Experience with Ron Kent's Experimental Wood Treatment
trying Ron Kent's experimental wood treatment that involves the use of diluted
dishwashing detergent. If you aren't familiar with this technique,
there's no point learning about it second-hand from me--click here
and read about it from Ron himself. If you are familiar with it,
but haven't tried it, read on and I'll share my personal (although
somewhat limited) experiences with you.
little background first. I turn a lot of green wood: turn it, put
it on the shelf, and wait for it to dry. At any given time, I have
35 to 50 rough turned items drying, or already dry, in my studio.
Some of them are very dry, having been turned as much as three
years ago (. . . OK, I'm a bit slow getting to some of these things--I
always seem to be attracted to the latest piece of wood, not the
Some of the wood I
turn and season gets very hard. Hickory, for example, is a real
dickens to re-turn after it dries completely. Enter Ron's
technique: Immersing the rough-turned piece in concentrated dishwashing
detergent diluted with an equal amount of water. I buy Ajax
(lemon-scented) brand from Sam's ($6.87, before sales tax, for 165 fluid
ounces). So far, I've used Ron's recommended dilution ratio of
50/50, but I plan to dilute further to 40/60 of concentrate/water (which is
the same dilution ratio Phil Brennion uses) to see if I can get better
penetration on larger pieces. I've been soaking my dried,
rough-turned pieces for about three days, and then letting them re-dry for at
least a week, longer if necessary.
the bottom line: Kent's technique works. It makes re-turning a
piece a whole new experience. The wood actually cuts better than it
did when it was green. I recently turned the outside of a Hickory
bowl with a cut so smooth that it didn't need sanding (a first for
me). And as a bonus, there is virtually no airborne dust, either
when cutting or sanding.
used the immersion technique on one piece of freshly-turned green wood (a
piece of Redbud). Based on this one experience, it appeared that
penetration was quicker since most of the wood's capillaries were still
open and partially filled with water.
technique does not seem to affect the finishing process, although I've
only used oil finishes thus far (Waterlox Original over top of Minwax
209). I haven't yet tried water-based poly-acrylic lacquer, another
finish that I'm fond of.
before you try this on your own pieces: My experience is limited to the
woods I work with. This technique may not work with the woods you
work with. Since the material cost to try this technique is
quite low, give it a shot -- just make sure you select an item that isn't destined for the del Mano
Gallery the first time you try it!
have used Ron's technique and have any experiences to share,
please contact me via email.