Step-By-Step: Custom Building Carbon Fiber Oakley Juliet Sunglasses

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Be sure to check out our carbon fiber store, where our specialty is in lifestlyle products.

This post was guest blogged by Paul Carpenter.  Paul is a creative professional and has been working on the internet since the early 90’s, along with things of a technical nature at Interarchitect.com.  He enjoys a variety of hobbies including dabbling in hand-fabricated carbon fiber items. When he’s not knee deep in pixels or carbon dust, he spends his time with his wife Heather and 1-year old daughter Mira.

This is part 2 in a 2-part series.  Make sure to check out part 1, entitled “When Vicious Obsessions Collide.”

Oakley has recently let loose that they are creating sunglasses made entirely from carbon fiber. Their first version, the C6 has just been leaked when Lance Armstrong sported a special pair at the recently concluded Tour de France. The rumors are that these most elite pairs in the Oakley Elite lineup may fetch nearly $4,000. As cool as they might be, I will never have that much money to devote to sunglasses.

However, I am a carbon fiber fiend and need a fix, so I thought that I would try to make my own carbon Oakleys. The Juliet is far and away my favorite, so it’s a good place to start.

This post will document my attempt at getting these put together.

Since someone will ask, I get my carbon fiber fabric from eBay, I use West System epoxy for bonding (available at most boating stores) and everything is done by hand with a jewelers saw, dremel tool and sandpapers.

Earstems

First we have to do some basic carbon layup. I measured up my existing earstem with some calipers to get the overall dimensions, cut out pieces from my roll of fabric to get a big enough overall piece, and then started to build up a “block” of compressed fabric from which I can cut the shape. This pic shows the block halfway through. I needed a fair number of layers to get the required thickness.

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

Once that was cured, I traced out my earstem with a scribe and started cutting with my jewelers saw.

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

Here we see the rough blank. The next step will be to more accurately shape the “top-down” profile and get that correct, and then move to the side profile. All of this shaping will be done with the dremel or small hand files.

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

Had a little time to do some work on this and got one of the earstems formed. I need to do a lot of hand sanding to get the finish really smooth and drill the “O” out, but it’s getting there.It’s almost impossible to get a really good picture of the texture in something this small, but when wet (or gloss coated like it will be in the final product) it looks pretty sweet.

I’m going to get the other side formed up and then do the final finishes and try putting it back together.

I have both arms done at this point, all they need is some slight sanding and a gloss clearcoat. The carbon texture didn’t come out quite as defined as I’d like, but it still looks pretty cool.

Main Orbitals

I moved on to doing the main body. I disassembled my existing pair and, using some molding clay that I had, formed a two piece mold. I have a top and bottom half, and the plan is to use a fair number of layers to build up the shape at the desired thickness. I will then put the top mold on and give it some pressure, which hopefully will get me a close approximation of the shape. Then it will be a matter of cutting out the shape and profiling all the edges to get the smoother curves. The hardest part will be cutting the inner channel that the lens sits in, but with a steady slow hand, I think I can get that.

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

The only thing I won’t try to reproduce is the nosebridge flex point. I might try cutting a slight line to give it the look, but it will be too hard to construct a functional copy of that by hand.

I’m probably going to make a few changes to the overall shape to make it a little simpler to form, but I think this will work. 🙂

I started on the main body and have the primary shape in place and cured up now (with just the first 4 layers). The next steps will be to add probably a dozen more layers to get the overall thickness to where it needs to be. After that, we’ll cut out the overall shape, cut out the lens holes, and then do a little machining to give the edges a rounded profile.I’ll have some time to work on this tonight and hopefully will have a fully cured, full thickness blank to work with tomorrow.

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

All the carbon is done and it’s time to start shaping everything up. I started cutting the overall shape out this morning but had to go to work (dammit) so I didn’t get it finished, but a half hour of work or so should get the outer profile done.After that, cutting out the lens areas (mildly scary) and the earstem attachment points.

