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Hey all! Well, the holidays are upon us, and for myself and most of you, I'm guessing, that means churning out lots of gifts in a short amount of time. So, here's my situation: a good friend of mine has this large(about 3ft tall by roughly 3ft around) stump, or chunk, or whatever of some unknown wood. It's VERY irregular, very old, very rotted out(mostly hollow) and very dry. He wants me to "make it look cool", which I assume means clean, finished and shiny. I'm using wire brushes, both with a drill and with hands, to clean out the rot, dirt, critters and random debris. What I am wondering is this: should I soak it in some type of thinned polymer to "stabilize" the remaining wood? There is some really interesting crazing that I would like to preserve, in addition to the exterior grain, so I don't want to turn it into a hunk of plastic. No additional carving or altering of the shape is planned, and it will not be load-bearing either. It will live indoors, so 100% waterproofing is not necessary. I just want to stabilize it enough to get a finish on it, and help insure that the rot stops. I apologize if this is too vague, and I will attempt to post pictures of the piece in question ASAP. Oh, and there is no bark. It's almost like driftwood, except it has undergone what appears to be both wet and, more recently, dry-rot. Thanks in advance! -Cam
 

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You can seal the ends with Anchorseal but may still get cracks in the wood. I had this with some recent cherry log sections. Sealed after cutting, debarked, and then split all down the sides.

If you want to minimize cracking, then you need to use PEG (polyethylene glycol). You need a lot. The entire piece must be immersed in PEG which replaces the moisture in the cells with PEG.

Lots of links with internet search for this treatment.

A US Forest Service article.

http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplrn/fplrn006.pdf
 
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