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Old 06-13-2010, 12:59 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Jeremy Hillary Boob, PhD View Post
The black marks are not holes, but just small blotchy blemishes on the surface. The strange thing is that they are only on one side of the slab. When the light is a little better, and I get the energy to turn it over, I'll post a picture.

Btw, we have lots of madrone/arbutus trees here. In fact, the main road thru our neighborhood is Madrone Drive. However, they don't seem to get as large as the one this slab came from---or at least that would be extremely rare. It's an interesting tree that contorts itself into all kinds of weird shapes trying to get to the limited sun beneath the redwood/douglas fir canopy. As far as I can tell, around these parts, madrone trees only get used for firewood---kind of a shame for such a beautiful hardwood.
Hi Jeremy...don't worry about the pics then. You would definitely know if it was canker, the holes can get to be very big.

The reason that madrone isn't cut as a commercial hardwood is evidently due to the fact that it is - as you very correctly point out - a tree which grows with wild contortions. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to cut on a commercial mill as these mills are set up for straight cuts on straight trees.

A private mill owner can handle this sort of thing far better, as trees cut in this fashion are strictly on a one at a time basis. Whereas, the commercial mills have automated non-stop feed systems. Logs are processed at the rate of one every 4 seconds in one of our local mills, quite incredible.

And I hate to admit it, but madrone/arbutus is the firewood of choice here as well. However, with my small bandmill, I have a nice little stockpile of slabs and boards.

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Old 06-15-2010, 06:15 PM   #32
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I finished the bottom, and still have some touch-up to do. I wasn't too careful, since it won't be visible, and I really wanted to get it done in one afternoon. I put on one thin coat of epoxy, then when it got good and tacky, I put a very very heavy coating on top of that. My one mistake was not plugging up the holes, some of which go all the way thru. As a result, some of the epoxy ran thru and I'll need to clean up some of that mess from the front side. Oh well, live and learn...

When I do the "show" side, I plan on putting on a ton of thin coats and letting each one dry (at least the first several) and sand in between. Based on my experiments, that's the only way I can get a super-smooth bubble-free finish.

Btw, there's a lot of reflection in the picture, but I think you can get the general idea of what it looks like.
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Old 06-15-2010, 06:28 PM   #33
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AWESOME LOOKING SLAB!!!

Sorry, I should have mentioned that about arbutus. The holes that go through are quite common.

If you have a regular wood scraper, the kind used in furniture making, the epoxy will come off the other side OK. You just need to do it before it cures too well.

There is a point where it becomes very firm, but before it reaches total cure where you can scrape it off with little difficulty. Or let it cure fully and sand it off.

It doesn't matter if you leave some of the epoxy on the other side, as it will look the same as the rest as soon as you have a couple of coats on there.

Very nearly a flame in that grain...extremely nice. Now I'm officially jealous!
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:03 PM   #34
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AWESOME LOOKING SLAB!!!
Well said.

Simply gorgeous.
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Old 06-18-2010, 11:29 AM   #35
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Here's a couple of photos of the top side, as viewed from 2 different angles. I couldn't seem to get the whole thing in one shot without getting a bad glare on the photo.

It still needs a few more coats, but the look won't change. I'm having one problem and I was hoping someone with some epoxy skills might have some suggestions. The epoxy seems to get quite a few tiny little bubbles (roughly, the size of the tip of a toothpick). After mixing and spreading the epoxy, I use a hairdryer to heat it, and that gets the bubbles up near the surface, but they don't seem to want to go away. I've even tried using a toothpick to get them out, but nothing seems to work. For the base coats, it's not a big deal, since I can sand them out before the next coat goes on, but I'm not seeing how I can ever get a final top coat that is flawless.

Btw, I'm using West System epoxy and their 207 "special clear" hardener. It's more viscous than their usual epoxy and I'm usually working at temperatures in the mid to upper 60s (they give 60 degrees as the minimum working temp). But, I have tried warming the epoxy to about 80 degrees, and that didn't really help.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 06-18-2010, 12:13 PM   #36
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Jeremy - don't be afraid to let the bubbles pop using the hair dryer.

The more viscous epoxy really prefers to be worked at higher temperatures. A few extra seconds of "fanning" with the dryer won't hurt it. It will also have the effect of getting the epoxy to set a little faster.

Experiment with the fanning technique, for example, go slower than you probably are now. The bubbles will burst given enough warmth. This is offgassing from the wood and happens most of the time.

