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  • Hardening soft wood?

    A few weeks ago, I found a naturally bent stick ( "7" shaped) about 1 1/4" in diameter that would make a great walking stick. It is very light weight and I want to impregnate it with some kind of hardener.

    IN making pens, we often put pen blanks in liquid hardener in pressure pots and pull a vacuum to pull the air out and make the hardener go into the wood when the vacuum is released. Of course I do not have a pot big enough to do that with a walking stick. What is the best way to harden wood? How deep can I get the hardener into the wood?

    I went with some of my grandkids over July 4th to the Mississippi River park near us and found the naturally formed handle/walking stick. Like most drift wood, it was light weight. Long time soaking in water must do that. Not sure what kind of wood it is but it has the consistency of cotton wood, except I can't see any annular ring grain. More like a vine with a handle. It looks like a "7".

    I have cut it off to the right length for walking (for me) and it will hold my weight if I lean on it, but it is very weight.

    I thought about getting it hot and then soaking it in polyurethane (oil based) but I don't know how deep it will soak into the wood. I most certainly don't have enough CA to do that. Epoxy would be too difficult to spread evenly. Would pure Tung oil soak in deeply? I know it takes a week or so for one good coat to cure, but I don't know if it will add strength.

    Any ideas?
    Hank Lee

    Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

  • #2
    I have worked with quite a bit of driftwood. The lightweight stuff I’ve found sands like chalk, like nothing is there, It soaks CA up like a sponge, a stick that size could soak up a gallon. Thinned Polly should soak in as well as CA. Where you would find a long skinny plastic bag to fill with thinned Polly????

    Some states have regulations on picking up driftwood! In Ga. it is illegal, who ever heard of such?

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    • #3
      Driftwood Regulations: I never heard of that - well except in national and some state parks in which it is any kind of wood or natural resources. But Along the MS river - not here.

      Thanks for the suggestion. Thinned oil based polyurethane was the only thing I could think of, so I must thinking be in the right direction.
      Hank Lee

      Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

      Comment


      • #4
        Vacuum bagging would help with absorption, like your pressure pot method. A roll of Seal-a-Meal material coupled with whatever you pull a vacuum with using your pressure pot..I bought industrial vacuum bagging materials and laminated some large surfaces. To seal the ends, I cut a V-notch out of the length of a piece of 3/4" PVC pipe making a "C" profile on the ends.. I was then able to snap a length of 1/2" PVC pipe into it with the vacuum bag material wrapped around it. I had one for each end of the bag. For a fitting to connect to the bag, I used a small plastic boat through-hull and made up a connection to my AC vacuum pump.
        The idea was to make it re-usable, and it would be, if I ever had another project
        The Seal-a-Meal system would probably be just fine, if you can pull it off without getting caught (SWMBO). By the way, vacuum bag rolls for Seal-a-Meals are available cheaper on eBay. The ones I bought work just as well as name brand, and the rolls are longer.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by d_meister View Post
          Vacuum bagging would help with absorption, like your pressure pot method. A roll of Seal-a-Meal material coupled with whatever you pull a vacuum with using your pressure pot..I bought industrial vacuum bagging materials and laminated some large surfaces. To seal the ends, I cut a V-notch out of the length of a piece of 3/4" PVC pipe making a "C" profile on the ends.. I was then able to snap a length of 1/2" PVC pipe into it with the vacuum bag material wrapped around it. I had one for each end of the bag. For a fitting to connect to the bag, I used a small plastic boat through-hull and made up a connection to my AC vacuum pump.
          The idea was to make it re-usable, and it would be, if I ever had another project
          The Seal-a-Meal system would probably be just fine, if you can pull it off without getting caught (SWMBO). By the way, vacuum bag rolls for Seal-a-Meals are available cheaper on eBay. The ones I bought work just as well as name brand, and the rolls are longer.
          You got me to thinking - I have some 2 inch pipe. and an elbow, I might make a vacuum tube out of it and fill it with thinned poly and pull a vacuum.