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

OK, here’s some stuff that will start to look familiar. I got to the point that the overall shape is getting much closer and got one of the lenses roughly blocked out.Here’s the rough blank. You can see the xmetal and carbon earstems in the background, sitting on the carbon briefcase.

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

Profile from the top.

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

One lens blocked out. The hole will need a lot of hand work to get to the exact size. That will be a slow process, a little at a time. You can cut stuff away, but can’t put it back!

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

As I continue I’m starting to see some deviations from the Juliet form, so I don’t think I’ll have a 100% accurate reproduction, but it will be close enough to the spirit of the Juliet that I’ll be ok with calling it one.

It’s starting to shape up into some actual glasses now!

I did all the main shaping and profiling and now need to do a LOT of hand finishing with some fine sandpapers to get a really nice and smooth finish. I want to see how they look without clearcoat, as that appears to be what Oakley did on the C6. I need to source some very tiny screws to attach the arms and do a little work on those to make sure they operate smoothly at the right angle.

I still have to do the lens holes. I keep putting that off because it’s scary and I don’t want to mess it up. 🙂 I decided that I don’t want to split the frame like the real Juliets, so I’m going to carve out a hole just slightly smaller than the lens, and then from the backside take a little extra out so I can snap the lens in, kind of like my Switch. I’ve got emerald iridium lenses to plop in there, which should look pretty cool.

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

Worked on this a bit more and it’s starting to come together. There are a lot of details on these darn things once you start to examine them carefully.

I did an initial 1 hour or so of wet sanding and started to get the surface much close to done. With enough work, I think it will look pretty good without a clearcoat, which is what the C6 appears to be.

I added the machined out area for the temple shock things (proper name is failing me at the moment) and will be able to get those in place with a little customizing. I think I will need to use a little epoxy to rebuild the slot for where the earstem attaches, as I belatedly noticed that the slot has a bit more angle to it which puts the earstem at the correct angle. One side of mine is slightly off.

I made templates for the lenses and taped those in place to get the position right and will start cutting those soon.

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

We are getting close now! Spent a solid couple hours last night working on this and got the lenses in. Oy! That was exceedingly hard to do by hand. It looks pretty rough at the moment (because it is) but once I get the rounded profiles wet sanded down this is going to look much better.

My only regret is that on my very first pass last week, I slightly misjudged one corner of the right-side lens and now have a 1 mm gap or so. I need to see if I can make any adjustments to get that covered better. Right now the lenses are just fit in by pressure.

Still, not too shabby I guess.

So the final things will be to drill the hole for the earstem screws, cut the slot for the earstems (and make a few adjustments there to have it operate smoothly) and do the final sanding and finishing.

Provided I don’t do anything really stupid, these will be done soon!

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

We are just about done. Have just a few more details to attend do, but quite soon I’ll have these in a wearable state. This was a lot of fun to do, and I’ve already got ideas on the next pair!

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

Making custom carbon fiber Oakley Juliet sunglasses

Be sure to check out our carbon fiber store, where our specialty is in lifestlyle products.
  • Tom Richards

    Paul Carpenter, you are the man! You have just built up my confidence tramendously. I have made a few things with this “black gold”, but never been able to talk myself in to spending the money on supplies for the bigger projecs i have drempt of, for fear that they would not turn out how i had imagined. I can not stress enough how greatful i am for you to produse this blog. The step by step pictures have oppened up my thoughts on how to acomplish certain components. Mad Respect. I comend your gung ho attitude.
    If you have any other blogs or just pictures of what you have made, maybe how you made it, I am all ears and all eyes.

    • Thanks for the kind words Tom. I’m glad that this little project gave you some insights into how you can do your own things. That is what it’s all about! I do have a gallery of pictures of various projects here: http://www.interarchitect.com/cf/

      Hopefully when I get some more time to do projects there will be some more posts here, with even more details. I’m trying to finish my carbon fiber briefcase and will be doing another pair of glasses someday.

