Stabilizing Wood - Setting up and testing - Cactus Juice and Ultraseal

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
today I tinkered at the warehouse.

First though, earlier in the week a lady calls up and tells me she saw an article about the Midwest Knifemakers Supply in the paper. She says she has some old time saw blades she used to paint and resell. She says she has cancer and is in too poor of health to even move them around and would I like to buy them? I tell her I will try and help. I went over to her place this morning. She turns out to be a wonderful, nice lady that needs a little help cleaning stuff up. I couldn't say no. She really needed these saw to go away. I end up buying these for a $100. I am not sure what I can do with them but maybe some one will take them off my hands some day..

the tape measure is locked at 3 feet to give you an idea of size
saw-blades.jpg


Anyway..
10 years ago I took a run at stabilizing wood. It was a huge failure. This time I am taking another run at it with a better set up and more knowledge than I had last time. I really don't have a choice. I need to be able to stabilize and dye wood on a small lot basis for my business. I want to be able to buy large slabs, cut them and offer an assortment.

I have 3 kinds of chemicals to test and a 4th on the way. I will test others but this is a good start I think. Today I worked on setting up my hardware and then ran a quick batch to see how it was all going to work. Today I tried out Ultraseal and Cactus Juice. Both are available on the web. The Ultraseal was $100/gallon plus shipping, the Cactus Juice was $80/gallon plus shipping. I also bought a few powdered and one liquid aniline dyes.

This is not a tutorial, WIP or anything like that. It's just "a day in the life" and I will be glad to share what I get done and learn on stabilizing but it won't be all the answers you are seeking. If you have any other stabilizing set ups, experience, insights, post them here and we will try and take the voodoo out of if for everyone. This will be like trying to duplicate Kentucky Fried Chicken. You can try all the recipes you want and you won't duplicate KFC...but you can come up with some pretty darn good chicken also.


None of the "pro" shops that stabilize are going to tell you what they are using. It's a trade secret and that's fine. I respect that and it's not my intention here to reverse engineer their process or proprietary chemicals. We will try and come up with our own chicken recipe.

We can guess that most use a some kind of MMA (methyl methacrylate) (edited 1/12/13 to add: some are also Methacrylate Esters or a blend of both chemicals) . There are dozens of kinds of MMA's. Enough that your head will spin. My research tells me the services that have been doing this for some time are using a blend of chemicals, mostly acrylics. Several of the stabilizing services that are newer to the game are using readily available MMA's.

The basic process is:
Immerse the wood into the chemical and pull a vacuum until the wood is soaked through. This is trial and error and practice to know when you have it soaked enough.

Push pressure into the your vacuum chamber the vacuum. The thought process here is the pressure should push that much more into the wood. The Cactus Juice guy (Tex - good guy, do business with him) emailed me and said his tests showed less retention of material if pressure was used. He is thinking, and I agree with him because I have seen it happen, that if you vacuum, then use pressure, then release pressure -- a lot of that goop is seeping back out of the block under pressure. More than would just weep out if you pull it out of a vacuum. (edited 1/12/13 to add: Cactus Juice is a blend of proprietary methacrylate esters. I have attached the MSDS for Cactus Juice to this post)

Once you have the wood soaked, heat cure it to around 194F to 200F (chemical mix dependent) for ten minutes to catalyze the acrylic. The cook time depends on how thick the wood is. Cooking wet wood, even chemical wet wood, curls wood. Another reason to use oversize pieces and trim down after processing.
Done.
Unless you are going to dye the wood, then add the dye to the chemical when you are soaking.


I have sent wood off to be treated by a half dozen services over the years. Some of it comes back, very much heavier and harder with the wood pores clearly filled in with acrylic. Other services come back just as hard but the wood pores are not as filled in. I do not see the wood with the less "filled in" pores as inferior to the services that have a, heavier, more dense finish. Unless someone tests these side by side, I'm going to say they perform about the same. I am entitled to be completely wrong about this. What do I know? I have collected wood for years, just like many of you. I know that stabilized wood moves, just not as much as unstabilized wood. Want proof? Send off some scales of Amboyna (expensive amboyna no less) to a couple different places to be stabilized. Both places come back just fine. Wait a couple years and dig out the scales. Find them curled up like a toe nail clipping - from both stabilizing services. That is how I learned stabilized wood moves and sometimes badly. Dig out the unstabilized Amboyna scales from the same block and find them curled up into nearly a U shape. The blocks also had a slight curl but nothing that couldn't be worked around. The scales were a total loss.

