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Another Cactus Juice thread....

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by weo, Feb 22, 2019.

  1. weo

    weo KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 21, 2014
    Hello all. I hope the new year is treating you and yours well.

    After 7 months away from my shop, I finally got a chance to do some work on some handles.
    I used some blocks of my maple that I sent to 2 different members to stabilize for me and there is a significant difference in the 2 pieces.

    I'll name Kevin McGovern because his blocks are very heavy and have much better coloration/dye penetration than the blocks the other member did. In fact, if I didn't know any better, I'd say I couldn't tell the difference between Kevin's blocks and the rest of my blocks that K&G has done.

    I guess the reason for my post is that Cactus Juice gets a bad rap a lot of time, and it seems as if the only defenders are folks who actually do their own stabilizing, which can lead to biased thinking/reasoning. I just thought I'd add my unbiased experience and say that when done properly, Cactus Juice can give blocks of similar quality to K&G
     
    Willie71 likes this.
  2. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    For softer woods, cactus juice is fine if done right. You need the right equipment, and the right process. You won’t save money doing it, just like you won’t save money heat treating your own steel, once you figure in equipment expense, and time. You do get control over the process though.
     
  3. golfer1

    golfer1

    357
    Nov 24, 2016
    Oh, not to be too argumentative, but I believe you can save money doing it yourself. Postage for shipping back and forth and of course the cost of having it done do add up. However, I believe the one thing that makes CJ appeal to me is the timing. It gives me complete control of when I can have my scales done. I like CJ, not to knock those who use K&G or others. To each their own. I will also add that CJ really stands behind their product. I have been very pleased with them.
     
  4. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    I use CJ. It cost me $500.00 to get set up to do it right. I had a jug of resin go bad due to injury and not being able to work in the shop. The other cost beyond time, is brand value when selling your knife. If you are selling a $400.00 or up knife, wood stabilized by K&G carries name recognition, and you don’t fight the poor reputation (undeserved) that cactus juice carries. I stabilize my own for gifts, budget, and personal knives, but use K&G on higher values knives. I have a lot of figures poplar that CJ works perfectly fine on, so I’m not saying it’s inferior, just economics don’t add up when all the variables are considered. I’m in Canada, so I also deal with cross border shipping, the primary reason I got set up with CJ.
     
  5. Kevin McGovern

    Kevin McGovern KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 31, 2015
    Thanks sir. I'd love to see a handle you've done in one of the blocks I sent you. As for the cost effectiveness, I think, if you did a lot of blocks, and had access to nice wood, it could be a money saver. But like most things knife related, it's probably not a good bet. I enjoy it regardless.
     
  6. weo

    weo KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 21, 2014
    First off, I'm pretty sure I don't deserve to be called sir, but thanks anyway.
    Also, it's probably going to be a while before I have a finished product to show, but I'll post pics when I do.
     
    Kevin McGovern likes this.
  7. Randydb

    Randydb Basic Member Basic Member

    671
    Sep 27, 2014
    I have sent about 30-40 blocks of maple burl that I reclaimed myself to K&G on 3 occasions. I ship it from Canada, pick up from a shipping receiver in Washington when it is returned. Costs me about $6cdn/block when all is said and done. For me that is a massive saving over buying them on line.

    When you are stabilizing with Cactus Juice what is your approximate price/block? I recognize that it cost you $500 to set up. But without that figured in....how much?
     
  8. lanternnate

    lanternnate

    345
    Nov 5, 2016
    It depends greatly on how much volume you are doing as well. If you have 30-40 pounds to stabilize, doing it yourself probably isn’t practical without even needing to worry about if it is economical. It’s a 3-4 day process when I stabilize a block. I’d never get through 40 lbs reasonably. Where doing it yourself makes more sense is the hobbiest who doesn’t need large volumes.

    Shipping things out becomes impractical and more expensive when you are just needing a single block here and there. K&G has a $14 minimum plus you have shipping. You could say the hobbiest is better off just buying already stabilized blocks, but those aren’t cheap either and limit you from being able to use self harvested or cool scrap pieces you come across etc. A hobbiest can get setup for well less than $500. It doesn’t require an amazing vacuum to pull sufficient vacuum to stabilize. I have a $60 vacuum pump, a $30 vacuum hose and valve kit from turntex, and an asparagus canning jar. All in I’m just about $100. Even with a proper vacuum chamber, you could still be setup for $250. For the resin I got a quart for $30, which will last a while because not much resin gets used each time, and you can just keep reusing the excess resin. The resin gets cheaper per volume if you buy more at once. The only other cost is the small amount of electricity to run the pump and toaster oven, so it is decently cost effective for the hobbiest while giving a good amount of flexibility to what you use and control over when you use it. Still probably only makes sense for that motivation. If the motivation is JUST to save money, how much is your time worth?
     
  9. weo

    weo KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 21, 2014
    I've found that when I send them a full medium flat rate box, it costs ~$160 and works out to a little less than $5 a block. And I'm shipping across country (WA -> GA).
    If I were to send them more at one time, it would be even cheaper.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2019

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