can you recommend a clear wood preservative?

My Great Grandfather scraped his initials in the bark of a beech tree on his farm sometime around 100 years ago. My parents are finally putting the farm up for sale, and I noticed today that the old beech tree had finally died. I went out to look, and the bark was starting to decay a bit, probably from all of the constant wet weather this spring. I had thought about preserving it before, but didn't want to while the tree was alive.
Anyhow, his carved initials are still intact. I have used a knife to outline the area and carve away all the bark surrounding the initialed area. I am worried that the bark with the initials on it may come apart if I try to pry the whole area off of the tree. It is about 9 or 10" wide, and has some cracks in it already.
Can anyone recommend something clear that I might be able to coat the bark with to strengthen it, and make it more likely that it would survive the removal procedure intact? I would like to frame it and keep it in the family. The road we grew up on was named after him or his father, who supposedly surveyed it through the forest. While we will no longer have the farm in the family, it would be nice to be able to take this memory with us.
Thanks for any suggestions!
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Wood preservation is a speciality among museum conservationists, who would probably be willing to advise you without charge. Since this tree now has died, you need to protect it from micro-organisms and fungus as well as weather. Fibreglass resin (as used for boats) may supply your need.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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Epoxy. The regular kind is not perfectly clear but it's pretty good. You can also get the kind they use to cover tabletops in bars but the surface has to be horizontal to apply that.
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wrote:

Epoxy. The regular kind is not perfectly clear but it's pretty good. You can also get the kind they use to cover tabletops in bars but the surface has to be horizontal to apply that.
Specifically, use CPES - Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer. I believe you can even get some with UV inhibitors at marine supply stores. If you can not spend much money, you can try thinning regular slow set epoxy with acetone. It will work but not quite as well as the dedicated products.
Good Luck,
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Thanks! I think I'll see if my Dad can use a chainsaw to cut out the affected area using a V shape cut. Then we can dry the wood and apply the epoxy.
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If this is a very large tree, which it must be at that age. Make a cut above and below the area you want to save. Then use a plunge cut to cut behind that section. A chainsaw carver could do it, but for anyone else, I'd practice on something else first. Or, cut the tree above the part you want to save, then remove the whole log part you want to save, and use a bandsaw to cut off that section.
I think others already told you the best sealer. That epoxy is often used on table tops. Bars often use it, they might put photos or coins under the epoxy. Your other option would be to put some wood glue behind the bark, then just frame the whole thing with glass in front. That will keep dust from building up on the bark too, because that could be a pain in the ass to clean after some years. Plus this way it's more natural.
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snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

that epoxy is very runny and self-leving. it would be hard to get it to level out on a curved surface. you cold paint it on and do this in layers, but you'd have to read about how to prepare the hardened surface for another layer; making it be an invisible interface would be hard if this required sanding.
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