Sending your wood out to be stabilized can become very expensive. Here’s a few methods for stabilizing your wood that you can do from home to save yourself a few bucks and the inconvenience of shipping your wood out to be stabilized. These methods are perfect for sealing your roughed out green turnings to prevent them from cracking or stabilizing those beautiful spalted pen blanks to keep them from falling apart when you turn them.
For stabilizing green wood Pentacryl is a great product for helping prevent your wood from cracking during the drying process. Pentacryl was originally developed to preserve a number of ancient American Indian Artifacts. A number of Indian weir stakes were found in a lake by the Maine State Museum in Augusta. Some of the stakes were removed and found to be from 3000 to 6000 years old. Had the artifacts been left to dry out without being treated with a wood stabilizer, they would have cracked and deteriorated further, just as green wood cracks if is not sealed or treated.How pentacryl works. The siliconized polymers in Pentacryl penetrate into the wood , coating the cells and keeping them from collapsing. Pentracryl is envionmentally friendly, will not discolour your wood and cleans up easily with soap and water or mineral spirits. After it’s dry, you can finish your wood with any type of finish you like.
You can apply Pentacryl in two different ways. Larger pieces of green wood can be treated by brushing on the solution until the piece is completely saturated. While smaller pieces of green wood can be soaked in a container of solution… Be sure to save the remaining solution for another project. After applying the solution you will need to slowly dry the wood. The ideal conditions for drying your wood is in a cool, damp room at 60 degrees F with 60 percent relative humidity. If you don’t have an appropriate room (which most of us don’t) for drying your wood, you can use a large cardboard box (like an appliance box). Set the box over the wood and this will slow the drying. The idea is to let the moisture escape slowly. Drying time is about 3 months per inch of slab thickness.
When turning green wood, after you’ve rough turned your project, use the brush-on method of applying the Pentacryl. This will help avoid the risk of cracks in your project caused by having the wood dry out to quickly. Keep in mind that this will change the density of the wood and it will feel slightly heavier once the pentacryl has dried.
For stabilizing spalted or punky wood, a good product to try is Polycryl.
Manufactered by Preservation Solutions, Polycryl is water soluble and works best when the wood is wet. Just soak the pen blanks in the solution for the recommended time and then let them dry. After using Polycryl you must use a finish on your wood to seal it. Also note that because this is a water soluble product, you should not use it for outdoor projects.
If you have another methods of stabiizing wood that you’d like to share with your fellow woodworkers, please feel free to leave a comment.