          I tried pulling a vacuum on seal bags a meals with soup once - it doesn't work too well for me. I need something solid for pulling a vacuum with liquids.
          Hank Lee

          Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

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          • #6
            Dose of the little blue pill. Stiffen the ole stick right up.
            Loring in Katy, TX USA
            If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
            BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

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            • #7
              If you are going to make a Vacuum pot out of pipe, you are in effect building a high pressure vessel. Wouldn’t you get better absorption results by pressurizing it with high pressure air?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by capncarl View Post
                If you are going to make a Vacuum pot out of pipe, you are in effect building a high pressure vessel. Wouldn’t you get better absorption results by pressurizing it with high pressure air?
                With a few million pens made by pen turners and a minuscule amount of those by me, we have learned to use pressure when casting acrylics of different kinds to keep the bubbles down, BUT when stabilizing wood, vacuums are far more effective as it draws the air out of the wood and when the pressure is released, the stabilizing agent rushes in to fill the voids. IF pressure is used in the beginning, experience shows that it does not go as deep as it does when used with a vacuum. MOST of the time when comparisons are made, those with blanks that were stabilized under pressure do not weigh as much as those that have been put under a vacuum. Side by side comparisons of blanks of the same kind from the same board show that vacuum is more effective as gaged my weight.

                Caveat: Some, and I do also, use a vacuum as the primary source - and then after the bubbles quit fizzing (an hour to several hours) we release the vacuum, then pressure is put to it to further increase penetration into the wood. However, in most cases pressure following vacuum does not give as much increased weight advantage; it does some but to many, it is not worth the extra time.

                By the way, we use 2 1/2 to 4 or 5 gallon paint pressure pots that are rigged to be used as pressure or a vacuum tank. And use both way gages or one pressure and one vacuum gage along with a few valves to use as we need.

                AS to stabilizing this cane, I will and can make a tube with 90 coupling and install a switch fitting to pull a vacuum. I have a two stage vacuum and will use it. I don't think I will try pressure on a home made "tank" with elbow on it. Even if it doesn't "explode, I fear a fitting giving way somewhere and covering me with polyurethane finish!
                Last edited by leehljp; 08-26-2020, 11:50 PM.
                Hank Lee

                Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Lee. Thanks for the explanation of pressure vrs vacuum. A question about the vacuuming process, do you pull a vacuum on the wood for a specific time, then valve the source off..... then open another valve to allow the hardening mixture to be pulled into the chamber?

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                  • #10
                    No, the chamber is filled with more than enough stabilizer (our word for hardener) to more than cover it. That means that the chamber needs several inches or more of "space" so that the bubbles do not enter into the hose and then the vac. There have been a few over the years who sucked the hardener into the vac itself! In my case, I will need to err on the side of caution and make the head of the "7" to be as long as the downward leg, OR make buffer chamber to catch any overflow.

                    One of the things that helped the development was that early on, was that for several, they started by putting a pen blank or two in a gallon jar and pulling a vacuum on a home made system. It was from this that the visual effects were helpful and they could see it developing and they could know about how long it took. Even now, if a person only wants to pull a vacuum, there are tanks that are made of 3/4 to 1 inch polycarbonate so you can see the whole thing; or a steel or aluminum boiling pot with a 1 inch thick polycarbonate lid and a sealant gasket. Its fun to watch that thing bubble as the air comes out of a blank as it sets in the liquid.

                    (In most cases, people put several blanks inside a small pot or even quart jar and fill the pot or jar to cover the pen blanks with about an inch above the blanks to make sure it gets stabilizer agents on the whole length of the blank.)

                    There have been very little accidents with vacuums, but quite a few with pressure tanks with people not being cautious enough.

                    Edit in: There are a couple of kinds of accidents with vacuums: One particular "stabilizer or hardener" (the most popular) does not mix well with water/moisture particularly under a vacuum where it will mix well and quickly. A user will mis-judge the moisture content of a pen blank (it will still be green with say 15 to 20% moisture). That situation will foam and immediately harden and practically ruin the pot it is in. The second is for home made and even some early on commercial made containers - was that the polycarbonate lid was not thick enough and the vacuum would pull the lid down and introduce cracks at the fittings. Kinda of like a large fish tank with too thin of glass or polycarbonate and cracks develop. It is not uncommon to see 3/4 in polycarbonate lids that cover 8 to 10 inch openings begin to crack after a few months. for openings that size, 1 inch thick is better.
                    Last edited by leehljp; 08-27-2020, 08:46 AM.
                    Hank Lee

                    Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by LCHIEN View Post
                      Dose of the little blue pill. Stiffen the ole stick right up.
                      But 4 hours later........
                      Don, aka Pappy,

                      Wise men talk because they have something to say,
                      Fools because they have to say something.
                      Plato

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                      • LCHIEN
                        LCHIEN commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Ha ha, resisting making further comments. Oh what the heck, call a doctor if it lasts more than 4 hours.

                    • #12
                      I'm 71 years old....if it last more than 4 hours I'm calling everyone I know!
                      Don, aka Pappy,

                      Wise men talk because they have something to say,
                      Fools because they have to say something.
                      Plato

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