Adventures in Resin #1: Pot: Legal in California

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Blog entry by Mark Wilson posted 11-18-2019 10:22 AM 496 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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That got your attention. But, that’s not the pot I’m talking about.

I got me one of these.

A HF 2-1/2 gallon paint pressure pot. Not to paint with, you know, but for learning to do some amazing things with resin in my turnings. After having filled some cracks with actual casting resin (The cheap stuff, like Envirotex and Famowood. Not the good stuff, like Alumilite and Total Boat.), I want to see if I can pull off the neat effects that I see others doing, and, perhaps, come up with some art that people will actually buy. Hence, the pressure pot.

There’s a story behind the pressure pot. Are you sitting down? Good. This is gonna take a minute.

Last Sunday evening, having made up my mind to buy one, I traipsed into Harbor Freight and picked one up. I got it home and added some fittings to it to, well, the fittings that didn’t come with it. I plugged the paint outlet, fired up the compressor, and tested it. I found that there was a leak in the safety valve – the pop valve.

So, Monday, I took off the fittings, put it back in the box, and took it back to HF. I brought a new one home, and went through the whole process with the fittings, hooked up the compressor, and… it, too, leaked. Not only that, but, in addition to leaking, the pop valve was popping when the gauge reached only about 38 psi. It’s not supposed to pop til at least 60 psi. This is unacceptable, said I, to no one in particular. But, before I would pack it all up and take it back again, I tried something.

I called the product support line and explained the situation. Some babbling was heard about the obvious, and that it shouldn’t do that, and “No. We haven’t had any calls about this issue…” It was suggested that I remove the pop valve and go to an auto parts store and get one that’s labeled as a 60 psi pop valve. I tried to take it out. It wouldn’t come out (Loktite, evidently.) So, I tried this.

I wriggled it around a bit, til it stopped hissing (Hard for me to judge, really. I have a tremendous case of tinnitus.), and, I figured, if I could could just make it stay in that position, it might work.

It didn’t. So I took it back and got a new one. It took about five minutes to get it set up and start pressurizing it. Well, sir. The pop valve didn’t pop til it reached about 50 psi. That’s good enough, I said. I think I only need about 50. Nonetheless, this one, too, was bleeding out. Verrrrry slowly. The needle moved about as fast as the moon in the sky. So what?, I thought. It can move like a lazy snail on the moon in the sky. It’s still a leak, and leaks are unacceptable. It needs to hold pressure for several hours, while Resin cures. So, I tried another thing.

I thought, I’m gonna try it like this. Maybe it’s okay. Maybe I’m making too much of it. Maybe it’s sufficient that the tank hold some pressure for several hours.

I gathered up some cutoffs, of which I have boxes upon boxes, from making boxes, and such. I filled a yogurt cup with the pieces. (Oikos. Key Lime.) I got a new batch of resin, this time, Envirotex. I mixed the resin, adding some Pealex Macropearl – probably, too much -, and filled the cup with it.

The wood, naturally, as is the tendency of wood, almost always, floated. I grabbed, quickly, the lid from a KFC mashed tater bowl, to see if it would hold it down. Of course, it did. Then, this happened:

Now, how’s the pressure going to affect the resin, if the resin is in a closed container?

(Yeah. That stooge was hanging around the whole time.)

So I took the lid off. I grabbed another cutoff, from one of my many boxes, and mashed it down on top, having the additional epiphany that, if this works out okay, this little block might be a mounting point, somehow. (I, just now, this present, throbbing moment, had the ingenious notion that I could have put a piece of duct tape over the little block on top. Next time.)

I set the yogurt cup in the pot, on a board that I cut to fit. (Do you know that those pots are concave, inside? I do.) I attached the lid to the pot and pressurized it to 50 psi. I could see the moon motion, in the needle. So, for the next three hours, or so, I sat here, and, every few minutes, I opened the air supply, blowing it back up to 50. It managed to drop into the 30s, at one point, because I was distracted by a phone call from RBS, for about half an hour. I blew it back up. Then, when dinnertime came, I left it, and took VOD to dinner. After dinner, I took the yogurt cup out, along with the board, to which it was firmly attached, due to some overflow caused by the business of trying to get the pieces to stop floating. The resin was sticky. That means, I guess, it’s not fully cooked, yet. I took it in the house, to keep it warm, as it cured. (I’d read, somewhere, that keeping resin above 65 degrees (Can anyone tell me why there isn’t a “degrees” symbol on my laptop’s keyboard?) is important, for some reason. So, I took it in the house.