One way to minimize this offgassing, is to coat the wood when the ambient temperature is dropping. If the temperature of the day is rising, offgassing is more prevalent.

If there is any way you could set up some sort of tent with tarps maybe, and then add a heater, that would help as well.

When the epoxy manufacturers give cure times, they are referring to a standard 3 oz. batch. As soon as you spread the epoxy out, that cure time increases immensely.
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Old 06-18-2010, 04:34 PM   #37
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Jeremy - don't be afraid to let the bubbles pop using the hair dryer.

The more viscous epoxy really prefers to be worked at higher temperatures. A few extra seconds of "fanning" with the dryer won't hurt it. It will also have the effect of getting the epoxy to set a little faster.

Experiment with the fanning technique, for example, go slower than you probably are now. The bubbles will burst given enough warmth. This is offgassing from the wood and happens most of the time.

One way to minimize this offgassing, is to coat the wood when the ambient temperature is dropping. If the temperature of the day is rising, offgassing is more prevalent.

If there is any way you could set up some sort of tent with tarps maybe, and then add a heater, that would help as well.

When the epoxy manufacturers give cure times, they are referring to a standard 3 oz. batch. As soon as you spread the epoxy out, that cure time increases immensely.
cocobolo,

As always, thanks for the reply. However, I don't think this is outgassing---I've seen that and that produces relatively large bubbles that I can easily manage. Besides, I did a thin "base coat", where I heated the wood up to about 80 degrees, then put on the epoxy as it was cooling back down to about 70 (or less). Then I waited for that to dry and the next day put on a fairly thick coat. That thick coat had lots of pin-head sized bubbles---so small they are almost invisible from an angle, but clearly visible from directly above. I spent a lot of time with the hair dryer, but it would only bring them closer to the surface---they seemed to be too small for it to actually break them.

Anyways, I called the West System tech line today and they had several suggestions. I just finished trying one, and it seems to work like a charm. They suggested using a propane torch and fanning it over the curing epoxy. There's a video here that demonstrates the technique:

(the propane torch is at about the 2:14 mark). I'd seen this video before I called, and I'd assumed the torch was based on the same principle as the hair dryer. But, the tech guy insisted it was much more effective. So, I just gave it a try, and on any fairly thick layer, the torch works extremely well---the bubbles just shoot out of the epoxy. I'll let you know how it works out.

Jeremy
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Old 06-18-2010, 04:40 PM   #38
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Exactly the same principal, I was never brave enough to use a propane torch!

Fortunately, I didn't need to.

It sounds as though your epoxy is quite a bit thicker, and once the surface skins over, it would be difficult to get enough quick heat with the hair dryer. The surface tension is obviously able to keep the bubbles encased.

Terrific that you have the solution, anxiously awaiting the final result!
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Old 06-18-2010, 09:21 PM   #39
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Exactly the same principal, I was never brave enough to use a propane torch!

Fortunately, I didn't need to.

It sounds as though your epoxy is quite a bit thicker, and once the surface skins over, it would be difficult to get enough quick heat with the hair dryer. The surface tension is obviously able to keep the bubbles encased.

Terrific that you have the solution, anxiously awaiting the final result!
Yes, the 207 hardener yields a thick mix, since the ratio of resin (thick stuff) to hardener (runny stuff) is 5 to 1, as opposed to 3 to 1 for the other standard West System epoxies. In any case, it's almost magical how the tiny bubbles more or less evaporate when subjected to the torch.

Btw, the West System guy also told me that it's impossible to get a "perfect" finish with the hardener I'm using. That may be true, but with my current approach and some buffing, I'm confident it'll be close enough for me (well, assuming I don't burn down the house with the torch in the process...).

Finally, at the resolution available in the images posted here, the final result is not going to look any different than the photos I posted above. But, I will post something once I get it installed on the countertop---should be pretty nice, I think.
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Old 06-18-2010, 10:43 PM   #40
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Jeremy, I have no doubt whatsoever it is going to be excellent!
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Old 06-19-2010, 08:48 AM   #41
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Anxiously waiting........
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Old 06-24-2010, 11:20 PM   #42
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I sanded the epoxy finish to fix a few minor surface imperfections and now I'd like to restore it to a high gloss. I did a small test where I tried sanding with 220, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500, and, finally, 2000 grit but still had a matte finish. Searching online, some people claim to have had success using micro-mesh abrasives, while others (mostly surf board builders) buff the epoxy. Does anybody have any thoughts as to which of these (or other) approach is most likely to be successful? Thanks.
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Old 06-25-2010, 12:05 AM   #43
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Jeremy, as far as I am aware, any form of sandpaper is likely to leave the mat finish you describe.

