Are Your Glue Joints Repairable?

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by Bob Smalser, Jul 15, 2005.

  1. Bob Smalser
    Joined: Jun 2003
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    Location: Seabeck, WA

    Bob Smalser Junior Member

    Have you done a simple builder’s test of your favorite wood glue to see if it can be reglued successfully should either your work be damaged, or a cross-grain glue joint fail with age and seasonal movement?

    In 4 decades as a woodworker, I’ve done a good bit of conservation, repair and restoration work, including pieces in a few federal museums both here and overseas. As I pass what I know down to my boys, included will be what I know about glues just like my Dad and uncles taught me. I know that some glue types can’t be glued over, often requiring new wood to be let in during repairs, and the joint recut. I discovered that the hard way some decades ago restoring furniture, and simply switched to other glues for all my work. Since then, those glues I rejected may have been reformulated; plus there are a number of new glues worth checking out, so to make sure I’m not providing bad or outdated advice, it’s time to check out the current crop of wood glues for repairability.

    I make no pretense toward science, here…this is all anecdotal based on experience, not chemistry…all I want to show is whether marine epoxy will adhere to the glue lines or residue of the various wood glues during repairs. You can look up strength and other test data in USDA Forest Product publications; I care about repairability because I’ve never seen any test or even anecdotal data on anything but hide glue in that regard, and it’s important if your work is to survive beyond typical damage and wear and tear over time. I chose epoxy as the regluing agent because it’s the usual choice in professional structural repair work and it adheres to a greater number of diverse substances than any other wood glue I know of. In fact, it usually rebonds a failed but fully cured glue joint much better than the original glue would, and as it also bonds to itself very well, epoxy is a good, repairable choice for many applications.

    [​IMG]

    On identical tiles of freshly planed, vertical grain, second-growth Doug Fir, I saturated the faying surfaces with glue and let them cure to full strength by the manufacturer’s instructions for time and temperature….

    [​IMG]

    …then I keyed each faying surface with 100-grit abrasive paper, reglued them with marine epoxy, and “clamped” the assemblies to the degree favored by epoxy. For glues that left a rough surface like polyurethane, the epoxy was applied twice…an unthickened coat followed by a second coat thickened with West 404 High-Adhesive Thickener, per the manufacturer’s instructions. I let the epoxy cure for 6 days to reach full strength.

    I purposely chose small blocks of wood with easily broken short grain because strength here isn’t the issue, adherence is, and I can check adherence using a sharp chisel without trying to break long glue joints in a press. Of greater concern was that the glues to be tested were applied without any clamping pressure, but as it turned out, several glues that require high clamping pressure fared very well, so I believe the results are reasonably valid.


    The results offered no surprises.

    [​IMG]

    The epoxy thoroughly adhered to the strongest of the off-the-shelf glues, the 2-part resorcinol, breaking completely at the wood rather than the glue line. Attempts to slip the chisel between the glue lines revealed a thorough and unified bond between all three layers of glue.

    Epoxy on epoxy showed similar results…

    [​IMG]

    …so did liquid polyurethane (Elmer’s Ultimate)…

    [​IMG]

    …and powdered urea formaldehyde plastic resin glue.

    [​IMG]

    Titebond, a Poly Vinyl Acetate glue, however, broke some wood but failed the chisel test…. the chisel easily separated the two layers of Titebond, indicating poor adherence of the epoxy in between.

    [​IMG]

    Titebond II broke even less wood, with poor adherence…

    [​IMG]

    …and Titebond III, while a much stronger glue, still did not adhere to the epoxy.

    The implications of all this can be minor if we are talking about a first-effort coffee table….but they can be serious and even dangerous if we are talking about a strip-planked boat hull made of 1 X 1 strips glued together using an unrepairable glue. Picture the requirement to feather in a large patch to repair hull damage, and you can see that patch will be pinstriped with unsound repair at every glue line, leading to early failure of the repair.

    You can draw your own conclusions. Mine are that the work most easily restored is often the work that survives the longest, that you may not care about longevity, but that may break you granddaughter’s heart some day, and I’d check out my glue choices thoroughly before committing them to any 20-hour high-end project, let alone a 700-hour project.
     
    2 people like this.
  2. Bob Smalser
    Joined: Jun 2003
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    Location: Seabeck, WA

    Bob Smalser Junior Member

    As you might imagine, this draws some concern and even ire among folks wedded to aliphatic glues and other household products for boats, so I’ve done some excursions for them.

