$7.50 Flat Rate Shipping - Online Orders Only

Woodturning Instructions

Dry

Alumilite Resin is sensitive to moisture, wood must be completely dried and as a best practice stabilized.

Achieve wood moisture content of 5% or below.

Always dry wood, wet blanks cannot be stabilized, cast or turned.

When all of the moisture is removed and the wood is stabilized, the resulting piece will no longer absorb moisture. Leaving it no chance for expansion or warping which can ruin knife handles, pens, and other turned treasures where tolerances need to be tight.

How to Dry Wood

Time. Drying too fast will cause wood to crack. Green wood must be air dried before using a kiln or oven, a rapid change in moisture content causes cracking and unusable wood.

Speed. To speed up the drying process, rough cut your blank slightly oversize and place it on a drying rack to allow airflow on all sides.

Seal. End grain cracks during the drying process as moisture escapes more readily. You must seal the end grain of green wood immediately after sawing. It’s important to seal the end grain in air or kiln drying. Do not seal the end grain for oven drying, rather cut wood much longer than your final blank needs to be.

Species. Each tree species vary in density, oil, structure affecting each factor described above. When using a wood new to you, research for best practices.

AIR DRY

Wood that has already been dried at one point, may only need a couple days to month reduce to a usable moisture level. Green wood that was recently forested can take several months to years, much depends on storage conditions, environment and wood thickness.

Every tree species, blank thickness, and environment are different, therefore there is no exact formula.

Best practices to air dry wood

  • Reduce the size to just oversized of your final dimensions
  • Seal the end grain with poly, paint or glue to prevent checking or cracking
  • Find a suitable store area with little temperature and moisture variations
    • Basements
    • Cellars
    • Attics
    • Sheds or Barn in dry, arid environments (i.e. Arizona)
  • Ensure air can flow around the wood, stack wood with perpendicular spacers or stickers
  • Fans and vents help move air, dehumidifiers assist in keeping moisture low
  • Rotate thin wood pieces to prevent warping
  • Check your wood with a moisture meter

WOOD DRYING KILN

Moisture meter or weighing your wood can identify how much moisture is left. When a piece stops losing weight then it is dry.

There are many different types of kiln designs including solar, dehumidification, direct or indirect fired or vacuum kilns. Follow instructions for your type of wood kiln.

Basics for self-made kilns

  • Dry fast enough to prevent stain and long drying times, yet slow enough to prevent checks and other drying defects
  • Closely monitor the drying process
  • Know the safe drying rate for your wood species, softwoods typically dry faster
  • Choose samples to measure the rate of moisture loss per day
  • If drying rate is too fast, then increase the relative humidity setpoint on the humidifier or turn some fans off

KITCHEN OVEN DRYING

Use the heat of an oven to dry your wood to the lowest possible moisture content, below 5%.

Measure your moisture content before to help determine how long wood may need to be dried.

Natural Wood Only **never do this to green wood, treated wood or wood that has any other substance on it (i.e. paint, sealer, stain, finisher)

Do not use oven that is meant for food.

How to Dry Wood in Kitchen Oven

  1. Preheat oven to 200-218 degrees F (95-110 degrees C), as close to 218 degrees F as possible (remember water boils at 220 degrees F which can cause popping).
  2. Load wood onto the center rack making sure there is plenty of space for air to move.
  3. Turn on convection fan if you have one.
  4. Dry the wood for one hour.
  5. With protected hands, remove the wood and test with moisture meter.
  6. If more drying is need, allow 10-15 minutes before retesting.
  7. Place wood on cooling rack after you’ve hit your moisture goal.

CAUTION: fire is a possibility, always use safety gear and have a fire extinguisher. If smoke is seen, turn off oven, keep oven door closed and keep an eye out for flames.

Is My Wood Ready to Work?

5% or below moisture content

Bring the newly dried wood into your workshop after the drying process and stabilize or cast immediately.

If you wood is not used right away, moisture will soon return.

Stabilize Wood

How Do I Stabilize Wood?

The basic principle of wood stabilizing is to take a piece of soft or plunky wood and inject it with acrylic resin to create a stable, hardened wood blank that is safe to turn. The resin fills air pockets where moisture resides throughout the grain structure, creating a dense blank that is nearly impervious to moisture changes and can be polished to a high gloss.

Stabilizing is required to achieve the best possible results. If wood is not stabilized, there will not be a definite edge between wood and resin as well as the wood will be vulnerable to moisture changes.

