My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #92: A Very Delicate Repair Done Successfully

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-03-2010 01:39 PM 6123 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 91: Quite An Adventure on the Horizon Part 92 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 93: Time To Batten Down the Hatches »

It is a horrible feeling to break a piece that you have been working on for some time. After all the hours of drawing and planning, and then the additional hours of the actual cutting and seeing the piece come to a beautiful reality, one of the worst feelings is when you pick it up and hear it ‘crack’. The only thing that can be worse is when you do it to someone else’s piece. (Ahem – that would be me!)

My partner had been working on a piece for over a week now. He only gets limited time after his other job on the weekdays so it usually takes a few days at least to draw up and cut out a project, depending on the complexity. He was making an elf (or fairy, if you will) that would be an overlay piece and appear to be walking out of the frame. I thought this was quite a nice project and we were planning to submit it to my editor for consideration for the magazine.

After a couple of evenings of cutting, it was finally finished. He decided to use a mineral oil finish and spray shellac over it to seal it. It was a great choice of finishing because with all the intricate wing cutouts, he was able to submerge it in oil in a large, flat pan and not risk breaking anything by using a brush to get finish in between the numerous cutout areas.

Everything was going fine. Until I came along. The pieces were drying on the table on folded paper towels, and I didn’t want them to get broken so I though I would set them out of the way. Without thinking I picked the fairy up by the wings and heard a little “crack.” I immediately felt that roller coaster sickness in my stomach because I realized that the piece had broken. Keith was next to me and heard it too and we just looked at each other and I didn’t know what to say. He isn’t the type to get angry, and this was no exception. Very calmly we examined the damage and saw that one section of the wing had a small break in it.

Now the piece was to be glued onto the frame at the tips of the wings, and the break was in the middle so it wouldn’t carry much, if any weight. I was more of a stability issue we were dealing with here. The problem was that we were in the process of submitting it to my editor for consideration for the magazine and if it were to be picked, it would not only have to travel to New Jersey, but also be photographed for the article. Now things have broken before both in transit to the magazine and also by their own hand and it is easy to hide the damages with the camera, but it was the principle of the thing that bothered me so much.

I felt terrible and Keith wound up consoling me and telling me it was fine. I offered to re-cut it for him, but both of us knew that it wouldn’t be the same. This was HIS project and if I were to cut it, it would take something away from it. I know you can all understand that.

So I looked to you, my fellow LJ’s and posted a question as to the best way to repair it. The problem was that it had just finished soaking in the oil and was still pretty moist. I needed to know what glue would adhere to such a piece.

We allowed it to dry an hour or so and then when it looked like it was drying out, he proceeded to give it a couple of light coats of spray shellac to seal in the oil. Fortunately, this looked good and it must have been dry enough to accept the shellac as a sealer. We decided to wait for our replies and leave it over night.

The overall consensus was to use CA glue. While he was at work yesterday, I thought I would attempt the repair. I wanted him to come home to the project being all repaired. I did take pictures to show you, hoping that I would be successful and being able to share the process with you so if you run into this problem you could maybe give it a go.

The first picture shows the fracture. It is small, and the opposite piece didn’t break, so again the entire load wouldn’t be on damaged section that broke. It would just be additional support:

From Wood Repair

I dried the piece off as well as I could. I knew there was probably oil in the mating ends of the fracture, but it would be too much of a risk to try to dry inside there, so I hoped that the oil had absorbed far enough into the wood to allow a good bond.

I used a small toothpick as a brace on the back side and I dripped a tiny amount of CA glue into the crack. I then pushed the grain together with my finger nail and held it for a couple of minutes so it could bond.

From Wood Repair

One of the best qualities of wood is that when it breaks, the grain causes it to do so like two puzzle pieces that fit exactly together. I knew that I had one good shot to make it look good, as if I would have had to reapply the glue, there would be glue from the first attempt in the crack and it would not allow the pieces to mesh back together perfectly. The key here was patience and not moving for at least a couple of minutes. I think I was pretty successful because when I finally did remove my finger and the toothpick, the bond held.

From Wood Repair

This next picture is a wider angle and I am pointing to just where the repair was located. You can see that there are two places where the bottom wing is held to the rest of the piece, but because of the angle, the grain is quite short along this area and it isn’t very strong. When the tips are glued to the frame, strength isn’t really the iconcern and as I said, it is more of a stability issue than anything but it is still important for it to be in tact.

From Wood Repair

And here is the final project in place. You can see where most of the weight load is carried by the larger wing tips of the top wings. Once glued in place onto the frame, all should be well again.

From Wood Repair

There will be a veneer backer of walnut which will be glued to the back of the frame. It will give a nice contrast and also enhance the shadow box effect of the piece. I was very grateful for all the advice and it was good to have you all to turn to in this little mini-crisis of mine. The bond seems to be good and should hold up fine. All is good with the world again.

I am sorry to say however, that my editor opted not to go with the project. He said they had just put out a fairy book and even though they liked the look of her coming out of the frame, it just wasn’t a good time to publish it. It was one of those “good news/bad news” days. :(

I also had some major changes regarding the skating pond figures that I will talk about tomorrow, as I realize this is a longer post than I intended. It wasn’t really what I would call positive, but again it isn’t the end of the world. There are many avenues I can take with it and will be discussing them in tomorrow’s blog.

