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Bleaching Maple Inlay Strips?

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Forum topic by Woodstock posted 12-27-2010 01:11 PM 2490 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Woodstock

241 posts in 2752 days


12-27-2010 01:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question maple

I’m looking for suggestions on making faux holly out of soft maple or similar light colored hardwood by bleaching.

I’ve got a band saw/lathe project involving bending/interlacing strips of light colored wood such as holly or a clone. I’ve already glued up & turned a prototype out of a stack of glued Baltic plywood rounds instead of purpleheat just to prove the concept & to prove I can cold bend/glue soft maple into 6” dia bends. It looks very doable.

The strips of maple I do have are 20” x 0.043” (same as my band-saw kerf) x 2”, that I want to inlay into a 2” thick block of a purpleheart 11” round turning blank.

What I’ve seen suggested by Googling “bleaching wood” seem to suggest a surface treatment. I’m hoping to bleach all the way through the thin striping as I’ve got to remove most of the wood anyway when turning. So I need to bleach through & through the 0.043” thick strips before I cut & glue up the blank.

BTW- I did see some VERY thin white veneer at Woodcraft. But it was too short of length & 5+ times too thin to fill the saw blade gap to keep the grain straight in the purpleheart.

Thoughts?

-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".


19 replies so far

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Woodstock

241 posts in 2752 days


#1 posted 12-27-2010 11:52 PM

Hi Autumn,

Thanks for the offer but I think my needs would indeed be rather extravagant.

8-24 pieces per plate/bowl depending how many radial vectors I decide on. And anywhere from 18 – 22 inches long and 1.5-2” tall & .1” thick (allowing for 50% waste from the band-saw cut), would be too much.

Each strip is bent as a crescent & offset in the blank spaced every 30-18 degrees around equals a lot of cuts, glue & sawdust just to make a blank for turning.

So if I can bleach a more available wood such as maple it would be better all around. Anyway holly is worth its weight in gold right now. I don’t want to collapse that market single-handedly myself !

Thanks,

Dave

-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

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Jonathan

2608 posts in 2515 days


#2 posted 12-28-2010 08:52 PM

Whatever you decide to go with on the bleaching side of things, just make sure to neutralize the bleach after you’re done. And make sure to wear a chemical cartridge respirator, rubber gloves and log sleeves, goggles, and have plenty of fresh air exchange.

There are 3-basic ways to bleach wood, with each method listed below as a more aggressive technique:
1. Chlorine bleach, not Clorox as it’s ptretty weak. Use swimming pool “Shock It”
2. Oxalic Acid, aka: “deck brightener”
3. 2-part process, hydrogen peroxide & lye, use individually, rather than mixing them together. Tis is probably te best for what you’re truing to do since you’re not trying to bleach dyed wood, or remove rust from nail holes, etc. You’ll probably need several applications for maximum benefit. This is the most expensive of the 3.

Also be careful when sanding afterwards with any of these bleaching methods.

You can use more than one method, but don’t mix the chemicals, and if you do use more than one method, make sure to neutralize between methods.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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TopamaxSurvivor

17671 posts in 3140 days


#3 posted 12-28-2010 09:19 PM

Jonathan Will any of these methods penetrate all the way through?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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Jonathan

2608 posts in 2515 days


#4 posted 12-28-2010 10:01 PM

You’re only talking about 3/64” (roughly), so I’d guess with several applications that you might be able to get it to penetrate pretty completely, but I’m not certain? And if you make sure to do it on all sides, you’re really only talking about going 3/128th” (roughly) deep. I’d also think it would work a bit better on soft maple, rather than hard maple since it’s not as dense.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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Woodstock

241 posts in 2752 days


#5 posted 12-29-2010 01:53 PM

Thanks everyone for the info. I’m off to order some Oxalic Acid from Rockler for the first go-around. And I’ll pick up some borax from the supermarket to neutralize. And the recommended safety gear from McMaster-Carr.

