No or very small CJ Penetration

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adigordon

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May 25, 2019
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Hi All,

I am new to stabilizing and I am still at the trial/error stage (also new to this forum, this is my first message...:)). I have tried a couple of types of wood with CJ, clear and/or dyed with anilin powder dyes. I have my own DIY vacuum chamber with which I can achieve up to 740 mmHg vacuum. My problem is that I cannot get full penetration. Here is my process on how I am doing it:

- I have tried Teak, Mahogany, Ash, Beech blanks of sizes roughly 40 x 60 x 110 mm. Moisture content is measured and they have a MC of about ~10%.
- Each time, I put them under vacuum up to 740 mmHg (~29"). At the start, I build up the vacuum level step by step with control so I do not have extensive bubbling. Blanks are completely submerged in CJ by weight.
- After I have a steady vacuum approx. after 15-30 min., I seal the chamber and leave the blanks inside overnight. I check the vacuum level from time to time to be sure that the vacuum is stable.
- In the morning, I check the vacuum level if it is still at the same level (usually it is) and also the air bubbles. If the vacuum has not dropped and there are no (or very few) air bubbles, I release the vacuum slowly and keep the blanks twice the time I had them under vacuum and let them soak. If there is a vacuum drop, I activate the vacuum pump again (without releasing the vacuum) to get to the desired vacuum level and continue to keep the blanks under vacuum (I must add that if I do the first part right and have a stable vacuum, the vacuum rarely drops till the morning and stays at the same level all the time, despite all the bubbles).
- I bake the blanks in the oven at the suggested temperature (~90 oC, using an oven thermometer) for 2-3 hours.
- I close the heating and let them cool inside the oven.

After cooling down of the blanks, when I check the inside of them, I can hardly notice penetration, even with clear CJ. I have also tried with dyed CJ with a small piece of Beech, the surface was looking extremely well but the inside was without any penetration, not even a millimeter.

What am I doing wrong? Any help/suggestion/recommendation will be highly appreciated.

TIA

Addition: I also weigh my blanks before and after the process. As an example, the Teak blank weighed 187/231/225 gr. (before/after soaking/after drying), so there was a CJ intake of about 40 gr.
 
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adigordon

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Even 10% moisture is too much. Bake the blanks before you stabilise them, cool them in the oven, store in a ziplock if not doing them right away. The moisture will boil out and force the CJ back out when curing if not removed.
Thanks for the reply Gary. On the CJ website in the FAQ, I recall that I had read "MC 10% or lower", that's why I didn't hesitate to start the process. I will try with baking the blanks first then. Any other thing that looks wrong?
 

greenacres2

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Welcome aboard Oezer!!

I'd agree with Gary--i usually dry for around 48 hours at above 100 C/212 F (the boiling point of water), then straight into zip-lock bag to cool. For the drying phase, going above that temperature will do no harm, and in fact i'm usually about 235 F/112 C for drying--want to get as close to 0% moisture as i can. For curing the juice, the closer you can stay to that magical number (190 F, which i think 87 C), the less CJ will push out. Finally--the denser the wood the less weight increase you'll see. Most forms of mahogany i have worked with would have minimal increase in weight with a good CJ penetration. On the other hand--i'd expect spalted maple to about double in weight, while hard maple with no rot will take almost no juice.

By the way--Curtis' comments on moisture content from the TurnTex site are pasted below. I think your results will improve with additional drying. Good luck!!
earl
The first thing is to make sure your material has less than 5% moisture content (preferably 0%) and clean. All wood needs to be dried prior to stabilizing, even wood that you purchase kiln dried! Wood that has been sitting in your shop will never be less than Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) due to humidity in the air no matter how long it has been sitting. In most parts of the country, EMC is around 10-12%. Since moisture meters are not accurate below 6%, forget using one! The best way to assure your already air dried blanks are as dry as possible is to place them in your toaster oven at 220° F (104° C) for a minimum of 24 hours. Then remove the blanks from the oven and let cool to room temperature in a zip lock bag or other air tight container. This is necessary because a super dried, hot piece of wood will start picking up moisture from the air as soon as they start to cool down.
 

adigordon

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Welcome aboard Oezer!!

