Dad Gum, guess I otter cook some.
I think I have a good heat source, the dad-burned electric hotplate that burned up a bowl on my smoker. Dang it all. Melted a hole in it.
That stinker out to boil a pot of wood soup.
Thanks Dick! I'll give it a shot.
'Course mine will be on a much smaller scale. Dang! 450 bowls and odds & ends would take a long time for me to gather up. :)
"Oh Betty.... can I use your spagetti pot...." :o
I am also looking into using a different technique. I currently have a test batch of bowls going along to test the effectiveness of a few drying techniques, including the soapy bowls technique along with a few others. Unfortunately, the results will take a few months to see since air drying is pretty slow, but I will let you know.
A pretty good link to the soapy bowl technique is on Ron Kent's website from which the following section was taken www.ronkent.com and look under the techniques area:
"Experimental New Treatment for Wood
Prologue: "Iíll bet you own a restaurant," said the friendly supermarket check-out clerk. "No," I replied. "Iím a woodworker".
"A woodworker? Then why..."???
Why, indeed! What does a woodworker do with five gallons of ...but Iím, getting ahead of myself! I will give you the answer to that question. which was only friendly banter at the check-out counter but which may be of interest and use to other craftsmen. Iím going to tell you about a product and procedure that I developed a few months ago and now use as an integral part of every woodturning project. It involves a liquid that I use to soak all my wood, before, during, and after shaping and completing my work on the lathe.
It had a very simple beginning: I bought a gallon of a product that promises to "stabilize and condition" wood. Tried it, liked it. Liked it enough to buy more and to incorporate its use in my daily production. I liked everything about it except the price: nearly fifty dollars per gallon!
I started wondering if there isnít some other, more common liquid the might do the same job. Something that might soak in, harden, and become part of the wood, bonding the fibers more firmly while also imparting a lubricating quality. It had to be transparent and non-staining. I started my search at the hardware store (Where else?) walking up one row and down the other, scanning each shelf for ideas. Then came the supermarket and the drugstore. One product caught my attention and seemed to hold a lot of hope....Clear acrylic liquid floor-wax! Transparent as water, promising to harden into a tough protective shield. Bonds firmly to the floor so certainly would bond to the wood fibers to form a dense composite. And anyone who has slipped on a newly waxed floor knows waxís ability to "lubricate".
Tried it, liked it...well, sort of liked it. Acrylic floor wax did indeed meet the criteria I had set up, but in doing so reminded me of another very important characteristic that I had forgotten to consider. Turns out that wax-impregnated wood does not take well to the multiple oil-soak technique I use to enhance translucence. The brilliant golden ambers now looked dusty and dull. And the price of the wax was little better than the conventional product I was hoping to replace. Back to the drawing board!
I tried a number of products over the next few months, haunting again the hardware store, drug-store, supermarket, and giant discount house; trying all sorts of concoctions, individually and in various combinations. In most cases the results were innocuous, in some, downright messy. Till one day, while on a shopping safari with my wife, I noticed her picking up a big bottle of syrupy golden liquid to add to our shopping cart. I made a mental note to give this a try when we got home.
The product? Perhaps it is time to end the suspense. The liquid I tried and now find so useful is...are you ready for this?....concentrated dishwashing detergent: Costcoís Kirkland brand sells for about $7.00/gallon in Hawaii, quite possibly less in other parts of the country. ( My guess is that this is their private label on a similar product with familiar major brand name, and that many or most other brands will deliver the same results.)
What are the benefits that I find? First there is the advantage of stabilizing the wood; a great deal less "moving" and warping both while working on the vessel and after it is taken off the lathe. A second favorable difference shows up in cutting. The shavings are a delight! Clean, long, cohesive ribbons, both for fine trimming and for the macho adversarial plunge-cuts that characterize my favored rough-shaping "technique". It feels almost as if the wood has been lubricated and allows the edge of the tool to slide smoothly through the cut. I never did figure out what "conditioning" means, but whatever it is, Iíll bet detergent does it!
Ah, and on the rare (Hah!!) occasions when I resort to using sandpaper....it is a whole new sanding experience. For one thing it allows sanding work that not only is green, but even wood that is soaking wet. The sandpaper still becomes clogged, mind you, but a couple sharp slaps on the bed of the lathe clears the grit and allows reuse again and again.
