Casting Resin Inlays in Wood

I got a wonderful lump of hawthorn from an abourist pal the other day. Due to the strong prevailing wind it had grown in the trunk of the tree had matured with a distinctly heart-shaped cross section. And knowing I liked odd looking lumps of wood she put it aside for me. By the time I got it several weeks later the ends were already starting to crack despite belated attempts to prevent it and the cracking gave me an idea.

Seeing as it's only about 6" long and 6" across anyway (therefore not much use for anything else), why not go the whole hog with the "broken hearted" theme and see exactly how bad I can break it? This is where we started from...


It's already been in a centrally heated environment for the best part of a month but I upped the ante somewhat by sitting it right on top of the radiator. :-)

The general idea is that once it's moisture content is stable I'll cut it into slices and fill the cracks with casting resin, scroll saw some painfully cliche'd blurb about broken hearts onto them, and see what I get. It may not be subtle but it made me smile wondering how just how corny I could get it.

So I held a quick caption competition of face book and these were the initial entries:-

You crack me up
Don't worry, I hugged it first
True Love Heals
Broken but still lovable.
Your are the tree on which i lean
Fragile heart handle with care
Our Love will grow
and so on...

Three days of forced drying on the radiator left the pieces with a moisture content of zero and cracks you could drive a bus through which I filled with clear casting resin to which I'd added some 50 micron gold flake.




The next job was to flatten the slicest. I'm hoping to get 5 or 6mm thick out of most of them but one in particular I left thick enough to flatten to nearer 25mm to allow me to fit a clock mechanism in the back.

The resin was generic "water clear casting resin" bought off ebay with added "inca gold metal flake" (also ebay) which looks downright charming suspended in the resin.

To flatten the slices of hawthorn I used an 80 grit sanding diskl mounted in my mini lathe to flatten the front of each piece completely but only did the backs enough so prevent them rocking as I cut them on the scroll saw. I got some curious results from the drying process. The thickest piece (25mm, top centre in the photo below) broke clean in half and had to be glued back together, while the thinnest piece which is less than 10mm (bottom left in photo) cracked the least.



Now all I have to do is decide what phrase to carve on each of them. The thinner ones are all going to be wall hangings whicle the thickest one is going to be hollowed out at the back to take a clock mechanism.

This is what the first one looked like after I'd cut the slogan out and filled it with more gold-impregnated resin:-



I used silver flakes in the writing on the next one to add a bit of contrast with the gold in the cracks but I'm not terribly impressed with the way it came out.


The final (thickest) piece was to be a present for my grand daugher, so I videod it's creation from start to finish, and I have to say it came out as my own personal favourite:-

Notes on Resin: The resin used is "clear casting resin" which you can buy is just about any quantities you like. It invariably comes with a tiny bottle of hardener/activator and you mix the two together as per the instructions and after the allotted time it becomes hard.

The colour is an optional extra so far as I'm concerned. You can buy it pre-mixed if you like but it costs more and to my mind why have only one colour when you can buy small bottles of pigment you add in whatever quantity/combination you like.

It really is that simple to use but if you have any doubts try a youtube search for "casting with acrylic resin" and I'm sure there'll be dozens of examples you can follow step by step.

I source my resin and dyes (also the pseudo-gold flake) from whoever's selling it cheapest on ebay, though you might want to spend a few quid extra just for the sake of the mixing instructions etc which the cheaper brands seldom include.