Casting Epoxy to Turn

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Forum topic by tyskkvinna posted 08-31-2011 03:33 PM 6514 views 3 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1310 posts in 2073 days

08-31-2011 03:33 PM

I did some searching, but found that all I could find was posts on filling cracks so I do apologise if this is a repeat subject (or at least a recent repeat…)

I have a bunch of extremely pretty exotic sawdust and some chips that came out neat.. like curly-cues or something. Also have a bunch of sawdust-like chips from some plastic projects I was working on and they’re in a giant rainbow of colours. So I was thinking of casting this in epoxy to turn into blanks.

Anybody tried this? Does a particular brand or variety work better than others? I would, of course, like to be able to polish it to a water finish and then coat it with something (CA I imagine? Maybe more resin?) so that the parts of the turning that are the chips on edge are sealed.

I’ve done a lot of work with clear epoxy but I’ve never had to cut into it after I cast something so I’m not quite sure on that.

Was also thinking of casting them in my vacuum chamber to help it along- if that particular epoxy that I eventually choose works well with that method! Not a requirement though.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

18 replies so far

View tom427cid's profile


294 posts in 1557 days

#1 posted 08-31-2011 03:41 PM

I don’t think that epoxy would be the best choice,rather the clear plastic resin(maybe we are saying the same thing-just different word).Resin can be machined,drille,tapped,etc. And after turning,using sucsessively finer grits can be smothed and polished.Check with pen turners for best products for final finish.
Hope this helps.

-- "certified sawdust maker"

View SSMDad's profile


395 posts in 1684 days

#2 posted 08-31-2011 04:13 PM

Something like this seems as if it would work. I’d thought about doing this myself.

-- Chris ~~Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

View sarahss's profile


258 posts in 1736 days

#3 posted 08-31-2011 04:13 PM

I belong to a pen turners forum, and lots of the folks there use polyester resin. You can get it (i think) at michael’s or hobby lobby. you have to add the MEK catalyst to it, but from what i’ve seen posted on the pen site, you are only limited by you imagination.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2073 days

#4 posted 08-31-2011 04:46 PM

Sweet. I will try out the polyester resin. It looks like exactly what I want, and getting it locally is even better!

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Brian Havens's profile

Brian Havens

195 posts in 2193 days

#5 posted 08-31-2011 05:05 PM

There is some good info on embedding things into pen blanks in this article. He is specifically embedding feathers, but much of the info is generally relevant.

I was looking into doing this kind of work, but never got around to it. It seems that the most difficult part is getting all the air bubbles out of the resin before it sets.

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2045 days

#6 posted 08-31-2011 05:20 PM

Sounds like a good idea, what the heck. The vacuum thing I would recommend against tho, since vacuum dries by accelerated evaporation it may tend to bubble (boil) the epoxy as epoxy is a chemical set-up rather than an evaporative drying process. Best of luck!

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Steven Davis's profile

Steven Davis

116 posts in 2001 days

#7 posted 08-31-2011 06:28 PM

Have you tried making something based on machinists wax?

-- Steven Davis - see me at

View SignWave's profile


196 posts in 2122 days

#8 posted 08-31-2011 07:43 PM

Keep in mind that most epoxy is exothermic, which means that it gives off heat when it cures. If you’re talking about a curing a large volume of epoxy, there is a danger that the heat will build up to the point to be a fire hazard.

-- Barry,

View MrRon's profile


3474 posts in 2330 days

#9 posted 08-31-2011 08:49 PM

Check out this site.

View rance's profile


4197 posts in 2247 days

#10 posted 09-01-2011 03:39 AM

Lis, if you buy the resin at Michael’s, wait till you can get a 30% off coupon. It is worth the wait. A friend uses this all the time for casting pen blanks. He does not vacuum, but it wouldn’t hurt. Keep us up to date with your progress. :)

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View crank49's profile


3898 posts in 2058 days

#11 posted 09-01-2011 04:11 AM

In jewelry manufacturing I have cast resins, waxes, epoxies, urethanes, and silicone. Vacuuming to remove entrained gasses is standard practice, but the timing is critical.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

14367 posts in 2192 days

#12 posted 09-01-2011 04:37 AM

I did a floor once in Torgonal. It was a clear resin that you spread on the floor and then dropped in multicolored chips. After it dried, you raked off the loose chips and then spread another coat of resin and more chips to fill in any bare areas. Then it was about 5 more coats of clear to finish. At one point you took a grinder or floor sander and cut off all the chips sticking through the 3rd coat. I don’t know if you can find that product any more, but we had to wear a gas mask because it was a carcinogen. It would wear like iron!!

Polyester resin is what is used with fiberglass to do car body repairs. You can get that at an automotive supply place by the quart. I don’t know how much you’ll need, but that is a product that might work for you, too.
Are the blanks, pen blanks?

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

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2073 days

#13 posted 09-01-2011 05:00 AM

Jim- I’m thinking some for pen blanks and some other pieces for milling blanks… lots of ideas!!

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Keith Fenton's profile

Keith Fenton

324 posts in 2007 days

#14 posted 09-01-2011 08:25 AM

I think you will find epoxy, while being nice to turn, winds up being too soft in the end. A polyester casting resin will be more suitable. Pen blank makers often use these two brands. The first is very good for bonding with wood for a mixed wood/acrylic casting (it’s also very easy and fun to turn)

Alumilite Clear

The 2nd is very cheap but works quite good on its own for acrylic blanks. I don’t know if it would work well for what you want to do.

Silmar41 (scroll down on this page)

-- Scroll saw patterns @

View Doe's profile


1178 posts in 1917 days

#15 posted 09-03-2012 01:21 PM

tyskkvinna, how did it go? I’m looking at embedding brass shavings and other stuff in wood for wine stoppers, boxes and other stuff, other than pens. I’m afraid that the chemical reaction of epoxy my react (badly) with what I’m trying to embed. I’m not too keen on spending the money on resin unless it’s the best way. It has a limited shelf life and I’m not sure if I’d use it all.

Thanks, Doe

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

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