Alcohol Soaking

Welcome to my blog on alcohol assisted drying of wood. The intent is to provide an avenue for information sharing about the process. Much time has been spent answering individual emails from around the world and countless questions on many woodworking forums. As time permits I will share information about current pieces I am drying as well as the final outcome in the form of pictures of finished pieces.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Small rhododendron NE hollow form.

Rhododendron burl from wood I was given in August. The tree had been down and cut into firewood lengths for about a week before it was given to me. The waxed blank sat outside my shop until early November when I roughed it out. I wrote the date on the bottom with a new gel pen and it disappeared while soaking in alcohol. Not all gel pens are created equal.
The data card for the hollow form. I took the piece out of the alcohol on the 12th and wrapped it but didn’t take the first weight until 24 hours later. All weights are in grams. The piece was effectively dry on the 17th when I took a long weekend. It only lost 3 grams over the next week before final turning it on the 24th. The number (224) is the sample weight of the soaking solution when I took the piece out and corresponds to 92% alcohol.
The roughed out hollow form soaked about a week before I had a chance to take it out. It was roughed out to about 1/4".
The black line on the base insicates where the inside bottm is.
Nice eyes on the low side. Base 1 1/4". Body 2 1/4 maximum and neck 1 3/4".Some flame figure on the high side. Height is 3 7/8". Top through the neck is 1/16" thick. Thickness increases midway through the body to 1/8" at the base. Finished piece weighs 33 grams.

Sanded to 600 initially and between coats. Finished with 2 coats of Rockler’s Gel Polyurethane. No buffing.

I asked about turning rhododendron a couple months ago and the advise was it will crack and split no matter what I do. I beg to differ with the advise. I also have two crotch bowls that also dried without cracking or excessive warping.

Comments welcome.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Alcohol soaking method for drying bowls.

I stated looking for a method to decrease the time it takes to dry wood
bowls in 2001. By the end of that year I had refined a method of quickly drying bowls which is consistent and cost effective for both hobbyist and professional turners.

After a year of testing by other turners an article describing the process was published in the November 2004 issue of More Wooddturning. The information was disseminated Saturday November 13th on several internet woodworking forums. The thread on Woodcentral provoked a lot of discussion and answers a lot of frequently ask questions. Drying rough turned bowls quickly. A condensed version of the published article was put in the Articles section of Woodcentral on 16 November 2004. Alcohol soaking method for drying bowls.

The article has several pictures which help explain the process used to soak and dry wood bowls.

alcohol wood drying
One aspect that I had not anticipated was the availability of denatured ethanol alcohol outside the United States. In Canada and the UK denatured alcohol is methyl hydrate or methanol. I do not recommend the use of methanol due to health safety concerns. It is also important to obtain a Material Safety Data Sheet(MSDS) to access the dangers of using alcohol. Both ethanol and methanol are labeled highly flammable so appropriate safety measures need to be implemented when using alcohol. Ethanol is listed as harmful while methanol is considered toxic. It is incumbent upon anyone using the alcohol soaking procedure to read, understand and follow all precautions listed on the containers. Do not do anything you are not comfortable with. The information I have provided is my experience. You assume all responsibility for any results stemming from using any part of this procedure.

More information will be added to this web site in the future. Until then please refer to the above mentioned sites for information on the alcohol soaking process for drying rough turned wood bowls.