Souh Sugi Ban Questions?? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 05-19-2017, 01:05 PM Thread Starter
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Souh Sugi Ban Questions??

Hey guys currently planning a floating bed frame project. If not familiar a floating bed framebis just a big box with a mattress on top. Simple yet elegant.

For the construction of the box i want to use some reclaimed 2x12s I pulled off an old cattle shed that blew down in a wind storm a couple year ago on my dads farm. Don't worry he hasn't had cattle for several years and the boards are quite clean. They were bumper boards to keep the cattle from rubbing on the tin exterior and damaging it.

Here's what I found.


They are nice old, heavy, boards. As you can see they have been laying in a pasture since the building went down.

I want to finish them so sugi bahn (sorry i know that's spelled wrong). The Japanese burning technique that getting more and more popular all the time. I have to main reasons.

1. No waiting for oil based stain to cure amd offgas nasty smells. Its going in my bedroom and i really dont love stain smell.

2. I feel it would irraicate any bugs living in the surface of the wood. I dont feel there's a problem here anyways but sometimes my parinoia gets the best of me.

So my questions...

1. I have a planer, does sugi bahn work better with nice flat, smooth, lumber or should i leave it rough. (I like the weathered texture but dont love the greyed color)

2. Is it better to burn the plane or plane then burn. Will planing remove most of the finish? I only ask because ive seen people scrub and sand after burning.

3. For end and side grain does sugi ban work well? Should i cut everything to size first or use miter joints and hide the end grain?

4. Can i finish with shellac or water based poly? Again dont want to deal with off gassing fumes and i know those two products are on the safer end of the toxic spextrum. I also have them on hand ao that's a plus.

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post #2 of 17 Old 05-19-2017, 02:25 PM
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Hello tjdux,

I'll try to offer what guidance I can as I understand your questions.

First, be very careful of what is posted on most websites about... 焼き杉 (Yakisugi which translates to "grilled wood/cedar") ...(aka Shou Sugi Ban)

Too much of it is just repeated DIYers experimenting with the method and not fully understanding it or ever actually learning if from someone that know the method well...The term Shou Sugi Ban seems to be more an Anglicized term and not a clear translation from Kanji.

To actually learn the method by reading about it is very difficult at best, and only if directly translating from Japanese...not reading what someone has only seen in pictures or video. I learned this method myself directly back in the late 60's and watched my own mother use it for several of her projects...Then, years later, learning more. Using the Kanji above will take you to many actual websites in Japan itself...which oddly enough, because of marketing and trying to sell products, are starting to target European and American buyers by using the Anglicized term occasionally themselves when selling siding and related goods...

Yakisugi is very effective and useful in many applications, and growing in popularity here in North America as folks learn about it. It is mainly for only wall and sometimes roof treatments. The treatment of furnishings, floors, etc are much more challenging to do, but are also an option...It does require an additional finish treatment of natural oils when used this way, and oil finishing in general over 焼き杉 (Yakisugi) is not uncommon practice traditionally...

Quote:
Originally Posted by tjdux
1. No waiting for oil based stain to cure amd offgas nasty smells. Its going in my bedroom and i really dont love stain smell.
If you employ a traditional oil and wax blend (which I strongly recommend) you will not have any of these issues.

I make all my own finishes and/or use only natural finishes, so never recommend...modern plastic finishes on wood or masonry ever. It is even more of an issue with exterior exposure. I would recommend Heritage Finishes, which I have used for over 30 years. It is a blend of Tung Oil, Flax Oil, Beeswax, and Pine Rosin with a Citrus Oil thinner and UV stabilizer for the exterior grade material. I would note also these materials are natural and come from "food grade" resources with no additives, or moder petroleum distillates found in almost all major brands.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tjdux
1. I have a planer, does sugi bahn work better with nice flat, smooth, lumber or should i leave it rough. (I like the weathered texture but dont love the greyed color)
It does not matter and is totally up to you which you like better...Most folks put what is called 磨き (Migaki) “polishing” smoothed out method, while others prefer the 炭付 (Sumi-tsuki) “with charcoal” heavy burn method. The Sumi-tsuki method is what you do first if you want to "grain raise" the board. There are dozen of other modalities from "dragon skin" to "grain raise" but I have not bothered learning all these Kanji and direct translations...Most of this stuff I have to take from my database notes on Japanese historic folk style timber framing methods usually done on Minka...