I'd agree with Gary--i usually dry for around 48 hours at above 100 C/212 F (the boiling point of water), then straight into zip-lock bag to cool. For the drying phase, going above that temperature will do no harm, and in fact i'm usually about 235 F/112 C for drying--want to get as close to 0% moisture as i can. For curing the juice, the closer you can stay to that magical number (190 F, which i think 87 C), the less CJ will push out. Finally--the denser the wood the less weight increase you'll see. Most forms of mahogany i have worked with would have minimal increase in weight with a good CJ penetration. On the other hand--i'd expect spalted maple to about double in weight, while hard maple with no rot will take almost no juice.

By the way--Curtis' comments on moisture content from the TurnTex site are pasted below. I think your results will improve with additional drying. Good luck!!
earl
The first thing is to make sure your material has less than 5% moisture content (preferably 0%) and clean. All wood needs to be dried prior to stabilizing, even wood that you purchase kiln dried! Wood that has been sitting in your shop will never be less than Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) due to humidity in the air no matter how long it has been sitting. In most parts of the country, EMC is around 10-12%. Since moisture meters are not accurate below 6%, forget using one! The best way to assure your already air dried blanks are as dry as possible is to place them in your toaster oven at 220° F (104° C) for a minimum of 24 hours. Then remove the blanks from the oven and let cool to room temperature in a zip lock bag or other air tight container. This is necessary because a super dried, hot piece of wood will start picking up moisture from the air as soon as they start to cool down.
Thanks Earl, also for the warm welcome. 👍

One question about the dyed CJ. Could the MC also be the reason for no penetration? I am attaching the pictures from the sample that I did. If dried properly, would I have full penetration?

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29901DDC-7CAA-415E-9780-C6606BC810F9.jpeg
 

MRDucks2

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Welcome Aboard from Franklin, Indiana!

I have recently been doing a lot of trials with dying. A couple of things I have learned. Different types of dyes have significantly different results in color uptake in wood. The Cactus Juice branded dyes do well as the Alumilite concentrated liquid dyes. I have also done of with the StickFast powdered pigment.

I have also noticed that dye transfer with less than 30% resin uptake can be pretty hit and miss, I expect there are methods of getting good dye transfer into the wood with no resin, also.
 

greenacres2

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I meant to address the dye selection in my first reply--Mike's got it though with his response above. TurnTex recommends only their own dyes or Alumilite dyes. i've used both successfully. Seems like Curtis also notes on his site that powdered dyes are not likely to mix well with the Cactus Juice. So...the density of wood and moisture content are two core problems, then the choice of dye adds to it. My translation would be that CJ carries a few dyes well--but will not likely carry powdered dyes into wood.
earl
 

Dehn0045

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Under vacuum water will boil at room temperature, so if there is moisture in the blank then this moisture starts to change to a gas (after a while under vacuum its probably not air bubbles, more likely its water vapor that is bubbling out). As the water vapor is leaving the blank there is no way for CJ to penetrate -- no matter how long you go you are always right where you started. This is why the drying is critical when vacuum stabilizing. Holding the blanks in the vacuum chamber (without the pump running) provides little if any benefit (in my experience as well as tests performed by others). Lastly, be sure to soak the blanks at atmospheric pressure (leave in the vacuum chamber, totally submerged, but not under vacuum). This allows the CJ to creep back into the tiny pores. I soak for atleast 24 hours, sometimes several days if I don't have time to do the curing.

