How can I preserve a rotting old stump from rotting further?
November 22, 2016 8:07 PM   Subscribe

There is a rotting old stump in my new yard which looks, from my office window, sort of like a natural castle, with turrets and windows and ledges. I would like to shape it a little more, and then put some of my plastic D&D miniatures on it to make a diorama. But the wood crumbles almost at a touch. Is there something I can pour onto the stump to freeze it in this shape?

The stump is big. Over a foot in diameter and about five feet high. It's some kind of evergreen, maybe a hemlock or a Douglas fir. The wood is very soft and rotting-- I can crumble it away with my fingers. It's exposed to rain and I can't really put a cover over it. I'm hoping there is some kind of resin or sealant I could just pour over it that would soak into the wood and lock it into shape.
posted by Pastor of Muppets to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Indeed, you are looking for wood hardener, the point of which is to harden rotten wood. Here is one option.
posted by rockindata at 8:26 PM on November 22, 2016

Best answer: Before adding the wood hardener, it would probably be a good idea to get the stump as dry as possible - maybe you can mount an umbrella over it for a week or so to keep it out of the rain? also it sounds cool post a picture
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:39 PM on November 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Thirding the wood hardener. It is a solvent based very thin liquid that is painted onto rotting wood. I've used it to fix up the bottom trim near our garage doors as a quick fix rather than replace the entire trim (which would be a big job and only the bottom few inches were rotting) I was absolutely amazed at how well it worked. I did remove the pieces that were essentially falling away, but with careful application it should be exactly what you are looking for. I filled in the remaining voids with wood filler and then sanded and painted the entire trim and now you can't tell by touch what was rotten and what was fine.

I agree with 5...666 that dry would be best, but it will take a long time to dry out a rotting stump. The stuff I used was different to the product suggested by rockindata and would possibly work better in your case as those things look viscous and would be problematic to apply to very soft wood.
posted by koolkat at 1:35 AM on November 23, 2016

Best answer: I use Abatron liquidwood when I am working on old houses. It is the original wood hardener, I learned about it when I worked for Colonial Williamsburg many years ago. It will give a glossy sheen to the wood. To avoid the "viscous" issue, it can be thinned with acetone, which will help it penetrate deeper. This would also cut back on the sheen a bit since the texture of the wood would not be covered as much.
Remember the stump is also rotting from the ground up, which you won't be able to stop.
posted by rudd135 at 4:09 AM on November 23, 2016

Best answer: I used this stuff a lot.
posted by humboldt32 at 7:44 AM on November 23, 2016

Best answer: Penetrating epoxy!
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 10:51 AM on November 23, 2016

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