Quote:
Originally Posted by tjdux
2. Is it better to burn the plane or plane then burn. Will planing remove most of the finish? I only ask because ive seen people scrub and sand after burning.
Plan and then burn if going for the 磨き (Migaki) look...

Quote:
Originally Posted by tjdux
3. For end and side grain does sugi ban work well? Should i cut everything to size first or use miter joints and hide the end grain?
It works on these but you don't want (typically...but not always) to char the inside of your joinery...Part of this is your own design aesthetic for the project and what you want...

Quote:
Originally Posted by tjdux
4. Can i finish with shellac or water based poly?
Absolutely...!!!...NO modern plastic finishes on 焼き杉 (Yakisugi)...!!!
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post #3 of 17 Old 05-19-2017, 06:45 PM
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There wouldn't be an issue with putting a film finish over the sugi bahn unless you charred the wood too much. There would be offgassing using shellac but should dissipate in a week or so. I think a water based poly would fit your needs better. If you use a satin finish and don't put it on very thick it will protect the wood and still look like there is no finish on the wood.

I think your biggest problem will be with the wood. If you surface it be sure to go over it with a metal detector and make certain you get all the nails out. Still the wood will have dirt and sand embedded into the wood so it will certainly dull the edge of your planer knives very quickly. I surfaced the wood from a deck one time which was about 15'x20' and went through 4 sets of planer knives.
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post #4 of 17 Old 05-19-2017, 07:31 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
There wouldn't be an issue with putting a film finish over the sugi bahn unless you charred the wood too much. There would be offgassing using shellac but should dissipate in a week or so. I think a water based poly would fit your needs better. If you use a satin finish and don't put it on very thick it will protect the wood and still look like there is no finish on the wood.

I think your biggest problem will be with the wood. If you surface it be sure to go over it with a metal detector and make certain you get all the nails out. Still the wood will have dirt and sand embedded into the wood so it will certainly dull the edge of your planer knives very quickly. I surfaced the wood from a deck one time which was about 15'x20' and went through 4 sets of planer knives.
Yeah i figured that this will take a hit on my planer knives. Im pretty sure ingot the nails and i don't own a metal detector and cant really get one anywhere close.

Im gonna do a test and see if the wood looks good without any planing and only the sugi ban also.

Shellac is bug paste liquified by alcohol so the off gas there isn't as chemically as say regular polyurethane. Ive used it a bunch and it doesnt negativly effect me like the heavy petroleums.

I just havent seen much info online with folks putting a clear finish over the sugi ban and didn't want to mess it up.

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post #5 of 17 Old 05-19-2017, 09:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjdux View Post
Yeah i figured that this will take a hit on my planer knives. Im pretty sure ingot the nails and i don't own a metal detector and cant really get one anywhere close.

Im gonna do a test and see if the wood looks good without any planing and only the sugi ban also.

Shellac is bug paste liquified by alcohol so the off gas there isn't as chemically as say regular polyurethane. Ive used it a bunch and it doesnt negativly effect me like the heavy petroleums.

I just havent seen much info online with folks putting a clear finish over the sugi ban and didn't want to mess it up.

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The problem with shellac unless you at a product such as Shellac Flat to it which is hard to find will be glossy. This may not look so good with the type of finish you are shooting for. This is why I suggested the satin waterborne poly.
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post #6 of 17 Old 05-19-2017, 10:07 PM
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Homestead Finishing Products has a shellac flattening agent.

http://homesteadfinishingproducts.co...ishes/shellac/
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post #7 of 17 Old 05-19-2017, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
The problem with shellac unless you at a product such as Shellac Flat to it which is hard to find will be glossy. This may not look so good with the type of finish you are shooting for. This is why I suggested the satin waterborne poly.
Yeah i do have a huge built in shelf thats dark wood stained (jacobean) and its got a little sheen to it in the same room. From web photos ive seen the sugi ban will have a similar look to a dark stain such as jacobean.

As a persoanal asthetic choice i do like shiny finishes so we will see how it turns out. Worst case scenario kill the shine with steel wool.

