Home-brew wood stabilization

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RussFairfield

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My answer to this topic got so long that I though it best to start another thread.

The commercial wood stabilization process first uses vacuum to suck the moisture out of the wood, and then heat and high pressure to force the liquid resins into the wood. When we do this at home, we are depending on whatever we are using to naturally soak into the wood. The result is that we will have to take whatever we get on penetration below the surface. And, that will depend on the wood and what we are soaking it in.

We can get around the limited penetration by turning the blank to round between centers and something slightly larger than our finished diameter. Then we can drill the blank while holding it in a collet chuck or a chuck with the small spigot jaws. I use the No.1 jaws in a Talon chuck. With any luck the the penetration from both sides will meet in the middle and we will what we could call "full penetration". I don't know of any other way to do this at room temperature and atmospheric pressures. The disadvantage is that we will have to chuck the piece again and redrill the hole for the tube. Drilling the final hole is better when the drill has some "bite" as it goes through the wood, and this can be done by drilling the first hole, before soaking, 1/16" smaller than the hole for the tube.

Thin CA glue penetrates better than almost anything else we could possibly use to harden the wood in our shop at room conditions, and nothing is better than the super-thin CA glue from "Star Bond". CA glue has the added benefit of a fast cure. Its only disadvantage is cost, mess, and smell.

I have been salvaging large bowls from punky wood by soaking them in a glue solution, and it works reasonably well for pens. Sometimes the wood with the best grain patterns is too soft and punky to do anything with, including holding and drilling. I have had a reasonable degree of success with soaking this very soft wood in a 50/50 mixture of glue and water. It is not as good as commercially stabilized wood, but it is better than doing nothing. At the least, it allows me to hold the blank for drilling and removing enough wood to get close to the finished diameter without its falling apart. If I can get the wood to where I can start using the CA glue treatment, it is cheaper than saturating the pen with CA glue as it is turned starting with the square blank. At other times the penetration into the wood has been sufficient to where the CA is only needed for normal sanding and finishing.

I think that Titebond is the better glue, but it leaves a yellow/orange color cast in a light colored wood. Sometimes this is a good thing to accent the grain. Plain old elmer's white glue works almost as well and it drys relatively clear. Put the blanks in a Mason jar, fill it to full with the glue/water mixture, seal it and let the wood soak for at least a week, or until they no longer floats when you open the jar lid. Turn the jar over every day so the blanks are always submurged. Remove the blanks and allow them to dry for the same length of time.

I use a thinned home-brew mixture of oil and varnish for a "treatment" of Cedar and Redwood bowls. Both are soft and porous woods and penetration is not a problem. The bowls are turned to finished thickness while it is wet, and it is kept wet during turning. Then it is submurged in the finish for 2 to 3 weeks until the finish has replaced the water in the wood. Then it is removed and allowed to dry for a month. The result is a bowl that is totally saturated with hardened varnish and oil resins, and it doesn't crack and warpping is a minimum while it is drying. I have also thrown pen blanks into the pot, and the same treatment does a reasonable job with them. The only problem is keeping them submurged, the dark color it gives to a light colored wood, and the time involved.

In the end, there is nothing that we can do at home that will replace the commercial wood stabilization. There are some things we can do to get close, but none of them are fast, and none of them are free.
 

Daniel

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Jan 1, 2004
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Reno, NV, USA.
Your glue methode sounds like it would work for the Buckeye Burl I have. most of it is very punky.
I need to start a file on the variouse methods being mentioned.
so far there is the Minwax (basically canning the blanks in a mason Jar), Elmers glue and water. nelsonite with no specifics for applying other than to dip it. adn somewhere I read something about Pentacryl. I also noticed a stablizer from pentacryl in the catalogue today.
I have enough Buckeye to stabalize several blanks using each method. this would give me a real hands on evaluation of each one. and still leave me a ton to send away for commercial stabalizing. the vacume and pressure pricess I think I have figured out. but want to use it as it is only an idea for now. but basically it can be done in a mason jar like the Minwax method does. heating the jar and it's contents and then sealing the jar while it cools createsthe vacume. opening the jar to reintroduce the air then sealing and reheating would create the pressure. the next question is just which product would produce the best finished blank.
 
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