So it is with much excitement and a little trepidation that I begin my exploration into wood stabilizing. For those who are not familiar with wood stabilizing, I will tell you what little I know. If you have a wood that is soft or has been made soft with fungus, called “spalting,” you do not want to use it for knife handles very often because it is weak. This is unfortunate because spalting creates beautiful patterns in the wood. There is hope however: it is called stabilizing.
This is done with resin, a vacuum chamber and a vacuum pump. The idea is first you dry the wood out over night in a 200 degree oven. I have spalted tamarind and maple burl in the oven right now. You then add the dry wood to the chamber with the resin. Next you suck all the air out of the wood and upon releasing the pressure on the chamber the resin flows into all the space that the air vacated. This can take a great deal of time, upwards of several hours. Then once the resin is absorbed each piece has to be wrapped in foil and placed in a 200 degree oven for hours until the resin cools. Then you have to sand the now solidified aluminum foil off the wood. The result, though, is a beautiful piece of wood that is impervious to everything and good to 400 degrees. It still sands like wood and looks like wood. You can also dye the wood in funky colors. The warning about exploding chambers is surely just there for insurance purposes, right? Fingers crossed I will let you all know in the next day or two how it goes.