Wood Stabilization

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Pen Turning is

  • I only do it when I have to

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Will avoid it at all costs

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .


Mar 25, 2009
Phoenix, Arizona
I am faced with a challenge (well it is a challenge for me :smile:).

I am tasked with making a few pens out of specific pieces of wood from a family swing sit heirloom that has had to be dismantled...so this has extreme sentimental value and memories.

The wood is REDWOOD is very soft. From the test piece, it turns like butter. However, it is so soft that I feel it will ding and dent easily with use. I thus need to harden it somehow.

Does anyone have any ideas. I hear stabilization might offer a solution but I know nothing about it. Whatever my solution, it needs to be inexpensive as I have a limited budget and the amount is very small so I don't want to purchase large quantities of product that will just sit and harden or go bad before I have a chance to use it again.

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Active Member
May 27, 2007
Many here can stabilize that redwood for you. Cactus juice works well for what you need. Post a request to have a few blanks stabilized and someone here should be willing to help you. If not I will do it myself. I need one more thing to do right now. :)


Active Member
Apr 27, 2011
Newhall, CA
You can also try the following

Really sharp HSS tools with a shearing cut(gouge/skew cutting above the center line) with light cuts will reduce the tear out. Scraping actions on soft woods like pine, redwood, fir, etc, will generate tear out and fuzzies.

Stabilize yourself with any of the following methods.

1. Stabilize as you go by applying thin CA as you cut off layers.

2. Drill the center hole for the tube as usual. Soak in minwax wood hardener until it sinks, remove and let cure, try turning. (You may have to run the drill through the center hole again in case any swelling occurred during the soak. Drilling the hole before soaking helps the wood hardener seep into the wood.

3. Make your own hardener out of white glue mixed with water. Follow direction in step 2 above.

4. send the blanks off to one of the members here for a really good stabilization job.

5. Go visit Curtis' site and hook yourself up with all of the right gear and do it yourself.

Either steps 2 or 3 can be improved and time shortened by using vacuum to evacuate air from the blank and draw in the hardener.

I always recommend using very sharp tools with the correct cutting action when turning any material.



Active Member
Jan 9, 2007
Davison, Michigan, USA.
I have had good results using plexiglass melted/dissolved in acetone. drilled the blanks out and rough turned. Dropped in plexi solution in a quart canning jar and pulled a vacuum with food saver. Repeated until the blanks sank. Remove and let the wood dry, re-drill and get ready to turn.