The last thing I will mention is that woods behave rather strange when stabilizing. I've fond that spalted woods tend to soak up the most juice, but it tends to be a crap shoot. My bet is that woods that soak up lots of juice will also dye well, but I've never dyed (or died :p ). Here is a thread where I posted the data that I've collected in my stabilizing journey: https://www.penturners.org/threads/my-stabilizing-data-various-woods.152942/#post-2008481

Good luck! I hope you are able to achieve the results that you're looking for
 

adigordon

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Under vacuum water will boil at room temperature, so if there is moisture in the blank then this moisture starts to change to a gas (after a while under vacuum its probably not air bubbles, more likely its water vapor that is bubbling out). As the water vapor is leaving the blank there is no way for CJ to penetrate -- no matter how long you go you are always right where you started. This is why the drying is critical when vacuum stabilizing. Holding the blanks in the vacuum chamber (without the pump running) provides little if any benefit (in my experience as well as tests performed by others). Lastly, be sure to soak the blanks at atmospheric pressure (leave in the vacuum chamber, totally submerged, but not under vacuum). This allows the CJ to creep back into the tiny pores. I soak for atleast 24 hours, sometimes several days if I don't have time to do the curing.

The last thing I will mention is that woods behave rather strange when stabilizing. I've fond that spalted woods tend to soak up the most juice, but it tends to be a crap shoot. My bet is that woods that soak up lots of juice will also dye well, but I've never dyed (or died :p ). Here is a thread where I posted the data that I've collected in my stabilizing journey: https://www.penturners.org/threads/my-stabilizing-data-various-woods.152942/#post-2008481

Good luck! I hope you are able to achieve the results that you're looking for
Hi Sam,

I had come across your posts while trying to find an answer, excellent work. I am watching the thread also for future references for my trials. I am as well keeping track of my studies by taking notes each time and I was already planning to transfer them to an Excel file similar to yours. Thanks for sharing the link anyway, it is always good to know you have support on your back...👍

In general, I would like to write down some points that came too my mind after reading all these responses (appreciated btw...:)):

- It looks like my first step is without a doubt cooking my blanks prior to the stabilization process and take the necessary precautions if I am not going to stabilize straight after the drying. I have finally decided to get a toaster oven before my wife kicks me out of the house (I have already almost full control and freedom in the 2nd balcony 🤫🤐).

- MC as close to 0% as possible. I have read also on Turntex website different recommended MC levels but I think it doesn't really matter, the message is clear.

- Being an engineer, I cannot understand the difference between keeping the vacuum pump running and closing it after reaching the desired vacuum level. In my humble opinion, as long as I can keep the vacuum level exactly stable over hours, what would be the added value to keep the pump running? My vacuum chamber has an almost perfect sealing and I see the exact same vacuum level in the morning when I leave the blanks under vacuum overnight. Am I missing something here? Just asking for information...:)

- Dyeing is for now the last but important issue. Unfortunately, I have no direct access to TurnTex products. Again from what I have read, if not Alumilite dyes, directly used organic powder dyes are recommended for good results. They do not dissolve completely in CJ and there is always dye particles on the bottom of the jar, that's what I have experienced till now. But the small piece of wood in my previous post was dyed with those powder dyes. I will keep trying also to see if I can get full penetration with powder-dyed CJ. I am also in the process of getting Alumilite dyes.

Before I forget, thanks again for all the comments that kept my excitement alive. Before registering here and opening this post, I was just about to give up...👍
 

greenacres2

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- Being an engineer, I cannot understand the difference between keeping the vacuum pump running and closing it after reaching the desired vacuum level. In my humble opinion, as long as I can keep the vacuum level exactly stable over hours, what would be the added value to keep the pump running? My vacuum chamber has an almost perfect sealing and I see the exact same vacuum level in the morning when I leave the blanks under vacuum overnight. Am I missing something here? Just asking for information...:)
I'm nothing resembling an engineer...and I wonder this myself...and hoping someone knows the answer!! Watching the uptake of fluid as soon as the vacuum is released makes me think that staying under vacuum for long periods (beyond the stopping of the bubbling action) is not as important as the soak after the vacuum. Anxious to know if i can save some wear on my vac pump!!
earl
 

robutacion

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Oh boy, how long is a string...?

Reading all questions and comments, and many hundreds of litres of CJ used, I agree that taking the wood to the oven for 24 to 36 hours at a temperature that will not burn the wood (I use about 65C) and making sure they get into the juice before they get cold (but not too hot) has given me the best results.

