How To Harden Wood – 3 Ways
A piece of rotted wood deserves a second chance. Do you know that sometimes, wood which seems to be such a waste as it is soft and rotted can be hardened and useable? If you know how to harden wood in a proper way, it can be firm enough for fixings as well as structural integrity. Take a look at the article below for some of the most effective methods you can use to harden a piece of wood.
Is It Worth Hardening A Piece Of Wood?
Sometimes a piece of wood is not really worth being hardened at all. So always check before you decide to harden any wood log. Use using your hand to remove any loose piece. If you can easily do so, it is not worth keeping and hardening this piece of wood at all.
In case you find it hard to remove any loose bit or couldn’t do it at all, or in case the piece of wood is only soft, you can harden it for your future woodworking project.
Here are all of the things that you can do to harden wood:
Source: Harden Wood
1. Using The Fire Hardening Method
This is one of the most common methods that you can use to harden a piece of wood. This method is called as the fire hardening method. While it is called this way, the element which helps to harden the wood is not the fire, but the heat.
The heat coming from the fire will extract the moisture out of the piece of wood. The wood grain inside the piece of wood will be tightened together as a consequence.
This method is quite hard to use. It requires you to be extremely careful to avoid yourself from getting burned. Also too much heat will damage the quality of that piece of wood. If you put the piece of wood too close to the heat and for a long time, the piece of wood can scorch or burn.
The key thing to this method is that you need to be very patient. You might even have to try several times before you can fully master this technique. You can use the fire hardening method for making spears or arrows.
Here are all of the steps to follow to harden wood with fire:
Step 1: Prepare a fire pit. If you don’t have one, you can dig a hole; place some rocks as well as pieces of charcoal in the middle.
Step 2: Light up the charcoal. Blow slowly and gently into the pit for the flame to become bigger.
Step 3: Continue to throw in some small pieces of charcoal to the fire until the flame is stable enough. The best flame that you should aim for is the one which is 6 inches high. It should also have a blue center.
Step 4: Hold the piece of wood over the flames for a few minutes. Make sure that you don’t put the piece of wood too close to the flame. There should be a gap of around 3 inches between the flame and the piece of wood.
Step 5: When an area gets just a little bit warmer, you need to turn that piece of wood around. You should change sides of the wood constantly to avoid a particular from being overheated.
Step 6: Stop once in a while to check the condition of the piece of wood. If the surface of such piece looks dry, it means that all of the moisture is extracted. That piece of wood is now harder than before.
Step 7: Place this piece of wood in a cool dry place for it to cool down. You now finish hardening a piece of wood using the fire hardening method.
2. Using A Strengthening Epoxy
When the fibers of a piece of wood become loose, you can apply a strengthening epoxy to the surface of that wood to make sure these fibers remain bound together. After you apply the strengthening epoxy, you would be able to even hammer it with nails or do anything just like what you do with firm and sturdy pieces of wood.
This method is easy to apply, even for an amateur at woodworking. A strengthening epoxy is also widely available at very reasonable prices. However, be prepared that for large pieces of wood, it will take several days for them to reach the hardness that you want.
Here are all of the steps you need to do to harden wood with a strengthening epoxy product:
- Step 1: First of all, you need to remove all of the dirt and debris on the surface of the piece of wood. This will prevent them from sticking permanently on the surface of the pieces of wood when you apply the strengthening epoxy.
- Step 2: Mix the ingredients of the strengthening epoxy with the ratio recommendation from the manufacturer in a bowl. Each strengthening epoxy has a different ratio and way to mix with water. So make sure you follow the instructions carefully in order to achieve the best results.
- Step 3: Stir the bowl well until all of the ingredients are mixed together and the liquid becomes thicker. Don’t use the liquid yet when it is only as thick as glue. However, the thicker liquid like paste wouldn’t also be effective.
- Step 4: Then use an applicator brush and apply a layer of the mixture on the wood. Spread the mixture evenly over the soft section which you want it to be hardened. You are going to throw the brush after this project so go for a disposable one.
- Step 5: Wait for the strengthening epoxy to penetrate deeply into the wood and the remaining solvents to dry up. For a small piece of wood, it only takes just a few hours. However, for a large piece, it will take even up to a few days.
- Step 6: For a much harder piece of wood, you might consider adding more layers of strengthening epoxy to the wood. After the first layer dries, apply another layer following the steps above.
- When you apply the strengthening epoxy on the surface of a piece of wood, use as much as you can.
- In case you have to deal with a very soft piece of wood, drill a hole into the middle of the wood and fill it with a strengthening epoxy. It also applies in case you need to harden a large piece of wood. With this way, the epoxy can penetrate much quickly into a vast area of the wood.
- As I mentioned above, it would take quite a long time for the strengthening epoxy to penetrate and the solvent to dry up. You can quicken the process by placing the piece of wood you are working with a dry place. Temperature is also a key factor here. The lower the temperature, the quicker the strengthening epoxy can help to harden your piece of wood.
3. Using Polycryl
Polycryl is a form of wood fortifier that helps to harden a soft area of a piece of wood. It is safe, cheap and easy to use. Not to mention that it is quite a safe product. After a piece of wood is hardened with this product, the appearance of the wood will not be altered.
Here are all of the steps to harden a piece of wood using Polycryl:
Step 1: Most of the time when you buy Polycryl on the market, it comes in a concentrated form. If it is the case, you need to dilute it with water. Follow the instructions on the label of the Polycryl for the recommended ratio of water and Polycryl. Mix water and Polycryl in a bow. Stir well.
Step 2: Remove all of the dirt and debris on the surface of the wood. It will prevent these particles from sticking permanently onto the wood.
Step 3: Use an applicator brush and soak it into the mixture of Polycryl and water.
Step 4: Then apply a thin layer of Polycryl on the soft areas.
Step 5: Place the piece of wood aside in a cool and dry place. You need to wait for a couple of hours for the solution to penetrate deeply to the piece of wood.
Step 6: After step 5, if the piece of wood is not as hard as you want, continue to apply more Polycryl.
You can use all of the steps above to harden a small piece of wood. For a big piece of wood, instead of brushing Polycryl, you can soak the entire piece in the Polycryl solution.
The main problem with this type of solution is that Polycryl is water soluble. Hence, if you want to use a piece of wood which is treated with Polycryl, you need to apply a finish layer. This layer should be waterproof in order to protect the wood well.
Here are 3 most common methods that you can use to harden a piece of wood. You can use a fire to harden the wood. You can also use a strengthening epoxy or Polycryl. Using fire is a quick and efficient method but it will certainly take a long time. On the other hand, using chemicals such as a strengthening epoxy or Polycryl is easier. However, it will take time, especially if you work on a big piece of wood. The choice of which method to use depends on your needs, preferences, and your skills. Or you can attempt all of these 3 methods to see which one works the best for you.