Fordite Pendant




Introduction: Fordite Pendant

About: Come spend some time in the shop. I'm a hobbyist woodworker and professional computer geek in Northern California. I guess my projects will vary widely, and I have no clue what I plan to make next...

This pendant is made COMPLETELY from automotive paint. I was given some pieces of Fordite from Carl Jacobson a few years back. Carl worked for 20 years as an automotive painter in the Portland area.

Step 1: What Is Fordite?!

Fordite, Motor agate, and Detroit agate are a few names used for this interesting material that is a by-product of the automotive painting process.

After year and years of spray painting cars and trucks, these blocks of paint overspray accumulate on the racks and corners of the spray booths. Once dry the material is quite hard and workable with woodworking tools.

As you can see the colors almost resemble geological formations, and thus the name that is a play on both the automotive industry and rocks formations.

I decided to start with the smallest chunk of the 4 pieces I had and attempt to make a pendant.

Step 2: Prepping for Turning

I needed a flat surface, so I spent a couple seconds flattening the paint on my belt sander. The process went very fast, and soon I had a nice flat surface.

After a quick inspection, I was already excited about the colors that we might get from the front!

For the shaping process, I'll use my lathe. I've got a waste block screwed to the faceplate and I'm just making sure that the surface is flat. That entails a few light passes with a large scraper.

Next, I use a pencil and mark out a series of concentric circles on the plywood block.

Using the circles helps to get the Fordite chuck roughly centered on the block. For adhesion, I'm just using some hot melt glue. It should hold fine for a small piece like this!

Step 3: Turning Paint!

My lathe is running about 1200RPM and I'm using a 3/8 detail gouge for the work.

Paint is VERY satisfying to turn on the lathe! A super smooth cut and lots of cool shavings.

The shape I'm aiming for a is sort of large button profile. A very simple shape that will highlight all the layers in this block! After just a couple minutes I end up with a finished shape! It is super smooth to the touch, even without sanding!

It can now be removed from the waste block. To do that I simply heated up a putty knife with my heat gun and worked it gently behind the pendant. The glue softened and came free with very little effort.

Step 4: Drilling and Re-mounting

At the drill press, I drilled a 3/8 hole fairly close to the top of the pendant. At this point, you can be done. You have a lovely looking pendant and all you need it to attach some cord for wearing it!

I decided to try and add another layer of interest, and so it was back to the lathe!

Just added another dab of hot glue, and lined up my newly drilled hole with the pencil center mark on the waste block. Hold it for a couple seconds while the glue cools and you're ready for turning again!

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Now that the mounting hole is in the center of the waste block, I just take a handful of light passes, working from just out beyond the hole pushing in. It makes for an attractive beveled edge and a very professional looking pendant! Remove the pendant from the block and you're done!

I then added a couple coats of wipe on poly. to keep the paint from rubbing off and tied on a leather cord. Tthis one has a nice clasp, or you could also just knot it!

Thanks for looking! And there is a bit more detail in the video, as well as some "mishaps" along the way!

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    13 Discussions


    2 months ago

    I worked at an autobody shop and we had tons of it there because we repaint cars with spray guns like the old days and bake the paint in ovens. We'd hang fenders, doors, bumpers etc. on easel looking racks and they'd get painted and baked along with the parts. Best place to try to get it? local body shop !!! lol

    Great idea, and it looks cool


    1 year ago

    New electrostatic painting processes have made "real" Fordite a thing of the past - there's almost no over-spray. People are now making their own (with a ton of colors that have never been used on cars) - but they don't replicate the repeated baking of the paint the real-deal went through at the factories.

    I bought several pieces hoping to mill them for use as accents on a custom guitar - and unfortunately all of them were far too soft for anything other than jewelry like this. So keep that in mind if you're eyeing this for other use. You may be able to harden and polish it with CA.....

    Looks like the author had a massive piece for this - if that were "real" Fordite it would have been worth at least a hundred bucks (based on eBay and Etsy prices)


    where do you get this stuff from? Do they sell it or do you have to have an inside source?

    3 replies

    It's actually pretty hard to come by. I was nicely given some by Carl Jacobson. I added a link to his instructable account. I know he does sells chunks on ocassion.

    I have a nephew who is graduating. Is there any possibility of buying a copy of your finished pendant?

    I will have to check it out. I may also have a source--a child on a robotics team with Ford engineers as mentors.

    I have seen this done with the colored resin layered waste from building surf boards ... Worth looking ...


    1 year ago

    in 1972 My daughter and I picked up 3 pieces of Fordite at a rock shop out in Indiana, brightly colored and perfect for wirewrapping. I still have one piece left and will likely "pass it on" to one of the grandkids. This is the first time since '72 that I've even heard of the product. People are always intrigued with the colors when they see the product and surprised when they find out just what it actually is.


    1 year ago

    Nice idea and material to use. I was thinking that you are spinning it pretty fast at the beginning. I know that feeling when you are turning something expensive or rare and it slings apart on you. I was tuning a rattlesnake skin in some acrylic for a pencil/pen set and near about finished and....#$%^...gone in a millisecond.

    That's beautiful! That's such a cool material to get to work with :)

    1 reply