1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Cactus Juice Resin / Stabilized Wood

Discussion in 'Fit & Finish' started by Griff, Apr 20, 2021.

  1. Griff

    Griff Active Member

    Likes Received:
    290
    Trophy Points:
    63
    I’ve got a lot of stabilized wood here this year from various suppliers,

    Most of them I believe are stabilized with Cactus Juice.

    I want to know how you guys go about getting the best finish on this stuff.

    What grit do you sand to?

    What do you use to buff this stuff?

    When you are finished are you coating it with something to give it that wet look?

    If so, is Cactus Juice porous enough to actually accept a coating realistically?

    Lots of questions there I know. But I may have missed one too :D

    Looking forward to any answers.

    Cheers,

    Griff.
     
    Nieman Knives likes this.
  2. Joelsund

    Joelsund Active Member

    Likes Received:
    56
    Trophy Points:
    28
    In my limited experience, I've had success coating it in resin or cyanoacrylate. I messaged running man forge on Instagram a while back asking what he finishes his stabilized wood with and he said he uses tung oil, so that's an option too.
     
    Griff likes this.
  3. Nieman Knives

    Nieman Knives New Member

    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    8
    My daily driver chef knife i made with a resin and maple burl handle has a very “faded” look to the wood and someone on here recommended (I apologize because I forget who off the top of my head) said I should try CA glue. I have some very thin stuff here I will try on it after giving it a re-buff. I’ll try and update after it’s done and then again after a week or 2 of use and washing.
     
    Griff likes this.
  4. Joelsund

    Joelsund Active Member

    Likes Received:
    56
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Sand it to about 600g but not higher before CA, otherwise, i find it kind of beads off. build up 4-6 coats then sand it and buff.
     
    Griff and Nieman Knives like this.
  5. Nieman Knives

    Nieman Knives New Member

    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    8
    When you’re dealing with a full tang, resin/burl combo handle, would you coat the resin? The tang? Do you start with a thin CA and then use layers of medium or thick?
     
    Griff likes this.
  6. Joelsund

    Joelsund Active Member

    Likes Received:
    56
    Trophy Points:
    28
    I've only tried coating resin, with more resin (not CA) and that's worked fine. I do coat the tang as well, but make sure you don't put a mirror polish on it. One customer had some peel off the tang.
     
    Griff and Nieman Knives like this.
  7. Scott Kozub

    Scott Kozub Active Member

    Likes Received:
    62
    Trophy Points:
    28
    I take it to 2000 and a light buff. Have to be careful of the wood though as it'll still stain, maple for example. I coat all my handles in a few coats of carnuba wax for an added layer of protection that the customer can easily reapply.

    I will admit that my home stabilized blocks don't feel as "stabilized" as professional so I don't advertise them as stabilized. I just do it to natural woods for added protection. My favorite wood cocobolo doesn't need it. Very stable and shines up beautifully on its own.
     
    Griff likes this.
  8. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker

    Likes Received:
    1,216
    Trophy Points:
    113
    From my experience, Cactus Juice needs more care and depending on the penetration depth and how deep you are working it. Deeper inside a block it will take some oil such as tung oil and it shines up pretty well. A coat of CA very quickly applied on a clean shop towel is the best I have found so far. Move it fast so the towel doesn't have time to stick. That seals the surface. Let it completely set, a touch of heat gun helps and sand with 800 to 1000 and repeat. A wet sand with 1500 and 2000 and you should be happy with the lustre. A touch of scratchless pink on a soft cotton wheel should finish it off. Seems to be never quite that pure liquid-glass look I aim for, but no complaints. Pretty sweet and durable.

    Whatever resin/process Don Stevenson (woodstablizer.com) uses is incredible. Some kind of alien resin. It's akin to working with desert ironwood. Happily sand to about 600 and gentle buff with a clean cotton wheel or scratchless pink and it shines like magic. Beautiful stuff. I have also used StickFast and it seems kind of soapy. Not sure if there is a better way to describe it. If you work it too hard or hot it gets duller, like Micarta. Like something is melting there. Go gently to keep the heat down on the buffer. As with any buffing operation, be mindful of contamination.

    Dan
     
    Griff likes this.
  9. Griff

    Griff Active Member

    Likes Received:
    290
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Thanks for your answers guys. Seems a bit of a mixed bag to say the least :D

    It seems you’ve all reached a satisfactory finish, but are still searching to tweak the process.

    I think that on Instagram when you see these guys dip, or rub their handles with tung, linseed, or their own blend of b.s liquid magic in a jar on these stabilized handles it’s only a momentary effect, and maybe not long lasting? Just a bit of glossy pageantry.

    I would think the Cactus juice or whatever resin used is innately ‘non porous,’ once cured, and is meant to be just sanded and buffed.

    As you all know, Tung oil, Linseed oil, butcher block oil etc. are designed to be absorbed into the pores the wood.

    Think of it like clear coat on your car.

    You use waxes, compounds or polishes to enhance the properties of the clear itself. These are designed mostly to be applied and removed. Any effect they have is for the surface of the clear, the mil-penetration is minimal.

    You don’t smear an oil on the surface to make your car shine, even though it might momentarily make it look good, it’s not penetrating the clear coat therefore its has no longevity.

    The reason CA glue is working is your adding another coating that cures and it can then be sanded and buffed.

    As an automotive collision repair rep, I have been told that clear coats once fully cured pose no health hazards.

    Not that you’d want to, but you could go out and lick your car and not die, that is if it’s a clean car!
    I wouldn’t say you’d have the same result after a long drive or if there was bird :poop on it haha:roflmao

    That said I don’t find the idea of spraying my handles with clear that appealing.

    Anyway even if it was safe it would make the surface of the handle too slick.