Expensive Lesson 1. Don't collect scales of wood. Collect blocks of wood and cut them to scales closer to when you finish your knife. When you have them mounted to a knife, the curl won't be such an issue.

Lesson 2. Stabilized wood is going move, just not as much.


Safety..
These chemicals stink to high hell when you are heating them up in the oven. There is no way around that. On my second batch today, I had to open all the doors to the warehouse including the big roll up door and leave for a bit as the fumes were getting noxious and I didn't want to breathe them in.

Lesson 3. Don't try to cure this in your oven in the house. Seriously.

In reading the MSDS (I always read the MSDS sheets), the chemicals can blind you. They are also sensitizing so at some point you may develop a possibly severe allergic reaction to acrylic and you are surrounded by acrylic. The fumes also explode. They also are toxic and absorb through the skin easily. Serious stuff. I washed my hands at least a dozen times today even when I was wearing gloves. I hate chemicals. They kill you slowly with liver cancer.

Nuff of that...

OK, so I went to Craigs list and searched for Convection Oven. I was originally looking for a bakers type 1/2 size oven but stumbled onto a brand new laboratory type convection oven with digital control and timer for $1000. This was a $2500 oven which is what a beat up used bakers 1/2 size convection oven runs. It was for sale right in Mankato. Huge win. I paid $950 for it and I feel pretty good about it. The day before I went and bought a similar industrial model (different manufacture) "mechanical" (convection) oven for $200. This oven did not have the digital controls and I didn't use it today. I have to calibrate it and get some racks. Lot's of guys use small counter top toaster ovens. I just didn't feel safe using those due to fire. I can't take that risk in the warehouse. It had to be a convection oven.

So here is my cool new laboratory grade convection oven. 110v which is better than the 220v bakers oven I was originally going to go with.

the-oven.jpg


I am using a cheap vacuum pump I bought on eBay for around $150. It's a noisy little guy. I don't know the ratings on it. I just know that it is noisy and requires pump oil. When it is running plumes of this smelly vaporized pump oil spits out the exhaust port on top. This also stinks to high hell and my sense of smell is not that acute. I had to plumb up some typical 1/4" quick connects. The large white round tube to the right is my small vacuum chamber. I can't recall where I bought it. Some small casting company online. It is nothing more than a large PVC tube with a top and bottom acrylic sheet with rubber gaskets. A vacuum gauge with relief valve and fitting has been tapped into the side. I wanted to see what was happening so being able to see through the acrylic top was nice. You can see the quick connect I have plumbed between the pump and the vacuum chamber.
vac-set-up.jpg

I had some pecan wood blocks. This is light stuff, not all that hard and fairly porus wood. I am testing Ultraseal and Cactus Juice today. I weighed the blocks dry and marked them. Naturally I couldn't see any of the marker afterwards so I had to figure out which piece was which from looking back at this picture. The little black bottle is Aluma Analine black dye. I put several drops into the chemical to check penetration. The dye made the wood slightly darker and enhanced the grain a bit.

wood-blocks.jpg


The Cactus Juice came in a gallon jug and you have add the activator. The activator is the chemical that allows the thermal catalyzation to take place. Shelf life on all the MMA stuff that I have seen is about a year and all warn against storing in anything over 80F.
cactus-juice.jpg
View attachment cactus juice MSDS.pdf
 
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BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
Here is the vacuum pump spewing out a white fog of vaporized oil when it is running under any kind of load. It stinks and is an irritant.
smokey.jpg


Here you can see a top view looking into the vacuum chamber when I am pulling a vacuum. I put the wood into couple zip lock type bags to conserve juice for this first test and I also didn't have anything else. I used a plastic bin type organizer to stand the bags up and catch any leaks. Good thing too. One of the bags got punctured some how and most of the juice leaked out of the bag but was caught by the bin.
top-view-vac-set-up.jpg


Under full vacuum both chemicals really foamed up. I had to turn off the pump several times to avoid spilling out of the bags. Once the wood had become mostly saturated, the bubbles were less of a problem. The Cactus juice tended to foam up every time the vacuum closed in on 29inches. The Ultraseal stopped foaming up after the wood had become (apparently) saturated. My observation her is the Cactus Juice will "boil away" close to 29inches. This isn't a deal breaker. It just means hold it to something less than that. This is a picture of the bags foaming up on the initial vacuum.
foaming-up.jpg

