Do pine cones need to be stabilized? - International Association of Penturners
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Casting & Stabilization Making your own blanks & stabilizing wood blanks.

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Old 03-27-2017, 12:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Do pine cones need to be stabilized?

I'm going to cast some pinecones in Alumilite for the first time. Do I need to stabilize them first or can they go straight into to the resin?
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Old 03-27-2017, 12:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The ones I have done have not been stabilized, seems to work well.
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Old 03-27-2017, 01:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Not essential to stabilize , but if you don`t , use thin CA as they become exposed .
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Old 03-27-2017, 01:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Pine cones are essentially made of a material similar to the bark of the pine tree ... it's very porous, soft, easy to dent/damage/scratch. You'll want to stabilize them before embedding them in the resin or you can stabilize the exposed surface after you've turned them down to the proper pen barrel diameter with thin CA. A wood hardener can be used to achieve a decent stabilization effect, but you'll still want to coat with CA in the end.

Also ... the pine cones will easily absorb water, and are also often soaked (literally) in pine pitch, which could play havoc when trying to get them to bond with certain resins ...

I've heard of methods where people will boil their pinecones in water for a half hour per lb (which has the effect of also opening the cones so that they are spread out and dropping out the seeds), and then kiln drying them to remove the water content down to 5 - 12% before use in crafting projects ... keeping them in a sealed gallon jar or other similar storage solution.
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Old 03-27-2017, 02:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I've done maybe a dozen now over the past year and never stabilized. I cast them in Alumilite.
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Old 03-27-2017, 10:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone. I plan on using Alumilite and my first attempt will be without stabilizing and using thin CA after turning. If I'm not happy with the result I'll stabilize them. I have everything I need, I'd just rather skip the stabilizing if it's not necessary.
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Old 03-28-2017, 03:10 AM   #7 (permalink)
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In my opinion, the idea of stabilising is an optimal one not and as mentioned before, not absolutely necessary if you take into consideration that, stabilising or not, the cones have to be very dry, the core of the cone is mildly soft and while most of it will be drilled out, if moisture is still present, you will have troubles with the casting results.

Considering that you have the cones properly free of moisture, the only thing you have to remember is that, the resin won't be able to soak through at the cone's centre area therefore, it may become unstable/weak while drilling, extra care is required and as rule number one, soak the living life of the hole with thin CA, multiple soakings through shaping to size, may be required, if not for helping to maintain the blank's structure it will soak between the resin and the pine come petals as they get cut, filling any gaps and sealing its ends for the finish...!

Best of luck.

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Old 03-28-2017, 10:46 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you George for the added info.
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Old 02-18-2018, 09:19 AM   #9 (permalink)
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This is all great information. Especially since I'm getting ready to cast a few pine cones myself. Thank you!
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Old 02-18-2018, 09:58 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Your results can vary depending on how large the pinecones are. I've seen some stabilize the large pinecones where resin wasn't needed because the cones were so thick that you just turned the core. Personally, I've turned a lot of cones and never stabilized any. The smaller ones that I cast in Alumilite I warm in the toaster oven for a while to make sure they are dry. After turning any pinecone blank I always seal them with a couple coats of thin CA and let it soak in before I finish with medium CA. I worry more about moisture with cones.
Good luck!

Last edited by JohnU; 02-18-2018 at 10:00 AM.
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