I was thinking of making a couple of “dip tanks” from some 30” long x 2.5” dia. PVC pipe & cap. That way I can do all the strips at the same time and hopefully get even result. (Soaking for full penetration instead of just wiping on/off.) I’ll see how all that goes.

I’m hesitant to play with hydrogen peroxide. Not only is it hard(er) to get thanks to 9/11 but after reading up on it in Wikipedia, I’m way out of my league in the 28-35% and above range, having zero chem experience in school. Seems like scary stuff at that concentration. (I have this strict policy against messing with rocket fuel & LOX, or their components.) 3% from the corner general store is just fine thank you.
Lye has been another chem I’ve managed to stay way from too.

I did find a Forest Products Laboratory, Forest Service U.S. Department of Agriculture report on the web that mirrors Johnathan’s recommendations. Looking at the appendix and the dates of most of the references it seems pretty old. 1930-40’s But it should do the job.

http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplrn/fplrn165.pdf

-Dave

-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

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RogerBean

1602 posts in 2418 days


#6 posted 12-29-2010 03:35 PM

Dave,
It would be great if you would let us know how this works out. Thanks for posing the question.
Roger

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

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HokieMojo

2103 posts in 3192 days


#7 posted 12-29-2010 06:02 PM

you may be able to get oxalic acid for much less at home depot. If I remember right, it is in the tile/grout section. Either way, I don’t think you will break the bank, but if it is in fact oxalic acid like a i remember, I think it is only about $3.

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a1Jim

115202 posts in 3041 days


#8 posted 12-29-2010 06:35 PM

I would say unless you use the 2 part bleach you will not get the results you want. By the time you buy all the supplies you could just buy some holly.

http://www.hearnehardwoods.com/hardwoods/pricelist/pricelist.html

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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Woodstock

241 posts in 2752 days


#9 posted 01-06-2011 12:10 AM

a1jim-

From Hearne hardwoods.com web page:

”$300 dollar minimum on all phone orders.”

And no holly listed online. I did call (phone inquiries are still free), to ask and they have holly only in 4/4. I need as a minimum 6/4 to 8/4.

So back to “better woodworking through chemistry”.

My oxalic acid should be here Friday.

If that doesn’t bleach enough I’ll move up to hydrogen peroxide & lye. (But that stuff is really pushing my comfort level. even with protective chem gear head to toe.)

-Dave

-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

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okwoodshop

448 posts in 2639 days


#10 posted 01-06-2011 12:44 AM

Please don’t kick me off of LJ’s but what about a different material than ‘wood’ for the white pieces? Some kind of a poly resin? How much of the strips are going to show ?

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Woodstock

241 posts in 2752 days


#11 posted 01-06-2011 02:03 AM

Why would anyone kick you off LJ? It’s a very reasonable question. (Speaking as a ex-R/D prototype tech who will use ANY material no matter how unconventional, to make something.)

I wanted a light colored/high contrasting wood strip like holly (think pin striping) in a dark purpleheart base.

Thing is that the strips go all the way through the block vertically. And the block gets turned at a rather high rate of speed into a plate or low bowl. I’d hate to have a 12×12 x 2” round with anywhere from 8 to 24 strips inserted around the center blow up on me. So I was leaning more toward wood on wood rather than wood on plastic in this case. I’m not sure I could come up with a strong enough glue joint.

But it’s a good thought.

I already did this as a proof of concept with red oak strips in a scrap plywood block. Just to prove my off center bandsaw jig I made for cutting repeatable crescents works. But the scrap plywood test piece is sure uglier than sin after quick turning on the lathe!

I need to get my hands on a digital camera w/ a good macro lens. Describing what I’m trying to do with just words sucks.

-Dave

BTW Getting back to “unconventional”.

Guy at the 2010 AAW symposium was demoing a way of turning a block of stacked (think log cabin) long dried GRASS on a lathe. He deep froze it in water & dry ice into a block. Turned it & let the water melt out afterward. Messy yes. But it worked after a fashion. But not on my new Oneway 2436 lathe!