A peek inside before covering it with the acrylic top plate. This chamber leaked a little and would hold a vacuum for a little less than ten minutes. I had to keep re-evacuating it. I didn't have shut off valve installed and I suspect it was loosing vacuum through the pump. I will have to add a stop valve.
look-inside.jpg
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
I made a little tray out of some heat treat foil. Good thing. You will see later why.
I have the two kinds of chemical in a little sample cup next to the soaked wood. My thinking is I should end up with little black plastic hockey pucks of acrylic. Wrong. That's not a bad thing. I always learn more from failing at something than getting it right.

cooking-first-batch.jpg

While that is cooking, I set up the 5 gallon pot I bought. I got this online for $400. I had to remove a regulator and paint pickup tube that extended down into the pail. I put on this laughably large vacuum/pressure gauge I bought from surplus center a year ago for this exact purpose. The pickup tube hole got a plug in it's place. Note here we are at nearly 29inches of vacuum. In testing it today. It held a vacuum for over an hour. Before I left the shop today, I loaded it and put a vacuum to it. We'll see if it is still holding tomorrow when I go back in.
in-5-gallon-tank.jpg

A little better view of the top. Those bolt on things are for pressure. I am using this for a vacuum so they don't get used as you couldn't pry the top off if you tried under vacuum.
big-gauge.jpg
 

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BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
...

accck!!
When the acrylick kicked off, the thermal action was enough to melt the poly sample cups and leak all over. The little tray I made out of heat foil held it all in with out spilling all over the oven but I'm not getting little black acrylic hockey pucks like I had hoped.
melt-down.jpg

The finished pieces. The MMA (both chemicals we test today are labeled as MMA) shows color from the black dye. It is very similar to the look and feel of the "pro's" stuff. I took it to the band saw to trim off the excess from the melt down spill. If you have ever drilled or cut acrylic you know that it throws off little white straight flakes. It has a very distinctive look. I didn't think to get a picture of it. When I trimmed off the excess, the cutting dust was typical acrylic.

In weighing the blocks before and after I had interesting results. The weight gain in the blocks was obvious. The density increase was also very obvious. The wood blocks had a tone when banged together after treatment vs. before treatment. When banged together before treatment, the sound was dull and muffled. When banged together after treatment, the sound was more typical of a harder tone wood.
The weight of the UltaSeal block before was 3.7oz, after was 6.2oz. The weight of the Cactus Juice treated block was 3.8oz before and 5.9oz after. The size of the blocks was close enough in size to call even. The Cactus Juice treated block was slightly denser with a bit more heartwood than the Ultraseal block which in my mind accounted for the slight difference in weight gain. I would call the weight gain basically the same. I was more interested in getting through a first trial run and getting the hardware setup. I just happened to measure the before and after for this first run.

Does the residue clinging to the sides of these blocks look like any you have seen before? It does to me..

done-first-batch.jpg

another view... compare the color of the treated wood to the untreated shown earlier in the thread. The black dye and the MMA here really brought out the grain and took the wood from a little bland to something that has a lot more interest visually.
top-of-wood.jpg


My completely unscientific, one test conclusion is:
I wouldn't hesitate to buy either the Ultraseal or Cactus Juice. Both did a good job and clearly added significant density and weight to the treated blocks. The difference in price with the Cactus Juice being slightly cheaper might push you that way. I will pay more attention to before and after weights going forward to see if Ultraseal does in fact have a higher weight retention in other tests. I did not check penetration by cutting the wood. I will do that when I pick up a black light to check the florescence and I can better see the penetration. If we didn't get complete penetration, that is simply a matter of adding a little more time and has nothing to do with the chemical. The chemical is certainly thin enough to easily penetrate the wood with even a modest 27 to 28inches of vacuum. The thermal cure is simple. Heat the wood to around 195F for the chemical to catalyze after 10 minutes.

I spent a lot of money on the hardware because it is a business expense and I expect to get heavy use out of it once I dial in the process. If this was for me personally, I could buy a lot of stabilized wood and I mean a lot of wood for what I will end up spending on hardware and testing. The economics of having your own setup is questionable. The flexibility and upside potential is something you would have to decide for yourself. You can setup hardware on the cheap with a small vacuum able vessel and a venturi style vacuum port. A cheap, used toaster oven used outside can take care of the thermal curing.

