In this instructable you'll learn how to cast pecky cypress in resin. What is pecky cypress? It's easy, yet some what complicated. Pecky cypress is what it says, cypress. But it's no ordinary cypress, it's 100s of years old and harvested from swamps and bogs in the southern United States. It gets it's "pecky" name from all the holes in it. These were created over all those years submerge and the enzymes in the wood doing something magical and creating holes inside. I presume that there were some magical elfs or even unicorns involved. Either way, it takes a special breed of person to go out into the 'gator infested swamps to pull these logs out for us to enjoy. At the end of the instructable there will be examples of what can be made from this amazing wood.
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Step 1: Gather Your Gear!
Here's a condensed material list that you will need to complete this casting. I say condensed because once you start doing more and more you'll find more items that will help you along.
- Resin - I suggest Royal Palm Resin Click here to see what Royal Palm Resin is all about
- Pecky Cypress (side note, this will also work for any worthless wood that is solid and not rotted out) You can also get this from the Royal Palm Resin website
- Mica Powders - I use Caster's Choice Micas
- Mixing Sticks
- Mixing Cups
- Pressure Pot -- The pressure pot is a modified paint pot. It's not necessary but highly recommended. It'll aid in removing any air bubbles from the casting. There's videos on YouTube showing how to do the conversion. (YouTube Search: Harbor Freight pressure pot conversion)
- Air compressor (if using pressure pot)
- Small Files or a dremel tool
- Safety stuff (glasses and rubber gloves)
Step 2: Prepping the Cypress
In this step all you're going to do is clean up the wood. You can use a little file or a dremel, which I prefer. These photos attached show a blank pre prep and post prep. What you want to accomplish here is to remove the loose fiber connected to it. Also, there could be saw dust stuck to it that will need to be cleaned off as this wood needs to be cut while it is still wet. Not a huge deal but it'll produce a nicer product and be easier to pour resin.
If you purchase these blanks from Royal Palm Resin's website they'll come 1" square by 6" long.
Once this wood is dry, it is very brittle. So be careful, don't worry if you break a piece off, it will happen if you do more and more casts. A little bit of CA glue to put it back together and you're golden.
Safety glasses are recommended if using power tools to clean blanks out. Little bits will fly off, protect those peepers.
Step 3: Prepare Your Blanks in the Molds
There's a few different kinds of material you can use to make a mold. Two common materials are MDF board that you can get from just about any building supply store. The other is HDPE, which I use and suggest. It's a non-stick material that's perfect for casting. The HDPE that is pictured was purchased from Sam's Club, they're just cutting boards at 1/2" thick.
The cypress blanks I have are 1" square by 6" long. From the photos attached you can see an exploded view of one of the molds I made.
I'll save the instructions on how to make one of these molds for another instructable but I'll give a quick synopsis.
1 piece at 1" x 6"
2 pieces at 1-1/2" x 6"
2 pieces at 2" x 1-1/2"
Pre-drill your holes and use 1-1/4" screws to keep it together. Once all together, hold the mold up to a light. If you can see light shining through one of your joints, that means the resin can go though it as well. Don't worry though, a little hot glue will fill those voids and you'll be good to go.
If the cypress is loose inside the mold, put a little dab of hot glue on top of the cypress and over on to the mold. That will keep it held in place, you want it in there snug so it doesn't float.
Step 4: Get'n Ready to Cast
Here's where the start organizing and choosing colors. For me, picking out colors is the hardest part!
Lets get our resin out, Royal Palm Resin is a 2 part epoxy that is mixed 1:1 by volume. Some quick calculations of cubic inches (1 x 1 x 6 = 6 cubic inches) then converting that to fluid ounces.
1 Cubic Inch = 0.554112554 Ounces [Fluid, US]
SOO 6 x .56 to make it simple and the answer is 3.36 ounces of resin. Now, that's enough resin to fill whole mold with no cypress in it. To compensate for the cypress in the mold, I'll be going for just 3 ounces. This will more than likely be too much but it's better to have a little extra than not enough. If you do have left overs and another mold, you can pour the excess into that mold and make another blank!
Get you mixing cups, sticks, and scale ready as well.
Step 5: Mixing the Resin and Adding Color Pigments
Like I said in the previous step, I'll be using a total of 3 ounces of resin (per mold) and is mixed at a 1:1 ratio. That would be 1.5 ounces of Part A and 1.5 ounces of Part B.
This will be safe to cast inside, there's no oder with Royal Palm Resin. If you don't feel confident that you wont make a mess, choose your space wisely.
Lets get ready:
- Time to put those rubber gloves on
- Grab a mixing cup and place on your scale then zero it out
- Gently pour in 1.5 ounces of Part A
- Re-zero out scale again with mixing cup on it with Part A in it
- Gently pour in 1.5 ounces of Part B
- Take your color pigment and add in with a mixing stick.
The more pigment you use the more opaque it will be. You can judge this by mixing in the pigment and looking at your mixing stick. If you can see your mixing stick through the resin, it'll be more translucent.
- Mix, Mix, Mix, Mix, Mix, Mix seriously mix it up good and you don't have to worry about it setting up on you. you'll have plenty of time. The working time on Royal Palm Resin is about 45 minutes. Don't forget to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing to insure proper mixing.
Step 6: Pouring the Resin in the Mold
Now that you got your resin all mixed up and you're ready to pour. Lets have some fun.
This step is pretty self explanatory but here are some helpful hints:
- Don't pour too fast
- Pinch the cup to make a "spout" for the resin to flow out of and gently pour into the mold
- Try filling the voids in the cypress first with light pouring
- Once all voids are filling then you can cover the whole blank with resin
After you've poured resin all over the blank, let it sit for it a minute for any air pockets to escape. Taping the sides of the mold will help in getting air pockets out. If there is an air pocket you'll see it leaking out. With your excess resin keep filling the voids. See photos of what I mean by air pocket voids.
Step 7: Pressure Pot
Your resin is poured in the mold, you're ready for the pressure pot.
I have a rack system that fits inside of my pressure pot. I'm only using it for this demonstration because I casted more than one at a time. If you were to only do one, you could just simply place the mold in the bottom of the pressure pot.
There's not much to do here beside place you mold into the pressure pot. Once the mold is in the pressure pot, put the lid on and tighten it down nice and tight. After the lid is secured on it's time to add pressure. Connect your compressor hose to the inlet of the pot. I prefer to add 40-55lbs of pressure, this will insure that any micro bubbles in the resin are shrunk down to nothing and you'll have a nice clean blank to work with.
Your blanks are in the pot, now it's the hard part. Waiting... The cure time for Royal Palm Resin is 24 hrs. So, in 24 hrs you'll be able to depressurize your tank and take your new molds out and create something awesome.
If you're interested in purchasing one of these rack systems, you can get one from PTownSubbie.com
Step 8: Demolding and Cleaning Up Your Blanks
Almost done! Time de-mold your blanks. Typically you can just tap the mold upside down and the blank will fall right out. If that doesn't happen, just unscrew the sides from the mold and give it a little tap and they will fall right out.
The blanks are now ready to use for whatever you want!
Since I sell a lot of my blanks, I like to clean them up a bit to make them look presentable. Take a look at the final product in the images.
Step 9: Make Something Awesome!
What can you make with this blank? So many things but here are a few options:
- Pens / Pencils
- Seam Rippers handles
- Razor handles
- Ice cream scoops handles
- Letter openers handles
- Handles for bottle openers
For larger sized casts you can make even more from game calls to coasters and everything in between.
Runner Up in the