Need Cactus Juice guidance - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 10-22-2016, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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Need Cactus Juice guidance

I'm using Cactus Juice for the first time. I'm stabilizing a blank of spalted hackberry that's about 2" thick by 5" diameter. Can someone with experience help me figure out how long will it need to be in the oven at 190 degrees to completely cure the Cactus Juice?
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post #2 of 16 Old 10-22-2016, 03:23 PM
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Take as long as you think it'll need, double that, then add 5 minutes to be safe. You won't damage anything leaving it in too long, but you will destroy the piece if you take it out before it's cured.

I usually leave my 3/4 blanks cooking for at least 2 or 3 hours, overnight if I can swing it
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post #3 of 16 Old 10-22-2016, 05:04 PM Thread Starter
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That's very useful advice. If there's no harm in leaving it in longer, I'll just plan to leave it in there all day. Thanks.
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post #4 of 16 Old 10-22-2016, 07:17 PM
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According to turntex, the guy who makes cactus juice, the resin is stable up to 400 degrees. He's actually got an I retesting anecdote on his website about how he forgot he had some blanks in the oven and left them there for 4 days with no ill effect

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post #5 of 16 Old 10-22-2016, 09:37 PM
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I've followed TurnTex Woodworks website advise a couple of times now. Cook it over night at 200 degrees F.
The more important part is heating the wood to near 0 moisture, then cooling it prior to vacuum infusion.
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post #6 of 16 Old 10-22-2016, 09:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikechell View Post
I've followed TurnTex Woodworks website advise a couple of times now. Cook it over night at 200 degrees F.
The more important part is heating the wood to near 0 moisture, then cooling it prior to vacuum infusion.
Also important is keeping the vacuum in long enough, then letting the blanks soak. I did a batch where I both neglected to keep the vacuum on until the bubbles stopped and cut the soak time shorter than I should've, and paid for it with poor penetratation. Let the vacuum pump run until the wood stops outputting bubbles, however long that takes, then let the blanks soak for triple that amount of time. Instructions say double, but a little more never hurts

Keep forgetting to ask quick, what are you doing for vacuum? A blank that size should need a decent size chamber, larger than the mason jars I use at any rate

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post #7 of 16 Old 10-22-2016, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
Let the vacuum pump run until the wood stops outputting bubbles, however long that takes, then let the blanks soak for triple that amount of time. Instructions say double, but a little more never hurts.
If the wood is still got moisture in it, that all will "boil" in the vacuum. The bubbles take MUCH longer to stop coming, because it's not just air you're drawing out, it's water vapor.

And water vapor can spoil the oil in your pump, if it's gets too much.
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post #8 of 16 Old 10-23-2016, 10:20 AM Thread Starter
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More advice please--

I put the blank in the oven for a few hours to cook out any remaining moisture. The blank developed a decent size (3/16") crack which I plan to fill with epoxy. Should I fill it before or after stabilizing it with the Cactus Juice?
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post #9 of 16 Old 10-23-2016, 10:59 AM
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That's a good question. I will assume you are talking about a colored epoxy, the kind that contrasts with the wood, like bright blue or something.
1) You are supposed to take the wood from the oven and immediately put it into a plastic bag. This prevents the wood from absorbing moisture as it cools. As soon as it cools, it goes into the Cactus Juice and vacuum chamber. So, that means you shouldn't be exposing the dehydrated wood to the atmosphere long enough to epoxy it.
2) If you use an epoxy that withstands the heat of dehydrating, there's a good chance the wood will react to the heating/cooling and pull away from the epoxy. The Cactus Juice will fill in those cracks, so that shouldn't be much of a problem.
3) If you wait to fill the gaps after the stabilization is finished, they will be filled, or partially filled with the cured resin, so you won't get the same effect from the epoxy fill.
4) If you are talking about clear epoxy, then don't bother. When you take the wood out of the vacuum chamber and "cook" it, the resin expands some as it cures. If you take a little time to arrange the gap "up", and tightly wrap it with aluminum foil, the Cactus juice will fill the gap for you.
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post #10 of 16 Old 10-23-2016, 11:51 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks again for the great replies.