The other side of this is the chemical is not all that safe to work with. I will end up having to buy a full multi person PPG (personal protective gear) set up and need to set up an eye wash station to be OSHA compliant. I understand the average knifemaker in a one man shop doesn't have to worry about OSHA but everyone needs to worry about toxins, explosion and fire hazard. The fumes when cooking it are noxious. You absolutely do not want to cure the wood in your house and if you do it in the garage you aren't going to be a real hero to the rest of the household either. The possibility of a flash fire is very real, especially with a cheap exposed element toaster oven. More than one stabilizer has had a fire. I was set up away from any walls and combustibles by the roll up door on roll around cart with a fire extinguisher right by me.

Please be careful.

Post your experiences if you care to..
 
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Diamond G Knives

Well-Known Member
Tracy
Thank you for taking the time and effort to show your research!

As a Safety Professional I really appreciate the warnings you included. The chemicals we use for this (Ive tried the home method also) are very nasty especially when in vapor from either vacum or heat. The potential of this chemical setteling in your lungs is VERY real! Just imagine the results of spraying an epoxy based paint in an anclosed area without a respirator. You would get almost the same results from a very small exposure to these vapors. Also the fire hazard is VERY real, one of the reasons I quit experimenting is when my toaster oven caught fire. This stuff reminds me of a piece of tire burning! And with a vapor, explosion hazards are a concern.

Looks like you are taking all the precautins you can, but Id suggest a respirator with appropriate cartridges.

Very excited you are persuing this and waiting with baited breath on your results!

Are you planning on trying Resinol 90 (sp?) This was next on my list when I decided to quit messing with it. Also do you think there is any merit in vacum/pressure then vacum again? Just curious if the pressure would "expand" into the grain allowing more to be vacumed in?

Thakns and God Bless!
Mike
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
I have 4 or 5 gallons of resinol 90c and will be trying that. There is something called tk-tr90 a game call maker is selling that I will be trying also. After some additional research, I will try some MMA blends.

If anyone has a connection to a chemist chemical rep I can tap into, let me know.
 

Diamond G Knives

Well-Known Member
Also tried Acryloid B-72, wich comes in a pellet form and has to be disolved in acetone but doesnt require a catlyst. Results were less than hoped for. Never really achived the MMA hardness (could dent with thumbnail) As most have also tried the wood hardeners from several manufacturers, although a harder finish, it would still abosorb water and had issues with whitning. Even tried mixing the above to come up with a "custom mix" but with poor results.

Very intrested in hearing your results!

God Bless
Mike
 

rhinoknives

Well-Known Member
Bossdog,

A few years back I was told by Mike at WSSI to use the white correction pen markers which have whiteout in them for marking any woods I wish to send to him for Stabilizing. They work great!

Pick up a five pack. That's what I did & with back to school sales starting now is the best time.
Thanks for sharing your Frankenstein experimental work with us!

Laurence

www.rhinoknives.com
 

Dan Pierson

Well-Known Member
Thanks for doing this. It's good info even though I never expect to try it (see chemical hazards).

Are you using some sort of exhaust for the convection ovens or is all the air flow internal?

I've used the white correction pens with WSSI too.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
Also tried Acryloid B-72, wich comes in a pellet form and has to be disolved in acetone but doesnt require a catlyst. Results were less than hoped for. Never really achived the MMA hardness (could dent with thumbnail) As most have also tried the wood hardeners from several manufacturers, although a harder finish, it would still abosorb water and had issues with whitning. Even tried mixing the above to come up with a "custom mix" but with poor results.

Very intrested in hearing your results!

God Bless
Mike
There was an old thread on BF from 2003 about using the Acryloid B-72. It talks about this stuff. Basically for Acryloid (paraloid, Minwax hardener and the like) the acetone melts the pellets and puts it all into suspension. The wood is soaked and the acetone is removed via evaporation or boiling it off under vacuum. This leaves the melted pellets as a coating to the woods natural cell wall structure. It gives the wood some added strength with this slight additional layer but nothing like filling in the wood cell with acrylic. This the main reason everyone tries it and most don't care for the results. It is a completely different animal and the monomer acrylic's. I bought a specialized reference book targeted for museums and other wood conservation groups. This wood conservation reference book (used on Amazon cost $350!) also talks about the difference in filling up a cell with acrylic vs. coating the wall structure which basically verified the conclusion David Peterson came to in that old thread. In theory, if you can get enough of the acyrloid into suspension you would fill in much of the cell when you removed the solvent. In practice I don't think it can hold enough in solution to be a great stabilizer. That stuff is designed to add some structural support to the wood. Kind of like adding some internal braces inside the wood cells. It isn't meant to fill in the pores or stop movement related to humidity.

