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Been dreaming about some designs & looking at spalted wood (specifically Tamarind). I would like to due some decorative veining following the natural spalt lines & filling with colored epoxy after the scales have been glued, pinned & majority of shaping complete. I'm actually hoping to get some stock with a few voids that can be filled with said epoxy and revealed in the shaping stages. My question is, should I stabilize the scales before filling voids? After? At all? This would be for a chef's knife, so not subject to batoning or other abusive handling lol!

 

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Yes, all spalted woods need to be stabilized. Especially for use in the kitchen.  I'd do the inlace acryester after the stabilization. The inlace stuff is much nicer than just "colored epoxy."  You can get it in metallics, too.

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Additionally, you'll want the wood to be stabilized if you plan to use vacuum to pull in and degas the resin.  Otherwise the air/moisture in the wood plays havoc with the clarity of the resin.  It isn't as important if you are open pouring.

 

Edit for early morning brain scram:  Most people don't use vacuum to degas the resin, but use positive pressure to force the bubbles "Closed".  However the need for the wood to be stabilized first is still correct.

Edited by Brian Dougherty
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Wow, my 1st post on here and the big guns come out lol! Ok so common consensus is to stabilize 1st, makes sense as it will help "crisp" the contrast & definition by sealing the pours. My main concern is the glue from the glue-up filling any voids before I can "inject/fill" them with colored product that will match the veining I do with a carving veining tool. Alan, you mentioned inlace acryster, I though that was a type of pre-made scale? Or are you recommending an acrylic product in lieu of epoxy? Brian, please correct me if I'm misunderstanding, is the technique I described with a veining tool "open pouring"? Thank you both for your input!

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Wow, Alan is a cool kid now, and apparently someone thinks I am a big gun :lol:

 

I'm not sure I understand the veining approach you are describing, but it sounds like you plan to "pour" in resin to fill in various openings in the wood.  I would consider that open pouring.   The alternative is to pour resin over a wood blank that is inside a mold, and then use positive air pressure to force the bubbles closed.  (I wasn't thinking this morning when I said using vacuum)

 

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1 hour ago, Jay Von Ahsen said:

inlace acryster,

 

Not enough coffee at that time, sorry! :lol:  What I was thinking about was another Inlace product, seen here:

https://www.ptreeusa.com/turn_brand_inlace.html and here:

http://www.inlaceonline.com/text/products/metallic-dusts.html.

 

You usually see it on turned objects where it looks like turquoise inlay, or like gold leaf.  Not cheap, but better than epoxy.

 

And I'm not a big gun, I just talk a lot. B)

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Glad you guys have a sense of humor! When I was stalking this site as a guest I noticed Alan is an administrator and when reading your comments saw how many contributions Brian had made, I considered you guys "big guns" lol!

Thank you both for clarifying, I do my best to search existing information so as not ask redundant questions but came up a little empty handed. Brian, the technique I'm speaking about is simply using one of my wood carving v-tools to cut small veins and fill/pour during the final stages of handle finishing. I plan on making a redneck vacuum sealer & stabilizing my own blanks to save a little $ and take advantage of some materials available to me through years in the construction industry. Alan, thx for the links! I was assuming you were referring to another product similar to epoxy, but experience has taught me not to assume! I'll look closer at that, have you had good results with it? Advantages/disadvantages compared to epoxy? 

Again, thank you for info! This build would be for my mother in law who loves Hawaii & goes there for a month every year, so wanting to incorporate that into a knife for her. I think Koa wood is the most common native species there, and mango. Tamarind isn't native (introduced in the late 1700's according to my research) but I really like the lighter color and spalting present in the blanks I've seen. Her favorite color is turquoise, so I thought that would be great contrast to dark spalting. And maybe a Hamon treatment to try to mimic ocean waves? Man it's easy to get carried away lol!

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I haven't used it, but I  have seen good results from others.  One thing (and Brian built his own vacuum tank, so he may add as well): when you cut the channels for the inlay, undercut the sides like a dovetail. A simple v-groove will let anything you put in it pop out, no matter how adhesive.