The process entails four major steps:

  1. Dry the wood to moisture content 0%.

  2. Vacuum chamber to remove all the air.

  3. Use stabilizer to occupy the cells of the wood.

  4. Allow adequate time for curing and hardening.

WOOD SPECIES

Softwoods. Softer and less dense woods are easier to stabilize due to their more porous structure. Stabilizing softwoods are required for turning, coating and casting.

Hard Woods. Hard and more dense woods are tougher to stabilize. Splitting this group into two, woods denser than hard maple typically won’t take on the stabilizer while less dense woods are most readily stabilized. Also note that some wood species are oily and tend to resist some stabilizers.

STABILIZER

Cactus Juice (TurnTex)

Cactus Juice is a heat cured resin used to harden and stabilize most porous material, especially wood. It comes pre-activated in pints and quarts and ready to activate with the included activator in 1/2 gallon and larger (activating directions).  It is quite easy to use and obtain professional results in your home shop following these simple directions.

TOOLS

  • Moisture meter
  • Vacuum Chamber
  • Toaster Oven
  • Aluminum Foil
Cactus Juice Stabilizer Process (TurnTex help page)
  1. Dry the wood using a to a moisture reading of 5% or less.
  2. Weigh wood down in a vacuum chamber.
  3. Apply full vacuum to chamber and keep your vacuum pump running until bubbles stop.
  4. Release vacuum and soak blanks for at least twice as long as you had them under vacuum.
  5. Remove blanks, then wrap in aluminum foil.
  6. Cure at 190-200° F (87-93° C) until Cactus Juice has solidified.
  7. Remove foil, allow to cool to room temperature.

Casting with Alumilite Clear

Casting Blanks with Wood (Pens, Calls, Handles, Etc.)

TOOLS

  • Alumilite Clear Resin
  • Measuring & Mixing Containers
  • Stir Sticks or Rubber Spatula
  • Digital Scale
  • Latex-free Gloves
  • Alumilite Liquid Dye or Alumidust
  • Dried and Stabilize Wood
  • Pressure Pot w/Air Compressor
  • Moldbox (HDPE or Silicone)

Prepare Wood: Before starting, dry and stabilize wood. Using available saw, trim wood to fit into mold-box. If using scraps, chips, or fines, simply pour them into your mold box.

Prepare Other Substrates: If combining resin with materials other than wood, they must follow the same moisture content requirements.

Note: Moisture in any substrate will cause bubbles in resin, therefore we recommend that humidity be less then 5% and/or stabilize wood.

Measure and Mix

What is the difference between Alumilite Clear and Alumilite Clear Slow?

Open time and cure time are different, while all other properties are the same.

Alumilite Clear can be open and worked with for up to 7 minutes, then is takes about 45-90 minutes to cure fully.

Alumilite Clear Slow can be open and worked with for up to 12 minutes, then is takes about 2-4 hours to cure fully.

Measure

Calculator
Tip: use Grams for best accuracy
  • Estimate the amount of required resin to fill the mold-box and measure out side A and B per the instructions for the respective resin.
  • Alumilite Clear is 1:1 mix ratio by weight, therefore you will need to weigh each side to achieve an accurate mix ratio.
  • Prepare your weight scale by zeroing it out. Pour in one side at a time and carefully hit your goal weight.

Note: improper mix ratio can result in tackiness, cloudiness, and soft resin.

Mix

Combine part A and B together into a clear mixing cup and begin stirring. Continue mixing until all striations disappear and resin is clear.

Scrap sides, bottom, and excess resin off stir stick often to ensure that all resin is mixed. Resin will become clear without cloudiness or streaks when mixed properly. If pressure casting, don't worry adding air bubbles.

Note: Mixing, pouring, and pressurization of pressure pot should be done within the stated working time of the resin.

Adding Pigments

Divide batch of resin into individual cups depending on number of desired colors.

Alumilite Dyes (one drop per ounce or 30 grams) or Alumidust can also be added to the resin depending on the design you are going for.

Alumilite Pearlescent powder can be combined with Alumilite Dye to achieve a pearl-effect similar to the many available Alumidust colors.

Pour

Mold box can be made out of HDPE or Silicone. If other materials are used for a mold box, it may require a coating of Stoner Mold Release prior to casting.

Slowly pour resin into mold box allowing it to naturally flow over and around the wood.

Pressurize

Pressure Tip: moisture in the air compressor is an issue when curing resin and can result in a white hazy coating on top of the blank. To eliminate this, drain compressor tank often and install an inline desiccate filter.

Pressure chamber produces the hardest possible blank and eliminates the possibility for air bubbles in the casted resin.

