Wood stabilizing

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Blog series by Dave Polaschek updated 06-02-2019 12:04 AM 7 parts 12666 reads 68 comments total

Part 1: Equipment and first batch

11-23-2018 04:55 PM by Dave Polaschek | 20 comments »

I’ve got some spalted elm left over from building my low bench plus some soft maple and other woods that are a little soft and punky. But they’re very pretty, so I decided I’d give wood stabilizing a try. I ordered a vacuum chamber and pump on eBay, plus a gallon of Cactus Juice from Turntex. Once everything arrived, I assembled the hose and rested the vacuum chamber. The pump pulled a vacuum quickly, and the chamber held it reasonably well, so I was good to goon that front. I cut up a b...

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Part 2: Out of the resin and into the oven

11-24-2018 11:54 AM by Dave Polaschek | 8 comments »

This morning the wood came out of the resin. I used blue gloves, and wrapped the pieces in aluminum foil, with at least one layer of foil between each piece. I did the little packets of wood “flat” so they would heat more quickly. For the 24 pieces of wood, I ended up with five packets, which I piled into the toaster oven. I tried to make sure air would be able to circulate between them and turned on the convection fan in the oven. Curtis says in a hurry, you can check the wood ...

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Part 3: Unwrapped and unplugged

11-24-2018 05:47 PM by Dave Polaschek | 8 comments »

One of the things I was trying to find out about wood stabilizing when I embarked on this adventure was whether it would be possible to work the resulting pieces of wood with hand tools. I’m not completely sure of the answer yet, but I have a few observations. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first thing you notice when unwrapping the wood from the foil is that there’s excess plastic everywhere. It sticks to the foil, it sticks the foil to the wood, and it crinkles and flakes off a...

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Part 4: Second batch

12-24-2018 02:09 AM by Dave Polaschek | 2 comments »

I stabilized another batch of wood this weekend. It included: butternut, salt cedar, cherry, citrus, spalted elm, eucalyptus, hackberry, ipe, African mahogany, hard maple, spalted maple, white oak, pear, and walnut. I made a list, so I wouldn’t forget. Especially before sanding off the excess cactus juice, it can be hard to tell what’s what. And here they are: Butternut through ipe in the first photo, and ipe through walnut in the second. No huge surprises. Ipe remains ha...

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Part 5: Dyeing experiments

01-06-2019 05:15 PM by Dave Polaschek | 15 comments »

Having somewhat successfully stabilized a couple batches of wood, I figured it was time to add dyeing to the list. I started with two tubs of cactus juice, dyed blue and red, and set pieces of wood in them for fifteen minutes or so. No vacuum, just open air. The woods were some spalted maple, some rock maple, some hickory, and some white oak. The fifteen minutes was a guess. It turned out to be about right for the spalted maple, but nowhere near long enough for the oak or rock ma...

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Part 6: Spalted elm and dyes

01-22-2019 01:35 AM by Dave Polaschek | 8 comments »

I did some more experimenting this weekend. First up was some spalted elm for the surprise swap. I think I’ve got some stuff I can use! Next some rotted oak. We were interested to see just how spongy the wood could be and still be worth stabilizing. I’m not sure it’s worth it, but I’m glad I tried it. Then some spalted sweetgum. This shows a lot of promise, and I’m going to need to get a bunch more of it, I think. And then the dyed wood. They are, top to bottom, left c...

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Part 7: Memorial Day spalted birch and maple

06-02-2019 12:04 AM by Dave Polaschek | 7 comments »

Over Memorial Day weekend, I stabilized some more wood. I had some eucalyptus from Arizona that a co-worker wanted stabilized. I forgot to take pictures of it before giving it to him, but with a wood as hard as that eucalyptus is, most of what you accomplish by stabilizing it with cactus juice is filling voids. But it’s also brittle, and we were hoping it would be more workable after stabilizing. I’ll update when I hear more about that. I also did some spalted birch, which was about as lig...

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