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A New Life for an Old Bench #4: Addressing Wood Rot & Questions About Gluing Up The Top.

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Blog entry by ToddJB posted 03-17-2014 07:16 PM 1675 reads 0 times favorited 29 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Garters and Glue - a Tail Vise's best friends Part 4 of A New Life for an Old Bench series Part 5: Relaminating the top and a few other odds and ends »

Okay, the last two things on the “needs immediate attention” list to get this bench initially up and running are:

- Solidify rotten spot in tool well
- Reglue where the top has split (if you don’t read the rotten section my feelings will not be hurt, but I would really love to hear you thoughts on this sections so please skip to the bottom)

I took care of one, and I am pussy-footing around the other because it makes me super nervous.

Taken care of – wood rot.

Here is what I started with:

The red circle shows the super rotted area. The lightest touch would leave a finger print.

The green is the area that was beginning to soften. A finger nail was able to leave an indent with little effort.

Remedy:

Lots and LOTS of thin CA glue.

I’ve use this before to repair cracks in plane totes, but this is my first attempt at this, per a Charles Neil suggestion in his finishing classes (which i HIGHLY recommend).

I just threw some painters tape on the underside of the affected area and began pouring it on. I figured a couple applications and I’d be done. HA! It took the whole bottle + plus some.

The first few applications I would pour it on and it would immediately disappear. I let it sit a few minutes between these. Soon the seepage began to slow down. Good sign! I would pour it on and it would take a minute or so to soak it up. This happened for probably 5 or 6 more applications. Then the green sections stopped absorbing and the glue was just pooling on top. Great. I’m getting somewhere. So I stopped.

Waited an hour or so and then when and poked it again. It was all still soft! What the heck? Two theories: either the wood was soooooo rotten and I had added so much glue that it was like a handful of sawdust in a pool and was just taking forever to dry, or there was still moisture in the rotting wood preventing the glue from hardening.

Either way, my solution: add heat. I put a construction light on it. That thing puts off some serious heat. I use to use it as my shop heater – just moving it around from machine to machine with me.

Once I did this I could see air bubbles starting to produce from the glue – good sign. But in doing this I became very aware of how terrible this crap is for your eyes and lungs. There was a very pronounced toxic steam rolling off the bench. As seen in the pic below:

I opened the garage door and added a fan to the mix. I let this roll this way for a few hours and rechecked it in the morning.

In the morning the green area were rock hard. :) The red area had solidified a lot, but I could still get a finger nail into it. At this point I finished off rest of my thin CA, and let it harden. Still a littler softer than I’d like so I found some regular Super Glue, which I believe is exactly the same thing as CA only in a medium body. I figured since I had addressed the innards really well with the thin stuff, this would just solidify the top. After a few applications of this, I believe I’m in business. The first few soaked up but by the 3rd application the glue started to pool.

Now, the coloring is A LOT darker than it started out as. This isn’t ideal, but I still think that was my best option, and there are already some really dark spots in other areas on the bench. Hey more character is more character. I still need to scrape of some of the surface glue, but I will address that when I begin to think about how much of a restoration this bench is going to get.

NOW FOR THE QUESTIONS

This glue up has me shaking in my boots. If I’m going to F this bench up – here is where it will happen.

SOOOOO.

Quesiton 1: How would you go about this glue up?

The bench has split down a glue line.

But it is still attached to the breadboard/end cap, by a lag bolt.

Option 1 – Remove the lag bolt and fully disassemble

Pros:
Easier to clean the glue joint, and easier to apply the glue.

Cons:
I don’t know if when I remove the lag I’ll find the endcap glued to the top, as well.
If I take the lag out and glue it up there is a chance I will not be able to align it perfectly again so that the lag hole matches up again, necessitating drilling the hole out, plugging it, and then reinserting the lag.

Option 2 – Leave lag and end cap in place and just reglue

Pros:
Everything will line up easier and I’m not doing more disassembling than needed which hopefully lowers the risk of breaking something

Cons:
This will be a pain in the butt to try to clean the old glue line and harder to add the actual glue

Question 2: Regardless of question one, how would you attempt to protect the table surface from glue to retain the patina?

My fear is that I will have squeeze out, and that the glue will peel away some patina. My current idea is to put down painters tape to the top edge or each surface, glue, and clamp. Leaving me now with the squeeze out sitting on top of the tape. Give it a wipe and then pull the tape off. Think this would work? Other suggestions?

Question 3: I believe the split happened where it happened because of the drastic climate differences between it’s mid-west origin and it’s current home of Denver. The base is held to the top via two alignment pins. With one side in place, the other alignment hole is about 1/8” off set from the alignment pin on the base.

Part 1: Do you think this is movement of the top, or by design?

I ask about design because the base is just bolted together with lags, if I loosen them, I could most likely fit the pin in this hole, and then re-tighten the base, thus clamping the top and the base together by way of lateral pressure. Does this seem like a probable design feature, or would this lead to more glue failures?

Part 2: If you do not think this is the way it was designed, would you just plug the bench top alignment hole and re-drill it in the correct location?

Any and all feed back on this topic would be greatly appreciated, as I have never done a large glue up, let alone one on an antique, which always seems to make life a little more difficult.

Thanks for your interest and support.

Part 5: Either the actual glue up, or more questions on how to fix it if I screw up

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built



29 comments so far

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

11350 posts in 1731 days


#1 posted 03-17-2014 07:24 PM

Personally I think id unscrew the lag bolt and see what happens. If the breadboard is glued then it shouldn’t move. If it isn’t glued your joint should open right up, from there you could plug the existing lag hole and drill a new lag into it instead of trying to line it all up again.

