Wood stabilizing

Wood stabilizing is very simple when broken down to the bare essentials. Take a piece of punky or soft wood and inject it with resin to create a stable and hardened piece of wood. The resin displaces air pockets throughout the wood and creates a dense piece of wood. Now the wood is nearly impervious to moisture changes and are easily polished.

Preparation

The first step is ensuring that the wood is dry because a wet or moist piece of wood cannot be stabilized.  Use a moisture meter to make sure that the moisture content is below 10%. To speed up the drying process you can cut your wood slightly bigger than needed and place it on a drying rack. You can also dry blanks in a kiln or oven at 105 degrees Celsius. Make sure it’s not too hot, drying too fast will cause the wood to crack.

Træ til tørring i ovnen

Ready to stabilize

Now that the blanks are dry, they are ready to be stabilized. The wood is placed in a pot/jar/container, and something heavy is placed on top of it to weigh it down. The chamber is filled with enough resin to completely cover the blanks with 5 cm of resin on top of the blanks.

Seal your chamber, and make sure you have tight connections without leaks. Turn on the vacuum and be ready to “bleed” the vacuum to make sure no resin is sucked into the hose and generator. Depending on the wood, and size you are stabilizing this takes anywhere between 30 minutes and 24 hours. When starting the generator, the resin will foam due to air being pulled from the wood. Run the vacuum until air bubbles stops exiting the wood. Gently shaking the chamber can help release air more quickly from the wood.

Once the bubbling has stopped, turn off the vacuum and remove the lid. When turning of the vacuum and letting air back in, you may notice the resin level will drop. This is because the wood soaks up resin when atmospheric pressure is allowed back into the chamber. Let the wood soak in the resin for at least twice the time they were under vacuum. After soaking make sure the wood does not float. Remove it from the chamber and let the resin drip of for 2 min before curing. Pour the leftover resin into a plastic container for re-use.

Stabilizing with dyed resin in home build chamber.

Curing

When the wood is still wet from resin it’s time to cure it. Wrap the wood individually in aluminum foil and place them into pre-heated oven at 94-98 degrees Celsius. Get yourself a toaster oven and your wife will thank you instead of killing you. Use a thermometer to make sure the temperature is accurate, too little, and the wood will not cure, too much and the wood bleed out the resin and make a poor result. The wood needs to bake until the center reaches a temperature of 94 degrees Celsius for at least 10 minutes. Cured resin is hard and crystal like in texture, uncured is gooey, and needs longer bake time or higher temperature. Wood stabilizing can and should not be rushed.

Science

Wood stabilizing is a skill, and you have to practice, and possibly make a lot of trial and errors. Humidity, temperature, vacuum power and altitude can all influence on your results. Soak time, bake time, cure time is also a factor where you have to learn by trying. Different kinds of wood can also show different results.

And please, for the love of all that is mighty USE PROTECTION!!!

 

Earlier guides:

Learn how to electro etch on steel and metal here.
My guide to knife stropping is here.
You can learn about wood stabilization here.

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