View Full Version : Washing up liquid for wood?
14-07-05, 10:26 AM
I came across these two links over on BCUK and wondered if anyone had ever tried it at all and wether or not it could be useful for making knife handles. On the first link, scroll down to Experimental New Treatment For Wood (http://www.ronkent.com/rontech.html) and this is (http://www.woodcraft.com/articles.aspx?articleid=313) the second link.
14-07-05, 11:13 AM
I'm trying it right now with a small piece of London plane wood. I'll let you know how it goes. The hardest part so far is getting the wood to stay underwater but I've sorted that.
Right, I've started an experiment.....
I mentioned collecting some hawthorn in a thread a couple of weeks ago and I now have it at home, cut into large chunks and drying in the rafters of the garage.
The trouble is that it checks and splits like nothing else I've seen - literally the day after cuttting a 14" long section of 3" diameter (for Tiffers!) , the ends were covered in radial splits. The other stuff which is seasoning is just the same.
So, I've just cut a scandi handle sized piece from a crook section - it's full of interesting grain, but would be absolutely guaranteed to be split all over the place by tomorrow if I left it untreated. I've started soaking it in 50 / 50 washing up liquid as in the Ron Kent link above (I'll probably do a few soakings over the next few days).
I've saved the adjacent pieces cut from the log, as some sort of control, so I can compare what is happening.
I'll probably then leave it to dry out completely and try working and gluing it as a knife handle (not that I've any great experience!) and see how it behaves.
Watch this space.....
14-07-05, 11:17 AM
Wow, I wasn't expecting that sort of response :D Let us know how it goes guys :biggthump
I've also got a piece of Holly sitting in washing-up solution. Holly always splits on me so fingers crossed.
14-07-05, 12:07 PM
I chopped up a long bough of fallen plane wood last weekend and started looking into how to season wood. It was me that posted the links at BCUK, and I've had one piece soaking since Tuesday evening.
The latest info I found is that a ratio of 1 in 6 (detergent to water) is what people use, rather than the initial 1 in 2, so that's what I'm trying. I'm using Fairy Original. I've no idea if brand makes a difference but I noticed someone saying they'd stay away from using detergents with de-greasing agents as I assume that could prevent successful oiling of the finished product.
14-07-05, 12:36 PM
One of the surprising things about washing up liquid is the very high salt (NaCl) content. A 1 to 6 detergent mix would have a lot less salt.
14-07-05, 02:18 PM
Salt?? I can't imagine salt being good for wood, so this lesser solution sounds like a good idea.
Here's another interesting link, although I don't want to wait 50-75 years before working my wood!
And two on use of salt to dry wood (seems like people have tried everything):
http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_base/Sailboat_masts.html The second link says that wood seasoned in salt water is corrosive to nearby ferrous metals. If our washing up liquid solutions have too high a salt content then this may be an obvious issue re knife blades.
This is a good read too:
Right, in for a penny....
I wasn't too happy with my first 'fairy process' (as it is now known in the MattW household :) ) timber - as I used what was lying around, it already had a couple of slight surface splits on the ends.
So, after a couple of hours sawing (a bl**dy sweaty job on a day like this!) and a trip to sainsbury's for more washing up liquid(!), I now have another six 'knife handle sized' pieces sawn from the centre of a hawthorn log, soaking in a 1/6 solution (all defect free). I weighed these before starting the soaking so that I can try to get an idea of fluid uptake and the drying process. I've no idea how long to soak them, so I guess I'll leave them a couple of days and then take them out and leave them to dry (monitoring the weight) - I might even try the microwave drying process on a piece. I've left one 'scandi' sized piece from this batch to dry naturally with no soaking so that I can compare splitting, colour etc. This batch also contains some quite thin pieces (about 3/8" ) as I figure these will dry really quickly when removed from the solution and will highlight any splitting / movement problems
I'm continuing with the first piece, although I'm using the first 'Ron Kent' process on this piece (cycles of saturating then allowing to surface dry) and this piece is in 1/2 washing up liquid / water. With this first piece, I've noticed it take on a quite deep reddish colour after a few cycles (hawthorn being a very pale wood when first sawn) - I'll be interested to see how it turns out when dry.
Both tests will have an enforced two week dry-out after the weekend (I'm away from home, so won't be able to do anything to them) - I'll probably get back to find a load of nicely split matchwood!
Can't beat a bit of bucket science! :)
19-07-05, 10:22 AM
Well, I soaked one piece (round branch, 5cm diameter x 20cm long) of London Plane wood in a 5:1 solution of Fairy liquid for 3 nights and 2 days. It gained 10% mass as a result of this. It had been previously baked in an oven so this gain may be more than would be seen in green wood.
It's been drying out for 3 days now and is fairly dry. It has turned a darker colour, more reddish than it was before, and it has a faint smell of washing up liquid. The outside feels dry and smooth, with a faint dampness. Looking at the ends, there's a couple of small radial cracks right at the centre. I won't know more about that until I carve it. I'm going to let it dry for a couple of weeks at least before attempting to work with it.
19-07-05, 10:52 AM
Very interesting guys, keep us all informed. I think I'll give this a go once I have some wood to season as well.
19-07-05, 05:43 PM
Just now found htis thread... sounds very interesting and Im gonig to have a go at it myself. Im experiancing the same problems Matt is, exept with live oak.
I have a vacum system though from stabilizing wood, which will add somthing new to the experiment.
Question- will epoxy stick to soapy wood?
19-07-05, 06:27 PM
I mixed up 1 part Palmolive dish detergent to 2 parts denatured alchohol. Live oak doesnt like to give up its air to easily, but when I've coaxed it all out with the hand pump ill let it soak for a day no vacum.
Finaly it will get toasted in my ex-mailbox, now light bulb dryer.
We shall see
And good luck to the rest of you experimenting
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