Get the best application tips for woodturners. Few products in recent years have been as beneficial to woodturners trying to season green timber as wax emulsion end grain sealers. In the woodturning workshop, wax emulsion sealers serve an important function by controlling the rapid loss of moisture through freshly cut surfaces on logs, blanks and roughed out projects. Two widely available wax emulsion sealers are Anchorseal and Mobil-Cer M. Anchorseal is paraffin based colloidal solution for logs and lumber. It contains paraffin, water and a surfactant and is milky-white in appearance. Mobil-Cer M is a microcrystalline wax based coating. It contains microcrystalline wax, water and a surfactant and is also milky-white in appearance.
Application Tips For Woodturners: How Wax Emulsions Work
Wax emulsions (also known as end grain sealers) form a flexible and vapor permeable membrane between treated surfaces and the surrounding atmosphere. You can check the woodturning techniques. As woodturners, our goal is not to prevent moisture from moving through the log or the wax coating, but instead to retard the rate of moisture evaporation. When this is achieved, drying defects are reduced and the maximum amount of timber can be utilized in every log.
Application Methods For Wax Emulsions
Wax emulsion sealers can be applied by various methods including brush-on, dip tank, roll-on, spray-on and vacuum assisted. The decision on which method to choose should be based on the quantity, size and location of the logs or blanks to be processed. Correct application procedures are essential to obtain maximum protection from the wax coating.
Wax sealers can be easily brushed onto the exposed end grain, or side grain surfaces of logs, turning squares and bowl blanks. For an optimum surface coating, the cut surfaces should be as smooth as possible. Excess sawdust or debris should be brushed off before applying the sealer. In addition, if any checking is evident on the exposed end grain, it should be cut back until solid wood is present. When brushing the sealer on the end grain portion of re-sawn turning squares or bowl blanks, also coat 1″ of the adjacent side grain. This insures a better coating on the area where the end grain and side grain areas meet.
The sealer should be applied onto the end grain until it nearly runs off. Applying too thin a coating will reduce the protection level and may compromise the successful seasoning of the timber. If any bubbles are present on the surface, brush across the area again until the bubbles are completely removed. Bubbles that are left in the wet film may cause differential moisture gradients to form in the surface coating. These differential moisture gradients cause uneven drying zones across the face of the treated surface, which may result in surface checking.
Standard 9″ paint rollers make excellent applicators for medium to large sized logs and blanks. My favorite roller is the type sold for painting in tight areas. It is approximately 4″ long and works exceptionally well for any but the largest of logs. Rollers can apply the coating much faster and more uniformly than hand brushing. In addition, because the nap on the roller is available in different sizes, rough or uneven cut log surfaces can be more easily and uniformly covered.
When processing large amounts of smaller blanks or turning squares, dip tanks are simple and efficient. Almost any shallow container can be used for making a dip tank. Old pie pans work well, as do small plastic bowls. Simply decant a small amount of the sealer into the tank and dip each end of the blank into the sealer. The level of the sealer inside the dip tank should be adequate enough to coat the end grain and the small amount of adjacent side grain, in one step.
If you will be processing a large amount of squares or logs, or you are working with very large diameter (2′ to 6′ diameter or more) logs, consider spraying the sealer. Many types of sprayers are available including electrical, gas and manually powered with sizes and prices to fit any budget. Manual sprayers are excellent for spraying in remote locations without electrical service. Trombone type slide sprayers are also available that draw directly from five gallon buckets. I have found that simple pump-up garden sprayers available in most home centers, work very well and are much easier to use than trombone or backpack style sprayers.
Vacuum Assisted Application
When sealing high figured wood, unstable burrs or crotch figured blanks, vacuum assisted impregnation of the surface can be utilized. This method applies sealer to the side grain and end grain simultaneously, producing a well sealed outer surface. My use of this method is typically limited to pen blanks, but it can be adapted to larger turning squares quite easily with proper equipment.