I don't have a scientific answer as to why leaving the vacuum pump on while the wood is submerged in CJ and pulling vacuum, is better than turning it off after reaching max. vacuum, in my opinion, air inside the wood cells has to be contracted/reduced to a minimum before any bubbles will stop showing, the constant pump running sucks/removes that air out of the vacuum chamber, this can take up to an hour or more depending on the wood types/densities, if the pump is turned off at full vacuum and the seal holds that vacuum well, where do you think that the air coming from the wood goes..? nowhere really, the vacuum pressure becomes stabilised there is any air coming out will remain inside the chamber and will do so until the moment you introduce air into the chamber.

The thing is, the wood does very little soaking while under full vacuum, contrary to what so many folks think/believe if sufficient vacuum was applied to remove the air from the wood cells, as soon as the air is introduced into the chamber some amount/quantity of CJ will initially enter the wood but the majority of the "soaking" will happen slowly after the lid is taken out to equalize in and out pressures then the wood cell will absorb all the CJ it can (a few hours or preferably overnight will be recommended), sometimes more than it can keep when cooking/curing the CJ where it expels any unnecessary/over soaked CJ, this can also happen when the wood has too much moisture when stabilised and when in the oven cooking the moisture simply boils out the CJ leaving very little inside or at least not as much as it should.

Now, dying the wood...! yes, powder dyes are not the best to use, even the Alumilite dyes are sometimes unable to pass the wood surface while the wood inside is stabilised but clear, certain woods have far too much high density to allow the CJ to penetrate much less CJ mixed with dyes, dyes texture is thicker than the CJ so, the wood surface works as a "filter" to the colour while the liquid passes through.

There is also one other element that can and will play havoc with CJ and dyes and that is the oily woods, natural oils are a big enemy of stabilisation, the only way to have some success is to force the natural oil to convert into crystals, that can be achieved with heat but often burns the wood instead, a lot of care and attention is needed when attempting this process in a fan forced oven, ideally...!

We should not forget about the commercial stabilisation services that achieve more consistent results compared with CJ and any other DIY type stabilising product, they often use huge chambers that work under 5,000 PSI pressure and under such pressures there a few to no wood species that won't get full penetration.

Despite all these suggestions to better success, one of the most difficult steps is to find the wood types that work the best for stabilising clear or with colour, most soft and spalted woods offer the best results, they may drink more juice but the final results are noticeably better.

Best of luck,

Cheers
George
 

DwightE

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The reason for my comment about leaving your pump running is that this is a subject that I'm pretty sure Curtis Seebeck has addressed in some of his past discussions in other places. Check out his "stabilizing with Cactus Juice" in the help section. Explains it pretty well at least for my simple mind turntex.com
 

1080Wayne

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You will get the best results by keeping the pump running until bubbles stop coming . Bubbles that come after the pump has been stopped will reduce the vacuum by a very small amount that the gauge won`t react to , but may prevent further air or moisture from being released . However , running until zero bubbles are released may be a long process , not because of trapped air or moisture , but because of organic volatiles within what is being stabilized . At some point there may be little to be gained by going further . Pine or spruce cones or their woods may be the best example . I usually stop the pump after about 12 hours .

The other thing to remember is that any moisture or volatiles removed by the pump end up in the pump`s oil . I change the oil after every session but that may be overkill .

I don`t do a lot of stabilizing , maybe 3 or 4 batches a year in the last 4 years , but the above composes most of the increase in my engineering knowledge over that time .
 

adigordon

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Hi again,

So a few updates;

- I found a nice long breech blank and have it cut to smaller pieces. Measured the MC on all of the small pieces on all sides and noted the values. I measured ~10-12% on average. So baked them in my oven till I measured ~0%.

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- I did some stabilization tests. With clear CJ, I was able to achieve almost full penetration. Looks like the MC was the problem.

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- But when it comes to dying, I still have no success. Tried different concentrations of the powder dye but still nothing.