I did take the wood directly from the oven and put it in a plastic bag. It makes sense that it will start absorbing moisture if I take it out to put the epoxy in the crack.

The wood is a spalted mix of tans, whites and greys, so I planned to fill it with grayish/blackish epoxy.

I don't care if the gap is partially filled with Cactus Juice as long as the epoxy sticks to it. I'm curious about Cactus Juice's ability to fill the crack. The crack is pretty big, but it would be great if the Cactus Juice could fix it. Any ideas on how to keep the Juice in the crack while it cures?
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post #11 of 16 Old 10-23-2016, 12:02 PM Thread Starter
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Forgot to answer your question.

I'm using a pressure cooker I modified and a rather ancient but good vacuum pump. I've run the rig and I'm able to maintain 29hg vacuum. I also built in a vacuum gauge and a bleeder valve so I can regulate the vacuum to control foaming and release the vacuum when I'm done.
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post #12 of 16 Old 10-23-2016, 06:16 PM
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Can you see the foaming? I thought about going with a pressure cooker, but none of them had clear lids.

Anyway ... I do not know if epoxy will stick to the Juice. Basically, when it's cured, it's the consistency of a hard plastic. If you can rough it up some in the areas you want the epoxy, it might stick.

Another question: Are you doing something that will end up finished and smooth, like a knife handle or a pen blank? Or are you doing a natural piece of wood and trying to maintain the original shapes?

If you're sanding and finishing, then follow my recommendation above ... position the crack facing up, wrap it in aluminum foil to keep the resin in as it cures. You'll end up with quite a bit of the resin on and around the wood. When you sand it down, the cracks will be filled.
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post #13 of 16 Old 10-23-2016, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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I put a small lexan window in the pressure cooker lid so I can see what's going on in there. It's only about 1-3/4" diameter, but I can see in with a flashlight.

I do plan to sand and finish it after turning. I've never had much luck with a natural look on pieces that have been filled with epoxy. The filled spot always ends up shiny. I suspect that a stabilized piece is much the same.

I had an idea, tell me if you think it will work. I'll try to use foil to retain the Juice, but if I still have a crack when I talked it out of the oven, I'll try to dam it up, fill with Juice and put it quickly back in the oven. Sound reasonable?
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post #14 of 16 Old 10-23-2016, 07:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quickstep View Post
I put a small lexan window in the pressure cooker lid so I can see what's going on in there. It's only about 1-3/4" diameter, but I can see in with a flashlight.

I do plan to sand and finish it after turning. I've never had much luck with a natural look on pieces that have been filled with epoxy. The filled spot always ends up shiny. I suspect that a stabilized piece is much the same.

I had an idea, tell me if you think it will work. I'll try to use foil to retain the Juice, but if I still have a crack when I talked it out of the oven, I'll try to dam it up, fill with Juice and put it quickly back in the oven. Sound reasonable?
Cactus juice isn't meant to fill gaps, only to wick into the wood cells and take up the space that would otherwise absorb water and swell. Epoxy is going to be your best bet, and it'll stick to the stabilized wood just fine. Wood glue actually sticks just fine, as a point of interest

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post #15 of 16 Old 10-23-2016, 11:54 PM
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Cactus juice isn't meant to fill gaps...
True, but you can cure a block of juice if you so desired. If the fluid is kept in place around the wood, it will fill all kinds of holes and seams. Using foil, making sure there's no holes in it, and surrounding the wood can cause the expanding resin to fill in and cure in place.
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post #16 of 16 Old 10-24-2016, 02:37 AM
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True, but you can cure a block of juice if you so desired. If the fluid is kept in place around the wood, it will fill all kinds of holes and seams. Using foil, making sure there's no holes in it, and surrounding the wood can cause the expanding resin to fill in and cure in place.
Oh, I'm not denying you can, its certainly possible. I'm just saying that's not what it's meant for, and better results could be had with a product more suited to the purpose

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