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post #8 of 17 Old 05-20-2017, 12:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul
...I think a water based poly would fit your needs better...
In my experience, 焼き杉 (Yakisugi) does not respond well to modern plastic or petroleum based finished at all, whether employing 磨き (Migaki) and espcially the coarser 炭付 (Sumi-tsuki) systems of this technique...

If anyone here have had any consistent success with a modern finish over this traditional charring systems, that is also easily reversible and/or refinishable, I would enjoy learning about it..

Quote:
Originally Posted by tjdux
... From web photos ive seen the sugi ban will have a similar look to a dark stain such as jacobean...As a persoanal asthetic choice i do like shiny finishes
This system can also be done so the color is more a light tan, depending on wood species. It should also be noted (as pointed out on another post) that no finish at all can be used as well other than the charring. As such, because of the heat, the woods natural oils, and waxes are brought to the surface. If a higher sheen or shine is desired, a simple buffing can render the surface from slight sheen to almost a high gloss shine...even more so with a little beeswax and tung oil added...
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post #9 of 17 Old 05-20-2017, 05:13 AM
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I have used this method many times. I had a Japanese carpenter show me after you char the wood, you use a electric scrubber to scrub the char off to leave a very smooth surface. I'm here in Japan and in my area you can rent one of those, but I heard that Home Depot has a tool rental they might have one you can rent. Now for the outer coating. I have seen the Japanese use Tung oil for this, Also I know it's not the best way, but I have used Mini wax Poly Clear for some of my furniture and it came out very well for me. But I was not going traditional look.. Also if doing joinery do not burn your joint. Good luck and White Cloud is spot on with the info. There is way to much bad info on YouTube for this way..


Mike
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post #10 of 17 Old 05-20-2017, 06:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay C. White Cloud View Post
In my experience, 焼き杉 (Yakisugi) does not respond well to modern plastic or petroleum based finished at all, whether employing 磨き (Migaki) and espcially the coarser 炭付 (Sumi-tsuki) systems of this technique...

If anyone here have had any consistent success with a modern finish over this traditional charring systems, that is also easily reversible and/or refinishable, I would enjoy learning about it..



This system can also be done so the color is more a light tan, depending on wood species. It should also be noted (as pointed out on another post) that no finish at all can be used as well other than the charring. As such, because of the heat, the woods natural oils, and waxes are brought to the surface. If a higher sheen or shine is desired, a simple buffing can render the surface from slight sheen to almost a high gloss shine...even more so with a little beeswax and tung oil added...
I did say it depended on the extent of the charring whether a film finish could be used or not. All that is needed is a surface solid enough and porous enough for the finish to bond to.
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post #11 of 17 Old 05-20-2017, 11:13 AM
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I will add one thing, if you use shellac, if you aren't sure about the age of the shellac you are using if it is premixed, it might be a good idea to buy some fresh shellac, it has a fairly short shelf life and if used after that shelf life, it will NEVER harden

If you are making fresh from your own flakes and alcohol disregard what I said
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post #12 of 17 Old 05-20-2017, 11:28 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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I will add one thing, if you use shellac, if you aren't sure about the age of the shellac you are using if it is premixed, it might be a good idea to buy some fresh shellac, it has a fairly short shelf life and if used after that shelf life, it will NEVER harden

If you are making fresh from your own flakes and alcohol disregard what I said
I am familiar with the shelf life. Ireally should get a few pounds of the unmixed chips or whatever you wanna call it and mix my own cause i really like using shellac.

My can is old and i used it about a month ago on a project and it was behaving funny. Really didn't harden the way it has done in the past to put second and third coats on. It just wanted to pull up the base coat.

At least on of the pros of shellac is that its easy to reapply later to restore a finish. I know that little table is gonna need a new coat here in a year or so but i wont even need to take it outside. Open the winow, set it on some cardboard and be done in an hour.

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post #13 of 17 Old 05-20-2017, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul
...There wouldn't be an issue with putting a film finish over the sugi bahn...I think a water based poly would fit your needs better....This is why I suggested the satin waterborne poly....All that is needed is a surface solid enough and porous enough for the finish to bond to...
Sorry Steve, I did understand what you are suggesting...

What I'm saying, from experience with the method over many decades and corresponding with others, and teaching this method myself...It does not respond well to..."film finishes"...

It does work well with traditional botanical rosins, traditional oils and/or beeswax being the best overall finish for 焼き杉 (Yakisugi) that I know of.

