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Hardening soft wood?

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Munty Scruntfundle

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Hi folks.

I've been given a really lovely bit of Saple, I have no idea what the tree is, it's very light, could be birch. It's also pretty soft in places.

I'm pretty sure I could turn it as is, but it would be a shame to pipper up such a nice block. I've watched a few 'tubes' to see what people do, the word "Punky" came up far too often so I turned that off! Punky. Honestly!

I've used a spray wood hardener on a garage soffit before, but that turned the wood to granite, I'm not sure that's what I want.

What do you experienced turners use, and where might I get what I need?

Many thanks.
 

Trevanion

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Punky is kind of a term that describes wood that is very soft, unstable and usually rotten to some degree. No idea where the term came from but it is a common one.

I think all wood hardener does is make the very surface of the timber harder, doesn't really affect the internals at all. But I don't think there's really anything else that you can buy inexpensively that will get deep into the timber and make it easier to work. I think what you'd need is some kind of vacuum or pressure chamber to inject epoxy resin into the timber so that it gets impregnated with the resin resulting in a harder material. But I think that kind of set-up that would be silly money for a hobbyist, especially if you don't plan on using loads of questionable timbers that are rotten, spalted, have holes in them or some other kind of defect.
 

CHJ

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With products that you may have to hand:-

Small areas, Thin CA adhesive.
Larger areas, several coats of Diluted (10% with cellulose thinners) Cellulose Sanding Sealer when you get within a few passes of finished size.
Slight thinning of the sealer helps deeper penetration before solvents evaporate.
 

Munty Scruntfundle

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The history may have something to do with 'Punk' meaning rotten, which has had a slightly different, deeper social meaning in the states than in the uk.

I did watch one chap with his vacuum chamber and resin, a bit more outlay than I was thinking of, I don't make any money out this.

So a CA wash, kind of. That I can do. I'll need some more CA but that won't break the bank.

Thanks folks.
 

CHJ

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Not wash with CA, spot drip thin CA in small areas or soft bark inclusions. Be very careful with Fumes from CA, ensure good ventilation.


Thinned Cellulose Sealer you can apply generously, very soft wood may require several applications during last cuts and then undiluted before final sanding.
 

Dalboy

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As Chas pointed out CA or thinned sealer. For wood like this, I do tend to use a 50/50 mix of sealer to thinners.
Turn near to size then coat with either method let it dry naturally as trying to use an accelerator with CA can in some cases turn it white. Take fine cuts until you have a clean surface or re-apply as needed.
 

Munty Scruntfundle

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Thanks for your help with this folks.

The piece turned out absolutely lovely. I can't say for sure if the super glue wash helped, it didn't fall apart so I can say it didn't not. (!)
 

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