To Glue or Not To Glue

To Glue or Not To Glue
August 4, 2017 Dennis Moor

To Glue or Not To Glue

  The following article of “To Glue or Not To Glue” is taken from one of Mary May’s online carving school weekly Newsletters!    We are sure you will find it interesting and are proud to share it with you with Mary’s blessings.

To glue, or not to glue…
Will you be banned from the woodcarving world if you use glue on your carvings?  Absolutely not!  I used this forbidden substance several times in a recent carving project I was working on.  It t will be a lesson added in August, Carving a Timber Frame Capital.  As I worked through this challenging project, there were times the wood split badly and large pieces just fell off.  I took a deep breath, composed myself, and simply used regular wood glue.  Super glue can also be used, to attach any broken pieces.  Nothing very high tech, just glue.  Fortunately, these capitals were going to be painted, so any glue on the wood surface would not affect the finish.  Be aware if you plan on putting any type of finish, such as stain, oil or shellac.  As most glue will cause the wood to seal in that spot and the finish will show differently.I did not have much time to experiment with a technique of solidifying fragile and difficult wood before carving it by soaking the fragile area with super glue.  I had heard about this technique, but personally have never tried it.

Some things to think about super glue (or CA – Cyanoacrylate – glue):

• Super glues are not all created equal – I wouldn’t suggest going for the cheap stuff
• It will leave a shiny coating on your wood, so this technique is best used for carvings that will be painted
• Thin glue will run everywhere, so use it sparingly!
• Use regular super glue or CA glue with accelerator.   I also heard baking soda does the same thing as accelerator but have not tried this.
• Super glue is also great for repairing small broken pieces of carving, as it soaks into the wood without being too thick. Just a dab’ l’ do ya.
• Super glue can cause you to become a permanent part of your carving, or bench, or anything else…
• If you do get your fingers stuck to your carving with super glue, wait 3 days until the glue releases.  Or…the glue should dissolve with acetone (or acetone-based fingernail polish).  Be careful using this solvent.

Minwax makes something called a Wood Hardener that may help to secure fragile pieces of wood also.  From what I understand, this will also affect the surface, so be aware of this if you plan on putting a finish on it other than paint.  I wish I would have done this research earlier…

Comment (1)

  1. Dick Shryock 1 month ago

    I carve mostly Cottonwood Bark and I’ll tell you I can’t live without glue, mostly CA. I have thick, and medium. I use RapidFuse from DAP and Titebond. The Titebond I mix with sawdust from the bark and make a paste to do repairs. Bark is finicky and often a knife runs amuck and the super comes to the rescue. I vote for glue

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