Using Failure As Design




Introduction: Using Failure As Design

About: Come spend some time in the shop. I'm a hobbyist woodworker and professional computer geek in Northern California. I guess my projects will vary widely, and I have no clue what I plan to make next...

This bottle stopper is a result of a catastrophic mix failure with my resin. Normally I would just have thrown it out, but I wanted to see if I could save it. I'm quite happy I did.

Step 1: The Resin Volcano

I've worked with this resin many times in the past. It's a two-part urethane resin called Fast Cast that cures inside of 10 minutes. It great for prototyping as you can see your results quite quickly. It goes from clear to white in 10 minutes then fully cures in another 10 or so.

So I mixed up 2oz (1oz of each part) as I normally do and added some dye. For some reason, I'm still not sure of, it had a violent reaction with a new set of dyes I was using.

Just after I finished stirring the mix started boiling, like blowing FLIPPING SMOKE RINGS VIOLENT. The temperatures I got were in excess of 200 degrees Fahrenheit!

A failure. No doubt about it.

Step 2: Unveiling the Coral

After it cooled down, I was going to just toss it in the trash but I decide that I wanted to see if there was anything there worth saving.

So chucked it up on the lathe and figured I'd try to make a stopper.

I drilled a hole in the bottom for a 3/8" dowel that I will glue in. Normally I would mount this on my bottle stopper mandrel but the material isn't dense enough to hold threads but first I wanted to see what was under that cup.

Using my 3/8 spindle gouge I turned away the cup and over spillage (yes, we're calling it that) to see what it looks like.

I have to say, I'm quite smitten with my little mistake. It looks like a sponge and feels like pumice. It's very hard and brittle. It would be a good exfoliator if I was into rubbing stones on my feet...

Decided to go for a simple mushroom shape. I like mushrooms, they're a fun shape to turn.

At this point is held on the lathe but a short 3/8" dowel that I epoxied into is behind. I should hold as I just need to round over the top...

...if I can work of the nerve to try it.

Step 3: Sanding and Assembly

OK. I chickened out. I wasn't sure if the that glued in dowel was going to hold up to sheer force and I really wanted to complete this piece without a (second) disaster.

I used my air compressor two blow out the dust. With all the holes in the material I even got a couple cool whistles.

I buy these kits in bulk, but they're basically just a cork with a 3/8" hole drilled straight through them. A dab of wood glue and they will last a good many years.

It's a really cool looking pink coral mushroom. Because there are so many voids, it's incredibly light. Thanks for looking!

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    6 Discussions


    3 years ago

    At first i thought she/he was going to make it into a mario mushroom


    3 years ago

    The Tao of Ross: There are no mistakes, only happy accidents!


    3 years ago

    at first look i would have swear it was a piece of foam/bathroom sponge! hope you didn't inhale smoke when the boiling incident happened.


    3 years ago

    Some of the most important discoveries in science or innovations in industry where accidents, unintended consequences, or they were looking for one thing and found something else. You didn't fail, you just got ahead of everybody else. Well done!

    Penolopy Bulnick

    3 years ago

    That did come out really pretty and what a freaky thing to happen just from mixing dye!



    Thanks! Yeah, it was a lot more exciting than a normal epoxy mixing session... :)