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    How to Make a Wooden Comb





    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    I've been meaning to build a wooden comb for quite some time now. Believe it or not, there are a variety of benefits to wooden combs over metal or plastic models. Wooden combs are easier on the scalp, they also spread your scalp's natural oils more effectively--especially in long hair, and they never gather static.

    My wooden comb was built using nothing than a scrap of cherry, a scrap of white oak, and a bit of boiled linseed oil. You can build a comb like this in about an hour and use it for years to come.


    How to Make

    Millingclick to enlarge

    Milling: I began by milling a strip of cherry and white oak down to just under 1/4-in. in thickness.

    Millingclick to enlarge

    Thin-Kerf Tablesaw Blade for Delicate Joinery: The horizontal cherry piece at the top of the comb is attached to the white oak component bearing the tines (the grain of which runs perpendicular to that of the cherry) with a simple tenon in the oak, which mates with a groove cut along one edge of the cherry piece. In order to cut that groove, I mounted a thin kerf blade in my tablesaw. If you can find a blade with a "flat-topped" profile, that's the best way to go.

    Millingclick to enlarge

    Rip the Groove: Now using a featherboard to provide pressure against the rip fence, I align the fence to achieve a groove running down the center of the cherry piece.

    Millingclick to enlarge

    Rip the Groove--Safety Tip: Since this piece is so small and thin, I used a small scrap to help keep the stock pressed against the rip fence after it made its way past the featherboard.

    Millingclick to enlarge

    Cut the Tenon: Next, I mounted a flat-topped rip blade into my tablesaw to cut the mating tenon. This is a bit of a trial-and-error process. Use scrap wood cut off from the wood you milled at the beginning of the process to dial in the blade height. After nibbling away one cheek, flip the stock over and nibble away the opposite cheek.

    Millingclick to enlarge

    The Perfect Fit: Here are the final two components of the comb. Your goal is to have a tenon that fits into the groove with just a bit of friction--not too much.

    Millingclick to enlarge

    Glue-Up the Comb Block: Next I cut the two mating pieces to width and glued them together. Don't overload the joint with glue. I placed a very fine bead within the groove and just kissed each of the two tenon cheeks. Let it dry for an hour.

    Millingclick to enlarge

    Cut the Tines: Now it's time to begin defining the tines. I made my first cut just shy of a 1/4-in. in from one end. I'm using my thin-kerf blade here.

    Millingclick to enlarge

    Index Pin for Accurate Cuts: With the first tine cut, the next step is to outfit your miter gauge fence with a registration pin. After each cut is made, you simply slide the freshly cut tine groove over the pin and make your next cut, moving along down the line. I used a small trim nail that was the same width as my grooves. You'll also notice I'm using a clamp to hold the comb blank against the fence. At only five inches in length, holding the comb with my hands could put my fingers too close to the blade. Better safe than sorry.

    Millingclick to enlarge

    Finished Tines: At this point, all my tines are cut but the comb is still just a boring chunk of square wood. Time to add some dimension to this project.

    Millingclick to enlarge

    Sand a Gentle Taper: I used a belt sander to gently taper each of the two faces. Don't go overboard here--take your time and check your progress frequently. You're after a nice, even taper.

    Millingclick to enlarge

    Round the Corners: While you're at it, go ahead and round over the two square corners along the cherry top rail.

    Millingclick to enlarge

    Sanding for a Smooth Finish: Now it's time to get tedious. After giving the comb a general sanding up to 320-grit and easing all the sharp edges, I had to get in between each of the tines to break the sharp corners/edges in between each of my 22 tines. Yup, it's a bit of a chore, but it will result in a comb that pulls through your hair with ease.

    Millingclick to enlarge

    Boiled Linseed Oil Finish: Give that comb a bath. The finishing process couldn't be easier. I mixed up a solution of boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits (50/50), and soaked the comb for about 15 minutes before wiping away the excess and allowing it to thoroughly dry for a few days. Finally, I added a quick coat of past wax. Done!



    Ed_Pirnik