  • Constantin Sprianu

    Congratulations for your efforts with carbon fiber.
    For even better results, you can use some slippage-resistant carbon twill, thus the fibers will be perfectly alligned. The stacking order is also important; for design-only parts, the quasi-isotropic, symmetric and balanced laminates work great (depending on the stacking order you risk having unwanted deformations of the part after curing or when applying efforts on the part). You can also use vacuum consolidation by using a vacuum generator (it works great for small projects and it will also increase the fiber volume ratio of the component and reduce the void content). You will also have to take care to prevent the galvanic corrosion between carbon fibers and metallic parts, otherwise the metalic parts will corode very soon in the presence of humidity.
    I hope this will help in making amazing carbon fiber gear.

  • Brad

    Paul, my hat is off to you sir! I am staring at my pair of Juliets on my desk as I read this. I never leave comments on blogs but am compelled to for this one. Keep that creative spirit alive and working. I want to make my own pair now! Your CF Juliets are way cooler than the C-Six. Truly amazing.

  • Chris

    Jesus Christ! If given the choice between living with those spectacles and genital warts, I’d rather have genital warts. At least genital warts wouldn’t be on my face for all to see.

    This is a perfect example of ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’.

    • Trav

      What a douche! those are some fine looking cf glasses. i’d wear them in a heartbeat. again, i repeat, your a douchebag for making such a retarted comment. your probably saying that to make yourself feel better about you already having genital warts.

  • iñaki

    wow!

    fantastic paul!!!

    on question… you put the plastic and then the layers of carbon fiber? inside the clay mold?

    non-sticky plastic and fiber?

    I want to launch in black gold hehe

    many thanks!

  • Paul C

    Great idea, nicely executed but guess you can only get so much from the material at present, or is it experimentation? With each pair you’ll evolve . As for the neighsayers, ignore the apparent ineptitude of those who ‘talk the talk without walking the walk’. An admirable first try!

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  • arnold

    Hello, those are some great glasses, i never worked with carbon fiber or fiber glass before, but i want to learn, i like the pic by pic display, are there anywhere else i can check out to help me learn more? thank you,

  • jaisy

    your fascination of carbon and oakleys looks like something i would write. i plan on starting a pair of oakley gascans in carbon fiber. a much less complicated design. i also plan on relying on the molding process to take out some of the extra labor.great job ill have to post my finished project if i am as successful as you

  • a lot of patience was required, kudos to your effort. i’ve invented and licensed numerous carbon products (see website). I’ve wanted to do glasses frames for a long time. My standard approach would be to model the frame in SolidWorks, design the tool for making 3 primary hollow pieces. Hollow is my deal, got to be hollow. So thats why the company name “closedmold”, i.e. matched face closed molds are used to make hollow parts.

    So do you think doing a frame style like that would “sell the most”? Need to sell about 1000 pieces to make it financially viable. I’ve wanted to do more stuff/applications like this, i.e. something that is used “close” to humans. Stuff we have to deal with day in and out, i.e. glasses, briefcases, writing pens. i like to think that human energy is important, so products that we have to lift and carry often are ideal. actually those three applications are my conundrum. i basically have all three at various stages of development. hard shell briefcases are slightly passe, cloth is pretty good, but they are actually sort of difficult, but we make a case for the Army for DNA sequenceing, so we know the issues on that one. Aluminum hard shell are very heavy compared to carbon.

    we happen to be set up for all three, i.e. 80 kip press with 100 amp 240 heat, smaller vacuum ovens at 20 kip, etc.

    so, supposed you had a hundred of each, but only one type, to give away to your 100 best friends, family, work partners, for X-mass, which would you want? carbon pens, carbon oaklys/sunglasses, smallish carbon briefcases (for laptop etc)? ronnelson@closedmold.com

  • CandyLV

    Brilliant, consider yourself inspiring!

  • I want a carbon fiber flying car or AirCAR!!!

  • Dana

    What kind of molding clay would you suggest using?

  • Lucy Ricardo

    In regards to the Juliet emulation frames? You are cute corny but cute.

  • Rick

    How can I apply the epoxy resin ? directly above the carbon fiber ?
    thanks

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