    I guess it’s another one of those learning curves. I think I’ll focus my research on the ‘pen blank’ forums, as I think turning pen’s and other items is really what this stuff was created for.

    @John Noon John, you sell it here in Canada, does the manufacturer have an literature on finishing it?

    Maybe our new members producing stabilized wood products could chime in? @Gage bonne @GLWood.

    Thanks again for your answers :beer::beer:
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2021
    Nieman Knives and 250Gimp like this.
  10. GLWood

    GLWood New Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    The only finishing i have with stabilized wood was on my dugouts that were dye stabilized. I sanded to 400 and used hemp oil for a finish. Looks like a semi gloss finish. Smooth with a nice feel to it. I used to use Cactus Juice stabilizer but i switched to Ultraseal stabilizer. I find it does not darken the wood as much as Cactus Juice.
     
  11. 250Gimp

    250Gimp New Member

    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    3
    I’m interested to have the producers chime in.

    I made some handles out of stabilized wood for the first time at Christmas, and unknowingly oiled them with a butcher block oil.
    I soaked them twice for a while, wiped them off and buffed by hand. They looked great, but they dried out within a month or two.

    a proper process for a long lasting finish will be really appreciated.
     
  12. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker

    Likes Received:
    1,216
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I don't think a pure chunk of cured Cactus Juice will absorb any oil, but oil (or water) will make the surface look shiny by the way the coating transmits or reflects the light. I believe this property is called gloss. This is temporary and when the oil/water evaporates or wears off it will appear dull again. One cannot deny that it looks cool, but the wow moment is really only getting the dust off the handle and making a gloss surface which shows off the grain or figure in the wood. As you know when checking a freshly sanded piece of wood that water works too, but is short lived. With oil, wipe it off and a week later it's dull again.

    Incompletely stabilized wood will take in oil. As Griff referred to, it will be porous in places not filled with acrylic. Then a glossing coating (water, oil etc.) will be allowed to penetrate into the pores. Shiny!
    [​IMG]

    There are a lot of factors which influence good resin penetration; type of wood, moisture content, vacuum/pressure, elevation, time etc. In almost 10 years of playing around with stabilizing, I have never come close to professional results. I don't think it's a flaw of the products, rather in the DIY processes. Properly stabilized wood (WSSI for example) results from extremely high pressure. A well thought out proprietary process for sure and something we cannot do at home with a vacuum pump and chamber. If atmospheric pressure is say 14 psi where you live, pulling the air out of the wood under vacuum and releasing the vacuum results in 14 psi of pressure to push the resin into the wood. I'd suspect a complete stabilization process would involve hundreds of psi.

    For finishing, I like to think of buffing like thousands of little hammers striking the surface of the wood per second. If there is enough acrylic present it will take a nice shine one as it will form a gloss coating. If there is enough oil in the wood, it will become the gloss coating, like say ironwood or cocobolo.

    I hate to have to give instructions to a new knife owner to re-apply a coating periodically.

    Dan
     
    Griff likes this.
  13. Griff

    Griff Active Member

    Likes Received:
    290
    Trophy Points:
    63
    I spoke to one of the makers of two pieces I have from John Bryant @the_muskokaturner on Instagram.

    He uses a bunch of oils, true oil, teak and tung. He also mentioned Rubio mono-coat ( at the time of typing this I have yet to look that up).

    He says resins do remain porous and will accept oils to an extent.

    One of the blocks he sent me it nicely finished, and if I can get the handle back to that look, I’ll be happy.
     
    dancom likes this.
  14. Scott Kozub

    Scott Kozub Active Member

    Likes Received:
    62
    Trophy Points:
    28
    I once heard the K&G uses thousands of pounds pressure after the vacuum. I've never tried pressure more than atmospheric myself. Even though I have the setup, I've just resigned to purchasing professional blocks.
     
    dancom likes this.
  15. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker

    Likes Received:
    1,216
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I have heard this as well.
    Not to derail the topic too far off course, but I stumbled on this today at WoodStabilizer.com "Our system utilizes both vacuum and pressure to achieve complete penetration of the acrylic, resulting in a high quality stabilized wood product." Kind of looks like the pros evacuate the air then apply high pressure to drive the acrylic into the spaces where the air was.
     
  16. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    656
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Pressure below 3000 psi only makes a small difference in the soaking time.

    Curtis experimented with pressure early on and recorded the results.
    The resin is basically solid and any oil will only soak into the wood fibres and seal them.

    A good paste wax after a drying oil will help the shine last longer and make cleaning easier
     
    GLWood likes this.
  17. GLWood

    GLWood New Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    K and G states 4000 lbs pressure. I am not sure if that is psi or some other force measurement. I read a research paper about pressure for stabilizing wood and i cannot find it but i will keep looking. I did not download it i guess. If i remember correctly 100psi will force resin into a 1 micron pore. After that the pressure needs to be so high the pressure vessel will be costly. I will look harder for that paper to be sure.
     
  18. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    656
    Trophy Points:
    113
    That would be 4000 psi and the cost of the pressure vessel of any size makes it out of reach for home stabilizing. An extra hour or two soak time is much cheaper
     
  19. Griff

    Griff Active Member

    Likes Received:
    290
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Okay I’ll add to this thread with one more thing.

    I’ll admit that I am the proverbial ‘Bull in a china shop,’ and lack the finesse of other makers.

    So I’ve been playing around a bit with some stabilized wood cut offs, practice, so I don’t @#$& up $50-$100 piece ...

    and I’m burning the crap out of them! So I back off the pressure, and then it seems like it’s not cutting/ grinding away haha!

    Let me know if I’m missing something, or I just have to ease up and trust material is being removed. Honestly I am use to synthetics grinding and sanding like butter.

    Cheers:beer::beer:
     
  20. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    656
    Trophy Points:
    113

Share This Page