Sanding spalted wood - does this technique make sense to you?

Discussion in 'Newbie' started by Jamie Straw, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. Jamie Straw

    Jamie Straw

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    I ran across an article about turning an end-grain bowl out of spalted birch. When it comes time to start sanding (at 60 grit), the author sands with a wax that's 2 parts mineral oil, 2 parts vegetable oil (the part that seems odd to me) and 1 part bee's wax. Evidently, using the wax is only for the first sanding run. Anyone else find this helpful? Major downside(s)? I have some old Johnson's wax that I reserve now for use on tools. Good idea for sanding?
     
  2. Clifton C

    Clifton C

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    Jamie,
    The only, and I guess the last time, I put an oil finish on a piece of spalted wood I was not happy with the results. It darkened it up a bit to much and the wood seemed to lose its "life". I'm not sure quite what I mean by that maybe "muddy" is a better description. I did not use a wax mix but I don't think I would use vegetable oil either. If the concoction was for dust control, I'd use a D/C system and a good respirator.
    cc

    Ps. Search for Ph.D Sara Robinson for lots of spalted wood info...
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
  3. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Well, that recipe is all wrong because it left out the Old Spice After Shave and Vitalis Hair Tonic. :rolleyes:

    I'm sort of standing here slack-jawed after reading about that concoction, but if somebody likes it, then that's what matters. Did it say what the claimed benefits were?
     
  4. Jamie Straw

    Jamie Straw

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    It's not being used as a finish, but as a "first sanding" lubricant (hence the 80-grint). I'm somewhat on Bill's side of the fence, the potion recipe surprised me. Thanks for the tip on Robinson, will do.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
  5. Jamie Straw

    Jamie Straw

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    He just said it speeds up the first sanding "immensely." My hubby has some Old Spice, I could add that, just to make it right.:p
     
  6. Owen Lowe

    Owen Lowe

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    I suppose you could try the Old Spice, but the gals today seem to go ape over AXE - at least that’s what the commercials show...

    Dale Larson sands all of his bowls with walnut oil from the first grits. I don’t know how the oils will/will not help the spalted condition though.
     
  7. MichaelMouse

    MichaelMouse

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    Mineral oil and beeswax is a good start on cold cream. Maybe that's why the Old Spice - for fragrance.

    Use your mask and your DC, and remember to keep part of the disk on sound wood while sanding around the white stuff. Else you dig in fast. I use a flex shaft and sand with the piece rotating to avoid those kinds of problems. Don't know what the piece looks like, but concentrate on a better surface from the gouge.

    Love end grain spalted birch. http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d160/GoodOnesGone/Cultivated-Birch.jpg This is Minwax wipe-on poly, which seems to my nose to be soy based. Doesn't amber quite as much as linseed or tung oil based. If you want lighter, try a couple coats of 2# super blonde shellac as a seal for the surface finish.

    End grain is end grain. http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d160/GoodOnesGone/Cherry-Top.jpg If you have a shape that will allow a very low or very high pitch tool angle to be used (think low angle block plane versus York pitch), best to use it rather than 60. Ring, hook or Hunter tools allow low cutting, scrapers high.
     
  8. john lucas

    john lucas

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    Well first off if he's starting with 60 grit he needs to work on his tool technique. Sanding with wax creates a slurry that helps fill the tear out. I have often sanded with a thinned coat of finish to help fill pores. I've tried sanding with wax on box interiors and don't really see the advantage for me. It just gums up the sandpaper. Perhaps adding oil to it would help the sandpaper last longer. I prefer to cut clean enough that you start with finer grits and don't need the wax. Perhaps if I was a production bowl turner I might have other techniques. When you start with 60 grit it's very easy to get a lumpy feeling if you sand woods that have a big difference between summer and winter wood hardness. that's why I try very hard to get clean cuts and don't have to start with really course paper.
     
