8 Slabs of 375 Year Old White Oak - Projects in Progress #2: The first slab is selected ...

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Blog entry by Eric M. Saperstein posted 03-30-2012 03:42 AM 1727 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Drying and Surfacing the Lumber Part 2 of 8 Slabs of 375 Year Old White Oak - Projects in Progress series Part 3: Slab C Continues ... »

And we have our first of the 8 slabs of 375 year old white oak selected for a project – one simple coffee table matched with the legs shown in white oak. A basic square apron and single drawer.

The bulk of the work comes in to deal with the punky wood – strengthening the surface and deciding what to keep and what to peal off around the edges. Then – its sanding, scraping, rubbing, and finishing!

Given how much we have going on, not sure exactly when this will fit in!? Soon hopefully …

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

4 comments so far

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3294 days

#1 posted 03-30-2012 12:54 PM

The best way I’ve found to strengthen punky wood is to use West System epoxy thinned with 15% by weight of lacquer thinner. Here’s a great webpage that explains how to thin epoxy, the negative effects and the strength of the final product.

A google search for “thinning epoxy resin” will turn up a lot more information.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 3305 days

#2 posted 03-30-2012 02:05 PM

Yiup – that’s basically the plan. Soak in the thinned epoxy. It can actually penetrate 1/4” or more sometimes if you soak it well. Sponges it right in.

The slabs were laid flat on a dirt floor in a crawl space. We brought them back to a local lumber yard and had them dried. Quite a few cracks which will get an assortment of butterflies.

These will all be reasonably simple projects. The longest one probably a server with some storage, one may become a desk.


-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4463 days

#3 posted 04-02-2012 07:31 PM

I’ve never heard of this epoxy thinning thing, but wish I had before.
I’ll be using it from now on for sure.
Nice project going there Eric.
Thanks Hal for sharing your brain with the rest of us, and sharing the link.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 3305 days

#4 posted 04-03-2012 03:51 AM

It works just like the bonding of fiber glass – only it bonds the wood fibers. The surface becomes solid again, the more spongy the wood it the better it actually reacts and soaks up the epoxy.

The only disadvantages are if the piece really has serious sections of rot it could snap off internally under stress if say someone sits on the table – or if you don’t get the epoxy deep into full split cracks it can continue to snap off.

Also you can get a glass or shiny plastic effect in the finish in large voids that fill up. You can avoid some of this by pressing sawdust into the larger holes / cracks to dampen the plastic look. This isn’t a problem if you’re going to high gloss finish – we tend to avoid that as we’re usually going for optimizing the natural look of the wood.


-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

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