Flocking | Popular Woodworking Magazine

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The velvety texture of a flocked interior is hard to beat in a box or crate, though the process can be messy.

Take that special drawer or box to the next level.

Flocking is a two step process this involves spraying tiny fibrous particles onto an adhesive coated surface. Imagine steaming the velvet. This is a great way to spruce up the interior of jewelry boxes, decorations, or signage.

Types of flock

1-2. Two beautiful examples of the most unique flocking applications. The glass vase above was blown by Bradley Schillinger (and crowded by me). The object below is a ceramic piece made by Eileen Cohen with yellow flocking.

The brand of flock I personally use is called Flock-It (formerly known as DonJer Products). This company provides some flock options, but the one they would most like to use is Suede-Tex flock with rayon fibers. The undercoat sticker is color matched to the flocked fibers, so please make sure the colors you are purchasing match. I recommend purchasing the Mini-Flocker Kit, which comes with the fibers, bottom adhesive and flock applicator.

Flock-It also sells nylon fibers for outdoor projects and has a line called Soft Flock for small craft projects. Soft Flock packs are the same fibers as Suede-Tex rayon in smaller sizes and are an inexpensive way to sample a variety of colors. The water-based adhesive sold with the Soft Flock is for fabrics and stickers and is not recommended for functional applications such as jewelry boxes.

Surface Prep

3. Flocking kit includes fibers, color matched adhesive and applicator.

The first step in flocking your piece is surface preparation. The flocking process won’t cover any surface cracks or imperfections, so it’s important to start with a smooth surface. Smooth and finish the surface you will flock.

4. You will need a mask, gloves, goggles, duct tape, cleaning rag and an adhesive brush to complete your tools.

Finish the surface with paint, polyurethane or anything that will seal the porous surface of the wood and allow the finish to fully cure before flocking. Non-porous surfaces such as glass or plastic do not need to be sealed before flocking, but it would be helpful to rub or sandblast the surface first to promote adhesion.

5. Tape off any surfaces that you do not want flocked. You can also flock drawer bottoms and other parts before inserting them into finished pieces.

I prefer to crowd the bottoms of my drawers with floating panels before gluing them, but some people crowd in last, staring at the sides and top of the drawers. I have shown both processes in the photographs.

Configuration and security

6-7. The applicator is easy to load. Use a spoon to put a generous amount of fiber into the bottom tube (the side with no holes), then slide the top tube over it. Make sure you do this gently so you don’t send a cloud of fibers into the air.

Prepare an area in a garage or shop to do flocking as this is a messy process. Cover the table you are working on with newsprint or paper as you will pick up any extra flocks to save them later. If your project is larger, I recommend that you spray your flock inside a large paper-lined cardboard box or garbage bag to prevent flocked fibers from going everywhere.

Wear protective eyewear and a face mask when flocking as these tiny particles do not belong to the eyes or lungs. Work in a well-ventilated area and wear rubber gloves when working with adhesive. Clean the brush and tools with acetone or white spirit.

Loading the applicator

Use a spoon to load the bottom of the cardboard flock applicator tube – the side without holes – with the fibers. Use a generous amount of flocked fibers, filling about halfway through the tube. You will spray more than necessary and save the excess. Carefully slide the top of the cardboard tube, the side with the holes, over the bottom. Don’t accidentally send a cloud of fiber to your face because it’s unsightly. Prepare your flock applicator first, then set it aside for later.

Applying the adhesive

8. Apply the adhesive over the entire surface. Again, be generous here. I use a soft bristle brush. You want a nice thick coat, but be sure to smooth out any bumps or globules (as they can show through the fiber).

Mix the adhesive well before use. Keep an acetone rag on hand in case of any spills or drips.

9-11. Apply the fibers. Hold the applicator approximately 8 “away from the workpiece at a slight angle. Push the lower tube into the upper tube in short bursts of twisting to create a slight vacuum that pushes the fibers out.

Apply a generous layer of primer adhesive to the surface to be flocked. I prefer to use a soft bristle brush. The adhesive is similar to a thick oil-based paint. You want a thick layer of adhesive, but smooth out any large bumps or globules. Quickly work around the entire area to be covered because the working time is only 10-15 minutes. Finish continuous sections at the same time and only work on one drawer or surface at a time. Once the bottom adhesive is applied in an even and generous layer, take off the rubber gloves and take the prepared flock applicator.

12. You can clean the excess flock around your piece, but don’t touch it until it dries (about 12 hours usually).

If you are working on a large area, you can spray the adhesive through a paint sprayer or roll it up with a foam roller. Dilute the adhesive with mineral spirits if spraying. Do not work in sections on larger pieces as the seams between the sections will be visible.

Spray the flock

13-15. Once your project has dried, you can gently tap the excess fibers. The material has not yet fully cured, so do it carefully.

Hold the applicator tube about 8 inches away from the workpiece and spray down at a slight angle to the surface to be flocked. Push the lower tube into the upper tube in an up and down, slightly twisting motion, creating an air gap that pushes the flocked fibers out. Spray the fibers all over the area to be covered, pumping with enough force to sink the fibers into the adhesive but not so much that your project falls off the table. Try to aim to spray so that the excess flock is contained within the spray box or paper-covered table. Cover with a generous layer of flocked fibers, more than you might think you need.

Leave your project hanging for at least 10-12 hours, and most importantly: don’t touch or move your project while it dries! The surface is very delicate as it is in the process of curing and can be easily dented or stained.

Excess cleaning

16. If you’ve masked any part of your project, now is also the time to remove the tape (before the flock has fully cured). Be careful not to touch the flocking that is still ripening.

Collect excess fibers in the bag. If you used a plastic bag in a box, you can remove the bag from the box and cut its corner to pour it back into the bag. The paper table covers can be gently folded and flipped into a funnel to help bring the fibers back into the bag.

17. You can use a soft brush to remove excess fibers from corners and other wooden surfaces, but do not touch the flocked surface. After curing (72 hours) it can be cleaned with compressed air or a vacuum cleaner to remove any remaining loose fibers.

After the project dries, turn it over on the paper-covered table and gently tap or shake the piece to remove any loose fibers. Use a soft brush to remove any excess fibers from wooden corners and surfaces. Save excess fibers by sweeping them off the paper-covered work surface and returning them to the bag. Be gentle with the surface until it is completely dry after 72 hours. You can then use compressed air or a vacuum cleaner to clean the flocked surface.

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