Stabilizing/Filling spalted wood - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 12-19-2015, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Stabilizing/Filling spalted wood

I have this cool piece of spalted wood, but it's kind of crossing the line from spalted to rotten. It's mostly pretty solid, but there are some cracks and as you can see, some wood loss. I could stabilize this with wood stabilizer, but I doubt that it would fill the larger gaps. Epoxy could fill the larger gaps, but it probably won't penetrate like the stabilizer would. Any ideas?
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post #2 of 7 Old 12-19-2015, 04:33 PM
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I wouldn't touch this piece with a ten foot pole. Too far gone and with those cracks, it might separate when turning.
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post #3 of 7 Old 12-19-2015, 06:49 PM
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Quoting John Jordan, "Life's too short to turn crappy wood ... no need to make it even shorter".

That's not spalted, it's just plain rotten. I have a piece in my garage that looks very much like the one that you pictured except that the one I have is not nearly as rotten. I have wasted a lot of time and money trying to see if I could turn it and the answer is NO. There is way too much tearout. I could waste about $50 or more on a stabilizer such as Cactus Juice and still have a piece of wood that looks like crap.

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post #4 of 7 Old 12-19-2015, 07:00 PM
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I would slice it across the pith and see how much solid wood is left. That surface you are showing is too far gone but there might be some small chunks you could make a pen or bottle stopper out of. Might even be enough for a turned box or peppermill.
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post #5 of 7 Old 12-19-2015, 10:24 PM
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Pens and bottle stoppers would work provided that the wood is truly interesting and not just one or two spalting lines running through it. You could go the cheap route and use something like Minwax Wood Hardener although it gets pretty hard and dulls tools rather quickly. If there are voids that need filling, I would choose Inlace since it remain crystal clear whereas epoxy always has a problem with trapped bubbles and also yellows over time. Some people use lacquer that is thinned 50-50 or perhaps even further if necessary. That would help stabilize the wood and be easier on the tools because it wouldn't get as hard as the Minwax Wood Hardener. If you use Inlace, you have the option of leaving it clear or enhancing it with various Inlace materials like dye, metal flakes, or granules that simulate stone material. My experience is that the cost of making my own fancy pen and stopper blanks is comparable to just buying ready made fancy blanks, but without the risk of producing a dud.

The expensive route is to get a vacuum pump capable of pulling a hard vacuum, a s0uitable vacuum chamber and some Cactus Juice. You will also need an oven ... an old toaster oven works just fine if you can control the temperature.

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Last edited by Bill Boehme; 12-19-2015 at 10:27 PM.
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post #6 of 7 Old 12-20-2015, 04:31 AM
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Get yourself some cactus juice and a vacuum stabilization rig, then toss that blank out and work on something else. Km no turner, but those cracks don't look like shallow surface cracks to me, seems likely to fly apart at the slightest provocation

I need cheaper hobby
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post #7 of 7 Old 12-20-2015, 05:29 AM
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Well as someone who has spent way to much time and money trying to save a piece I agree with both parties. Better to just toss it and get a good piece of wood and enjoy the turning. when you get into trying to "fix" a piece of wood like that it takes a lot of patience and many hours patching or refilling the wood trying to save it.
Now on to the other option. Cactus Juice will do it. It's expensive and you have to buy or build some sort of vacuum system. It's also time consuming.
Less expensive but not anywhere near as good is lacquer thinned 50/50 with lacquer thinner. It really works best for wood that isn't totally punky or has small areas that are soft. It still requires some good tool technique to avoid the tearout. It also tends to clog sandpaper really fast.
INlace is great for filling larger voids but won't penetrate the wood like the lacquer so once you cut through it the wood will still be soft. Good for large cracks, not so good for tearout our punky wood.
System 3 mirror coat is a 2 part epoxy that gets very thin as it cures. It will penetrate some woods really far. It's expensive so I haven't experimented with it just to save punky woods. I found this technique by accident while using it. It actually ran through the pores of a red oak blank I was using as a casting form.
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