If you are going to use this type of chemical, you don't want to use a vacuum. Under vacuum the acetone boils easily. If it boils, it is blowing the solution out of the wood via the bubbles. The more you vacuum, the more boiling, the less residue will be the cells.

Bossdog,

A few years back I was told by Mike at WSSI to use the white correction pen markers which have whiteout in them for marking any woods I wish to send to him for Stabilizing. They work great!

Pick up a five pack. That's what I did & with back to school sales starting now is the best time.
Thanks for sharing your Frankenstein experimental work with us!

Laurence

www.rhinoknives.com
I will put it on the shopping list. Good reminder.

Thanks for doing this. It's good info even though I never expect to try it (see chemical hazards).

Are you using some sort of exhaust for the convection ovens or is all the air flow internal?

I've used the white correction pens with WSSI too.
I do not have the oven vented to the outside. I had read about the odor problem but didn't give it much thought until yesterday. For now, I am going to have to work on this when no one else is here. I can't make the employees here put up with that. If I didn't open the oven every 5 minutes to peek it might be better. I do have a couple of exhaust fans built into the wall in the work shop area here and will probably end up oven curing by those with them both running.
 

Tom Militano

KNIFE MAKER
I tried stabilizing, and did own wood for a good while, but I never got the results that the people who do this professionally get, so now I just send it out. One thing I learned, it's cheaper for me to send out wood because by the time I bought vacuum pumps, chemicals, ovens etc, I can have a bunch of wood done. My results were kind of hit and miss. Right now I have enough professionally stabilized handle material to last me two lifetimes. I'm a sucker for presentation wood and I'd rather send it to somebody that knows what they're doing than mess it up myself. Boss, are you planning to do this as a service or just for yourself?
 

Burl Source

Forum Owner & Moderator
You can lessen the fumes and mess during the curing by using ziplock vacuum seal bags.
I used to go straight from the tank to the bags. Suck out the air and right into the oven.

My experience was a longer cure time gave better internal hardening.
Never tried the cactus juice.
I found the Resinol 90c turned out harder than the Ultraseal.

Different woods are going to react differently to the stabilizing.
Maple and Box Elder the easiest.

With dyeing the wood;
You might try an alcohol aniline dye.
By dyeing first you can still get the random resisted areas like you see most noticeably with box elder.
The alcohol based dye allows the wood to dry quicker after dyeing without the movement from water based dye.
Mixing the dye with the stabilizing agent gives more even (less resist areas) coloring. I guess it depends on which look you like best.
 
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BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
Thanks for the expert input Mark. We all appreciate it I'm sure.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
Sunday ...

Let's try some more stuff..

Here are 4 more blocks out of the oven this morning. Ultraseal are the left and Cactus Juice on the right.
The Cactus Juice tends to foam more. You can see it on the wood and where it has seeped out during cure.
4-blocks.jpg

The back side of the blocks after they have been peeled away from the heat foil. There is a bit of oily uncured residue left on foil and the slick areas of the wood where the foil contacted the wood. I don't know what the residue is. It had slightly viscus feel and it appeared to be a byproduct of the MMA curing process or uncured MMA.
back-side.jpg


I cut a couple blocks open. One of each. You can see the white dust typical of cutting acrylic.
blocks-are-cut.jpg

The Ultraseal is clearly darker. Whether this is from dye penetration or just how it ends up, who knows. The Cactus treated wood is maybe not quite as light as in this picture due to photo flash but these are very different in color now.
dye-penetration.jpg

While both of these are MMA based, you can easily see that they are different enough to act differently. I have no firm opinion one is better than the other at this point.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
...
I bought a 2.5 gallon Harbor Freight pressure paint pot to convert to a pressure/vacuum chamber. Here is what you get. Note the regulator (under the lid) is not attached when it comes in. We won't be using it anyway.

