Support BladeForums! Paid memberships don't see ads! Hey guys. As i have been joining more and more Facebook groups and selling on Instagram, I have noticed a bit of a trend The rise of home stabilizing and cactus juice. Normally I say live and let live, but on one group I saw several people insisting that cactus juice would create a superior product than K&G. As i think most of you know, that is absurd. If you look at the best wood suppliers. Burl source, myself, Alpha knife supply when he sold wood, across hundreds of species and years of experience, we all use K&G. Because it is the best product. I dont think this idea of cactus juice being better is based in malice, but rather in misinformation. So I will give you some info about stabilizing, and my personal opinion as someone who has had nearing 1000 pounds of wood professionally stabilized. What is Stabilizing: To put it simply, it is the process of forcing a plastic polymer into wood before curing the resin, thus leaving a wood that is impregnated with plastic to make it heavier, stronger, resistant to water and able to be easily polished to a high finish. What woods need stabilization? There is some debate about that. My list of exotic woods shows my personal suggestions for stabilization, but again. These are suggestions. The rule I follow is, if I would not use the unstabilzed form on a knife I was making that would be directly attached to my name, I will not sell the wood unstabilized on my website. All the woods you will receive from me are ready to be used. Stabilized woods will resist warping, shrinkage and cracking very well, and the resulting wood will finish to a high polish and will not absorb water. What stabilizing does NOT do. Stabilizing will not fill voids or gaps. Stabilizing resin will fill wood, it will not fill gaps. For large gaps or voids, use epoxy with black dye, and for small gaps use CA glue. Stabilizing also does not make wood plastic. Well stabilized wood still looks like and works like wood. It still has a grain structure and can we worked with chisels, saws and abrasives. It simply strengths and enhances the wood. Stabilizing does not fix color. Many people have the idea that once stabilized, a woods color will not change in air or light. This is simply not true. I think many people consider wood plastic after it has been stabilized, but it is not! And the color can still shift. So. Why professional over home stabilizing? 1. Pressure. Everyone focuses on the vacuum in stabilizing, people will brag about getting -40 psi which is about 3 kinds of impossible. Psi can be negative, and a vacuum is only under a force equivalent to the gas outside the system, in our case the atmosphere. Another thing to remember is that vacuums are a system of diminishing return. Taking 50% of the air out a chamber will lower the pressure far more than taking 50% out of the remaining gas. The second important step is the pressure! As far as i know, no one but K&G and WSSI use a pressure cycle in their stabilizing. I have cut open a lot of home stabilized and pro stabilized blocks when I was figuring out which I should go with. Many blocks, especially large ones will be dry in the center. That is because using vacuum alone most setups get between 1/4 and 3/8 of an inch of penetration. The pros use a second cycle where the wood is exposed to great pressure to force the stabilant even deeper, allowing for a fully saturated wood at thicknesses up to 3/4 of an inch from all sides. 2. Stabilizing compound. Its important to understand what stabilizing is doing. In a simple sense, the monomer (Monomers are the individual building blocks of polymers I.E plastics) of an acrylic like compound is forced into wood and then heat cured. The most common home compound is cactus juice. This is a relatively low grade of monomer. Many monomers undergo side reactions and decay, sometimes known as cracking that degrades them and produces unwanted compounds. Pros use a much higher grade of monomer that does not produce nearly as many side products and yields a more clear and consistant product without voids or pockets. 3. Grades of compound. If you have spoken to the guys at K&G (Who doesnt call up their local stabilizers for a chat?) you will know they use two different compounds, a thick and a thin. The thick solution is for soft punky woods like spalted maple, buckeye burl and redwood. These blocks will come back having more than doubled in weight and crusted with the cured on resin. This thick solution gives maximum weight gain and strength to soft woods. They also use a thin solution for woods like koa, gidgee and walnut that finishes much cleaner while not adding as much weight to these already rather dense and durable woods. Cactus juice comes in a single grade somewhere in the middle, without optimal finishing or weight gain characteristics. 4. Expertise. Put simply, K&G knows what they are doing. I am not being paid by them, I just use their product because it is the best out there. But these are guys who have done thousands and thousands of pounds of wood, they know exactly what temperature to cure woods at, they check every block with a moisture meter to make sure everything goes well, they kiln dry all wood before it goes into the vats to maximize weight gain and finishing. Put simply, they know what they are doing. It is their job, and I trust them to do the best work possible. Look at the highest grade knife suppliers. Burl source, Myself, Alpha knife supply and more looked at the options and decided that K&G would do all our stabilizing. Maybe we all made the wrong choice, but I think each of put in many many hours of thought into it and came to the same conclusion. You can have something done cheaply, or you can have it done well.