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Thread: Stabilizing.

  1. #1


    Ok, first off, sorry it's been awhile since I have posted. My daughter has taken up a lot of my free time lately. Now that she's almost 4 months old she is not quite the handful she was when she was a colicky newborn.

    I have been trying many stabilizing techniques lately with limited and not repeatable success. I have read every single article on pen turners forums and the ones I could find here. Endless Google searches provide some information but no definite help of any sorts. What I need are some general formula ideas to try. I have the means to do most all of the techniques I just don't have the specifics. Ok, here goes.

    PR. I can pressurize to 80psi and hold it. What I lack is the knowledge of how to correctly mix the PR with the correct amount of MEKP as to not make the blank so brittle it just splits when you start turning it, or it has so many air pockets it's like turning sand. The container says 15 drops per Oz of PR. I know that has GOT to be wrong.

    I can also vacuum down to -30. Again I don't know how long to hold it there or the correct amount to use when trying to fix "worthless wood"

    Plexiglas and Acetone. I have a couple of these mixtures in 1 gallon paint cans. One is pretty thick and the other I kept the consistency of syrup. Should I just chuck the wood in there and pray or should I use a combination of pressure and vacuum to try and draw the solution into the wood?

    I kept a log of some of my trials on my webpage it also shows the equipment I'm using and how I have it set up.

    So far i've been able to make a few pieces of wood LOOK good, but they are utter garbage when I try and turn them. I had one burl come out very nice and it even started to round out nicely. As soon as my woodchuck hit where the PR and the wood met....SNAP, flew right apart at the seam.

    Any help would be appreciated but please don't point me towards Curtis Seabeck' or Les Elm's articles. I have read them both so many times I think I can probably recite them word for word. Their articles are EXCELLENT for getting started with set-up and equipment but I need information from a couple steps further. Times, concentrations, wood preparation, etc.

    Husband and Daddy is my primary job, the other thing I do is for money.

  2. #2


    50 views and no replies. We'll I'm glad you all are just as stumped as I !
    When I go back to experimenting with it I'll be sure to take good notes so the next feller that gets into this pickle will have some notes to follow.
    Husband and Daddy is my primary job, the other thing I do is for money.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Santa Claus, In
    I was hoping you would get some good reply's. I am interested as well.
    If you don't take pride in your work, life get's pretty boring.

    Rule of thumb is if you donít know what tool to buy next, then you probably donít need it yet.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    I was hoping for replies/suggestions, too, since I'm curious about the process.

    I'd think that vacuum instead of pressure would be best, since it'd evacuate some of the air that's in/between the wood's cells and let the mixture seep in to replace the lost air.

    The problem (maybe, maybe not) that I see with that is sucking the volatile acetone fumes through a vacuum pump. Seems like maybe a recipe for an explosion. Perhaps an air-driven (venturi) vacuum pump, or a hand pump (like a brake bleeder) would work, though.

    Anyway, these are purely guesses. I have no experience with the processes, and like I said earlier, am very curious to hear about what does work.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    DSM, IA
    I think Frank Fusco has stabilized some blanks in a pressure pot...maybe he'll chime in...
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Billings Missouri near Springfield Mo
    Another place to check would be the Knife maker sites they do a lot of stabilizing for handles. Maybe you can find some more info there

    Please share with us when you find out.
    A Turn N Time
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    Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Bower View Post
    I think Frank Fusco has stabilized some blanks in a pressure pot...maybe he'll chime in...
    Yup, I know Frank is the resident expert on stabilization.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Reno, Nv
    I use a paint pot (pressure pot) and clear alumilite resin. You can use whatever resin you like though. I have a stopcock on my pot so after I pressurize it, I can shut it off. Don't exceed the pressure recommended by the manufacture and I don't use HF pots, although some do. I have seen a lid lip rip off under pressure and my wife is fond of my face. To prep your wood...get a small brass brush, they are softer, and remove the junk...lose parts, dirt, bugs.
    Make your mold, mix you pigments and put your wood in. Alumilite cures under pressure, resin over time. 48 to 72 hours is good for blanks. Alan Trout is the real expert on this...he makes huge castings!!!. Hope that helps!
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Plainwell, Michigan

  10. #10


    I use a venturi I got from Harbor Freight. It was cheap and if it gets burned out from the acetone it's not too costly to replace (19 bucks).

    Franks method is the one I have been working with lately but it does take some time to get the mixture to a usable consistency. If you use TOO MUCH plexi your solution will reach a point where the acetone can not break it down further. You have sludge at the bottom of your container and syrup like acetone (I'm assuming this is the usable mixture) at the top of the can.

    I plan on going out tomorrow and trying a few test runs. I will document and photograph my results for all of you. You all have helped me enough that I'll take the bullet on this one. I have some BEAUTIFUL Oak burl I want to try and stabilize.

    Now on to my other question. Melding PR with worthless wood? Looking for concentrations of MEKP for a good solid fusing. The plexi solution seems to fit the bill for helping out punky wood but it wont do much for squaring out a blank that has huge holes in it.

    Husband and Daddy is my primary job, the other thing I do is for money.

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