Stabilizing without pressure/vacuum?

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thunderwear

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Hi all,

I recently came into some Manzanita burl and branches (freshly dug up/felled by a homeowner who graded the road into his property). I cut the burl into pen blanks and also cut some of the branches into blanks. Coated all of them with Anchor Seal about 2 weeks ago. I don't have a pressure pot or vacuum. My question is, without using a pressure pot/vacuum, how long should I wait for them to stabilize naturally? Or will they ever do that? I noticed that there is some cracking in one of the pieces, but most are not. Just wondering how long I should wait and any hints on storage while drying. Should I put them in paper bags? Thanks for any helpful hints, I'm a new pen turner.

- Jeff
 
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chartle

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Yes you are talking about drying or seasoning the wood. Stabilizing is for punky or other wood that would fly apart the second you hit it with a tool and adds resins to the wood to strengthen it.
 

stonepecker

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The main point here is you can not stablize without a vaccum chamber.
And a pressure pot is used for casting.

All you can do is allow mother nature to dry the wood. ... UNLESS......you dry them either in a microwave or set your oven to a low temp and dry them in there.
 

Rifleman1776

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Some woods, and manzanita may be one of them, are so dense they will not take stabilizing, with or without use of a vacuum. Without a vacuum, simply soaking will allow the solution to penetrate a little but ful penetration is highly unlikely. A friend makes and sells many bowls turned from manzanita. It is a challenge and why he gets big bucks for his finished product. The wood usually contains stones and sand. Not good on tools. I suggest you keep plenty of #100 CA on hand an apply as needed while turning and as a final finish. Good luck.
 

thunderwear

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Thanks all

Thanks to all who replied on this one. Very much appreciated. I have noticed now that the pieces that I coated in the wax are cracking in various places anyway. I still may be able to get some decent lengths out of some of the pieces in order to turn some pens. Good point on the stones in Manzanita Rifleman....I noticed that when I was cutting the pieces with the bandsaw. Not sure I want to mess up my turning tools, but we'll see. Without a pressure pot or vacuum, I think I will just let it all dry longer, be careful and slow when turning and fill voids with CA as I go. Thanks again for all the advice.
 

Jgrden

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Manzanita wood? Burl? That is a real find. It is against the law to cut living Manzanita. I have worked with the wood and it is beautiful. Good find.
 

Hawkdave

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When I have found timber suitable for pen making, I have treated and stored it for around 18 months before I use them for making pens.

Dave.
 

thunderwear

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Jgrdn,

Yeah, I'm aware that it's illegal to cut or remove live Manzanita. I lucked out because I found a spot where a new landowner used a grader to make a road and cut through a bunch of it and pushed a bunch of it to the side of the road....roots and all in some cases because the ground was so sandy. Was able to get a lot without being illegal about it. I intend on going back and getting more, but I am really trying to learn how to let it dry without it cracking like all heck. I am going to invest in a stabilization chamber and vacuum very soon, but now I need to learn more about drying without cracking.
 

thunderwear

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How would I go about drying the manzanita without it cracking? I did cut some pen blanks right away and coated them completely with anchorseal, but they still cracked like all heck. I was thinking maybe slowing it down by putting the stuff in a sealed paper grocery bag? Ideas? Thanks.
 

stonepecker

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For me,
I coat just the ends maybe a half inch, and that allows for the wood to dry from the middle. By coating them completely, you didn't leave an area for the moisture to escape.

JMHO
 

thunderwear

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For me,
I coat just the ends maybe a half inch, and that allows for the wood to dry from the middle. By coating them completely, you didn't leave an area for the moisture to escape.

JMHO
That makes a lot of sense. Feel really stupid now! Ha ha! Oh well, gonna get more and try again. Thanks!
 

Sprung

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How would I go about drying the manzanita without it cracking? I did cut some pen blanks right away and coated them completely with anchorseal, but they still cracked like all heck. I was thinking maybe slowing it down by putting the stuff in a sealed paper grocery bag? Ideas? Thanks.
Some woods are very prone to moving and cracking a lot while drying - Manzanita, especially the root/burl is definitely one of those woods. With woods that are extremely tricky to dry, some suggest boiling the wood for a certain amount of time and then sealing it and letting it dry to help reduce how much checking and moving the piece does while drying. I've not tried the boiling method, so I can't give you specific details on it.

Another key with woods that are prone to move and crack is to dry very slowly in a cool place without a ton of airflow. For me, that's the cellar portion of our basement here in Minnesota - it's the coolest portion of our basement. Wood I place in there dries very slowly, but is also then less prone to crack/check on me.

With Manzanita, once it's dry you're going to have a lot of pieces that will work great for casting - may want to start researching getting a pressure pot and casting with Alumilite so you can still make good use of those cracked pieces.
 

jimmyz

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If the pieces of wood will fit in a mason jar, I have a possible solution.

Get a mason jar with ring and lid, punch a small hole in the lid, and put a piece of electrical tape over the hole. Then get one of the gizmos used to put a vacuum on a wine bottle.

To stabilize, put enough of a mix of half each of lacquer and lacquer thinner in the jar. Put the wood in the jar, and put something else in the jar to keep the blanks submerged in the liquid. Put the lid on the jar, place the pump over the tape, and pull on it a half dozen times or so. Remove the lid, if you want, to see that it does "pop" when the lid is removed. Repeat the process to restore the vacuum. Let it soak for a few days. Remove the blanks and let them completely dry. I've had good luck doing this with corn cobs.

If you like the results, add some dye the next time and see what kind of results you get. May or may not totally penetrate. Have never tried the dye.

Good luck.
 

thunderwear

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With woods that are extremely tricky to dry, some suggest boiling the wood for a certain amount of time and then sealing it and letting it dry to help reduce how much checking and moving the piece does while drying. I've not tried the boiling method, so I can't give you specific details on it.
Very interesting. Never thought about boiling. Not sure how that would work, but I can give it a shot. I'll have to search and see what I can learn about that.

I've come to the conclusion that I am now hooked and need to take this more seriously....making my own vacuum chamber with some 1/2' thick polycarbonate sheets and buying a vacuum pump. I seem to be collecting a lot of great wood that needs stabilizing, so I better just get my act together. Pressure pot down the road too.

Thanks for the boiling idea!
 
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