Can u squeeze it back together with clamps as it sits right now? Id wanna check that first. If you cant clamp it back together as it sits right now it might not have been seasonal/humidity movement and something else could be causing the open joint.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View ToddJB's profile (online now)

ToddJB

2815 posts in 855 days


#2 posted 03-17-2014 07:30 PM

When it’s not on the base, it will line back up perfectly, but as it sits (with the base tightened down), I would be hard pressed to squeeze it together, I think.

But it I loosened the base up first, I think it would press together fine.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

11350 posts in 1731 days


#3 posted 03-17-2014 07:37 PM

So the base is attached to the top via pegs/dowels and the base itself is held together with lags? When you loosen the lags holding the base together the open joint could be closed with clamps? With the lags holding the base together tightened you could not close the open glue joint on the top?

If that’s the case id guess that the base is the problem and I might be inclined to find the offending peg/dowel, cut it and redowel it back into the bottom of the work surface with the base lagged tight together. Basically just reattach the base to the top. Youd never see the repair.

Or id wait for Smitty to chime in. As we know hes the “make it work without effing up all the old school goodness” guy.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View JayT's profile

JayT

2534 posts in 936 days


#4 posted 03-17-2014 07:38 PM

I’d definitely remove the lag. My biggest fear would be how long the joint has been open—if the surfaces aren’t clean you will never get a good bond, so I would want to remove the lag and end cap to take apart, clean and re-glue.

To protect the surface from glue residue, tape may be fine, or how about laying down a light coat of BLO right before gluing? The glue won’t stick to it and it shouldn’t lift the patina (might clean off some dirt, but not true aged patina). You could try on a small section first. Someone else may have a better idea.

For #3, I don’t have a clear picture in my head of the overall assembly of the bench. However you go about fixing, you will have to allow for movement in some way. A large benchtop like that can move quite a bit.

Edit: As you found out, you have to be extremely careful heating CA glue. Cyanoacrylate gives off cyanide gas when heated too much. The gas is also very flammable.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

11350 posts in 1731 days


#5 posted 03-17-2014 07:40 PM

Ill send out the signal:

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

11350 posts in 1731 days


#6 posted 03-17-2014 07:44 PM

Now im seeing the issue after JayT’s post:

Base is held together with lags.
Base attaches to top with pegs.
Top is split.
Top is held together with breadboard and a lag.
Base is causing the split on the top.
To gain access to glue together must remove bread board.
Scared.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10219 posts in 1343 days


#7 posted 03-17-2014 07:49 PM

re: Question 1…

I’d remove the face vise completely before messing with the breadboard end bolts. Then I’d pull both of those lags and see if the benchtop comes apart. If so, no issues as it appears the left end is already tight. By pulling the right end tight as part of a re-glue, there should be no impact on the left end.

It’s when you get those lags out and the top doesn’t come apart that you have a choice to make. At that point. I’d clean the craick with a fine file and sandpaper, whatever is at your disposal, and prepare to reglue / clamp as best you can. Even consider adding a lag at the front face, towards the shoulder vise if you have to, to keep it together. That can be recessed and covered with a plug, of course.

My .02 (and worth every penny you paid for it) :-)

EDIT: ^ Damn, Stef, that thing really works…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10219 posts in 1343 days


#8 posted 03-17-2014 07:54 PM

re: Question 2…

Fill the peg holes in the base and put in new ones where they need to be, to match up with the repair’d top. It’s underneath, just has to work, don’t sweat aesthetics here…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View ToddJB's profile (online now)

ToddJB

2815 posts in 855 days


#9 posted 03-17-2014 07:57 PM

Here are the picks of the base and the bottom of the bench.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10219 posts in 1343 days


#10 posted 03-17-2014 08:00 PM

^ Just like the system on my Dad’s bench. Gravity / weight of the top keeps it down, the pins keep it from sliding around.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Sylvain's profile

Sylvain

574 posts in 1224 days


#11 posted 03-18-2014 10:35 AM

I am a bit surprised that the bench builder choose to bore the holes for the pegs just in the middle of the glue line.
I would have bored the two holes in the middle of one single beam.

Was it a good idea to have the end vise under-structure pushing against the top right rail (as shown by the picture) ? Would that interfere with the working of the right peg?

Could the tightening of the end vise on an irregular shape have induced an outward lateral force on the front of the top?
As Smitty said:
‘Even consider adding a lag at the front face, towards the shoulder vise if you have to, to keep it together. That can be recessed and covered with a plug, of course.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View ToddJB's profile (online now)

ToddJB

2815 posts in 855 days


#12 posted 03-18-2014 06:41 PM

Thanks guys. This is a lot of food for thought.

With adding a lag – if I went this route there would be no need to cover it up. One is already there… just not long enough. You can see the recessed hole for it in the above pic.

Smitty suggests I plug the alignment hole and drill a new one.

JayT suggests I make room for wood movement.

Can those two concepts fit together with this design? If I elongated the alignment hole wouldn’t I get movement on my top?

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View JayT's profile

JayT

2534 posts in 936 days


#13 posted 03-18-2014 11:56 PM

Todd, after seeing pics of the top, you shouldn’t have issues with movement. Being pinned in just one spot on each upper stretcher allows the top to move freely in both directions from the peg front and back—that is the direction of the most movement. I wasn’t quite understanding how the parts were joined before your last pics and was thinking two pegs on each stretcher, which could have caused problems.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10219 posts in 1343 days


#14 posted 03-18-2014 11:58 PM

^ What JayT said.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View ToddJB's profile (online now)

ToddJB

2815 posts in 855 days


#15 posted 03-19-2014 12:52 AM

I’m glad you guys could come together on that… I would hate for you two to keep fighting over lil ol me.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

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