If you’re on this page, then you obviously want to know how to stabilize wood. Maybe you want to get into the woodwork, or maybe you just don’t want to spend so much. Why pay someone so much when you can do it yourself at a lower cost, right? Right.
Well, you’re in luck because stabilizing wood is not too difficult. Learn exactly what you need to stabilize wood on your own, from what things to use and what steps to take.
I. The purpose and process of stabilizing wood
The main purpose of stabilizing wood is to make it stronger and more durable. It hardens the wood and prevents it from warping or moving. Stabilizing wood also prepares the wood for woodturning and finishing. Use it for something more such as a knife handle, pistol handle, or into a furniture piece or craft.
The basic principle is to inject the piece of soft or punky wood with resin. The method involves putting your dry wood into a vacuum with resin. The end product is a strong blank which you can polish up and finish.
II. Things you will need:
- Protective gear such as gloves, goggles, mask and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
- Vacuum stabilization chamber (You can make your own chamber or buy one. Make sure it will safely hold a vacuum)
- Stabilizing resin
- Color dye
- Air compressor
- An oven that can reach 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Aluminum foil
III. Steps on how to stabilize wood:
1. Prepare your wood blanks.
Make sure they are dry, at least 10% or below in moisture content. Otherwise, the wood cannot stabilize properly. If you have a moisture meter, use it to check the moisture content.
If you don’t, you can dry it in a food dehydrator for a couple of days. You can also place your blank in a toaster or over at 215 degrees Fahrenheit for about 24 hours.
Let the wood cool inside an airtight bag, before placing them in your chamber for stabilization.
2. Stabilize the blank
Prepare your vacuum chamber. If you bought it, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Place the blanks inside the chamber. Add an anti-float plate to keep the blanks fully submerged in resin and preventing it from floating during the process.
- Pour resin into the chamber, fully submerging the blanks, with at least one inch of resin above the wood. Don’t worry about waste, because you can reuse the resin over and over again.
- If you want to color the wood, mix the dye with the resin. Don’t mix the leftover resin with clear resin, in case you don’t want color or if you want to use another color.
- Seal the chamber, attach to the vacuum lines, then to the vacuum source. When you turn on the vacuum, you will notice foam because of the pulling of air out of the blanks.
- Control the vacuum with the valve, or by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure it doesn’t get into your pumps and the vacuum source. Continue the vacuum until the bubbles slow or stop.
- Once the vacuum process is done, you can leave the wood in the resin to soak for another hour or so. After that, you can open the lid and remove the anti-float plate. If the wood floats, the process was unsuccessful and you will have to do it over.
- If the wood didn’t float, you can take the blanks out of the chamber and wipe off any excess resin.
- Clean your jars and vacuum kit as soon as possible.
3. Curing the blank
Wrap your wood blanks individually in aluminum foil and place it in a 200 degree Fahrenheit pre-heated oven. A pen sized blank will take about 30 minutes to cure and larger pieces will take more time.
Adjust the baking time accordingly while checking every couple of minutes if the resin is hard and crystallized. If it is still wet, then the curing process is not yet done. You can take it out of the oven when it the resin is hard and dry. After about 24-48 hours or resting in open air, the stabilizing process is complete and the wood is ready for use.
Stabilizing wood isn’t as hard as you think. It is a meticulous process but it’s also interesting, rewarding and cost-saving. You don’t have to throw away small pieces because you can find a use for them.
Do you have other questions, tips or comments about stabilizing wood? We’d love to hear them! Use the comment section below and we’ll respond as soon as we can.