This groundbreaking how-to guide reflects years of searching for answers when resin casting was a fledgling art and even the resin experts were not experienced with joining resin and wood on the scale of work Keith Lackner envisioned.
Keith shares his journey from furnituremaker to woodturner to resin artist and teacher before he introduces the reader to creating with resin and wood through turning.
In 2013 Keith learned to turn in a David Marks class and initially turned pens, but one day he decided to “go big.” He turned a large vase from Walnut billets that featured voids and figured wood, perfect for blending in with the resin.
“Absolutely nobody had cast anything of that size – 15 times larger than a pen blank – so I had to invent every step of the way,” Keith wrote in the introduction. “Back then, the only blanks on the market were for pens and duck calls, and the only casting videos on YouTube (maybe a grand total of three) focused on making those blanks. All I knew was that the wood had to be dry and I needed a pressure pot.”
Long story short, Keith managed to overcome many obstacles and turn a large vase, which he named “Hell Fire.” It did have a crack down the middle, but he recast it with black resin to resemble a lightning bolt. However, he just had to know why the resin split, so he called Alumilite, which caused quite a stir. Those folks had never heard of anyone casting a piece that large, so Keith was asked to work with the company.
“I agreed, as I knew I was on to something that no one had ever done before, and it was my chance to be the one who started it all,” Keith shared.
He has continued to push the envelope by creating new techniques and sharing his knowledge through teaching and this book.
“It is my hope that this book will answer your questions and put you confidently on the path to creating cool wood turned resin pieces!” Keith wrote.
Turning Defects into Beautiful Color
Although defects such as bark inclusions and voids are a challenge of working with figured woods and burls – Keith’s favorites, Designer/Craftsman David Marks wrote in the Foreward: “Rather than view these flaws as problems, Keith started on his unique path by filling the voids with colored resin…his ‘creative and artful use of layered colors is what truly distinguishes him from the crowd.’”
Resin, Wood and Turning in Detail
Detailed explanations, descriptions and instructions, along with diagrams and lots of color photos, provide an easy to understand introduction to resin and how to use it with wood to turn awesome projects.
Four main “how-to” sections cover:
•An overview of resin
•The all-important process of combining wood and resin into turning blanks
•How-to instructions for seven projects
•Resources for the turning projects
Learning All About Resin
Keith begins with an easy-to-understand definition of resin and explains the pros and cons of using the three primary resins:
•urethane (the focus of this book; fantastic for machining and yields a high gloss)
•epoxy (great for large projects like a river table)
•polyester (applied in combination with fiberglass, it makes a hard finish for boats)
He follows with a lengthy explanation of his “Three Golden Rules” for successful casts to produce blanks: Preparation (of the wood), Product (how to use resin), and Pressure (how to use a pressure pot).
In this resin section, the reader learns that wood must be clean – nothing to come between it and the resin, and the wood must be dry (below 17%), because urethane, which Keith uses, reacts negatively to moisture.
Since most burls, all softwoods and pine cones need stabilized, Keith explains the stabilization process to make the wood rigid with no way for moisture to enter it.
Measuring and mixing the resin correctly is explained in detail, along with how to add color, while keeping in mind the resin’s open time for working, and the demold and cure times.
Three pages are devoted to the third rule: Pressure – that is using a pressure pot correctly and safely.
Keith explains: “Due to the short open time of urethane resin, a pressure pot must be used to create clear blanks. A pressure pot, in combination with an air compressor, uses air to push on the blank, compressing air bubbles so they are too small to be seen by the human eye – then the resin cures under pressure so that the bubbles are never visible.”
The parts of a pressure pot are labeled in a photo, regulating pressure is explained, and safety rules are provided.
Keith Lackner busy at his lathe.
Understanding the Detailed Process
In this 30-page section, the reader will be guided through the “nitty-gritty, step-by-step processes of working with resin” – wood prep, creating a mold to form the blank and properly adding resin, allowing the resin to set in the pressure pot, mounting the blank on a lathe and turning it.
Finishing tips and troubleshooting steps complete this section.
Turning an Amazing Project
This River Platter (Keith’s version of a river table) is one of the seven projects included in the book. Finished photo and overview here are followed by the first four pages, which illustrate Keith’s pattern of instruction. Twenty-seven steps are each accompanied by a photo.
Ben Bice, Woodcraft product development manager for resin and related products, praised Woodturning with Resin as “a must-have for turners who want to learn to pour their own resin blanks in order to incorporate resin into their turning projects.” He added, “Keith has removed nearly all the guesswork. Follow his directions, and become successful at casting resins.”