 

My post count is because I've been here sinve 2003...

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Alan, 10-4 I was thinking about that... just like repairing a crack in concrete with hydro-cement, makes a sort of cleat. Thx for the tip.

Brian, the big gun cool kid says you built a vacuum tank? I was thinking about a simple brake bleeder pump & big-mouthed mason jar rig, might not be fancy but probably give it a try. Do you use a commercial stabilizer or home concoction?

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14 hours ago, Jay Von Ahsen said:

Brian, the big gun cool kid says you built a vacuum tank? I was thinking about a simple brake bleeder pump & big-mouthed mason jar rig, might not be fancy but probably give it a try. Do you use a commercial stabilizer or home concoction?

 I did build a vacuum chamber for investment casting, but my vacuum tank for stabilizing is a commercial one from Turn Tex.  (The cactus juice guy)  I also use cactus juice.  I almost built my own, but for the money, Curtis' chambers are a pretty good value.

 

I messed around with pickle jars and small vacuum pumps for a while, but always got sub-par results.  The results finally improved when I decided to stop listening to what my engineering background was telling me, and instead listen to the people who do a lot of stabilization.  To get good results you have to have a vacuum pump running continuously.  It seems like you should be able to pump down the chamber and let it sit for a while before pumping it down again.  I never got good results that way, and it took me a while to realize how bad my results really were.

 

I think you can do just about anything for the actual chamber as long as it is vacuum tight, but you can't really skimp on the pump.

 

FWIW, I've had some denser woods take 48 hours of continuous vacuum at 29.5 inHg. 

 

You also really do need to bake the wood at ~235F for a couple of days to make sure it is bone dry

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3 hours ago, Brian Dougherty said:

 I did build a vacuum chamber for investment casting, but my vacuum tank for stabilizing is a commercial one from Turn Tex.  (The cactus juice guy)  I also use cactus juice.  I almost built my own, but for the money, Curtis' chambers are a pretty good value.

 

I messed around with pickle jars and small vacuum pumps for a while, but always got sub-par results.  The results finally improved when I decided to stop listening to what my engineering background was telling me, and instead listen to the people who do a lot of stabilization.  To get good results you have to have a vacuum pump running continuously.  It seems like you should be able to pump down the chamber and let it sit for a while before pumping it down again.  I never got good results that way, and it took me a while to realize how bad my results really were.

 

I think you can do just about anything for the actual chamber as long as it is vacuum tight, but you can't really skimp on the pump.

 

FWIW, I've had some denser woods take 48 hours of continuous vacuum at 29.5 inHg. 

 

You also really do need to bake the wood at ~235F for a couple of days to make sure it is bone dry

Brian, I did a little investigating & it makes complete sense about the vacuuming process & outcomes. Definitely will be in our shop someday, but for now my wife & I have reached our startup budget and will be added to the "future additions" list as our skills increase. Thanks for sharing some wisdom through experience with me!

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FWIW, I have seen some pretty good vacuum pumps made from old refrigeration compressors.  Finding a working one and dealing with the refrigerant are issues, but it's a low cost option if you get lucky scrounging.

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18 hours ago, Brian Dougherty said:

FWIW, I have seen some pretty good vacuum pumps made from old refrigeration compressors.  Finding a working one and dealing with the refrigerant are issues, but it's a low cost option if you get lucky scrounging.

Definitely another option! Over the years I've had the pleasure of partaking in quite a variety of hobbies...ranging from R/C planes & vehicles to Civil War reenacting training horses for cavalry. It has taught me you can get pretty ingenuitive with limited resources, and on the occasion something actually works gives me a great sense of satisfaction.  Also with my career being in the construction industry, I've accumulated a fairly extensive network in many trades and feel I've just begun peeling the layers of an onion looking for some diamonds in the rough! If I manage to engineer something that works, I'll be sure to post it on here for your "creative criticism" lol! Thanks again for your help.

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