Next day, it wasn’t sticky, so I did this:

I mounted it between centers. This was so small (yogurt cup-size), that mounting options were minimal. I began turning, in earnest, once I got all the yogurt cup plastic out of the way. I’ve watched, probably, hundreds of videos of people turning resin. The thought that has always entered my head, while viewing, was,

Who’s gonna clean that up??? Making shavings? Not so much. More like making confetti.

I will say this about that: I have always feared that turning resin should set up a static field around one’s person that’s unbearable. There was no noticeable static field. But, oh. The mess this stuff makes. And, somone has to clean it up. This time, it was me.

I learned, while trying to turn this stuff that it’s not really suited to edge tools. I tried. My spindle gouges simply skipped over it, without doing much damage at all. So, the lesson about that is that Carbide tools are the thing. Carbide tools, held at an angle. If the tool is held flat, in scraping fashion, it’s gonna find the edge of one of those little pieces of wood. This is what that looks like.

Took a chunk of the resin with it, too. Together, they sailed past my right ear, at about 1600 mph (2574.95 kph).

Well, sir. I’m not about to start over. I went back to the cutoff boxes. Using some five-minute epoxy, and some Pearlex, I fixed it.

After several hours (maybe, next day – don’t really remember), I carried on, turning away the fix. I got a shape I was satisfied with (again, limited by the size, and the need to reverse-mount it. I’ll try a bigger container, next time.)

You can see that it’s really quite foggy. I gues this means one of two things: Either there’s a lot of air in there, due to the leaking and re-pressurizing, or, I used way too much Pearlex. I’m hoping it’s the latter. Here’s why:

I’ve become rather fond of Kim Tippin’s videos. She’s very good at presenting and explaining. And she makes stunning works of art, using resin. And, you know what she ‘splained in her latest video? Her pot leaks. She said that she just blows it up to 60 psi, and leaves it alone. By the time she goes to liberate the piece inside, it’s bled down into the 30s. There’s no criticizing her results. So, to repeat myownbadself, methinks I make too much of it. In an effort to “slow down the moon,” so to speak, I’ve removed the pop valve, entirely. It’s in my pocket, and, when I near an HD, I’ll procure something to plug the hole in the tank lid wherein it once lived. If, after that, it continues to bleed down, I haven’t a clue where it might be leaking. I’ll update you on this score, as I proceed.

You can definitely see the patch job.

I sanded, starting at 320, and went through the Micromesh. I eneded with Yorkshire Grit, and nothing else.

I found out that resin absolutely destroys sand paper.

That stuff doesn’t come out. It, mysteriously, doesn’t do that to the Micromesh.

I still had to conjure up a way to reverse-mount this thing, so I could hog it out. This took a day or two, of cogitating. I certainly couldn’t put a foot on it to grip in the 2” jaws – it’s simply too small. I bounced around the idea of hot-gluing it to a sacrificial faceplate. With all my vast experience (sarcasm), I still haven’t figured out how to center such an operation, sufficiently. So, I’m left with a recess, for the pin jaws. So I poked a 1” Forstner hole, at the drill press (THAT circus freak of a machine), about 3/16” deep. I squeezed it onto the pin jaws, using the tailstock, and hoped it would hold well enough. It did, in the main. But, as you might guess, the hole loosened, and I had to tighten the jaws a couple times. By the time I was nearing the end, the little yogurt bowl bowl had developed about a 1/4” run-out. I would not be dissuaded. I continued, carefully.

Here, you can see the tenuousness of the grip:

So, what we end up with is a rather eccentric little bowl. It’s nicely translucent (I’ll go a little easier on the powder, in the future), that didn’t utterly fail.

A week’s work, and the best I can come up with is

It didn’t fail.

It really didn’t.

Thank you.

And now, the beauty shots.

Oh. That was tonight’s dinner. I went all Brazilian.

And, because I’m sure you woke up today, thinking, “I wonder what the sunset looked like in Manhattan Beach, Friday,” I covered that, too.

This is posted in Blog form, because, if this little bugger, somehow, managed to bag a DT3, it would be time to stab myownbadself in the face. DT3 doesn’t happen in Blogs.

Thank you. And, I apologize.

-- Mark

22 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23609 posts in 3666 days

#1 posted 11-18-2019 01:58 PM

Mark, I feel for you for all the trouble with the pot. Did you take a torch to the pop off valve to crystallize the locktite? It should back right off after that. You sure have sticktuitiveness !!!!!!!!!!

Your creation is very unique and probably sparked an idea for some other Lumberjock.

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View lew's profile


12899 posts in 4316 days

#2 posted 11-18-2019 02:59 PM

Search for “Character Map”

Select the symbol

Select the degree symbol, copy and paste

Thanks for the information. I’ve thinking about one of those Harbor Freight models. Now I’m not so sure.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View torus's profile


365 posts in 974 days

#3 posted 11-18-2019 03:24 PM

°- here!