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I keep trying but any suggestion/comment would be appreciated...
 

adigordon

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A few updates...

As I still didn't have a chance to put my hands on CJ dyes, I keep trying alternatives. Since the start of this post, thanks to the great help from the replies, I have minimized the variables. Besides the type of wood and dyes, I think I have "stabilized" my process...:)

My latest trial was with Mahogany blocks and liquid pigment dyes. Below is the outcome:

IMG_4398[1].JPG
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IMG_4404[1].JPG

IMG_4402[1].JPG

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Is it the wood or the dye? Still not sure about it. I will have to keep trying.

On the other hand, with undyed stabilizing it looks ok. But one question: How does everyone here determine (or be sure) whether full penetration has been achieved or not? I am very curious about the methods...:)
 

robutacion

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Well, I can see that you have been making some tests and that is how we all learnt but I think that you are using the wrong woods for dying/colouring successfully/100%, I would suggest that you get your hands on some spalted maple, Buckeye burl or similar soft stuff and try your system and dyes on them, it will give you some answers such as if colour still not penetrate on those type woods, the dyes are either not suitable or you are doing something wrong. I can see that you understood the importance of having the wood dried to 0%MC prior to stabilising that alone is a critical aspect for success, you said you haven't tried the Alumilite dyes which are the dyes recommended for CJ, if your dyes work on either of the 2 types of wood I mentioned that means that I was right about the woods you are using for colouring and your problem is not the dyes type but the woods used, but I still recommend you getting some Alumilite dyes and try.

As for testing full CJ penetration well, with colour/dyes is obvious but with the clear CJ is not as easy particularly if the woods are dense, with soft and medium hardness woods, weighing the blanks before and after stabilising can give you a good indication of liquid weight added to the raw wood, calculation of the blank area and volume added will give you some answers, however, if you cut/cross cut one end of the blank put it upright and grab something you can use to put some water drops on the whole surface of the cut, the middle part would be the area in question so the test is simple, if you see water soaking into the wood, that area has no CJ all areas where the CJ has penetrated and has been cure/cooked water will simply not penetrate.

There are other methods such as when you turn a piece of wood that has been stabilised but you suspect it didn't penetrate much, areas with the cured CJ, the tool (any tool) will cut fine particles while on raw/unstabilised wood you will get shavings.

One day, you will get it right...! :)

Cheers
George
 

Gary Beasley

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I think the problem here is the powder dyes are not dissolving into the CJ but remains as a suspension, therefore the wood is filtering the particles out. Find an alcohol soluble dye or a liquid dye and try again. I think the alcohol soluble needs to be dissolved in a bit of alcohol before its mixed with the CJ, not sure if it will dissolve in on its own.
 

adigordon

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Well, I can see that you have been making some tests and that is how we all learnt but I think that you are using the wrong woods for dying/colouring successfully/100%, I would suggest that you get your hands on some spalted maple, Buckeye burl or similar soft stuff and try your system and dyes on them, it will give you some answers such as if colour still not penetrate on those type woods, the dyes are either not suitable or you are doing something wrong. I can see that you understood the importance of having the wood dried to 0%MC prior to stabilising that alone is a critical aspect for success, you said you haven't tried the Alumilite dyes which are the dyes recommended for CJ, if your dyes work on either of the 2 types of wood I mentioned that means that I was right about the woods you are using for colouring and your problem is not the dyes type but the woods used, but I still recommend you getting some Alumilite dyes and try.

As for testing full CJ penetration well, with colour/dyes is obvious but with the clear CJ is not as easy particularly if the woods are dense, with soft and medium hardness woods, weighing the blanks before and after stabilising can give you a good indication of liquid weight added to the raw wood, calculation of the blank area and volume added will give you some answers, however, if you cut/cross cut one end of the blank put it upright and grab something you can use to put some water drops on the whole surface of the cut, the middle part would be the area in question so the test is simple, if you see water soaking into the wood, that area has no CJ all areas where the CJ has penetrated and has been cure/cooked water will simply not penetrate.