One thing to note, these paint pots are designed to hold pressure, not vacuum. Use them at your own risk. To my eye, they seem more than strong enough for what we are doing here.
HF-paint-bucket.jpg


The top of the lid fittings.
top-of-pail.jpg

The inlet fitting needs to come off and be replaced with a quick connect. The relief valve stays in place. I will be plumbing in a ball valve but there is no reason to remove this little valve. It's not hurting anything.
inlet-removed.jpg

The under side of the lid. The paint tube comes off. The other fitting stays. It is simply an angled vent fitting so you wouldn't shoot pressure straight down into the contents and mix in bubbles.
bottom-of-pail.jpg
The paint pickup tube has to come off or it just gets in the way. It unscrews. The pipe thread sealant is tough.

pickup-tube-removed.jpg

This fitting comes off and so does the weird connector bushing. I am putting my ridiculously over sized Surplus Center Pressure/Vacuum gauge in this hole. It needs a 3/8" to 1/4" reducer to fit the gauge. You might just buy a gauge that has a 3/8" male.
fitting-removed.jpg

The finished conversion. I can't believe I had the bushings and parts I needed in my parts box to get this all plumbed up. It never works that way.
parts-box.jpg


I have added a quick release coupling that has a ball valve connected to it. The gauge required a 3/8" to 1/4" FIB bushing adapter. This was really simple to convert. I bought this paint pot on sale for $80 bucks.
I had to put some witness marks on the lid and pail so when I screwed the lid on, the wing nuts didn't bang into the gauge. You really don't need to screw the lid closed as the vacuum holds it in place. I will also use this for pressure later. Both of the pain pots are rated for a maximum of 80psi and most compressors routinely go to 120psi. Watch yourself here if you are going to pressure these up. I'm not sure what would happen but I bet it would really get your attention and leave a mark if one of these blew up....

pot-holds-vacuum.jpg
 
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rhinoknives

Well-Known Member
Bossdog,

The kind Mike Specified was Bic Wite-out Shake & Sqeeze Correction pens, He said he has tried many and these were the best for the wood & process.
My wife has one here at home.
So that's the scoop!

I don't tolerate loads of fumes from Acetone etc, well ether.. I will keep reading and hopefully there is a way to do this with out a full hazmat suit!:biggrin:

Laurence,

www.rhinoknives.com
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
Lunch time. I love these yogurt parfait things from McDonalds.
...lunch-time.jpg

Here is a couple more blocks from this morning. This is both of the juices combined. Not sure if it hurt anything doing that or not. Instead of using a little poly cup for a bit of liquid, I used a silicon baking cup. It held up just fine. They can take up to 600F. I used a couple stainless rods to lift the blocks off the heat foil tray this time. I got tired of having to cut off the excess that seeped out during curing.
hockey-puck-batch.jpg


Here is my black puck finally. This puck is not hard as plastic. It is a little rubbery. I am not sure if that is the result of combining the two liquids or what to expect or if it needs more time or higher heat. I will continue to test and see if I can get a solid hard "puck" or not.
black-puck.jpg



The blocks came up just fine. Hard and heavy as the others did. Still the rubbery puck bothers me. The residue that dripped into the heat foil tray has hard and slightly rubbery spots also.
 

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BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
...

So let's try treating some stag.

I am going to try a couple things here. One batch will have the juice with the dye in it. The other batch will have dark brown leather dye. We will try and make some "amber" stag.
treat-stag.jpg

(correction here) Spirit based dark brown leather dye. (I originally posted Oil Based leather dye. that isn't what I used. I used this spirit based leather dye) This stuffed really boiled up when I put it in the visible vacuum chamber. I could not pull a full vacuum or it would have foamed all over the place. After pulling several partial vacuum, the evaporant in the dye must have boiled away as it settled down and I could pull a full vacuum. If you put it in a pot and apply full vacuum the first time you are going to have a mess to clean up.

amber-stag-try.jpg

I was using a couple gatorade bottles with the tops cut off for small containers. I found a couple tall acrylic cylinders here and used them for catch containers in case the inside ones foamed over.

vertical-chambers.jpg

Here I am using the new small 2.5 pressure pot for treating these two test items. The bottom of the paint pot is not flat so I put in a little packing paper to hold the cylinders upright in place.
stag-into-the-small-pot.jpg

That is as far as I got today. I will let you know how the stag came out. I am going to leave it under vacuum for at least a day.

Now I have a huge mess to go clean up so I can get out of here for a little time off this afternoon...
 
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BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
Great posts. I may have to try stabilizing again.

Based on what I have seen so far, I wouldn't hesitate to home stabilize with either chemical and expect good results. I would not do it in the house and I still have serious safety concerns but getting decent results stabilizing is with in reach of the average guy and the chemicals are now available from multiple sources.
 
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