  9. Tom Beatty

    Tom Beatty

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    If I remember you tube correctly, Carl Jacobson uses an oil/wax mixture for all sanding grits and as the final finish. Other than cutting down on dust, do not see benefit and looks like it would cut down on final finish options
     
  10. odie

    odie

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    Jamie......

    re: Your question about using vegetable oil.......is it because vegetable oil turns rancid?

    Years ago it was suggested to use Minwax Wood Hardener for stiffing up punky spalted wood. I tried it, and am having trouble at the moment why it was limited success for me.....I'm thinking because it stained the wood. IIRC, it did stiffen up the wood a bit, and resulted in somewhat cleaner cut, with less tear-out.

    http://www.minwax.com/wood-products/maintenance-repair/minwax-high-performance-wood-hardener

    John.....I'm sure you are aware that some spalted woods can get pretty soft and punky.....impossible to get a clean cut with the sharpest of tools. If not completely unacceptable for turning because of that, very often needs 60grit as a starting point.

    ko
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
  11. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    I have watched Mike Meredith maker of the Doctor's Woodshop walnut oil finish, and he always wet sands with his oil, applying it mostly for the first grit or two, then just continues to sand. I am not sure if Dale Larson uses that particular oil or not. One reason is because it keeps the dust down. Another is that it helps keep the abrasive lubricated so your discs and paper last longer. Not sure about that one, but lubricating does help. I have tried it a few times, and didn't care for it. While it keeps the dust down, I didn't care for the sludge it created. Much too easy for it to fill holes or tear out making them invisible till you take it out into sun light. I do use the LDD (liquid dishwashing degergent) soak, 24 hours, rinse and let them dry. This does a great job of making difficult woods easier to sand. A bit messy though. Vegetable oil???? Not on my bowls.

    robo hippy
     
  12. MichaelMouse

    MichaelMouse

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    When the non-turning part of woodworking wants to keep things slick so they don't gum up the paper, they use zinc stearate on it. Sanding sealers use it too. I use stearated paper on wet wood, because it clears pills better. Suggestion - soap is a stearate, and it rinses clean with water. I'd go 99 and 44% pure if I was using it. It always was better on dead centers than either wax or oil, back in the day. And rinsed away when done.

    I don't care for the way that packing the pores of the wood with sanding mush dulls the final look. With the dry dust, you can kick it out with a brush and compressed air if you want, or rinse, dry sand, repeat. So unless you're just looking to have no pores, stay dry. Fill 'em with finish you can see through, not mush you can't.
     
  13. John K Jordan

    John K Jordan

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    I agree with John L., to me, sanding with that coarse of paper on any kind of turning indicates a problem. The problem usually is the tool is not sharp or the turning technique is not good, or in the subject in question, the wood is the problem. When the wood is OK and I have an issue I can't solve with a clean finish cut, I use small curved cabinet scrapers instead of the coarse sandpaper. (I hate clouds of sanding dust and rarely use power sanding.) Sanding with coarse paper can more easily leave the surface nice and smooth but undulating where the paper cuts into softer parts of the wood. Sanding spalted and perhaps slightly punky wood is worse. Another issue I have with coarse sandpaper is it makes preserving crisp corners and fine detail difficult.

    I have turned some very punky wood, almost rotten, and have gotten great surfaces without coarse sandpaper. My secret? Thin CA glue. I use it like a hardener - let it soak into the punky surface and harden up everything. No accelerator. I reapply until it doesn't soak in any more, wipe off any excess with a paper towel, then make a cut. I add more CA if I start to cut into the untreated wood.

    Note that the CA does in fact darken the wood a little just like oil but the things I've done this way, spalted and not, looked good to me. Another issue is CA fills the air with eye- and lung-attacking fumes so I keep my face away, use ventilation, wear good safety glasses, and sometimes wear a respirator. It does take a lot of glue for a large piece but I buy CA in larger sizes.

    The last one I did this way was a cube of spalted yellow poplar turned in the three-corner mode. It was so soft in places the tearout was horrible. No way to cut it cleanly. Sanding it smooth was out of the question. With the CA method, I think I started with 400 grit paper, sanding by hand. The final surface was as smooth as glass.