-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

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RogerBean

1602 posts in 2418 days


#12 posted 01-06-2011 02:32 AM

Dave,
Speaking of unconventional solutions. Back when I was making some custom knives there was a knife handle spacer material usually referred to as “fiber” spacers which were used to create the colored lines between the handle material and the blade (on knives where the handle material was attached to the back half of the blade steel). I believe all this material consisted of was resin impregnated paper, as it was stiff and hard, but thin enough to make a nice 16th inch or so line. Hope this is making some sense. Point is you may be able to make up our own material. Glues well with epoxy in the knife application. Unusual, but might be worth a look.

I’ve been using maple veneer in the lines on my boxes, but sometimes a streak shows up and I have to discard the line. Hence, I’m always looking for alternatives. As you mention, holly is hard to find – as is thick satinwood or castello.
Roger

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

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Woodstock

241 posts in 2752 days


#13 posted 01-06-2011 03:21 AM

OK. Since I haven’t (as of yet) gotten my hands on a “Camera w/ a good macro lens” here are two quick JPEGs of some AutoCAD files. I design mostly in AutoCAD.

One shows the concept of the overall blank I’m trying to make using an off-center circle jig for a bandsaw.

Sorry if the pictures are not centered. I’ve never generated jpegs from AutoCAD before or ever used Photobucket. More to learn.

The next one shows just the holly strips to give you a better idea of the zillions of pieces I’ll end up with after just 10 strips. I’m giving myself a range of 4 to 24 strips. That’s why I was afraid of cornering the market on holly. Each strip width is the same as a bandsaw cut. So I get a yield of only 50% per block of wood.

Yes the ends of the strips are too long. I’m allowing .25” to be turned off each end when turning. That should bring the tips together.

So this brings me full circle back to my original question. I need to bleach the strips through & through because I’m not sure what the final shape will look like till I’m done turning.

I’ll find out soon enough with the help you all have given me.

-Dave

-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

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TopamaxSurvivor

17671 posts in 3140 days


#14 posted 01-06-2011 03:32 AM

N6DSW, get a Nikon D40. If yoiu understand photography and its features, there is literally no reason for any other camera to exist at that level. I tqke pictures of bees in flight with mine just for the heck of it :-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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Woodstock

241 posts in 2752 days


#15 posted 01-19-2011 11:19 PM

Update:

This plate project has spawned into 6 other separate projects.

  • Made some AutoCAD drawing “blanks” allowing me to enter the dia of the blank, the dia of the finished piece, the diameter of the inner circle of strips in the blank, and the number of vector points so I can model the piece before I actually do any cutting. Drawing/modeling it out first in AutoCAD sure is faster, cheaper & less wasteful than actually designing “on the fly” with wood. It also is REALLY easy to fix “mistakes”. GRIN (Tested & done)
  • The main bandsaw jig for cutting repetitive off-center cuts in a lathe blank. (Tested & done)
  • I ended up building a small PVC steam box out of 3” PVC pipe and the pink ridge foam insulation for pre-bending the hardwood strips into VERY tight radius bends before glue-ups. (Tested & 95% done)
  • As TopamaxSurvivor suggested I went out & ordered up a Nikon (I upgraded his D40 suggestion to a D90), and a mid-range Nikkor walk-around zoom lens. Should be here today if the UPS guy would ever show up. He had it on his truck yesterday per the website, but missed the scheduled delivery date. So I’m in “stalking-the-UPS-guy” mode as I speak. I did film 27 years ago. So the basics are there. I just need to update/adjust to the new technology format.
  • And to go with the camera and taking pictures is a small shooting board and lights. (Done)
  • Lastly (and coming back to my original post) is the set-up for safely trying out various bleaching techniques for the wood strips. I made some dip tanks out of 3” dia. PVC tubing 24” long.

I’ll post more as things start coming together in the following weeks.

-Dave
(How come every passing vehicle in front of my house the last two days sounds like a UPS truck?)

-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

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