Stablized wood

Hi Everyone,

I would like to do a stabilized wood test, but have read concerns within the group about the materials. There are a number of stabilizers that can be used in the process, I will be using a CJ from TexTurners. I have the hazardous materials data sheet on it, and it is listed as Acrylic, the vendor has also come back with the same information and said it is laser safe. My thinking is that there might be an issue with the “cast” designation. That sounds like a moulding process, but I don’t know anything about it, and have not yet researched it. I was wondering if anyone had further comments?

I have resawn some curly maple into boards of various thickness, and am about to do the first bake on a double dip process. I will post some pictures if I get the opportunity, but would be in a position to test the materials this week for cutting or etching. I would like more input, especially if anyone has already tried this… thanks.

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So most resins are laser safe but not laser easy.

I’ve tried cutting some stabilized stuff, mostly black palm, and it was difficult to cut reliably.

So I think as long as it’s not chlorinated like pvc it’s safe for your machine. The fumes will be toxic but then pretty much everything you laser will be. If your vent setup is working well that’s less concerning.

That leaves figuring out good settings as your biggest issue. Any non-homogenous material is going to be tricky, stabilized woods will have uneven distributions of resin and wood. Even heavily variable non-stabilized wood like zebrawood, ambrosia maple, and almost any spalted species are tricky: to get through the harder parts you have to overpower the cuts which usually leads to excess charring and potential fire risk on the easier parts.

For what it’s worth there are good material test methods, but if you run your test on a sample that’s easy to cut and then your main job is on harder sections (or vice versa)… you can see how it’ll be unpredictable.

Anyway, good luck. There’s some more info - there are two sections that are relevant here: #6 and #4


Considering #1 curly maple is pretty stable as it is. and #2 you have Maple instead of stabilized maple now I would go on and at least make all the parts if not the whole thing.

I have found a most interesting thing! The UV setting polymer can sit in the dark for days soaking into the wood and then put into the sun or a UV light becomes quite hard and strong as the polymer chains go into the wood beyond the UV.

That certainly has potential! Have you been able to determine if the resin cures all the way through or if not, how far?

Enough that I cannot determine a stopping point, Also it did not soak very deep as it was hard wood but was thoroughly “wet” after a couple of days.


Thanks! In a large blank I find variation in saturation levels. The sheets I’ve cut here are between 1/8th to 1/4, I wanted some variation in thickness for testing.I’ll need to make a spreadsheet, I am hoping due to the thin material that I get good saturation. I’ve never tried to stabilize a wood sheet, my max size is about 4”x8” by 1/4.

My plan on the first cut is to do a straight line in order to get the print head out from over the cut space as soon as possible. My thinking is fast speed high power equals lower fire risk, or at least reduces the risk to the print head.

Definitely. Tighter turns and “noisy” lines lead to longer residence times and increased fire risk.

So, in general higher speeds multiple passes with nice clean paths are the least fire risk.

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In order to get the best figure on my thin sheet cuts, I needed to make it all quarter sawn. I’m hoping that this keeps things a bit more consistent in terms of material densities.

Thank you for the advice. I’ll post back my results tomorrow, I am close to the final bake off on this.

The way Cactus Juice is supposed to be used is under a vacuum. First the wood must be dried to 0% moisture in an oven. This process can take several days. Weigh each piece of wood and bake at temp above 212 degrees until the weight no longer changes. Then the wood is submerged in the Cactus Juice in a vacuum chamber. Vacuum is applied to evacuate all of the air from the wood (generally takes a couple days or more under vacuum). Then the wood is allowed to soak in the Cactus Juice for 2 times the amount of time that it was under vacuum to allow the liquid to move into al the voids that was previously occupied by air. After the soak the stabilized wood is then put in an oven to evaporate the solvent used to dissolve the acrylic and then cross link the acrylic molecules. As an end result you will have something that is not wood and is not acrylic but a combination of the two. I would imagine that experimentation will need to be done to determine cutting settings.


Depending on how intricate the work and if you do hawkeye instead of sleepyeye there is not likely to be much danger to your machine while cutting regular maple, Maple with lots of firestarter is another matter, :grimacing:

Here is the piece I experimented on. I wanted to fill the 3d with the yellow mica mixed in , but the whole thing was “wet” by the time it got a sunbath, :grin:

Yes, this is my process. I have stabilized many turning blocks, this is the first time I have tried a thin board. I’m not so concerned about the depth of the saturation for two reasons… the boards are very thin, and I am really only interested in the surface, and I’m not cutting deeply into the material as you would when turning a blank.

The stabilization will give me a couple of advantages:

  1. Interesting and colorful transformation of material
  2. The ability to buff the surface to a high polish
  3. A hardened and somewhat water resistant material

Just don’t know if it will turn into a mess when cutting, but will find out soon….

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Thanks for the picture, please help me understand, it appears that you etched the board and the stabilization fluid boiled out of the wood? I see similar things if I try to cook the saturated wood too quickly and the CJ is boiled out of the blank.

No. First I deep engraved the walnut with the design. Then I wanted to overfill the engraving so it had the upward curve you think you see. I had made a similar mistake looking at the work of others. The liquid crawls up leaving a concave surface. So when put in a box for several days it had crawled over the surface and the mica settled to the bottom this made most of the wood “wet” with the polymer. I painted the rest of the wood with the polymer, let it sit for a few more days, and put it in the sun to get the solar UV for another two days (a day on each side). There was no heating or cooking involved beyond the warmth of the sun.

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As the material had a chance to settle itself flat before having the UV set the polymer it was very “polished” as soon as it hardened.

Well, I don’t like waiting… I rushed through this, but attached are some photos. The material is 0.175 in thick, double dyed curly maple. The first time I cut, I ran at 130s/95p and did not make it through the material, the second cut was positioned inside the first and run at 130s/full power, cut through very nicely. There is a little charing on the back where I think the CJ did not fully saturate the board. (I rushed this). No significant smell, there was a little liquid residue on the top surface of the board that I wiped off with a paper towel before handling. I think that I will mask a part of this and cut a shamrock. Then try some etching. I think you would want to control your thickness in order to get repeatable results.

FYI, there is more than one type of 2-part epoxy resin out there. Stay away from the ones based on epichlorohydrin, as those contain chlorine and pose the same hazard to you and your machine as PVC does. Be sure to study the MSDS and look for HCl (hydrochloric acid or hydrogen chloride) in the combustion byproducts section.


I see my post has been moved to The Land of Misfit Toys, will Santa find me here? :crazy_face:

Any discussion of specific settings gets moved here as it is the only place that keeps their lawyers from getting too fidgety :crazy_face:


Yeah, I moved it for you. The FAQ spells it all out, but specific settings discussions for non-PG materials or settings has to go here.


If you would like information on operation beyond what is covered by the manual, you may discuss it in the “Beyond the Manual” section, and only in that section. Note that that section of the forum may contain information that is incorrect and may violate your warranty, damage your Glowforge, and cause injury or death. That is the only place for discussion of topics like:

  • Manual settings for materials
  • Modifying your Glowforge unit
  • Third party add-ons

Lawyers, man.