    BTW, by using the small cabinet scrapers, I get good surfaces in less time and rarely need paper coarser than 320. I use the scrapers with the lathe spinning very slowly and often with the lathe off. Besides general smoothing of bowls, with the lathe off is the absolute best way I've found to do a non-continuous surface such as a piece with corners since it is often difficult to get a perfect finish cut on the corners and sanding with the piece spinning is not reasonable. The scrapers are also an easy way to get the bottom of the inside of a bowl perfect.

    As for the oil/wax sanding technique, I have used oil-softened wax and oil itself as a wet sanding aid to fill pores. I can't imagine using vegetable oil.

    JKJ
     
  14. odie

    odie

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    OK, JKJ......you convinced me to try thin CA on punky wood. I had some that hardened in the container, and tossed it out a few years ago. I try to avoid purchasing wood blocks that visably have really punky areas, but do from time to time, simply because I purchase from photographs. Sometimes I misjudge the amount, and to what degree rot and deterioration there exists.

    thanks

    ko
     
  15. Jamie Straw

    Jamie Straw

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    I hesitate just a bit to bring this up, but there are some woodworkers who spray CA glue. Seems like that would be a good way to apply to a punky bowl. Not sure I'm ready to try it though.:rolleyes:
     
  16. Jamie Straw

    Jamie Straw

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    Finishing them?

    John, how do you finish the CA impregnated bowls?
     
  17. odie

    odie

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    Jamie......Avoiding spray.....Is this because of the toxic nature of CA glue?

    Will probably get some more of the CA, to have on hand next time I have a really punky spalted bowl to deal with, but I'll likely just attempt soaking it. Maybe a disposable brush would be good for that method.......?

    As I see it.....the best bet is to avoid the worst cases of spalted wood altogether. ;)

    Can't help but want to have some spalted woods to work with........can be really beautiful when done right!

    ko
     
  18. John K Jordan

    John K Jordan

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    Yikes, I get most of my spalted wood from the firewood logs. I imagine I would be hugely disappointed if I paid money and got bad wood.

    One thing you probably already know about CA glue - the reaction with wood, paper towels, cotton cloth, etc. can generate a lot of heat. I've never actually set anything on fire but I've seen smoke a time or two. The worst is getting piece of paper towel stuck to the fingers just as the heat is ramping up. A handy supply of water is helpful in this case. Don't ask how I know about this!

    I can't imaging spraying CA glue. It seems like it would be hard to keep from getting it where you don't want it, and how can the nozzle be kept clean. Atomizer?

    For thin glue I almost always use tiny tips to limit the amount and put microdrops exactly where I want them, for example on tiny cracks:

    http://www.amazon.com/Pacer-Technology-Zap-Flexy-Tips-Adhesives/dp/B000H7H4NW

    I keep the tips clear by squeezing the bottle to force air through after use and by using a tiny wire when necessary, but eventually throw the tip away and add another.

    JKJ
     
  19. Barry McFadden

    Barry McFadden

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    I have made many end grain bowls out of spalted Birch and sand them the same way I sand any other bowl...dry sand from 80 grit to 400 grit and finish with Wipe on Poly....
     
  20. Zach LaPerriere

    Zach LaPerriere

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    I'll echo that I treat spalted wood pretty much like fully solid wood when it comes to sanding. Sharp and clean cuts become especially important because the more heavily spalted parts sand faster and deeper.

    Occasionally I'll begin with my lowest grit with the lathe off on area that are less spalted, if there's a big difference in the bowl. I do the same on really soft woods with endgrain versus sidegrain, like red cedar for the same reason.

    At least for the woods I turn I haven't found sanding with oil to be much help. Especially because I've found switching from oil sanding to dry sanding to not work so well. Once the oil is in there, dry sanding hasn't worked for me as efficiently. I find the oil keeps plugging the finer grits while dry sanding, and I suspect that dry sanding oiled wood isn't as efficient. All that said, it's just my experience, and I know I turn non-typical softer woods here in Alaska.
     

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