Hold Alt key and type 0176, then release the Alt – magic and witchery!
PS. The Character Map gives a hint for Alt-digits combination in the bottom-right corner.

-- "It's getting better..." - put this on my RIP stone!

View pottz's profile (online now)


7020 posts in 1545 days

#4 posted 11-18-2019 03:33 PM

you are one mad scientist mr wilson,but a very creative one.cant wait to see what you come up with from your new toy.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View luv2learn's profile


2980 posts in 2863 days

#5 posted 11-18-2019 03:59 PM

Mark, this is the next thing on my list to try. I just finished making my vacuum chamber so I can stabilize some wood. After stabilization I want to try your process to fill any voids with resin.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2674 posts in 1624 days

#6 posted 11-18-2019 07:09 PM

Jim: Vise grips made it back out.

Lew: A true bruh. It’s November 18th, and it’s 89°, right now.

Torus: Lew didn’t say where to find the character map, so, I used your method. Last year, on Thanksgiving, the temperature reached 100°, and on Christmas, it was 96°. Okay, I guess, if you’re an Aussie, or a Kiwi.

Larry: I have plenty of ideas. How many °s have you got, over there, in the South Bay? We have a lot of °s here, right now.

Lee: Evidently, when one uses Cactus Juice, in a vacuum chamber, the air gets evacuated and the space filled, all in one swell foop. Now, if it were 96°, where you live, on November 18th, you’d think that rather abnormal, wouldn’t you?

-- Mark

View pottz's profile (online now)


7020 posts in 1545 days

#7 posted 11-18-2019 08:41 PM

90 right now,a little less than yesterday.give it a day or two and it will be low 60’s and rain!

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View doubleDD's profile


8803 posts in 2604 days

#8 posted 11-18-2019 08:52 PM

I’ve been thinking of trying the harbor freight pot too. I made up a blank of wood and resin without it taking days to fill up trying to prevent bubbles. I started turning it and like you said it flies all over and a carbide tool seemed like a must. I stopped due to the shavings hitting my fingers with pain and saved it for another day. Still waiting to I find out more about this procedure before I continue. Good info here. Thanks

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View leafherder's profile


1870 posts in 2513 days

#9 posted 11-18-2019 09:21 PM

Hi Mark,

The only pressure pots I know are the ones for cooking food. Oikos Key Lime is my favorite flavor of yogurt. And I can’t believe that nobody else has mentioned the remarkable similarities between your resin turning and your dinner plate. Now you made me hungry.

Good work, glad you got most of the kinks worked out. Looking forward to more adventures in resin. Time for dinner now and no degree symbols because I’m using the microwave.


-- Leafherder

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2674 posts in 1624 days

#10 posted 11-18-2019 11:43 PM

Lew: We’re expecting thunderstorms, Wednesday. I find that hard to beieve, given that the humidity is in the single digits, today.

Dave: Check Kim Tippin. Shw’s very good at ‘splaining it. And, go get a pair of gloves. When the stuff flying off of anything while I ‘m turning gets hot and painful, I put on a glove. Sometimes, two.

John: You’re typing your message on the microwave. Things just gets stupider and stupider. Do you know that there are people who swear by crock pots as vacuum chambers?

-- Mark

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3444 posts in 4273 days

#11 posted 11-19-2019 07:16 AM


What a useful little “whatever!” It should make a good Christmas gift for someone who has everything.

We’re presently in a heat wave. It made it up to 32°F today. It’s so much nicer than the -4°F (below zero) we had 10 days ago. The first half of the month has averaged more than 12° below normal. We’re voting for some global warming here! Or maybe we’re back to “the coming ice age!” . . . I almost forgot: they’re calling it climate change.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View robscastle's profile


6548 posts in 2765 days

#12 posted 11-19-2019 09:01 AM

WT ? are you trying to end up like Vincent Van Gogh? or maybe meet up with James Hamilton a the same hospital.
sand the rough edges off first then “go with throttle up” on the lathe please!

-- Regards Rob

View robscastle's profile


6548 posts in 2765 days

#13 posted 11-19-2019 09:07 AM

-- Regards Rob

View robscastle's profile


6548 posts in 2765 days

#14 posted 11-19-2019 10:50 AM

Mark, .... me again! not sure if you had seen this

-- Regards Rob

View Grumpy's profile


25847 posts in 4412 days

#15 posted 11-19-2019 08:12 PM

Looking forward to you mastering that new acquisition Mark.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

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