I have some spalted punky wood blanks I'm turning into a stool seat. How do I stabilise it so it won't tear out during hand planing? It's to big for ca glue, if i use a wood hardener can I then plane it?

  • Small world, was planing some punky wood just yesterday or Wednesday. Before anything else I think first thing you should do is a frank assessment of the wood, decide whether there's actually has enough solid wood left in the pieces to act as seats. I was working away on my wood for a bit before I realised that actually it was too far gone and wouldn't have the strength I needed.
    – Graphus
    Feb 22, 2019 at 14:05
  • Anyway CA and wood hardener are now the two classic ways to firm up punky wood if the entire piece can't be stabilised, so wood hardener is certainly worth trying. But it comes back to the wood itself and whether it's too far gone. Plenty of reports of people trying hardener and it not doing enough, the only way to find out is to try it.
    – Graphus
    Feb 22, 2019 at 14:09
  • I don't think it's to far gone just a little to soft in places to get a decent shaving without tearout, if I use hardener will I be able to use a hand plane on it?
    – vimes1984
    Feb 22, 2019 at 20:55
  • Like I say you'll have to try it to find out. Works sometime, not others. Even CA doesn't always do enough and that sets a lot harder than most wood hardeners from what I've read.
    – Graphus
    Feb 23, 2019 at 16:46
  • Can I check, have you tried planing the wood yet or are you just anticipating the problem? If you have tried it already presumably you made the iron as sharp as you can possibly get it, but how's the cap iron/chipbreaker set? With some punky wood it can help to move it back from ultra-close, while still having it pretty tight to the edge (so ~1/32" or a little under 1mm) other times ultra-close is what will do it. The softness of the wood is one factor but if not using a hardener the MC is another, it can sometimes help to dampen the surface a bit — spongy planes a little better than crumbly.
    – Graphus
    Feb 23, 2019 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


Minwax makes a hardener that will harden up punky wood to a point (your mileage may vary). I've used it and am a fan, particularly for water damage on a house where the wood is typically pine or fir.


The other option would be to buy Cactus Juice and stabilize with vacuum. They sell bags to handle odd/large sized wood, and of course, you would have to have some oven to set/cook the resin. Google Cactus Juice for more information.

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