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Woodcraft of Harrisburg

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harrisburg-retail@woodcraft.com

3831 Union Deposit Road
Harrisburg, PA 17109
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Casting: Which Resin to Use?

I recently started turning hybrid blanks because I liked the freedom of choosing different combinations of wood and colored resin. After some research and testing, I settled on Alumilite Clear, a urethane based resin.

Benefits to using a urethane resin over other types include low odor, quick set times, and a finished product that can be brought to a mirror polish. Alumilite Clear resin will be ready to machine in 24 hours, while other resins can take up to 72 hours.

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Finished hybrid blank and Alumilite

To eliminate air bubbles from the casting, I needed to use a pressure pot during the curing process. Unlike epoxy resins, using a propane torch will not work due to the speed at which Alumilite cures. I used between 35 to 40 psi of pressure on the poured casting for no more than 90 minutes. I quickly learned to be very exact while weighing the two parts of the resin as variances caused longer or incomplete drying times.

I started with Australian burls for the wood base and used both TransTint and Alumidust in the resin. I quickly found a little bit goes a long way—the first casts were almost too opaque to see the burl.

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The author turning a hybrid blank

Alumilite is not meant for stabilizing wood. Other resins such as System Three MirrorCast are much better suited for stabilization or filling cracks and voids. I tried using MirrorCast for one of my hybrid blanks, but found the cure time was too long and the finished product had a slightly colored tone.

Looking back, I’m glad I decided to try my hand at casting and turning hybrid blanks. Not only was it a great learning experience, I feel there is a long road of experimentation ahead.

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