colin replied the topic: Preserve/stabilize birch piece?
Wow, that is a lovely piece of wood and it's going to be tricky to work with. It may be a bit too far gone for some kinds of woodworking as it's hard to say what it's like inside. There are a few options like Elmers that make a wood rot restoring product (which I have not used) you could also use 2 part epoxy glue, but most of these are surface or near surface preps and don't really go deep enough to really stabilize the wood deep inside.
Not sure what you had planned for this but a lathe will likely rip it apart. I think if this was my wood, I would be try carving out what I want with it using a variety of carving tools, grinders and even a smaller rotary tools. That way you can ease you way into the wood and take more or less depending on what is there. When you are all finished, hardening or stabilizing the wood with one of the above, or with others would be a good option.
Derek replied the topic: Preserve/stabilize birch piece?
Hi Bearcubvet, you should have a really detailed look at this wood and make a plan to achieve your finished Lamp. ( I really like your idea for this)As Colin mentioned, use Epoxy to stabilize any cracked areas. If you want to maintain the present colors the piece has an option you might want to consider is Danish Oil. This penetrates into the wood and hardens below the surface. You may get a slight darkening of the wood from the oil but I think it would be minimal.
Once you get to this point, I would look at applying several light coats of Poly Urethane to help protect the piece and minimize the the expansion and contraction from humidity changes in you home. The drier this piece is, the better before you finish it. Just some finishing ideas for you to consider. Take your time thinking it through. You get one shot at preserving it in it's natural state.
bearcubvet replied the topic: Preserve/stabilize birch piece?
I'm very new to wood working. I tried gardening and killed all the plants, so I figured I'd try working with dead plants LOL. At this stage, I don't have a lot of tools so i'm much more of a woodmaker than a woodworker. Thanks to both of you for the advice! I found the piece after watching Colin's 'Finding Spalted Wood" video. Saw the rotting log out for curbside pickup.