We used to use a two part polyurethane on top of epoxy if that was going to be our final finish. You might try that. I'm not convinced that epoxy will actually buff that well...and here's why.

When epoxy goes through it's first cure, it cures to the highest temperature reached during the final stage of curing. The epoxy is rarely "hard" at this point.

In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that you can make a dent with your fingernail in your epoxy as it is now.

It will cure further if it is exposed to a higher temperature. In boatbuilding, this can be a real problem. When epoxy is used in conjunction with a light weight fabric - 6 oz. cloth for example - and the subsequent cure is at a higher temperature, you get what is called print through.

This is caused when the epoxy softens somewhat on its' journey to the next cure.

So, the most practical solution to this is to cure the epoxy at as high a temperature as you can practically achieve. If you can make a tent and get the air temp up to 140 F, for example, the epoxy should cure hard, or at least harder than it is now.

For my money (and thank god it isn't my money with that magnificent piece of wood!) I would be using the best two part polyurethane I could get my hands on.

FWIW, I just got an email from stewmac.com wherein they are describing a refinish put on part of an old guitar. You might go to their site and see what they did.
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Old 06-25-2010, 11:28 AM   #44
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Jeremy, as far as I am aware, any form of sandpaper is likely to leave the mat finish you describe.

We used to use a two part polyurethane on top of epoxy if that was going to be our final finish. You might try that. I'm not convinced that epoxy will actually buff that well...and here's why.

When epoxy goes through it's first cure, it cures to the highest temperature reached during the final stage of curing. The epoxy is rarely "hard" at this point.

In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that you can make a dent with your fingernail in your epoxy as it is now.

It will cure further if it is exposed to a higher temperature. In boatbuilding, this can be a real problem. When epoxy is used in conjunction with a light weight fabric - 6 oz. cloth for example - and the subsequent cure is at a higher temperature, you get what is called print through.

This is caused when the epoxy softens somewhat on its' journey to the next cure.

So, the most practical solution to this is to cure the epoxy at as high a temperature as you can practically achieve. If you can make a tent and get the air temp up to 140 F, for example, the epoxy should cure hard, or at least harder than it is now.

For my money (and thank god it isn't my money with that magnificent piece of wood!) I would be using the best two part polyurethane I could get my hands on.

FWIW, I just got an email from stewmac.com wherein they are describing a refinish put on part of an old guitar. You might go to their site and see what they did.
I was afraid you'd say that...

I had considered just pouring another layer of epoxy on top. I have enough leftover goo to do so, but there's bound to be a few imperfection. Besides, it seems likely that it'll get some scratches at some point, and I'd like to know that I can sand those out and restore the gloss.

I'd also considered the 2-part polyurethane paint, since West System specifically recommends this. That stuff sounds like it's kind of difficult to work with and I'd need several coats, but I know it'll work since it's commonly used in boat building. So, I'll probably go that route if buffing fails me. Btw, would you consider this stuff a good 2-part polyurethane?

http://www.jamestowndistributors.com...ct.do?pid=4245

It's the only one I've so far been able to find locally.

Thanks again.
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Old 06-25-2010, 12:37 PM   #45
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I was afraid you'd say that...

I had considered just pouring another layer of epoxy on top. I have enough leftover goo to do so, but there's bound to be a few imperfection. Besides, it seems likely that it'll get some scratches at some point, and I'd like to know that I can sand those out and restore the gloss.

I'd also considered the 2-part polyurethane paint, since West System specifically recommends this. That stuff sounds like it's kind of difficult to work with and I'd need several coats, but I know it'll work since it's commonly used in boat building. So, I'll probably go that route if buffing fails me. Btw, would you consider this stuff a good 2-part polyurethane?

http://www.jamestowndistributors.com...ct.do?pid=4245

It's the only one I've so far been able to find locally.

Thanks again.
Jeremy:

Interlux brand has been around for a good long time. I think you will have good success with that one.

One thing I do note is that they have given good clear instructions as to how to apply the finish to epoxy.

And seeing what an excellent job you have done so far, I can only imagine how good the final result will be with the Interlux.

I would be inclined to go for the finer sandpaper, e.g. 220. And buy the absolute best quality sandpaper you can find...there really is a difference.

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