Upcycle a Belt with Casting Resin

Turn a boring belt into a belt with a radical and one-of-a-kind resin buckle.

Buckles 5 571b99745b0a3cfdf5b1ab7bf2a70a51147af51904d722fa7288d9b9f560cfb6

You’ll need:

It isn’t completely necessary, but we recommend the following:

Make sure you do this outside. Casting resin requires ventilation, even though its virtually odorless. Put down plastic or a thick covering of newspaper first to catch any drips. Make sure your work surface is level, so that the resin settles evenly. Casting resin (epoxy resin) cures according to temperature. If its 75° F outside, then the resin will stay workable for about 1.5 hours. If its 50° F outside, you’re going to have a working time of about 3 hours. The colder it is, the more patient you’re going to have to be. If possible, set the trays by a heat source, like a space heater. In the heat of summer, this stuff can cure in as little as 30 minutes.

First get started by beheading the belt! Cut off the buckle as close as you can and separate it completely from the belt.

Buckles 3 88224eba6d6dabc0dbf1f159fff8a9f9e9ff88df5cca7cb1c0a0cf7a9d5a0d10

Using your pliers, separate the the pin on the buckle from the frame. Then straighten the pin out flat with an arched tail. It should resemble a cane, or a “J”. Some pins are harder than others to bend, depending on what type and gauge metal they are. You can use a hammer to help you get the flat part. Here is an example of two pins out of their frames, before and after transformation…

Buckles 4 f2fa195bdd7cc8b2a905e7fda34c52a22e38cab6a73f4d0ef4332187b6f08bab

So now that your pins are done and the belt separated, you’re ready for the casting resin. Put on your gloves. Mix up a batch of resin, about 1 oz (16 drams if you’re using a medicine cup). Make sure you measure equal amounts of the resin and mix thoroughly!

Buckles 71 8b14820cc3a324a0a5237910f6c6b559fccdfffa736ffc7d1943d4c7fc344104

Pour the resin into the mold and let it settle. Let it sit there for about 10 to 15 minutes so the air bubbles can rise out.

If you have a torch, pass the flame over the surface briefly to pop all the bubbles instantly and leave behind a crystal clear surface. If you don’t have a torch, just be patient and hope for the best.

Buckles 9 6d2a358a6e9eaf3fac613c468c97ec8cbd61db88c086cce5937282353fb9e0dd
Buckles 99 47ca73f7d8b7e79354f31cac170108e07973665e60111790c1580b16d2f600bc
The fun part!

Start placing the objects into the resin, keeping in mind that the buckle will be viewed from bottom. Place everything face-down, and make sure that no air bubbles get caught in cracks and crevices. (use the popsicle stick to push around the objects until the air bubbles wiggle out.) You can check periodically what the buckle is going to look like by holding up the tray and looking at it from below. Just make sure you don’t spill it when you’re admiring it!

Once you have it all laid out and perfect, let it cure until its sticky (about 1.5 hours in 75° F).

Buckles 15 c0dd8625a4922a3e52b0e13b55fb5bbed8058141a3027b9b9a1f761c2b4f34d6
Buckles 14 163011990ac69315c758fc994ded7b503a4f40a5fe12f2b06d9b20f3d66d6b6b

When the surface is no longer liquid (when you can’t poke the popsicle stick into the resin anymore), its time to pour the second layer. Mix up enough resin to fill the tray 3/4 full. Depending on the size of your mold, it could be anywhere from 1/2 oz. to 3 oz. You can embed more stuff, add colorant or glitter, or just leave it clear. Then let it cure until its sticky again. (about 1.5 hours in 75° F). You can also torch the surface again to pop those annoying little air bubbles.

Now that the second layer is tacky, lay the pin onto the surface with the arch curving up toward the sky. (if it starts sinking, the resin isn’t hard enough yet) Arrange it center-right (or center-left if you prefer to buckle your belt that way). This will be the mechanism that fastens through the belt holes. Next, pour enough resin to cover the flat part of the pin, but not enough to cover the arch. If you look at the surface parallel, you will just see the curve of the pin sticking up out of the resin. Last thing you do is lay the belt face down in the resin. Make sure the end is completely submerged, and it trails out of the mold. You may need to clamp it down if the belt is unruly.

Let this all sit for a good long while. We happened to time these perfectly so that they could cure fully overnight (a 10 hour period in 65° F) The next morning, they were hardened nicely. De-mold your buckle from the tray, (using a mallet or small hammer to gently loosen the buckle from the mold) be patient, even though i know you’re excited to see the final product! Once the buckle comes out of the mold, run a knife around the underside edge to remove any excess resin and sharp edges. Now its ready to wear!