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Chris Christenberry

Stabilizing handle scales

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I have a "puzzlement"!  HELP!!!!!

 

I put my first set of handle scales in Cactus Juice and poured on the vacuum.  (28.5" nfor 8 1/2 hours)  Turned off the pump (actually it over-heated after 8 1/2 hours and shut itself off!)  Left the blanks in the CJ over night.  Just for giggles, when I went back out to the shop this morning, I turned on the pump again.  BUBBLES!!!!!   :o  Almost as many as when I first started the stabilizing.  So I left it running for about 3 hours.  Had to leave the house, so turned it off and released the vacuum so the wood could soak up more CJ.  Came home and turned on the vacuum......once again, and once again got BUBBLES!!!  Left the vacuum on and it's been on for the past 3 hours.  I can tap on the surface my vacuum dome is sitting on and MORE BUBBLES rise up that have been clinging to the wood.  And bubbles keep coming out of the wood.  I took a piece of tape this morning and put it on the canister that holds the scales at the level of the CJ.  Every time I release the vacuum I'm thinking that level should go down...........if air is being evacuated, then when the vacuum is released, the CJ should be filling those voids.  But the level doesn't lower.  I'm seriously puzzled.  Could I get some input from those of you who stabilize your blanks with Cactus Juice.
 

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Moisture will do that. The wood has to be extremely dry before stabilization.

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Okay.  A friend asked if I'd dried the wood in a microwave before trying to stabilize it...................and I hadn't.  I'm learning from my mistakes, I guess.

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What I do Chris is to put the blocks in a small oven that I can set at about 80-100f and leave it going for 3-4 days to make sure the wood is DRY. After it is loaded into the vacuum chamber I place a SS pot stand on to with a weight above that and this way  all the wood blocks are held to the bottom of the chamber.  I make sure there is a good inch or more of CJ over the wood . It can take 3-4 days of continuous pumping to  fully clear all air from the blocks so I have two vacuum pumps and run them alternately for 12 hrs each till the bubbles stop. Release the vacuum and leave the wood in the CJ for the same length of time it has taken to remove all the air so the atmospheric pressure can drive the CJ fully into the wood. Drain, wipe off, wrap in alfoil and bake for 2 hrs. Job done. No shortcuts if you want to do it properly.

Edited by Garry Keown

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Thanks, Gary.  What you describe is pretty much exactly what I'd planned on doing in the future.  The drying of the wood was something I'd never thought of previously.  I knew to weight my blanks so the wood was on the bottom of the chamber and made sure I had more than an inch of CJ above them.  My pump poops out after about 8 hours...........and there's no way I can afford a second pump right now.  I should probably keep my eye out for a used one.  Curtis of TurnTex, LLC told me to pull a vacuum for a minimum of 8 hours and then leave the blanks in the "juice" over night...........or longer.  He said I didn't have to take them out of the juice until I was ready to cure them in the oven.

 

I'm a neophyte and these were my first blanks.  I imagine they'll be okay.  (well, we'll see)  I'll sure do it differently next time.  I'm thinking: if I do the 3 to 4 days drying in the oven bit and then put them in the CJ under vacuum for 8 hours a day for 3 or 4 days.............and then leave them to soak for the 3 or 4 days, they ought to have as much air out and CJ in as possible..............or at least that's what I'm hoping.  It'll have to do until I can afford either a better or another vacuum pump to keep a constant vacuum on the vacuum bell.

 

Onward and upward............I shall persevere.  :D

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I've had good luck drying for 24 hours at 215-220 degrees F in a toaster oven.  Its definitely too aggressive of a method to use with green wood (think catastrophic failure) but I haven't had any issues with wood that is already somewhat seasoned.

I have the same problem with my pump overheating.  It usually takes me the better part of a week, running it while I'm home, to get all of the air out of the wood.

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one try running a fan at your pump wile its working you also might try changing the oil

 

two the temp to dry wood at is 220f use a digital readout kiln it if you can until it stops losing weight so get a good digital scale i have a small block that has been different weights every 8 hours for the last 5 times i have checked it (right the current weight on it when ever you check) also store in a zip lock wile it cools or for longer storage it will get moisture from the air and un do all the baking 

 

and curtis always says leave it under vacuum till it stops bubbling if you shut it off you are basically starting from scratch

 

you can email curtis direct from his website and he will be more than happy to answer any questions you have he has even been known to talk ppl threw pump rebuilds he also has a group on facebook that he is active in

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I have a fan directed at my pump to "help" with the overheating problem.  Not really sure it helps that much, though.   I drained all the oil and put in brand new oil.  It has only been run with the new oil since I started this project.  My pump "gurgles" a lot.  Don't know if that's normal or not.

 

Well, I've no "digital readout kiln" at this point, but I do have a potters burnout oven that has a vernier dial temperature control. (hard to "find" a temperature, but will hold it once found.) Weighing makes sense.  Will give that a try with the next set of knife scales.

 

I was e-mailing back and forth with Curtis yesterday and he mentioned the zip-lock bag trick after initial drying.  He has been extremely helpful through e-mails and once even called and talked with me on the phone.  I'm not on any social media, so don't know anything about Facebook.

 

Thanks for all the tips.