And with dry wood...well. you have to try that to see for yourself. The closest I can come to describing the difference is to compare it to certain special woods (ebony comes to mind) where the dust seems to be tiny beads rather than that with which we are more familiar. Again the sense of lubrication.
Now back to my story............... Though the experimentation never ends, I currently use a dilution ratio of one part water to one part concentrated detergent. (Iíve also tried diluting with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and suspect I get better penetration, but am not sure it justifies the added expense.) Even after this dilution the result is a viscous, syrup-like liquid, leaving me to suspect that further dilution would heighten the economy without losing effectiveness. I vary the proportion each time I mix it, still seeking an optimum ratio.
I do, however, regularly add eucalyptus oil to the mix. It is available at most drug-stores; I use about one teaspoon per gallon. What does this add to the process? A distinctive, pungent scent It just smells good!
All of my work is on logs that I get from local tree-trimmers. They bring it to me as soon as the tree is cut, and Iím likely to start turning it the very next day. The wood at this stage is not only green, it is soaking wet! I strip the bark, mount the log, and rough-turn the shape to about one inch thick. (Attention NASA Engineers: Please read as 2.54 cm.). I remove the work from the lathe and slather on a thick coat of the mix., wait a few minutes for the foam to soak in, then repeat. Maybe as many as a half- dozen times, inside and out.
I havenít...yet...adapted detergent to my old "trick" of total immersion. (For many years I have used an open vat of Varathane...75 gallons of the stuff...for multiple immersion of completed turnings ). A detergent" pre-soak"----at an early stage of turning---seems the logical next experiment to try. Iím planning a five-gallon tub for starters. (I also have begun experimenting with the mix as a "sealer" on end-grain of cut logs, waiting in my wood-pile. I suspect it will decrease splitting and checking. As for other woods...woods not as porous as Norfolk Pine...well, Iíd be very interested in hearing from you if you find out.)
After the soak---by what-ever means---I set the work aside for a few days to allow detergent to permeate the wood, and become surface-dry.
Before I started using detergent this was a chancy thing to do. When I was lucky the vessel-to-be only warped. I wasnít always lucky. There was a definite risk of losing the work altogether due to checking and cracking. With this new technique my experience to date has been minimal "moving" and zero checking .
At this point I re-mount the workpiece and proceed using the usual tools and procedures, enjoying the benefits to cutting and sanding described earlier.
I use the same procedure on logs that have dried out standing in the wood-pile, and I find the benefits are even more marked. Norfolk Pine dries and spalts very rapidly in Hawaiiís humid climate. Spalting typically starts within a month of the treeís cutting. By the fourth month the wood is almost completely black. Though there still is considerable moisture in the log, the wood acts as if it were dry. It is significantly more difficult to cut smoothly, and it is easily subject to bruising and tearout. This dark-and-dry wood drinks up detergent like a camel in the desert, but the overall process differs mainly in quantity. My goal is to penetrate...permeate...the wood with liquid detergent. Sometimes I start working the piece right after the soaking, before the detergent has even had a chance to dry. More often, though, I will subject the rough-turned form to repeated soakings over a period of days, then allow up to two weeks of standing before I finish the piece. Did I mentioned "conditioning" and "stabilizing? Let me now add another word of description: This wood acts as if it has been rejuvenated.
Effect on Finish
I told you about trying acrylic wax and rejecting it because of its effect on the final finishing process. Detergent, on the other hand, seems to actually enhance my own particular technique. Remember: my finishing process consists of multiple cycles of soak, oil-sand, and dry. The detergent-treated vessel is fully receptive to absorption of the oil. It is difficult for me to be certain, but it seems to me that I am achieving even more dramatic translucence from the oils when using wood that was treated with detergent during forming of the vessel. How will detergent affect other finishing techniques on other woods? I havenít tried it, so I do not know, but my strong expectation is that, once dry, the detergent-treated wood will accept any of our standard, traditional finishes and that it might greatly improve cohesion of the new water-based products.
