Beyond Punky #2: Finishing the rotten wood

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Blog entry by PASs posted 06-01-2012 11:45 PM 2701 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Background Part 2 of Beyond Punky series no next part

So I finished turning the bud vase, actually I made two, and began to consider how to finish them.
I knew the rotten wood is like a sponge.
I’ve worked some punky wood, and just like end grain it’s always ready to suck the finish right out of the jar.
In regular wood I usually put some 2 pound shellac on and the buff it off with the Beall system.
I didn’t want to hit this with the polishing wheel as I was pretty sure it would disintegrate.
I’ve been researching different epoxies, but they are currently out of my fixed retirement income budget.
So I thought I’d try polyurethane.
I’ve also been doing some research on Vacuum Infusion as it seems to be a great way to pull/push finish completely through the wood to stop the decay as well as add structural integrity to the piece.
(Side note: The pieces of wood I used were so rotted that they had lost a significant amount of weight. I didn’t weight them before I started but they were probably half their original, unrotted weight.)
Looking around the shop I realized I didn’t have anything set up to infuse these pieces, so I decided to do the next best thing, soak them in finish.
I did have enough money to get a gallon of Minwax Quick-Dry polyurethane (glossy) and I poured some into a quart can, then put each piece in so that they were half submerged.
I let the wood soak in the poly until I felt it had absorbed as much as it could (about an hour each session) and pulled it out to drip off. Then I sat it with the soaked end down on some old laminate flooring to dry.
I did this for both pieces and when they seemed to have saturated on one end I repeated the process with the other end.
I let the pieces dry for about a day, then examined the tops and bottoms to check the end grain. There was still a lot of open pores so I started brushing poly on the ends, letting each application dry for half a day and repeating the process until the end grain stopped taking more poly.
This process took about 20-30 applications. My goal was no open pores on either the top or bottom end grain.
During this experiment the wood roughly tripled in weight from it’s unfinished to polyurethane saturated state.
The complete photo series is at:

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

1 comment so far

View Roger's profile


20923 posts in 2766 days

#1 posted 06-02-2012 01:09 PM

I think they’re just plain awesome!

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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