What is needed to stabilize (acrylic) wood?

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Redfish, Feb 4, 2006.

  1. Redfish

    Redfish

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    I'm looking for info on what is needed to stabilize wood. I tend to find a good amount of spalted stuff and the occasional burl here in SC since we get so many windstorms and tropical storms (ie, lots of downed trees).

    The spalted stuff is so punky yet so purdy that I have a hard time passing it up.
    I'd like to stabilize the "far too gone" stuff, particularly for pen blanks.

    I know I need a vacuum pump, some form of resin, but what size pump, what sor t of container, and how long? What pressure?

    I've looked around and can find nothing on the internet.

    Here's a pic of what I'm finding. Lol, "stabilized" this one with linseed oil and the pic was before hitting with varnish.

    http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2005-11/1113201/mapleburnunfin.JPG
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2006
  2. Tom Lewis

    Tom Lewis

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    There have been lots of posts and threads about stabylizing wood on the Knifemakers Forum. Some use Thompsons water seal, others use Min-Wax hardner. The wood needs have a very low moisture content.
    You can also send wood off and have it professionally stabilized. I would recomend K&G Finishing Supplies in Lakeside AZ if you choose to have it professionally stabilized. I have had them stabilize knifehandles for me and they do a good job. Their maximum recomended size is 12"x4x2". I realize this is too small for what you need unless you wish to do small items.
     
  3. Redfish

    Redfish

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    Actually it will mostly be pen blanks but the occasional bowl blank.

    Where is the knifemaker's forum? Do you have a link, as I've never heard of them.

    Thanks,

    Matt
     
  4. Tom Lewis

    Tom Lewis

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    The web site is http://www.bladeforums.com
    You can do a search on past threads and come up with all sorts of stabilizing information. There are two main professional stabilizers. I have used them both and much prefer K&G Finishing supplies in Lakeside AZ. Their phone number is 928-537-8877 They also have a web site at
    knifeandgun.com
    I have made pens from maple burl they have stabilized for me. They have always done a good job for me. The other place which I will not name has not always done a good job for me.
     
  5. MesquiteMan

    MesquiteMan

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    Redfish,

    I have played around with a number of different products to stabilize at home. This includes:

    -MinWax Wood Hardener--good penetration but not overly hard when dry
    -Thinned lacquer--good penetration but poor hardening
    -Thinned shellac--same as lacquer
    -Plexiglass disolved in acetone--good penetration but not overly impressed with hardening ability, basically the same as the Minwax with a lot more work
    -System Three Epoxy thinned with alcohol--good penetration, excellent hardening, my choice when working with a badly spalted bowl blank
    -Thin CA glue--Good penetration, excellent hardening, quick but expensive. My choice for pen blanks.

    What I do for bowls and vases is to turn it a little bigger than I want and go ahead and hollow it out. I then take it off the lathe and mix up some System Three epoxy thinned with alcohol to this consistency of real maple syrup. I apply this mix with a brush until the wood will not hold anymore. It will penetrate all the way through. I let it sit overnight to allow the epoxy to cure, then re-mount it and finish the turning. I will turn like solid wood and finishes beautifully.

    For pens, I usually turn it round but leave it big. Then stop the lathe and drench it with thin CA and turn again. Some times I need to stop again and soak one more time. It makes it work like solid wood also and is quick. Works great but could be expensive if you do a lot of pens and definately too expensive to use on a bowl sized piece.

    If you are wanting to stabilize blanks to sell, then this will not help you any.

    I have ordered a number of different products and plan to do some controlled side by side tests. I will then write an article/review and share it on the various different turning forums on the net. Keep an eye out for it soon.

    Attached is a picture of a spalted pecan bowl I did with the epoxy. It was way too soft to turn without terrible tear-out but once I applied the epoxy, it turned perfect.
     

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  6. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    Curtis,

    I've been looking for information on epoxy stabilization of larger pieces and am very interested in your findings.

    I contacted several of the commercial stabilizers who are using vacuum to increase penetration, but their equipment, 8-9" limitation, is too small.

    Questions:

    Do you oven dry your piece before applying the epoxy?

    Have you tried this with sound, unspalted wood, and if so, what species?

    Have you tried to "pressure treat" a piece to get complete penetration?

    I can see where the epoxy could saturate the thickness of a bowl on the endgrain section of say and inch or so, but how do you achieve 100% saturation in the face grain portion of a turning?

    What resin/hardener combinations have you used and how much are you thinning the mix?

    What I'm looking to do is get a result of a homogenous wood/resin composite that would not requre any applied "finish", be functionally waterproof, and have the durability of a resin product.

    Thanks for any help

    Mark
     
  7. Steve Worcester

    Steve Worcester Admin Emeritus

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    Is their limitation of 8-9", a physical size restriction, or a penetration restriction?

    It really is not difficult to build a vacuum chamber of size, I have built a 12"x12" out of MDF and it would easily be adaptable to larger sizes. The key is good sealing. I am going to build a round one from 12" cast acrylic tubing soon. That will be less maintenance. Your initial cost are pretty low.

    You can pull a vacuum easily over 20 in/hg because evacuation speed isn't an issue for this project, but a slow drying (you will need long gel times if you need higher depth penetration), thin penetrant that will give you the finished physical properties is. Probably a casting resin would work. Try the guys at system3 or smooth on.

    www.smooth-on.com
    www.systemthree.com

    I have purchased a lot of odd pourable stuff from smooth on that I use in making glass molds and forms. They offer trial sizes inexpensively that may be what you are looking for. When you find what you want, you can buy it through the distibutor. The other issue you may run into is the cost to do each item, and the faqct that it may be difficult to get something food safe. (Let's save that discussion for another day).

    Once you have pulled the vacuum, if the chamber is sealed well, it just needs to maintain it. I have a size experiment making a thermo vacuum molder and I use the same vacuum pump I use on my lathe. Yesterday I added a 10 gallon tank and it easily pulled to about 22 then went up to 25.

    It would be fun to discuss this and experiment a little, let me know.
     
  8. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    Physical, as in size of their chambers (they do pen blank and knife handle stock).

    "Food" safe is not an issue, but "use", "contact", and "leachate" safety are.

    Can see where a shaped chamber for infusion would reduce cost of discarded resin by a substantial amount. Might even pay to fabricate the chamber(s) first.

    Thanks for the links

    M
     
  9. lampman

    lampman

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    Stabilizing wood

    I have been out of circulation for about two and half years, due to a tragedy in the family.
    I have a project I want to get started, it will require, to stabilize my wood.
    The pieces of wood I will need to stabilize, approximate, 11 inch diameter, 24 inches long.
    I cannot go to a professional because it is too expensive, and inconvenient.
    My question is, what is the simplest way to stabilize wood?, large pieces.
    I would appreciate all the information I can receive.

    LampMan
     
  10. Ron Sardo

    Ron Sardo Guest

    A pressure cooker would make a good vacuum chamber for larger pieces.
     
  11. Peter Hawkins

    Peter Hawkins

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    stabilize

    Hi, try white carpenters wood glue, dilute it 50/50 with water, immerse wood totally in it, making sure its submerged, leave it like this for 3 days or more, the punkier it is the longer you leave it maybe to a max of 7 days, when the immersion is finished, put it on a grill type rack on top of the container holding the solution (so it drains off into the solution) keep an eye on it if it sould start cracking put it back in the solution again.
    I have done this quite a few times and its worked each time, even on spalted live oak, you can pick up a tote bin for your solution, when your finished with it you can re-bottle it, hope this works for you.

    regards peter
     

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