Wood products are known to warp and change in various ways depending upon the humidity levels and temperature ranges. To enhance the quality of any given wood, it is thus important that it be stabilized through chemical treatments. Such treatments end up adding color and weight to the wood in question. This is simply due to the obvious reason that you are imbuing the timber with a chemical liquid that ultimately dries and hardens in the wood. There are so many ways that can be used to stabilize wood. But before going to the nitty-gritty's, let’s understand what wood stabilizing is in a nutshell.
What is Wood Stabilizing?
It is just as simple as you are guessing. Wood stabilizing follows a basic principle of injecting resin to a puny wood so as to create a stable and hardened wood blank, making it safe for turning. The resin simply displaces the air pockets that are spread throughout the wood’s grain structure thus a resultant nearly impervious dense blank is realized. Upon polishing such a stabilized wood, there is a resultant high gloss that is aesthetically appealing indeed.
1. Preparation of the Wood Blanks
Gently scraping off wax from the wooden surface
The very first step in the wood stabilizing procedure is to ensure that the blank is dried up. This is because a wet piece of wood can’t be stabilized and even if you try, it won’t become stable. The moisture content needs to be below 10% and a moisture meter is used to verify this. Use a kiln, drying rack or an oven to dry it up, giving it time to gradually dry as too fast drying would end up resulting into cracks. Knowledge of how to plane wood without a wood planer will be useful during doing this as it will save much of your time.
Dying to Customize the Blanks (Optional)
This is specifically for aesthetics and that’s why it’s optional. Dying has got nothing to do with the stabilization of the blanks. This is an easy step, with options being endless. You can choose your most favorite custom color and mix it with the resin at the ratio of quarter tablespoon dye to a quart of resin. For a more vivid color, you can add more dye.
After the blanks have dried up, it is time to stabilize. There are dozens of stabilization processes you can choose from. Below are two options you can use.
The Use of a Wood Hardener
This procedure will help you harden crumbling wood
i. Choose Your Hardener
Start by purchasing a hardening product such as Minwax wood hardener from a hardware store. This is an important product for use in refinishing and other small projects
ii. Preparing the Blank
As mentioned above, the blank need to be scrapped off any form of wax, decaying wood, and impurities. The use of a scraper or a sand paper is popular. Ideally, the piece of wood you want to harden need to be sound. Any paint or oil will inhibit the absorption of the hardener.
iii. Dry the Wood
If the blank has recently been wet, use a hair dryer to dry it up. For the hardening to work, the wood needs to be completely dry.
iv. Working Space
Cover your workspace with a piece of cloth or sheet and place your blank on top. While wearing gloves, safety glasses, and a ventilation mask, you are ready to go.
Shake your wood stabilizer of choice well. On a disposable bristly brush, pour the hardener is a size capable of reaching all the blank’s parts that should be stabilized. Saturate the area with the hardener, applying numerous coats in succession till the surface becomes shiny.
vi. Allow Drying
When through, confirm is there are any voids and fill them with wood fillers. Refinish and allow a minimum of two hours drying time.
The Salt Paste Method
I thought it wise to give the naturalists an option they can comfortably use to stabilize their wood. This method uses only natural ingredients as a replacement of the rather harsh chemicals. This doesn’t, however, mean that you should keep your gloves away when using this procedure.
i. Drying the Wood
This is done either if the wood is wet or your air is humid. In the event that your air is humid, it will be prudent for you to de-humify it so as to reduce the moisture amounts in the wood you are trying to dry up. When drying your wood, just remember that too much of heat will warp or crack your piece of timber.
ii. Mixture Preparation
In the ration of one gallon (3.8l) of water to three pounds of table salt, thoroughly mix with a stick to make a homogenous paste and allow to set for a couple of hours.
One by one, add in cups of cornstarch till a consistent paste-like substance is realized. The consistency should be that of cake batter. Add egg whites of three eggs into the solution. This reduces flaking.
Create a stand that will be used to hold the blank’s cross section upright. This will make it possible for the moisture to simultaneously be dried from both sides.
A thick coat of the mixture is then applied on both sides of the cross section. This is then followed by air drying of the disks in a well heated or ventilated room with low humidity. This takes a couple of days to a few weeks to cure.
The wood can then be finished as desired.
2. Curing the blanks
With the use of an aluminum foil, individually wrap each of the blanks and place them in an oven that has been preheated to about 200 F. Don’t use your kitchen microwave as though it will do the work, your family will curse you thereafter. The use of an oven thermometer gives you accurate results as any extremities in temperatures will ruin the curing process. Bake the blanks for 30 minutes to cure the blank.
After curing, leave the blanks for about 48 hours before turning can be done.
With these two methods, you can be able to stabilize your own timber at home without having to call a pro to come and do it for you. Knowledge about various types of wood cutting machines and their uses will ease following the above methods.