What in the World is PEG?

Rob, excuse my ignorance, but you suggested that green wood be soaked in PEG. What is “PEG”?

Michael Dresdner:¬†Well, I’m not Rob, but I play him on TV. No, wait. I mean, I know the answer to that question.

“PEG is the chemical acronym for polyethylene glycol, a high molecular weight alcohol that can replace water. The one commonly used for stabilizing wood is PEG 1000. The number refers to the average molecular weight of the molecule, which also indicates its physical properties. For example, PEG 1000 appears as a waxy solid at room temperature, but melts easily. Lower molecular weight PEG versions are liquids at room temperature. Soak wet wood in a vat of it and it replaces the water with a compound that will not evaporate, hence limiting shrinkage and cracking. A similar product that does the same job is Pentacryl. Both are available from Rockler, and from several turners’ supply outlets.

Rob Johnstone:¬†Well, I actually meant soaked by Peggy Anderson, who is a top quality wood-soaker here in the North Country (insert rim shot here). By the way, in addition to Michael’s current TV exploits as Rob Johnstone — Action Editor, he and I are currently developing an even funnier version of a “Penn and Teller”- like team for the woodworking crowd. The only hang-up is neither of us has agreed to be the “quiet guy.”

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