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Alex Middleton

Stabilizing vacuum chamber

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Given the benefits of using stabilized wood, I've been wanting to add it to my list of options when deciding on handle materials.  The only problem is that I hate buying something that I can make myself.  I've been working on this for the last couple of days and got it buttoned up and operational this morning.  The pump came from an old dehumidifier, and the jar was picked up from the local dollar store.  All totaled, I have about $30 into it.

WARNING!  Anyone with a background as a professional electrician may find the following images extremely disturbing. :D

 

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I'm still waiting for my pressure gauge and cactus juice from Amazon, but I tried it out with a piece of pine submerged in water.  It's crazy how much air is trapped in a seemingly solid piece of wood.

Edited by Alex Middleton

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From the info I've gathered, moisture seems to be the key between a successful or failed stabilization. Some put the already dry wood up to 24 hours in the oven at 200°f before stabilizing. Hope this helps and have fun! 

This is on my list...thanks for the idea!

Edited by Joël Mercier
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Wow that's crazy. I'm a H-vac tech and I would have never thought of using a compressor from a dehumidifier. I would like to see the end results once you get some would stabilized 

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6 minutes ago, JASON VOLKERT said:

Wow that's crazy. I'm a H-vac tech and I would have never thought of using a compressor from a dehumidifier. I would like to see the end results once you get some would stabilized 

They are pretty powerful little compressors.  It doesn’t take much for them to work.

Edited by AndrewB
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38 minutes ago, Joël Mercier said:

From the info I've gathered, moisture seems to be the key between a successful or failed stabilization.

That's my understanding as well.  I'm sure I'll have my fair share of successes and failures.  Any idea of the what the maximum moisture level should be prior to attempting stabilization?  All I find is "as dry as possible".

 

Jason, I never would have thought about it either.  I was getting ready to sacrifice my old air compressor when I stumbled on a couple of videos that used dehumidifier and refrigerator compressors.  The wonders of the internet never cease! Lol

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Nice job! Yes, refrigerator compressors make both nice vacuum sources and HIGH pressure/low volume air compressors. And you can get them free relatively easily :-)

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I've been doing a little more digging and found this discussion http://www.penturners.org/forum/f43/drying-prior-stabilization-128782/ on a pen turning forum.  One of the guys that chimes in is Curtis Seebeck from Turntex.  It's always nice when you can get the advice straight from the horses mouth.  It looks like the "generic" recommended process is to bake for 24 hours at 215 deg., store in a ziploc bag until cool, submerge in cactus juice and pull vacuum until all air bubbles cease to form, and then let sit submerged in the cactus juice off of vacuum for 24-36 hours before curing.  Pretty straightforward, but definitely a lengthy process.

Edited by Alex Middleton
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This is awesome. Well done and thanks for sharing!!!

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Absolutely.  I'm just hoping everything works the way it is supposed to.  I think I'm going to have to do some searching and find Joel's toaster oven hack so I can dial in the temperatures reliably while drying/curing.  Now that I have a toaster oven in the shop, the wife told me the kitchen oven is off limits for tempering so it'll be beneficial for that as well.

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I just finished up my first two test pieces.  I tested out the process on a piece of red oak and a scrap piece of black walnut.  I don't think I left it under vacuum quite long enough for the walnut, but the wife and I had some errands to run and I didn't want to leave the pump running unattended (It was boiling hot after 2.5 hours of continuous running).

All in all I'm calling it a success though.  Both pieces came out solid all of the way through and test sanded super smooth with very little effort. Now i just need to pick up a new buffing wheel with some pink rouge and I'll be good to go.

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