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Experience with Stabilizing Buckeye Burl

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Means2nEnd, Jun 10, 2014.

  1. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    Sorry I did do searches and found no real thorough answers on this. I am assembling a swamp ash body 2mm black veneer and then about a ¼” ridiculously beautiful BEB top. Of course I will glue the book matched pieces together and glue top to body. My question is besides filling any voids with crumbs and pieces and 2 part epoxy I am hoping to stabilize it before going to town on it since it crumbles like turkey on Thanksgiving my mother in law makes (burns).

    I plan to finish with a satin wipe on poly and that provides zero protection to dings and scratches on soft tops like burls and spalt at least not much to speak of. So there is the CA route which is costly and not as thin as I would like. I have used a 50/50 shellac alcohol mixture for smaller stuff it goes deep and hardens like a rock but there is a bit of yellowing even with the clear stuff. I have done about 3 treatments before on some smaller pieces sanded them down and applied other finishes over the top. I was thinking of using real stabilizing resin from woodcraft. I know there is one that cures by heat about 200 degrees for 20/30 minutes and I think there maybe another that cures on its own.

    Anyway what has been the best ways you have had experience with to really get it hard and easier to cut and route? wooooood.JPG
    blindrabbit likes this.
  2. Can't answer your question (sorry), but I have to complement that awesome cut of BEB. Good luck and keep us posted with the progress! Can't wait to see how it turns out!
  3. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    Thanks dreads, I have been preparing for this build for so long, done so much research, invested so much time and money into my shop it's nuts. I haven't wanted to post anything here until I have some real progress and something to show but there is so much awesomeness here as far as a wealth of experienced builders that I fear I might have to ask some questions along the way.
    dreads311 likes this.
  4. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    You could saturate the whole body in epoxy
  5. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    Thanks Hopkins, my fear even though I have seen many builders use epoxy is that it’s too thick to really penetrate into the wood and fill it. Is there something to add to thin it down? Minwax makes a wood hardener I have seen but never used and its resin based and cures in time. I have some smaller pieces to experiment on. I wish I had a vacuum container large enough I would use cactus juice resin hardener stabilizer but its needs to be submerged and in a vacuum for an hour or so then baked. I fear it would warp and well it’s just too big.
  6. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I have used Mirror Coat on a soft spalted pecan top (not nearly as soft as Buckeye) and it totally absorbed the first two or three coats before it started building up.
  7. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    Cool, I will try that thanks
  8. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Good luck I am about to stop using Buckeye it adds so much time to a build even charging a lot for the top it doesn't pay. That piece will drink about 3 cans of the minwax hardner.
  9. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    Well as it seems all builders hate buckeye to work with. I am going to do a “Pepsi” challenge in the next one or two weeks. I have had several suggestions and since I have some extra pieces I think I will try them all.

    I do have 1 can of the Minwax wood hardener on the way. This was actually not too bad at $14 a can to my door but if it uses 3 cans that’s something to consider.

    My dad who has done high end furniture building and refinishing said to use clear shellac mixed with another 50% alcohol and do several coats. This might be the cheapest method.

    Lastly I went to Woodcraft today and picked up a two part System Three clear coat resin. The mirror coat as described by the guy working there and on the System Three website says the mirror is for building on the surface and does not add hardly any strength to wood fibers although it dries as hard as nails so I’m not sure about their own spec sheets. The clear coat that describes it as penetrating and will harden the fibers more so I’m going to give that a whirl…the combo will yield me 12 Oz and was $34 and now from what Tom says I’m thinking this won’t be enough at all….Well if anyone cares I’ll post some pics as I proceed.
  10. Nidan


    Oct 31, 2008
    Duluth , Ga
    I used CA following tips form other woodworkers , it's a pita but worked well

    Attached Files:

  11. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    I generally start with a "solid" chunk of buckeye one that hasn't been book matched. Naturally it doesn't lay flat either. So I create a pan of thick aluminum foil then line the inside of that with wax paper. I then lay the piece of buckeye concave side down pour a few cans of the minwax on it then lay a piece of wax paper on it and a concrete block to help level it. A few days later It may need to be repeated. eventually it will stop taking it in like a sponge. Then you can start filling the voids. I use the system 3 mirror coat.
  12. Triad

    Triad Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 4, 2006
    Luthier - Prometeus Guitars
    A thick coat of epoxy gets easily into the wood for at least a couple of mm.
  13. gpx1200


    Apr 24, 2013
    spencer mass
    there is a product called west systems epoxy (Wood Epoxy Saturation Treatment) it is formulated for building wooden boats and has excellent penetrating proppertys in wood it is excellent for hardening wood and can be polished to a high gloss finish as well, their is also a special clear hardener available
  14. Hey man, how'd you do that pick guard? That looks outstanding.
  15. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    This isn't based on experience, but rather what I've been researching and planning to do in order to use Buckeye Burl. My plan is to use a vacuum infused stabilizing resin that is heat cured (Cactus Juice Stabilizing Resin). Right now I'm still exploring options for a chamber large enough to do a billet large enough to resaw for book matched tops. The problem I'm running into is that it requires a lot of resin just to submerge the piece and since it's a 2-part system once you activate it it limits the shelf life, though from what I read it's still usable to 8-12 months, so perhaps it's not such a huge deal. Right now I'm looking at a chamber made from acrylic sheet, though I need to spend some time looking at putting it under vacuum. I'd also like to be able to do woods for fretboards, but that would require a much smaller chamber.

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