What is stabilization?

If you're new to the process of wood stabilization, here are a few common questions and my responses:

Q. What is wood stabilization? 

A. The process of stabilizing wood is a multiple step procedure, where the end goal is to remove as much water and air as possible from the individual cells within the wood, and replace it with a heat-cured resin called Cactus Juice. Once the process is complete, the wood retains its beautiful external appearance, while the interior is now fortified against common problems such as splitting, chipping, cracking, rotting, and staining.

Q. What benefits are there of using stabilized wood to build my knife handle, gun stock, duck call?

A. As mentioned above, stabilization fortifies the internal structure of the wood. Therefore, the wood is now waterproof, and no longer exhibits the most common problems of wood that is repeatedly subjected to moisture - such as staining or drying out and cracking. 

Q. Does this mean I can put my knife in the dishwasher now?

A. Though we do not recommend you ever place a kitchen knife in the dishwasher, in theory (and in my own experimentations), a stabilized knife handle holds up incredibly well in the dishwasher, compared to an unstabilized knife handle. Over time, however, repeated exposure to the unfaltering conditions of a dishwasher takes a toll on any knife, and will most certainly dull the blade. 

Q. What's to stop me from doing my own stabilizing? It looks like anyone can do it. 

A. Absolutely! Stabilizing is an incredibly fun hobby or business. And while almost anyone can stabilize their own wood, not everyone does for a few separate reasons. First, the equipment is expensive, particularly beyond the basic starter kits, which are generally underpowered and inefficient. Second, the supplies are expensive. A single gallon of Cactus Juice is around $80. A gallon might provide enough juice to complete 16 blanks from start to finish, using my process. Not to mention the  burdens of other necessary expenses such as vacuum pump oil, dyes, stir sticks, cups, foil, electric bill spikes, etc.

In addition, the process I use to stabilize my knife blanks and scales goes far beyond the basic explanation provided TurnTex's Cactus Juice. An at-home beginner might be able to produce a knife blank which 70% of its internal air is displaced. Most of my blanks are close to 100%, which means they are professionally-stabilized and far less likely to degrade over time. In fact, many will theoretically last longer than the knife they are put on. 

Q. So, what process do you use to stabilize?

A. I use a variety of equipment to produce my blanks and scales. First, I dry my wood thoroughly to remove any initial moisture. This can be a long process, but in the end yields wood that is close to 0% moisture content. Next, I place the blanks in a vacuum chamber connected to a high-quality, efficient pump manufactured in America. Once the blanks are stabilized to my liking, I transfer them and the Cactus Juice to a pressure pot for 24 hours to fully saturate the now-vacant cells blanks, and then repeat the process again. Once they leave the pressure pot for the second time, they get wrapped in foil and placed into an oven to cure, or harden. Then, they are cooled, sanded, finished, buffed, and ready for sale. From start to finish, a typical batch can take four to five days. 

Q. How can I tell if my knife blank is stabilized or not, and how do I know that I'm going to receive a quality product? 

A. Click here for a video link to my Instagram page, where I describe how to identify if a blank has been stabilized properly. In general, if a blank splinters or tears while working with it, or otherwise appears "raw," it is likely not stabilized properly and a replacement is recommended. All of my blanks and scales are provided with a 100% money back guarantee - and are guaranteed to be easy to work with (turning, sanding, carving, and other shaping methods).