 

Addendum: 

 

Just went to the shop and started up the vacuum pump again.  Blanks haven't been out of the Cactus Juice since I started this process.  Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.  I just don't get it!    Dragoncutlery, you said if I shut off the vacuum, I am basically starting from scratch.  I don't understand how that is possible when the blanks are still under the surface of the Cactus Juice.  ?????????  This just doesn't make sense to me.

Edited by Chris Christenberry

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what type of wood???

Also, before I stabilize wood I have it air dry for 8-10 months before I slice it into scales and stabilize the wood

 

Shutting off the vacuum is what allows the cactus juice to go into the wood pores where air and moisture were eliminated during the vacuum cycle it is not like starting over

Your process as described seems correct...but you must have a high moisture content in the wood or it is extremely porous soft wood

Edited by JeffM
additions and spelling corrections

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As long as I've worked with wood professionally, I'm embarrassed to say I don't know the species...........and can't find anyone knowledgeable in wood species who can.  My best guess is Elm Burl.  It was brought to me, completely air-dried, over 20 years ago and has been sitting in the corning in my climate controlled shop since.  The chunk the tree was extremely light in weight.  Didn't cut into it until about two months ago to see what it looked like inside.  It is hard enough not to easily dent with my thumbnail, but I'd call it soft wood.  Yes, it is my understanding that turning off the vacuum is what allows the CJ to be sucked up into the wood..............but that isn't what seems to happen.  I just can't figure out where all that air is hiding after I've turned the vacuum off.  Guess I'll just keep suckin' & soakin' until I stop getting air out of it.  Believe me, the next set of scales I try and stabilize will be heat dried in my oven.

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If your vacuum system is not leaking, you really shouldn't need to run the pump continuously.  You may need to add a valve between your pump and the chamber, but that would allow you to pump it down, seal the chamber for an hour or two with the pump off, and then pump it down again to suck out the air that has been drawn from the wood.

 

 

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I have a valve in my line.  But Curtis told me to keep the pump on.  I'll check and see if the system will hold vacuum with just the valve closed.

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Once the chamber is evacuated, the pump is just spinning its wheels taking out whatever molecules go airborne in the system.  The resin will be outgassing, and you will be getting some air out of the wood.  These things will slowly erode the vacuum level.

 

YMMV, but my experience with CJ is that I can pump down the system, and just leave it for quite a while before I have to turn the pump back on.  One thing that is in my favor is that I was using a very large vacuum chamber which means the outgassing of the materials was going to be very small when compared to the overall volume of the system.  A small chamber might not give you this luxury.

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Cj doesnt off gas all your pulling is air or water vapor from the wood

 

 

If you stop vacume yes it starts to allow cj in but when u start again yes not quite at the beginning but what might have only took 3days is now 3 and a half days 

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Watch an hvac guy vac a system they dont get to vac and shut a valve they run the oump till there done

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Curtis pretty much wrote the book on home stabilising if you want the best results read and re read the info on his site and that he sends with the product if you deviate from the info know that your results will vary

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Pump has been on since 8:00 this morning.  I go out and tap the surface on which the vacuum dome is sitting and more bubbles come up.  I'm pulling 29 1/2" right now.  (-1 bar)

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5 hours ago, dragoncutlery said:

Watch an hvac guy vac a system they dont get to vac and shut a valve they run the oump till there done

Unfortunately, dragoncutlery, my pump won't "run until done".  It overheats and shuts off.  If I'm not there to run and turn off the valve to the chamber, then the suction from the chamber can damage the pump..........or so Curtis's instructions say.  So I have to "baby-sit" the pump the whole time it's running.  A fan doesn't seem to make any difference, though I do have one blowing on it in case it does help "some".

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im using one of those floor drying fans very concentrated air flow lots of air something like that might help but your pump could be on its way out

 

here is the link to were i get my kiln controllers you can rig up a toaster oven or a electric smoker with one and a thremocouple and dry your wood or update your burn out oven also good for tempering they make one with a timer so it can shut off after whatever time you set it for  http://www.auberins.com/

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Thanks.  I've got a PID for controlling my lead pot when casting bullets.  Was just never able to get it to control my ovens.

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Solid state relays are your frends when working with pids more than happy to take photos of any of my pid setups if you wana compare wiring 

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Mine is an enclosed unit purchased from a guy on-line.  All I have to do is to plug the oven(or my lead melting pot) into the unit.........put the proper probe into the oven (or proper probe into the lead pot) and set my temperature to be held.  Doesn't work that way.  At least not for me.  Fluxuates too much.  Seemed to work pretty well with my lead pot, only needed re-calibration occasionally to stay on temp, but it hasn't been able to control any of my ovens.  I've got a Neycraft JFF2000 oven that will reach to a little over 2300 degrees f, so would be most useful to me if I could control it.  It's a wax burnout and enameling oven for jewelers.  When I temper a blade or blades, it means I'm going to have to sit and baby-sit a digital thermometer for two sessions of two hours, doing the job of the PID...........turning the oven on and off to maintain the temp.  Gets pretty darned boring.

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Jesus wax on wax off maybe you can play with the internal settings (peramiters) sounds like it might be to fast or to slow seeing as it works with a heat sink but not open air only think i had to do with theones from the link was set a peramiter to go over 999f 

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