How To Use Cactus Juice Stabilizing Resin

  • Vacuum pump able to achieve a minimum of 100 microns or 29 Hg at sea level. Better stabilized blanks will be produced at higher vacuum. (I strongly advise an electric rotary vane vacuum pump because it can require several hours of vacuum to completely evacuate the air blanks.) For an explanation of vacuum and stabilization, see this article.
  • Small toaster oven, frequently purchased for $10 or less at consignment shops.
  • Metalized foil (optional)
  • To be stabilized material (10 percent moisture content or less, preferably 0 percent )
  • Gloves made of Latex or nitrile as well as eye protection are examples of personal protection gear.
  • Make blanks.
  • Fill the vacuum chamber with blanks and press them down.
  • Cactus Juice should be added to cover all the blanks.
  • Apply a complete vacuum to the chamber and continue to use your vacuum pump until the bubbles stop.
  • After releasing the suction, immerse the blanks for at least twice as long as you did before.
  • Eliminate blanks
  • Use a drip pan or wrap with foil
  • Cure until the cactus juice has solidified at 190-200 F (87-93 C).
  • Take the oven out.
  • Await to reach room temperature.

The first step is to ensure that your material is clean and has a moisture level of less than 5% (or better yet, 0%). All wood, including wood you buy that has been kiln-dried, needs to be dried before stabilizing. No of how long it has been sitting, wood that has been left in your shop will always have an Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) because of the air’s humidity. In the majority of the nation, EMC is between 10 and 12 percent. Avoid using a moisture meter since they are inaccurate below 6 percent. Placing your blanks in your toaster oven at 220 F (104 C) for a minimum of 24 hours is the best way to ensure that they are as dry as possible after having already been air dried. The blanks should be taken out of the oven and put right away in a zip-top freezer bag or another airtight container to cool to room temperature. This is required because a piece of wood that is extremely dry and hot will begin to absorb moisture from the air as soon as it begins to cool down. When you add the Cactus Juice to hot blanks, it will promote early polymerization, which will result in total failure. NEVER dry green wood in an oven. Prior to drying in the oven, let all freshly cut wood air dry for a few months. Inaction will result in warping and cracking.

Avoid using oily woods like Cocobolo and Rosewood. The reason is that, in a vacuum, the wood’s oils will be sucked out and may contaminate the juice, preventing a good curing.

Place your blanks in the stabilizing chamber after that and add weight to them. Cactus Juice must be added to the stabilization chamber in the required quantity to completely cover the blanks with around 1-2″ (25–50 mm) of Juice. Ensure that your stabilizing chamber is situated in a safe, stable area. A vacuum chamber may explode if it experiences a violent shock, such hitting the ground.

If you wish to tint the wood, Cactus Juice can be colored. I’ve tried a lot of different colors and have found that Alumilite or Cactus Juice Stabilizing Dyes work the best for me. They are highly concentrated and generate pleasing, vibrant colors that blend and complement the Juice beautifully. Some colours, like Transtint, can be applied sparingly, but if you use too much, the Juice won’t cure as well. Make careful to apply more dye than you believe is necessary!

Place the chamber’s lid on top after the cactus juice has been introduced. To get the gasket to seal, you might need on apply a little pressure to the lid. When the vacuum first starts, a tremendous volume of air is drawn from the blanks, which causes the Juice to foam up significantly. The vacuum control valve should be fully opened before turning on the pump, and it should be progressively closed afterward to keep foam under control. Apply a thorough vacuum when the majority of the froth has dissipated.

It could take anything from 4-6 hours on the low end to 24+ hours on the high end to completely expel the air from your material, depending on the type of wood you are stabilizing and the vacuum pump you are using. The most typical, in my opinion, is 12+ hours. Tiny bubbles will continue to appear for MANY hours if your wood has even the slightest amount of moisture (24-36). I advise curing your wood as previously indicated. Once you notice very few bubbles emerging from the blanks, keep running the vacuum. Release the vacuum and stop your pump once all the air has been drawn out. If you’re using a rotary vane pump, it’s crucial not to turn it off while it’s creating vacuum. Your pump will experience early wear as a result.)

Give the blanks at least twice as long to soak without vacuum as you did with it. In many types of wood, a lengthier soak—up to a week—will produce greater results. Keep in mind that the majority of resin uptake happens AFTER the vacuum is released. Some wood species, like walnut and redwood, benefit from a prolonged soak. I typically let these soak for a week.

After the blanks soak in the resin, take them out. Allow the blanks to drain of any extra cactus juice. It is a good idea to carefully wrap each blank in foil if you plan to cure many blanks at once to prevent them from congealing into one solid mass while the Juice cures. Rolling out a 2′ (60 cm) strip of foil and starting at one end, rolling the first blank in the foil until it is coated, is a simple technique to accomplish this. Next, place the second blank next to the first, and then rewrap the entire thing. Once all of the blanks are covered, add the third and then continue. You are now prepared for the oven after folding the ends over.

If you can fit the blanks in without them touching one other, you can also cure them without covering them in foil. Juice can be kept in the wood without foil, which is not necessary. In order to stack multiple blanks in your oven at once and to limit the mess (part of the Juice may flow out when heated), it is there. Just keep in mind that if you stack blanks together or allow them to touch without foil, they will harden into a block that needs to be cut apart. Make sure to use a drip pan to catch any bleed out if you cure without foil. It is strongly advised against using foil when stabilizing objects that will later be cast in Alumilite so that the edges will remain free of dried cactus juice.

