Embossing Wood Idea


I'm doing some bonsai display tables out of redwood. Very pretty wood, easy to work, light weight but - SOFT! You can accidently crush the grain with your fingernail.
Now I recall seeing Frank Klausz make a water box for japanese water stones. He used pine. He take a piece of wire, maybe 1/16th inch diameter, set it on the centerline of the bottom of each of the side parts and tap it down into the wood. He then lightly planed that edge. When the sides were tacked to the bottom board and water was added into the box, the crushed grain would swell back to its original size. Since a little of the adjacent wood had been planed off, when it swelled up it acted line an "O ring" seal.
So I'm thinking "If I draw a design in the face of one of these pieces of redwood - say with something like a large ball point pen (I've got jeweler's doming tools - a steel shaft with a ball on the end ) - and I press hard enough - AND keep the pressure consistent THEN run the board through the planer for a very light cut I SHOULD get a raised design as the wood absorbs moisture from the air (or if I spritz it with water).
Anyone done this sort of thing or am I way outside the box - again?
charlie b
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Mon, Jul 31, 2006, 10:27am (EDT-3) snipped-for-privacy@accesscom.com (charlieb) doth puzzle: I'm doing some bonsai <snip> Anyone done this sort of thing or am I way outside the box - again?
Charlie, Charlie, Charlie. You haven't been paying attention again, have you? Something like this you don't worry about what anyone else thinks. You think it thru, if it seems like it will work, and it won't maim or kill you or the shop cat, you give it a try. THEN you post the results - or not. You might want to try it on scrap rather than wood your're gonna use. Or you can just flip the piece if it comes out lousy.
I have no idea in the world if it will work or not, but sounds like it would. I'd probably use a engine pushrod, because that's the closest I've got to what you describe. Another possibility might be to use a dull tool and a mallet, along the lines of leatherworking tools, then planing. I've been thinking of making some tools for leatherworking from large spikes - cut 'em off at about 6", file/grind the designs on the flat end left - they'd have limied use, and loads cheaper than buying, plus you could make your own designs. I would think you could get more detail that way then with the tool you describe. An alternate thought is get a cutout pattern out of metal and applly pressure - a piece of wood then a car jack comes to mine, possibly a vice (or would that be vise?) - as long as it's legal.
If it doesn't work, sketch the design you want, then get a magnifying glass, and wait for a sunny day - and don't get distracted by ants on the wood.
JOAT Politician \Pol`i*ti"cian\, n. Latin for career criminal
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While your idea may work (can't say it won't, that's for sure), my impression (get it?) is that since the wood is so soft, the resulting raised image won't last long before it's worn down or rubbed off.
Clint

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RETHINK THE WOOD. MY EXPERIENCE WITH REDWOOD AND MOISTURE IS THE REDWOOD WILL TURN BLACK, ESPECIALL IF YOU HAVE WATER THAT IS HARD OR ALOT OF MINERAL CONTENT.
YOU COULD TRY (DON'T KNOW IF IT WILL WORK) APPLYING FIBER GLASS RESIN WITHOUT THE CLOTH.
GOOD LUCK WOODWORM

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I'm not sure I was clear about the expected result. By compressing the grain to make a pattern and then planing the surface so the impressed design is flush with the new surface - and then letting ambient moisture - or, if one is impatient - a spritz of water - cause the compressed grain to expand resulting in a raised design.
As usual, JOAT comes up with a substitute tool - that is automotive in origin of course - pushrods. Readily available and cheap or free - and HARD. The range of sizes is a bit limited relative to the set of jewelers doming tools - they go down to 1/8" diam (about 3 mm for the metric folks). The technique I have in mind is basically what's used to do repousse - and I even have the funny little hammer with the big flat head and long narrow handle with an oval on the end where you grip it and whip it rather than swing it. With the large diameter head you can concentrate on the tool at the metal - or in this case wood rather than worrying about missing and hitting yourself.
When I get Bonsai Table #4 done and delivered I think I'll do some design ideas in PhotoShop or SuperPaint and print them. How I'm going to get the piece of wood through my printer when it comes time to print it will be a whole other challenge ; )
As for the durability of the results - well when I was doing custom jewelry and a client wanted a stone that wasn't all that durable in a ring - well I'd set the stone down in the design were it would be protected from every direction - except if you drove it into the corner of something. Emeralds and opals are notorious for scratches and dings - unless protected by the setting.
So, I'll add a frame around the design and see how it holds up.
As for redwood turning black - if you give it a good soaking in "teak oil" and repeat every couple of years, it holds up fairly well.
Oh, BTW - USE THE SHIFT KEY! All caps is the net equivalent of YELLING - and is harder to read
charlie b (the whisperer) charlie b
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Mon, Jul 31, 2006, 9:23pm (EDT-3) snipped-for-privacy@accesscom.com (charlieb) doth sayeth: I'm not sure I was clear about the expected result. <snip>
I got what you were talking about right from the start - does that make us smarter than the rest of them? LOL Don't know if I'd do it, but I sure don't see why your way wouldn't work. I've seen such, but never pondered on how it was done. Yeah, I think a nice frame around it would be good, both to protect it, and to draw attenetion to it. I think it'd probably look pretty good. A plywood frame, painted yellow, comes to mind. LMAO
JOAT Politician \Pol`i*ti"cian\, n. Latin for career criminal
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