    [​IMG]

    The only glue I can find that will stick to Titebond residue is cyano….problem is, cyano is so durn brittle it is worthless for anything more structural than fixing a sliver. Crossgrain glue joints and anything that gets bumped or stepped on breaks a cyano bond quickly.

    [​IMG]

    A number of strip builders these days are using PL Premium poly construction adhesive…I never have, so I tried it…..and epoxy sticks to it….it is repairable.

    [​IMG]

    To compare PL to something more traditionally marine, I also checked out 3M 5200….and epoxy sticks to it.

    [​IMG]

    I also found that PL sticks to PL…

    [​IMG]

    …and 5200 sticks to 5200.

    [​IMG]

    Call me in a few months to see how these non-marine glues pass the soak test in comparison to resorcinol and epoxy on cedar planking stock…

    [​IMG]

    …because I’ve known for years that 5200 loses all adhesion to fully-saturated wood…..here after only a week stuffed under the dock in 60-degree water.

    Think this doesn’t impact your new boat? Wander thru your local yards and gander at the derelicts…coatings gone…bedding dried out…. sheathings perforated. Your and my boats are all gonna look like that some day. If it has my builder’s plate on it, I want it to be the one of 100 chosen for restoration.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. FRPWoody
    Joined: Aug 2005
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    Location: Batesville, Arkansas

    FRPWoody Junior Member

    You're reserch is very impressive. Answers many questions in the serch for products to use(and not to use) in my boat restoration. Thank you! FRP.
     
  4. cyclops
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Location: usa

    cyclops Senior Member

    Thanks for the experience. I build plywood boats with soft pine corner gusset blocks. Repairs are, larger gusset blocks. Tightbond all the way. No problems yet.
     
  5. Bob Smalser
    Joined: Jun 2003
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    Location: Seabeck, WA

    Bob Smalser Junior Member

    Did you already know aliphatics don't glue over when you chose Titebond?
     
  6. duluthboats
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Location: Minneapolis,MN, USA

    duluthboats Senior Dreamer

    Bob,

    If you have posted your conclusions on the soak test somewhere I haven’t seen it. I sure would be interested in the results.

    Gary
     
  7. duluthboats
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    Location: Minneapolis,MN, USA

    duluthboats Senior Dreamer

  8. Bob Smalser
    Joined: Jun 2003
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    Location: Seabeck, WA

    Bob Smalser Junior Member

  9. duluthboats
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    duluthboats Senior Dreamer

    Thank you Bob,
     
  10. hansp77
    Joined: Mar 2006
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    Location: Melbourne Australia

    hansp77

    It is always great to read your technical input Bob,
    whether here, on the WBF or even over at the Aussiewoodwork forum (I am sure there are plenty more that I don't know about) I've been a big fan.

    Just thought I would ask,
    have you checked out the wiki that is being built here?
    http://www.boatdesign.net/wiki/Main_Page
    I think it is a great initiative, however, there is a lot to do yet (unfortunately not much of it that someone like me can do) and,
    I for one would greatly love to see some of your extensive and professional articles and advice included. (be it on wooden boats, wood, on tools and maintenence, etc.)

    While I've got your attention on this- I have thought for a while that over on the WBF there are a great many other members whose advice and knowledge it would be invaluable to incorporate in the Wiki (wooden boat areas and beyond). Only thing is I doubt my powers of persuasion in getting them over here;) .

    Anyway, check out the wiki if you haven't already,
    Love your work, and would like to see it included.

    Hans.
     
  11. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    Thats really interesting and I shall return to this when I have time to study every picture, Although I am not a wooden man I still stick stuff together some times.
     
  12. Oyster
    Joined: Feb 2006
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    Location: eastern United States

    Oyster Senior Member

    Thats an interesting idea, that Wiki-Wacki place.;) That will give me a place to kill some time reading on my coffee and lunch breaks. Thanks again Bob for your testing and documentary..
     
  13. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    See, I'm not the only one that's crazy enough to text materials and adhesives. Mr. Smalser's work has always been excellent and easier to believe then marketing department approved hype on a manufacture's web site.
     
  14. TerryKing
    Joined: Feb 2007
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    Location: Topsham, Vermont

    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    Bob's great testing work....

    Take a look at:
    http://www.boatdesign.net/wiki/MaterialsForBoatbuilding#ADHESIVES_and_SEALANTS
    on the Wiki, which has some of Bob's posted work already.

    Maybe we can (or Bob? If you have time?) abstract the wet-testing results to go there as well.

    This is not only good information, it puts the information from so many conflicting sources into perspective and allows us to understand the properties of these materials with using a whole boat as an experiment!
     

  15. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Location: Coastal Georgia

    SamSam Senior Member

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