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Casting & Stabilization Making your own blanks & stabilizing wood blanks.


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Old 10-23-2008, 07:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default stabilizing wood

i have looked through this forum and if I missed a thread explaining what I am asking for, please refer me to the appropriate thread.

I want to stabilize some wood that I have, but don't want to invest a lot of money into the process. I already have a decent compressor, but nothing else. I read about pressure pots and also vacuum systems. Is it possible to set up a pressure pot to get the resin or whatever stabilizing solution into the wood using pressure rather than vacuum? If so, how much pressure is needed to impregnate the wood? Also, I would prefer to not predrill the holes. I would like to cut the wood into pen blank size and then stabilize for future use. I know HF has a pressure pot that every one talks about that is supposed to be price-friendly.

Any advice or how-to would be appreciated.
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Old 10-26-2008, 07:42 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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I posted this a while back but it applies to your question so here it is again.
Eugene.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert, these are techniques that I use and work for what I do, there are likely better (read more expensive) ways to stabilize wood out there so this list is not all inclusive. First I will give you my definition of "stabilizing wood" for pen turning. "To take a piece of wood that is too soft in its current state to be able to turn and harden it (stabilize it) in order to make it turnable.

METHOD 1: (the simplest). Use Minwax wood hardener. Pour a can of Minwax Wood Hardener in a glass jar big enough so that a normal pen blank (aprox 3/4" x 3/4" x 5 1/2") can lay flat. Drop the blanks in the jar and close lid tightly. Wait until blanks sink plus one day then take out and let dry. The Minwax will saturate the blank and harden the fibers. It will not fill wormholes or repair cracks. Depending on the type of wood this can take from 2-5 days.
METHOD 1A:If you want to speed it up you can place a weight (do not use a wood block bec it will absorb the hardener) on top of the blanks so that they do not float. Make sure the liquid completely covers the blank.
METHOD 1B: If you want to speed it up more and plan on doing this for many blanks you can set up a paint pressure pot and apply pressure to the blanks while submerged in the hardener. This is what I do and apply 80 psi for about 24 hours and by then the blanks have sunk.

Method 2: Requires Acetone, acrylic (Plexiglas) air compressor and a paint pressure pot . Make sure it is acrylic because if not it will not work. Pour the acetone in a tall mason jar about half full. Cut the Plexiglas in 1" squares. I use a bolt cutter for this just make sure you have eye protection bec the plexiglas has a tendency shoot out when it cracks. Put the pieces of Plexiglas in the acetone jar and close tightly (acetone evaporates very quickly). Sit jar on a shelf out of the way and shake it every 4-5 hours. Depending on the quantity of Plexiglas and acetone it may take a few days to dissolve into a syrup like slurry. Take another jar like the one from the minwax method and pour the slurry in the jar. If you have a clump at the bottom of the mason jar leave it there and pour more acetone in it. Set it on a shelf and shake it at least twice a day. Keep repeating this until the Plexiglas is completely dissolved and transferred to the larger jar. Make enough so that the large jar is no more than half way full but full enough to cover the blanks if submerged. The final solution should have the consistency of water. Once the solution is ready put the blanks you want to stabilize in the mixture, weigh then down with something so they stay submerged put the whole thing in the pressure pot put the lid on as per instructions and apply pressure. Again I apply 80 PSI. Apply pressure for about 12 hours then release it, let stand for several hours then apply pressure again. I do this about 4 or five times over a 3-4 day period. After doing this several times release the air, open the pot and take out the blanks and set them out side to dry. Do not stack them on each other bec they will stick. The acetone evaporates and the dissolved acrylic hardens inside the wood fibers. One additional benefit is that wood treated like this is easier to turn and finishes easier. You can use vacuum BUT remember that acetone disolves rubber so unless you have a filter on the vac pump the acetone fumes may damage the rubber in the pump)

Method 3: Requires Mineral Spirits, oil base poly, air compressor and a paint pressure pot. Make a 50/50 mix of poly and mineral spirits. Again, not more than 1/2 full for the large glass jar. Follow the directions above for the plexi-tone, the method is the same but the mixture is what is different.

Method 4: Requires Allumilite, air compressor and a paint pressure pot. This falls more under "casting" VS stabilizing but is a method I copied from Curtis and use for blanks with cracks, holes, and missing chunks of wood. Mesquiteman (Curtis) covers it very well, see link.
http://builtbydoc.com/WorthlessWoodBlanks.pdf

Other methods I am still testing is with a liquid called "Permabond 90" and styrofoam dissolved in MEKP (nasty stuff). But have not tested enough to recommend it yet.

Then you can always send your stuff out to be professionally stabilized, big machines do the same thing as above but the liquids are different and under a lot more pressure with the final stage being that they "cook" the blanks which some times distorts them. The price is about $10-15 per pound with a minimum of 10 pounds. You send them 5 pound of wood they treat it and weight it then they charge you by the pound. So 5 pound of punky dry wood can weigh 15 pounds by the time they get done with it. Yea, I know what you are thinking...that is why I use the methods above.

And Finally ""Caution""; Do this only in a WELL VENTILATED area (out doors) and use eye and breathing protection, in addition to gloves AND don't smoke. All of these chemicals release vapors that are bad for your lungs and eyes and are flammable. Safety first!

Again; This is the way I do it, it works for me but may not work for you.

El Mostro
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Thanks for the great instructions. They are very clear and I understand it all much better after reading this thread.
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Old 10-28-2008, 04:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Eugene,

Thanks for the great clear instructions and for multiple ways to get this done. It is very clear.
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Old 10-29-2008, 08:20 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Eugene,
I agree thank you for the clear instructions. I think I may be able to do this.
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Old 10-29-2008, 07:41 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Eugene

Thanks I needed that.

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Old 10-29-2008, 09:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Thanks Eugene.
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Old 10-30-2008, 07:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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i have a question.
with step 1. does the hardener get all the way into the center or just the outside?
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Old 10-30-2008, 08:40 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkoehler View Post
i have a question.
with step 1. does the hardener get all the way into the center or just the outside?
Jeff, generally yes, the hardner will go all the way through unless the wood is really dense...which then you wouldn't need to stabilize I do not pre-drill BUT I do cut the blanks thinner depending on the kit I am going to use. It doesn't make sense to dip a 7/8" square blank in the hardner if you are making a Sierra from it. By making the blanks thinner you save time and hardner.
Eugene.
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