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Author Topic: Stabilising soft stones  (Read 603 times)

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Windenzee

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Stabilising soft stones
« on: August 16, 2018, 11:54:55 PM »

I have got some Chryscolli and Blue John that need stablising but am now confused as to the best way to do this.
Yes I have HXTAL resin (very expensive to buy here) but have been told that I would need a vacuum chamber to impregnate the stones.
I have also read about using acetate and epoxy resin (can that be hxtal and if so what ratio).
Have also got Pine Resin (old way) and been told you cook the stones in that but it does stain.
I do not have the cash to splash out £200 to £300 on a vacuum chamber. There are also so many out there it is getting very confusing.
Yes I do also have nore tubes of epoxy.
Help please
Thank you
Karen
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vitzitziltecpatl

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Re: Stabilising soft stones
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2018, 07:09:56 AM »

Food storage units and/or hand-held automotive brake bleeders are less expensive options.

bilquest

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Re: Stabilising soft stones
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2018, 09:45:02 PM »

Proper stabilizing of soft stone is an occasional obsession of mine. About the only method I have not tried is hxtal, but I can review a few of my other attempts.

- Epoxy 330 (both tubes) dissolved in 1 pint of acetone. I've tried both letting the stone soak for a week as well as pulling a vacuum with a brake bleeder, both resulted about the same. Epoxy was pulled into fractures, but it didn't soak past the surface in soft areas.

- Sodium Silicate. It's a thick liquid but doesn't dry to a very hard material. It filled cavities and fractures but didn't polish well. I was underwhelmed by the result.

- Hot Stuff. While it appears to penetrate, it doesn't go very deep. I've tried using it for filling small gaps but it undercuts.

...and the winner is...

Opticon! It took a few attempts to figure out the best process, but here's what stabilized some chrysocolla for me. I got an old toaster oven from the Goodwill for five bucks. I poured a thin coat of the resin on the bottom of the toasting pan. Then I placed my chrysocolla slabs on the pan and then painted the top of the slabs with more resin. I then cooked the stones for about an hour on high heat. After turning off the oven and letting the stones cool a bit, I removed each slab and scraped the remaining resin off into the pan. (since the resin hasn't been mixed with the hardner, you can recover most of the resin for future use.) The last step was to mix a small cup of resin with a few drops of hardener. I painted the mixture on both sides of the stone and placed them on a screen to bake under the Arizona sun for a couple days. The result was some very cab-able material. I think the heat expansion does a better job of pulling resin into the stone than any vacuum process could do.
 
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Windenzee

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Re: Stabilising soft stones
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2018, 11:56:51 PM »

Thank You for the info bilquest, you have a few good ideas worth trying. I would like the whole stone to absorb the resin and not just the outter layer.
I have yet to find or trace any Opticon here in the UK. At times I wish I was in the US as there is more available by you.
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finegemdesigns

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Re: Stabilising soft stones
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2018, 02:03:36 AM »

Do it the professional way by sending your rock to Colbaugh Processing.

http://www.colbaugh.net/
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Windenzee

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Re: Stabilising soft stones
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2018, 03:54:49 AM »

Hi Finegemdesign,
I would do as you suggested but I live in the UK and so Tuscon Arazona is a bit to far for me to travel. Thanks anyway
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vitzitziltecpatl

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Re: Stabilising soft stones
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2018, 08:27:10 AM »

Someone who would know told us that years ago the largest turquoise dealer around started stabilizing using 55 gallon drums of rough. They would fill them with the rough, then pour in their stabilizer and seal the drums.

The drums were left out in the hot Arizona sun for some unknown length of time, with the heat from the sun and the vacuum created by the expansion of the drums doing the work. No doubt they've refined their process since then.

Thanks for the toaster oven tip, Bilquest. We've used hot lights, but no oven.

Trails

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Re: Stabilising soft stones
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2018, 10:05:31 AM »

I'll vouch for what Bilquest said. All my stabilization is done with either opticon or thinned epoxy 330 with acetone. Toaster oven is great for opticon.. my wife requested I buy her a new toaster oven after she caught me using the kitchens. Its like licking food.. once I touch it for my reasons its mine.

I took a medical vacuum pump from a house cleanout job (I live in Florida, and well, we all die someday) and a large glass cookie jar, with a few fittings from Ace Hardware and silcone, within the hour created a stabilization chamber large enough to get my hands in while holding tin cans full of product to vac out. Less then 5$ for the whole contraption but it was sheer luck and ingenuity. Just proves you don't need to drop the coin on what mainstream supply charges to get the job done. And hey, the vac pump motor even vibes the base/jar to help shake things out.

Half of my shoppe is rigged contraptions but everything works safely. Who needs 1500$ for an on-demand steam cleaner when an espresso machine from the thrift for 3$ can do the job and make a cup of joe at the same time.
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Tay

vitzitziltecpatl

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Re: Stabilising soft stones
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2018, 09:27:14 PM »

Hah! I love your steam cleaner idea! Re-purposing things like that is a very satisfying feeling. When I do it it's also a great source of entertainment for my wife. When they work... .

Windenzee

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Re: Stabilising soft stones
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2018, 11:18:11 PM »

Hi All,
Thank you for aall the suggestions. It sound like I really will have to do a homemade vacuum containeer. Will start getting the supplies in.

Just a shame I can not get opticon here.
Thanks
Karen
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gjones

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Re: Stabilising soft stones
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2018, 04:11:07 PM »

What about using a food saver vacuum canister. Do you think that would work?
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aksockeye

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Re: Stabilising soft stones
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2018, 09:41:19 PM »

Try HXTAL. Wrap aluminum foil inside open four sided box. Heat rock with halogen work lamp. Apply HXTAL to heated rock. It will absorb. Keep the light on, one week to harden, maybe more. Form cab,you might have to repeat process. Clear colorless cab museum quality.
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Redrummd

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Re: Stabilising soft stones
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2018, 10:46:02 PM »

Here is the link to my tutorial on use of hxtal for stabilization.

http://lapidaryforum.net/group/index.php?topic=2460.0

Windenzee

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Re: Stabilising soft stones
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2018, 11:47:58 PM »

Thank you for the tutorial. I am now all set to try stabilising my stones.
Have also now got a vacuum chamber but may wait and just use the Hxtal as that does seenm to be the best way ahead.
Thanks again for all the info
Karen
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