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Arseneau

Question About Using Very Old Wood

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Hey guys,

Haven't been around for a while but I have a woodworking connundrum that I thought my old friends here at PG might be able to answer.

I have a small piece of a 500 year old tree that has extreme sentimental value that I'd love to incorporate into a piece of woodworking I'm doing. The problem is, the wood was very very wet when I found it, has now dried for over 2 years, but it is very soft and spongy and would be totally unusable in its current state.

Anyone have any tips on how I might reconstitute it? I work in archaeology and I know that very old wood that's been wet (like a shipwreck) is generally soaked in a wax-based solution that actually gets into the wood at a cellular level and hardens to keep it from falling apart -- but is there something like this that can be done at home for a small piece?

The piece is only about 4x2x.25 inches and I only need a very small, very thin usable circle about the size of a quarter or smaller (trying to incorporate it into a wooden ring).

Any ideas?

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Hey guys,

Haven't been around for a while but I have a woodworking connundrum that I thought my old friends here at PG might be able to answer.

I have a small piece of a 500 year old tree that has extreme sentimental value that I'd love to incorporate into a piece of woodworking I'm doing. The problem is, the wood was very very wet when I found it, has now dried for over 2 years, but it is very soft and spongy and would be totally unusable in its current state.

Anyone have any tips on how I might reconstitute it? I work in archaeology and I know that very old wood that's been wet (like a shipwreck) is generally soaked in a wax-based solution that actually gets into the wood at a cellular level and hardens to keep it from falling apart -- but is there something like this that can be done at home for a small piece?

The piece is only about 4x2x.25 inches and I only need a very small, very thin usable circle about the size of a quarter or smaller (trying to incorporate it into a wooden ring).

Any ideas?

There is a product that you soak wood in to replace the water content to prevent checking and cracking. I forget what it is called but I did see it at a Woodcraft store a couple of months ago. Checking them out online would probably get you the actual product name.

For a piece that size in that condition, you should be able to get it done with thin CA glue. It may go in very deep and flash off on you, in which case you will have to sand off some hardened CA foam but that's no big deal. You'd just give it another coat after that. This is how spalted maple is often stabilized and soft and spongy is usually a pretty good discription for that!

SR

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There is a product that you soak wood in to replace the water content to prevent checking and cracking. I forget what it is called but I did see it at a Woodcraft store a couple of months ago. Checking them out online would probably get you the actual product name.

For a piece that size in that condition, you should be able to get it done with thin CA glue. It may go in very deep and flash off on you, in which case you will have to sand off some hardened CA foam but that's no big deal. You'd just give it another coat after that. This is how spalted maple is often stabilized and soft and spongy is usually a pretty good discription for that!

SR

Thanks guys for both of your suggestions! I tried Scott's advice and soaked the piece in literally six or seven tubes of CA (letting one soak in and dry completely, sanding until it got punchy again and dousing another bottle) and it worked beautifully!! The piece became hard as the maple veneer I had glued to it and it held together well enough to be able to sand it into a 3mm thick ring. Never thought I'd actually be able to make it work but it's done and worked well beyond expectations so thanks again guys! I knew PG would know the answer :D

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