|Forum topic by Gary Fixler||posted 03-14-2009 06:37 PM||23750 views||3 times favorited||20 replies|
03-14-2009 06:37 PM
I did a lot of research last night on stabilizing wood. I should note up front that I’m not interested in sending it out to be professionally stabilized, nor in buying the many available blanks out there. I’m a process nut, and just love trying out new techniques, even more so than creating finished products, and the more esoteric, the better ;)
After 2 years living at this rental home in LA, I’ve finally noticed near its corner a submerged stump:
The pieces were all bug eaten (tons of bugs under them) and pulled free easily.
The bugs and dry rot have made them quite light:
I recently posted a tree in my Tree ID series (silver birch), and noted that it had been cut in half at some point. I finally emailed my landlady, who’s owned this place since 1994, and asked when and why that was done. She didn’t remember, citing something in ‘94 about trimming roof-damaging trees, but said it may also have been the ‘knuckleheads’ who rented this place before me, who were foolish enough to plant a large coral tree in a tight space between the house and septic tank. Of course, it had to be removed. The first Tree ID series post I made was on the awesome Coral tree, and I’ve been anxious to get my hands on some wood from one, despite its stated softness. This was my chance! But alas, it was all rotted.
That’s when I thought about the stabilized burl blanks I’ve seen at Rockler, and wondered about the process. I wanted something liquid that would penetrate everywhere, and figured I’d probably need a vacuum to pull the air out and draw the liquid in. Research last night indicates this is true. Sparky Paessler over in a thread at Sawmill Creek (sorry to link to the competition, Martin! :) has some images of his home setup using a vacuum pump, mason jar (some have used 1gal. pickle jars), shutoff valve, and thinned polyurethane. I’ve found there, and around the net talk of using other mixtures as the infiltrant as well. His finished burl blanks and pens came out looking rock solid.
Someone mentioned the Pump-N-Seal, which pulls about 27 inches of water reliably for only $30, so that might be an inexpensive option, along with a jar and the stabilizer, just to get me started. I’d love to try each of the infiltrants I’ve seen mentioned, to gain solid empirical evidence for myself, which I’ll post here of course.
Anyone here tried this stuff and want to talk tips and techniques? I’m wondering many things, like if I should resaw first, then stabilize the little pieces in a small jar, or if I should try to stabilize the whole thing so it resaws better, or maybe a mix of the two – get it smaller, stabilize those pieces, then saw to final dimensions to remove the exposed edges that won’t seal as well. What of the bugs? My officemate at work suggested a 5gal. bucket with a lid (and small hole), and throwing the pieces and some dry ice in there to smoke them out with the CO2. My mom suggested bleach in a bucket. I was also thinking of a trash bag and fogger, outside of course. or cutting the pieces tiny, putting them in ziplocs, and sticking those in the freezer (my least favorite). Thoughts? I’m also thinking that for bigger holes, I may need to seal and air dry a few times, until the vacuum doesn’t draw out any more bubbles. I’m also considering taking sawdust from resawing up the pieces and mixing it into the stabilizer for added stability and color matching. So many variables!
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator