No matter how good glasses frames look when first selected from the optician’s display rack, the surface design and coating inevitably chips and rubs off over time.
Fashions also change and those ‘hip’ frames we bought a while back, although still functional, often just aren’t ‘with it’ any longer.
That’s where home DIY electrostatic powder coating comes in handy!
Powder coat painting techniques are perfect for quickly revitalising run down steel framed reading glasses. A huge array of powder coat paints on the market are capable of producing a stunning range of vibrant colors and textures.
With the right DIY workshop equipment, powder coating techniques produce results with many benefits over normal paint application techniques.
It is quick to apply; quick to oven cure and is as tough as nails forever and a day after that.
It took us less than two hours in the home DIY workshop to strip down, prepare and completely transform an old, yet favorite pair of beaten metal framed reading glasses into something new, fresh and exciting to wear.
After completing our DIY frame revitalization project, the glasses looked great!
Dismantling the Glasses
We began this home DIY project by dismantling all components of the old frames to allow each part to be powder coated individually. Of course, any rubber, plastic, or other melt-able parts (ie: lenses, ear grips and nose pads) also needed removing since the powder coating process requires high temperature oven curing.
Metal glasses frames can often look like fine works of art and engineering, formed from one carefully crafted and welded metal piece. But more often than not, they are not. Instead, they are usually simple constructions formed from numerous separate parts locked together with a number of tiny Phillips (cross) head screws.
For this project, all these screws needed gently removing in a counter clock-wise direction with a suitable miniature screw driver. (Remember the saying: “Lefty loosy, righty tighty”.)
The first set of screws to be removed were found in the hinges where the arms attach. Yes, they were the tiny (and usually unfindable) screws which fall out at the most inconvenient times in our glasses wearing life!
Then we removed the screw set holding the lenses in place. Glasses lenses are typically held by the clamping action of the channels in the upper an lower lens boarders. The screws to release these clamps were found on each inner side of the lens boarders, near the nose pad. (On other frames the screws are often on the outer frame edge, in front of the arm hinges.) Care needed to be taken removing these screws as the lenses dropped out easily and unexpectedly once loosened.
Each soft nose pad was fitted into a small metal swivel block behind the nose crown. They were fixed by the same type of miniature screws as elsewhere and once removed, the pads dropped out easily.
The lenses and nose pads were safely placed aside until the powder coating part of the job was complete.
Surface Prep, Cleaning and Plugging
The metal surfaces of all the frame parts to be powder coated were lightly sanded with a fine grit wet and dry sandpaper. This removed any original lacquer and paint from the frames. The base metal of the frame was smooth and fresh upon completion.
The frame was then washed and scrubbed thoroughly in warm soapy water to remove any remaining dust or oil from the metal surface. We were careful not to touch the frames with our fingers after this point, as this could have left grease spots on the surface which would degrade the quality of the powder coat.
We then focussed on a suitable way to plug all of the micro-screw thread holes of the frames. We didn’t want the threads being fouled by droplets of melted and unmoveable powder coat paint, as we would never get the original screws to screw back in properly.
Paper clip wire ended up being the perfect diameter for this hole plugging purpose. The paper clip wire also offered the double benefit of allowing us to hang the components on the spray booth railings during spray coating, while also keeping them electrically connected to the grounding circuit.
DIY Powder Coating and Re-assembly
After all metal parts were neatly hung in the spray booth and thoroughly dried with a heat gun, they were powder sprayed with a base matte black powder coat paint. This treatment was followed by the first oven cure for 20 minutes at 400°F (200°C) in our home built DIY powder curing oven.
The first coat of matte black powder paint alone looked so professional and beautiful on the frames that it was tempting to leave the coloring right there as it was.
But we didn’t ….
After partial cooling, we continued with our original design and coloring plan. We wrapped high temperature resistant tape over the top inch or so of the arms. This allowed us to blank off the first coat so it was not over-sprayed with the second color coat.
We resprayed the lower portion of the arms with a vivid red powder paint and then placed them into the curing oven for another 20 minutes.
With the curing complete, the heat tape was removed and the arms, lenses and nose pads were re-assembled.
Finished! The end result? Totally revitalised and refreshed reading glasses coated in professional looking, tough and vividly contrasting colors.
Just beautiful. We love powder coating!