We woodworkers should always be conscious of safety in our work....personal as well as environmental (my membership card in American Association of Woodturners arrives in the mail with a Dayglo checklist of cautions). Our workshops are virtual minefields of chemical, mechanical, and biological hazards. The concentrated liquid dishwashing detergent, however, seems quite benign. The bottles carry only a mild word of caution: " In case of eye contact rinse thoroughly with water", and "if swallowed (swallowed??) drink a glass of water to dilute. Contact a physician." Oh, yes, "To avoid irritating fumes do not mix with chlorine bleach." The label also boasts that it is "specially formulated to kill germs on hands when used as a handsoap, contains no phosphorus, and has biodegradable cleaning agents." It even is "Safe for septic tanks"....though that doesnít happen to be one of my own concerns. Note: No mention of use as a wood conditioner or stabilizer. I think it is a safe bet that the manufacturer never envisioned this usage and it behooves us to make our own list of common-sense cautions. Primary among these is dust protection. Iím no more anxious to breathe detergent-treated dust than I am any other kind. Everything Iíve described in this article is still (may always be) in the experimental stage, with more questions than answers. "Benign?" Maybe, but I strongly urge everyone to use all of the normal precautions that accompany good practice in the shop. "
I don't think I am going to try the boiling technique, but then again, I don't seem to have as much problem with my bowls cracking as some seem to have. Maybe I have just been lucky.
Give them a try, I think I have reead all there is on the topic and it is even somewhat related to my work field. Maybe I can answer them. I also know of another article co-written by a friend of mine. It was scanned in to another group, but the link is:
How long do you let a bowl blank soak?
Does it totally permeate thru and thru?
Once removed how long do you wait before turning?
Do you have trouble with spur drive spinning out?
Do you turn the blank to a rough bowl and resoak, if so how long?
Do you soak a finished bowl?
How do you prepare a finished bowl to start a finishing(wax/ buffing application) phase?
Wiil wood fibers accept a wood hardener once they have been treated with the soap/h2o?
I usually go for at least 1 week, it depends on the thickness of the blank and the density of the wood though. There is no upper limit though.
>Does it totally permeate thru and thru?
It seems to, but whether the soap residue remains throughout or is richer in the surface area, I am not sure, but would suspect a gradient.
>Once removed how long do you wait before turning?
I wait 3-4 days, if something comes up and it goes too long, the piece goes back into the bath.
>Do you have trouble with spur drive spinning out?
I use a chuck so I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't think so.
>Do you turn the blank to a rough bowl and resoak, if so how
Ah, now I see what the first question was about. I don't soak a wood blank, I first rough turn the piece and then soak the rough turned bowl.
>Do you soak a finished bowl?
No, but the finished, soap soaked bowl seems to distort less or not at all, compared to a similar bowl from he same wood.
>How do you prepare a finished bowl to start a finishing(wax/
>buffing application) phase?
I personally go to at least 400 grit, sometimes up to 1200 or more, depending on the wood density and hardness. e.g. spalted wood may stop even earlier, depending on the level of spalting, purpleheart went all the way to 2000 grit. Then I apply whatever finish I choose to use, usually Waterlox, or Minwax Antique Oil, BLO, Shellac, Lacquer etc. Then I let it dry, really dry, as in weeks. At this point, I would begin to use the Beall System.
To finish off a piece you can use the linen wheel loaded with Tripoli compound to remove scratches, use the softer linen-flannel wheel loaded with white diamond compound to remove any remaining Tripoli and for final polishing, use the flannel wheel loaded with carnauba wax to create a beautiful finish. Some woods work best without the Tripoli, and some woods don't work well with the Carnauba wax, so experiment and see what you like. The wood when it is finally done feels even better than it does when most think it is finished. I would guess it is equated to rubbing out a finish in traditional furniture making. Give it a try and let me know what you think. You may even be able to try one out with a contact through your turning club.
>Will wood fibers accept a wood hardener once they have been
>treated with the soap/H2O?
It depends on the hardener. Most would work, but try it on a scrap piece first to make sure. I would also expect it to not adhere to the wood quite as strongly, but not really a noticeable or significant difference.
Just yesterday, we used clamps after glue simply to take the bow out of the wood we were using, and it straightened everything out for us. Usually though, any time you lay up a project the clamps are...