Now, preheat the oven to 190–200 F and lay the blanks inside (87-93 C). Make careful you use an oven thermometer to verify the toaster oven’s actual temperature. Toaster oven dials are infamously unreliable. The Juice won’t be harmed by being too hot, but it will “leak” out of the blank more frequently before it cures. For the Juice to cure, the blank’s interior temperature must reach 190–200 F (87–93 C) for at least 10 minutes. For the normal pen blank, this typically takes one to one and a half hours, although it can take longer for thicker material. Even lengthier time in the oven is not harmful, but if the blanks are not fully cured when you remove them and allow them to cool, putting them back in the oven will not result in a full cure. It is essential to be cautious and give them a lengthier cure until you have a better understanding of the procedure. Open the oven door and check the blanks for any cured Cactus Juice on them or in your drip pan to see if they are cured. Remove the blanks if you wrapped the items in foil, then peel the foil back. The blanks are finished if there is any cured cactus juice visible. Check again after letting them cure for another batch if you don’t notice any cured cactus juice.

When the blanks have finished drying, take them out of the oven while wearing gloves and remove the foil. The blanks must be allowed to cool to room temperature. After the blanks have cooled, you may either clean them up with a saw or scrape off the resin that has leaked out of them. Although it is not necessary, this step will enable you to see the final blanks more clearly and decide how you want to utilize them. An excellent alternative is a belt sander.

Pour the extra cactus juice from the chamber after the stabilization procedure is complete and preserve it for later use. I use quart HDPE plastic paint mixing cups with lids, which you can purchase at your neighborhood home improvement store in the paint aisle. Use PET plastic soda bottles instead of glass jars, which are optically clear plastic. It may eventually get better on its own. Since cactus juice does not evaporate, an airtight lid is not required. Simply clean the chamber with dish soap, water, and a towel after removing the extra juice. Before using it again, make sure it has thoroughly dried.

How should the resin in cactus juice be handled?

Heat curing of cactus juice occurs between 80°C and 96°C (177o F -205o F ). When the resin within the blank reaches 90° C for 6–8 minutes, Cactus Juice cures. The traditional small shop method for curing is to heat the product in a countertop toaster oven for 10 minutes or more, or until the interior blank temperature reaches the cure temperature. For a normal small run of 10 pen blanks, this usually takes 1 to 1.5 hours. Longer processing periods may be necessary to reach the necessary cure temperature when processing blanks with high cross section areas or bigger batches of blanks.

The highest grade monomers are used in the formulation of Cactus Juice to extend the polymer’s service functioning range. It is advised to use Cactus Juice continuously between -65°C and 189°C (372oF).

Under ideal storage circumstances, activated cactus juice will have a shelf life of roughly 12 months. The resin needs to be kept in its original container and out of the sun and other UV light sources. It’s important to keep storage temps below 29°C (85oF). It is advised to keep items in a refrigerator.

ALL CHEMISTRIES NEED TO BE HANDLED WITH CAUTION! Using well accepted procedures for handling non-toxic industrial chemicals, cactus juice resin can be handled safely. It is advisable to use rubber gloves when handling liquid cactus juice. If skin contact does occur, keep it to a minimum and wash thoroughly with water and mild soap. Consult a doctor if dermatitis develops, and stay away from the exposure. Utilize safety eyewear to protect your eyes from unintentional contact. If you should accidentally come into touch with your eyes, immediately flush them out with lots of clean water and get any necessary medical assistance.

Because cured cactus juice is innocuous, it can be thrown out with other industrial waste. Prior to disposal, uncured resin should be cured. Biodegradable resin is present in wash water effluent in solution.

What is stabilizing resin made of Cactus Juice?

For stabilizing and hardening wood and other porous materials, Cactus Juice Stabilizing Resin is a premium professional grade heat cured resin. The wonderful, punky, spalted timbers that are just too soft to work with are especially responsive to it. Use with most Alumilite Dyes & Cactus Juice.

What is the duration of cactus juice?

At room temperature, activated cactus juice has a storage life of 12 months. It is said to last for two years if kept in the refrigerator. The trouble regarding cactus juice and shelf life is that once it has passed its expiration date, it will not harden or cure. It simply reaches a point when it won’t heal properly or at all. If that occurs, get in touch with me so I can send you an activator so you can revive it if you already have too much on your plate. I DO NOT advise making any attempts to activate any portion of the purchased container. The weight of the activator, which is a semi-paste, must be quite exact (within a gram or two). To acquire the right ratio, you would need to weigh everything precisely, and even then, problems might arise. According to my policy, products have a 12-month shelf life after shipping. You are on your own and I will not provide any form of warranty coverage if you attempt to activate just a fraction.

Before stabilizing, how dry should the wood be?

Depending on the species, drying green wood can be challenging. To begin with, I would recommend leaving them larger than necessary to account for shrinkage and warping. Then, for a period of six months to a year, you may just put them on a shelf at your store. There are numerous ways to achieve this if you need to speed it up. The blanks can be kept in a heated box for about a week by using a 100 watt lightbulb as the heat source. If a toaster oven has a low enough setting, you could easily accomplish the same thing with it. I would aim to maintain it at between 100 and 120 F. You might also search online for instructions on how to microwave-dry wood. That approach has been quite successful for many people. Whatever way you choose, once they are “dried,” you must continue to dry them until they are oven dry in an oven at 220 F for at least 24 hours for the most stabilizing results.

How does resin stabilize wood?

The wood pieces are placed in a vacuum chamber during the stabilization procedure, which removes all the air to remove moisture from the wood. After soaking the wood with an acrylic resin, you remove it from the chamber so that the resin can cure, usually with the aid of a supportive heat treatment. The end product is a sturdy piece of wood that won’t react to fluctuations in humidity.

Additional advantages of stabilization include:

  • The wood’s resistance to decay increases
  • Machines are simpler to use.
  • Even after being subjected to high humidity or extreme UV light, the material is no longer harmed.

The knife handles nevertheless have a wood-like appearance and feel, while being heavily coated with acrylic resin.