This work was just supposed to be a quick sketch. Something to help me as I learn the process of resin stabilizing hardwood. But as is always the case, the project grew and a month slipped passed, and now I have this wonderful Mazer style bowl to share with all of you.
Stabilizing wood is a process that both strengthens a piece of wood, and makes it dimensionally stable so that it can be utilized in more precision applications.
In previous projects, I relied on sourcing stabilized material from other skilled makers. But as my desire to make new shapes and forms grew, I quickly realized I had outgrown the sizes and shapes of material that were readily available. I approached a few people who specialize in stabilization with special requests and was alternately told that it was not possible, or not profitable, to make stabilized wood in the sizes and shapes that I wanted.
I could live with, "not possible" if it were true, but "not profitable" sounded like a silly reason not to do something, so I had to try it myself to see what was what.
The process is not terribly complicated and the setup relatively affordable if you have a small space to make a mess. It involves drying the wood, then placing it in a vacuum chamber while submerged in a special resin.
Under vacuum, much of the air and residual moister are pulled from the wood (you can never truly get all of it). After many hours under vacuum, pressure is returned to the chamber and the resin is forced deeper into the wood by normal atmospheric pressure and good old capillary action.
After a long soak, the wood is then placed in an oven where the resin cures and hardens. The result is a plasticized piece of wood that is perfect for machining and other fine craft work.
It is a fascinating process to learn, and I am simplifying just a bit. This work represents my first attempt at using a piece of wood from my own process. The wood you see is a piece of Maple Burl. It was stabilized as a 7" round and finished down to 6"diameter.
The metal details are all in Stainless steel. I went with a wooden bowl form because I just love the work of so many wood turners. But since I am not quite a wood turner myself, I went with a very ornate style of bowl called a Mazer. A far more decorative than functional object for sure. This is what happens when you give a machinist wood to turn I guess.
Anyhow, this is the first step on my journey towards a much more ambitious piece. I have one more "small sketch" that I was planning, but considering how long this first one took, I might have delay that work for a little while. I am just not sure there is time in my current work flow. But we will see what happens.
Thanks for looking, and as always, comments and questions are welcome.