Methods of molding kydex

Written by marissa poulson
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Methods of molding kydex
You can use a heat gun to melt and mould Kydex. (heissluftpistole - heat gun image by Cornelia Pithart from Fotolia.com)

Kydex is a type of thermoplastic made of acrylic/PVC that comes in sheet form and in various colours. Kydex has a low melting point compared to other plastics, which allows you to complete projects quicker. Once you mould and cool the Kydex, the material takes on a rigid durability that makes it attractive for use in small moulding projects such as sidearm holsters and knife sheaths. It is also used for larger moulding products within the home, outside of the home and in various industries like transportation and fabrication.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Kydex sheet(s), sized accordingly
  • Heat source
  • Mouldable item
  • Foam
  • Fasteners
  • Saw, circular or band
  • Power drill
  • Sandpaper, fine grit

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Heat the Kydex. You need to heat Kydex using a home oven or heat gun before you can begin to mould it to whatever shape you choose. At 160 degrees Celsius, the Kydex will soften and you will be able to work with it effectively. It will continue to soften up to about 198 degrees C, but it will burn at 204 degrees C. Kydex comes in different degrees of thickness, so lowering the temperature and allowing it to heat up slowly while keeping an eye on it will help prevent blistering.

  2. 2

    Place the heated Kydex on or around the item you want to mould. For DIY projects like a gun holster or knife sheath, you want a tight, custom fit. To achieve this, wrap a thin towel or foam around the item before wrapping it with Kydex. The foam provides just enough space to easily release the item from the mould during regular use. Some moulds require separate sheets for front and back portions of the Kydex mould instead of one sheet.

  3. 3

    Cool the Kydex. Hold the mould in place using clamps. The mould will cool and begin to harden into the correct moulded shape in 5 to 10 minutes.

  4. 4

    Connect different parts of the mould. You can connect more than one piece of a Kydex mould using screws, rivets or other similar connectors and a drill (for screws) or other appropriate tool.

  5. 5

    Cut off the excess Kydex material using a circular saw or band saw. Do not use high speeds to cut because the heat from the saw will melt the Kydex. Sand any rough edges with fine sandpaper.

Tips and warnings

  • If you start out with a large sheet of Kydex and are making a smaller mould, cut the Kydex ahead of time to make it smaller and more manageable before you heat it.
  • If you are using a heat gun around other materials, the heat gun may burn them if it gets too close.

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