There are other methods such as when you turn a piece of wood that has been stabilised but you suspect it didn't penetrate much, areas with the cured CJ, the tool (any tool) will cut fine particles while on raw/unstabilised wood you will get shavings.

One day, you will get it right...! :)

Cheers
George
Excellent reply George, many thanks. 👍

I have found a piece of oak which is in the oven now for the drying process. MC was about 13-14% which I think is normal for the start since all of the wood I have tried until now I measured similar content at the start. I am also waiting for some walnut burl, will try that as well for the dying.

I always weigh the blanks during the process, even during drying since I don't 100% trust the MC measurement device. As an example, the small piece of mahogany in my latest post doubled its weight based on the weight measurement before and after stabilizing. Good tips for finding out about full clear CJ penetration as well, will try those...👍

Cheers...;)

I think the problem here is the powder dyes are not dissolving into the CJ but remains as a suspension, therefore the wood is filtering the particles out. Find an alcohol soluble dye or a liquid dye and try again. I think the alcohol soluble needs to be dissolved in a bit of alcohol before its mixed with the CJ, not sure if it will dissolve in on its own.
Thanks Gary, I agree with your comment about the powder dyes not dissolving completely inside CJ and the wood filtering powder dyes. It looks very obvious also from the pictures I have sent previously. The last trial with the green colour in my latest post I did with liquid dye, and I notice very little undissolved particles inside the coloured CJ. It will be a lot clear after I try with the different woods...;)
 
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robutacion

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Excellent reply George, many thanks. 👍

I have found a piece of oak which is in the oven now for the drying process. MC was about 13-14% which I think is normal for the start since all of the wood I have tried until now I measured similar content at the start. I am also waiting for some walnut burl, will try that as well for the dying.

I always weigh the blanks during the process, even during drying since I don't 100% trust the MC measurement device. As an example, the small piece of mahogany in my latest post doubled its weight based on the weight measurement before and after stabilizing. Good tips for finding out about full clear CJ penetration as well, will try those...👍

Cheers...;)



Thanks Gary, I agree with your comment about the powder dyes not dissolving completely inside CJ and the wood filtering powder dyes. It looks very obvious also from the pictures I have sent previously. The last trial with the green colour in my latest post I did with liquid dye, and I notice very little undissolved particles inside the coloured CJ. It will be a lot clear after I try with the different woods...;)
I just wanted to bring your attention to the possible confusion that MC gauges can give you what I mean is that depending on the manufacturer the reading scales for each instrument cab change dramatically, I have spoken of this issue many times and I will repeat it once again. The issue is the industrial MC% instruments are very different than those we generally use and find in the market, their instruments read from 0% to 100% and that means that 50% the would is half dry/wet, 75% the wood is 3/4 dry, etc, however, the less expensive MC gauges have scales that have the highest readings at 34% for green/wet, others 32%, 48%, 52%, 58% and so on there is only one inexpensive gauge that reads o to 99% and I like to use that one often while I invested in a higher quality MC instrument that is made by Flir and has special layers to to get you the reading also from 0 to 100%, that is over $700.00 in costs while the more inexpensive ones can be purchased between $20 and $40 on eBay, Amazon,etc

When you see wood advertised that has its MC% displayed/specified, you don't really know what type of gauge they use so, you have to rely more on the one that you have regardless what scale is has/reads, you will simply know that if for example, it reads 34%MC for the fresh wet wood you know that 17% is half dry (50%) and 3/4 dry will read 8.5%MC that would be a very safe MC% to work with, remember that oily woods such as Olivewood and others will read slightly high due to its natural oils so, 14-16%MC in Olive wood is as good as most other woods at 8.6% or less.

Cheers
George
 

adigordon

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Time to update...:)

After all the tries and errors, finally I was able to lay my hands on CJ dyes. Just finished the process for a sample piece of White Ash. Looks like problem(s) solved...:)

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Many thanks for all the posts here aimed to help. Big thanks and appreciation to Curtis for being so patient to answer my questions...;)

Time to find some nice looking wood now...:)
 
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