other than the
toxic formaldehyde: it shrinks and expands with time, temperature,
humidity, etc. etc. thus making it prone to cracking; 
and, it smells like stale urine.

I suggest that you make it easy on yourself--go to a plastics
shop and buy the urethane or polyester molding resin/catalyst
they sell. You can make it with all kinds of freaky swirled
colors, so it looks just like an old catalin radio. 
It is MUCH easier to make--no cooking needed, less toxic.
Also much more stable and resistant to cracking or breakage.
No one will be able to tell the difference...

E. Barbour

More information about the Synth-diy mailing list