I have seen a few contemporary attempts with Shellac, and in those cases there was delamination issues. This could have been the application method, age/type of shellac...or...it could be again that 焼き杉 (Yakisugi) does not do well with heavy film finishes.

My general premise (and experience), as of those I work with, is that polys of any form are not germane to heirloom quality woodworking, nor have they proven to be as durable (long term) as traditional finishes. They certainly and unarguably are not easily refinishable if at all in some cases without great effort and/or losing material fabric of the piece itself in the process...

This is not to say, that if someone really like a poly finish, and that's what they are going for or works for them at the time they shouldn't use it...In the end, it is often just a personal choice...not a correct or incorrect approach. I just try to get clients and student to really ask the long term quesitons, and whether the would like to see their work last beyond their own enjoyment of it...
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post #14 of 17 Old 08-19-2018, 07:31 PM
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Hi there,

I'm trying to do my due diligence regarding Shou Sugi Ban and either purchasing wood with the surfaces already charred, or doing all the work myself on 1x8x16' shiplapped boards I purchase.

Is there a reputable resource out there anyone would recommend with regards to this technique, woods that are best, better, good, and poor? I'm Asheville, NC where the climate can be rainy or humid parts of the year. It's not terrible, but it can be lush around here.

I'm so interested in the look of the shou sugi ban wood siding and would love to put this effect to use on my wife's and my forthcoming home this spring/summer (2019). The home is small - single story, and would require approximately 2000sqft of material.

How many man-hours would it take a beginner to do this? For reference, I have polished a 27' vintage Airstream which took several weeks of 8-12hour days, so I'm familiar with elbow grease, and time-consuming, hard work. Haha. I'm also familiar with fire, and have a steady hand for tools. I hope I could reasonably prep the boards needed over the course of several days/weeks. Am I correct in this?

Thanks in advance for the insight! I have not been able to find books on this technique...

Andy
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post #15 of 17 Old 04-17-2020, 05:26 AM
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Hello,

I've noticed charred amber larch at Degmeda.eu and I was wondering is it possible to make something like that on your own? I've read some of the Shou Sugi Ban DIY articles online but they just look so cheap and uncertain. Please be kind and share your recommendations/guides on this matter.

Best regards,
Edgar
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post #16 of 17 Old 04-17-2020, 08:00 AM
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welcome aboard, Andy and Edgar.
even though this is a 3 year old thread, it still has relevance.

this is an open forum with all levels of skills and talents.
please feel free to join in the conversations that you find interesting
and ask questions to expand your skill levels and share what you know.
if you would like to know more about something, you can start a new thread.
we like to see photos of projects to share with others.
when you get time, you can complete your profile through the "User CP"
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post #17 of 17 Old 04-17-2020, 08:41 PM
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Perhaps it is useful to understand what the Yakisugi or Sho sugi ban technique is actually doing to the wood, beyond just the mystery and the look.

Using modern, engineered bamboo wood flooring as an example, there are basically 2 color choices: "natural," and "caramelized." The carmelized is the bamboo flooring corollary to the yakisugi; the bamboo is heated under control (low temp and slow long time) so that the complex carbohydrates in the wood fibers are broken down into simpler carbohydrates (sugars). Why does this matter? Well, the insects prefer the complex carbohydrates as a food source, and not the simple carbohydrates, so the heating converts the sugars from the desirable into the undesirable, and insect repellence is the result, and this process also hardens the wood fibers. This is what occurs with Yakisugi too, just under much more primitive conditions of straight out burning, which gets very hot very quickly.

The caramelized flooring is charred less than Yakisugi; in fact, it is probably best to say that the process has not charred the visible wood. This means that either the wood was charred and then scrubbed or sanded back until the remaining surface wood is darkened/caramelized/hardened OR the wood/bamboo is heated/baked slowly in an over until it darkens to a desired level. This is the point: One can accomplish Yakisugi via the fast flaming or slow baking techniques, depending on the desired result. Incidentally, this is a historic technique practiced in other cultures too, like the Romans, amongst others.

For oiling the wood, in addition to the suggested Tung oil, I believe that those who are petrochemically sensitive might be able to use BLO (boiled linseed oil) to help bind and protect the fragile charred finish. That said, it is common to use real turpentine (pine solvent) to help cut the BLO and aid its hardening.
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