It's possible to cast without pressure, but you are subject to air trapped in casting resin. Be very catious in mixing resin to reduce air bubbles and carefully pouring to not introduce pockets that air could be trapped in.

Place mold inside of pressure pot and pressurize to 40-60 psi. Many pressure pots have their air inlets in the lid, therefore introduce air slowly to avoid blowing resin out of your mold box.

A deflector can also be placed over the mold box to divert air away from resin. Hold pressure until resin has hardened and can be demolded. Resin must cure under pressure to avoid visible air bubbles in your cured blank.

Deflector Tip: for pressure pot lids with direct air lids, a deflector can be placed on the mold box.

Turning

The following are general ways to turn and polish.

To ensure that the highest cured properties have been achieved, it's recommended to allow resin to cure for 12-24 hours before turning.

Lathe

Alumilite Resins will produce ribbons when turning, an alternative to the usual dust resins.

There are no special tools required for turning Alumilite blanks.

Sand and Polish

Our woodturning resins sand, polish and finish just like wood.

On your lathe at a low speed, start with 320 grit sandpaper progressively moving up to 20000 grit working from side to side. Then use polishing compound and cloth to polish.

Alumilite resins can be sanded using fine grit sanding paper or pads. Plastic Polish such as Novus can be used to polish Alumilite Clear to a high gloss.

Buy Alumilite Polishing Kit in our store.

Finish and Assemble

Finish with our surface coating resins (Amazing Clear Cast, Alumilite Water Clear or Alumi-UV), lacquer, wax, boiled lineseed oil, etc.

Once polished, assemble remaining pieces and you now have a one of a kind, unique pen, call, or whatever you chose to make!

FAQ

Resin Turning community frequently asked questions. Ask a Question

0% moisture content or as low as you can get.

When all of the moisture is removed and the wood is stabilized, the resulting piece has no chance for expansion or warping which can ruin knife handles, pens, and other turned treasures where tolerances need to be tight.

NOTE:  Stabilize your dried wood immediately to prevent re-entrance of moisture.

The basic principle of wood stabilizing is to take a piece of soft or plunky wood and inject it with acrylic resin to create a stable, hardened wood blank that is safe to turn. The resin fills air pockets where moisture resides throughout the grain structure, creating a dense blank that is nearly impervious to moisture changes and can be polished to a high gloss.

Stabilizing is required to achieve the best possible results. If wood is not stabilized, there will not be a definite edge between wood and resin as well as the wood will be vulnerable to moisture changes.

Open time and cure time are different, while all other properties are the same.

Alumilite Clear can be open and worked with for up to 7 minutes, then is takes about 45-90 minutes to cure fully.

Alumilite Clear Slow can be open and worked with for up to 12 minutes, then is takes about 2-4 hours to cure fully.

Yes, using a pressure chamber produces the hardest possible blank and eliminates the possiblity for air bubbles in the casted resin.

It's possible to cast without pressure, but you are subject to air trapped in casting resin. Be very catious in mixing resin to reduce air bubbles and carefully pouring to not introduce pockets that air could be trapped in.

Our woodturning resins sand, polish and finish just like wood.

On your lathe at a low speed, start with 320 grit sandpaper progressively moving up to 20000 grit working from side to side. Then use polishing compound and cloth to polish. Buy Alumilite Polishing Kit in our store.

Finish with our surface coating resins (Amazing Clear Cast, Alumilite Water Clear or Alumi-UV), lacquer, wax, boiled lineseed oil, etc.

  • TurnTex sells various size of Cactus Juice Vacuum Stabilizing Chambers.
  • WoodCraft is a great resource to find Vacuum Chambers.
  • Packard Woodworks - the Woodturner's Source

The length of time depends on the casting resin's cure time and temperature. The manufacturer lists the cure time based on 72 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature lower will take longer to cure, conversely a higher temperature will cure faster.

For best results, curing should be done near 72 degrees Fahrenheit. We don't recommend anything lower than 60 or above 80.

Watch our video on How Long Do You Need To Keep Resin Castings in the Pressure Pot - Resin Casting Quick Tips

As long as equal parts are used of each system it should work fine.

The void was caused by shrinkage. The larger the mass, the quicker the cure, the more heat, the more shrinkage. The heat also caused the crack as well. The maximum you can cast is about 2500 grams (about 5.5 lbs). Beyond that it gets tricky with the heat that is produced.

Likely Amazing Clear Cast, User will have to rotate pot on a rotisserie for 4-6 hours (@70-75F) or until resin thickens enough to stay in place and not sag to the lowest point.


Resin Turning Products

Shop our Store