You never know what the day will bring. Many people think that just because I have a long history with the magazine, everything I offer them will be taken. That certainly isn’t the case. I have many, many items that I have presented and have not been used for publication. Some have done extremely well on my site and with the wholesalers, even after being rejected by the magazine. So it isn’t the end of the world if they don’t take something.

I believe I take rejection fairly well. It used to get to me more then it does now. I have come to realize that my editor and his assistant are also human, and we all have the right to like or dislike something. You can’t argue opinions. (Well, you can argue them, but everyone has a right to have their own!) I’ll put it this way – you can’t tell people what they have to like. Sometimes another set of eyes is a great asset. I have never been a ‘think with the masses’ type of girl, and even though that is part of what sets me apart from others, it can also hurt me if I am looking for mass appeal. I have really learned in these many years on this job to respect people’s taste and preferences and not feel personally offended if what I do does not appeal to everyone. That sounds like a small thing, but really it is quite huge. Just think how boring the world would be if we all thought the same and liked exactly the same thing! Individuality and diversity is really what makes this world a better place. Just look around here at LJ’s!

So again I thank you all for your input on the repair. I think it was a resounding success and I hope that if you ever get in that type of situation you will remember this and it will help just a little. If not, you can always ask the great people here. There is always someone who is willing to help.

Friday already? Weekend approaching (along with Earl, I hear – for me anyway!) Have a great one!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

12 comments so far

View Cozmo35's profile


2200 posts in 3036 days

#1 posted 09-03-2010 02:09 PM

Shelia, I know all too well that roller coaster of sickness you felt when you heard the crack. Unless you experience it, words cannot describe it. It is as though the piece you hae been working on for so long has been stolen. I am glad you were able to repair it. From looking at the pictures, you did an excellent job. As far as the fairy not being published. Don’t worry, it’ll be picked up at a later date and all the work will already have been done. ”You gotta have a bad day to know what a good day is”.

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

View JimF's profile


144 posts in 3293 days

#2 posted 09-03-2010 02:16 PM

Glad to hear the repair came out OK. Good looking fairy. Keith does good work.

-- Insert clever tag line here

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2920 days

#3 posted 09-03-2010 02:23 PM

I agree Cozmo! It is a bad feeling! You are so right about the bad days. They make you appreciate the good ones a lot!

As far as being accepted goes, I am used to it but I was sad for Keith. I don’t want to see him discouraged because he does such great work. He took it well though. He said he didn’t like that design as much as I did from the very beginning, before we even submitted it. He was ‘unsure of it’ as I have been with my own many times. Maybe it is a girl thing, but I was more disappointed then him. He has other things in the works though and so do I so it is onward and upward! Yes, you have to see the dark just to know how wonderful the light is!

Thanks for your nice comment too Jim. I think he is a great asset to my little company in so many ways! I certainly wouldn’t be able to do all I do if it weren’t for him. It is great to have such a good friend and partner!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View helluvawreck's profile


31096 posts in 2866 days

#4 posted 09-03-2010 02:30 PM

Sheila, I’m sorry that you went through this experience of breaking the piece especially since it was made by your coworker and not yourself. It would have made you feel bad enough had it been your own. I have the info on this glue that we bought at the show for future reference. It is called EZ-Bond and the company is Fathom It Distributing. I can say that it is a very strong glue and we bonded two pieces of wood with a couple of drops and it took 3 of us taking several turns before one of us finally pulled them apart. The nice thing is that you can put this glue on a piece of wood and leave it for hours and it will not start setting up until you remove the oxygen (apply the two pieces together). However, I cannot recommend this glue because of the cost unless you might could buy it from someone else or the manufacturer direct. I am still trying to track down the more promising glue that we saw at the show. It had similar properties but the container was much larger and was significantly much less money for the larger bottle than the EZ-Bond glue was. I should have the more affordable one tracked down in a couple more days because we need the glue ourselves. When I get it I’ll try it out and get the the info to you or just make a forum post about it.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2920 days

#5 posted 09-03-2010 02:37 PM

I remember reading that on the post you wrote before but I had already done the repair. I would really be interested in the information though, as I am sure that many others who read here would. I thought I had my settings here at LJ’s so that if my buddies post anything I am notified, but I am finding I miss stuff so I must need to recheck them. Please let me know what you find out. Perhaps when I go to that show in March I can find some information on it. I think that for most of us, the cost would be worth it – especially with the kind of stuff we are doing. I probably used a quarter of a drop and it saved hours of work. How do you put a price on that? But if there is a less-costly alternative that works just as well, I am all for that too!

Thank you very much for the information. I will certainly try to keep track of your posts and will try to see what I can find out in the meantime. ;)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2986 days

#6 posted 09-03-2010 02:52 PM

Sheila, this is unrelated, but I hope you are prepared for the storm on Saturday? I was just reading that it is supposed to be a category 1 when it hits Nova Scotia- yikes!

That fairy is beautiful! :) I love it… it’s a very unusual, distinctive design of scrollwork.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2920 days

#7 posted 09-03-2010 03:01 PM

Yes, but it will be a welcome change to the heat ! If you all don’t hear from me for a day or two (I hope you will miss me!) it will be because the internet is blow away!

Seriously, they usually kind of fall apart by the time they get up this way. I don’t know if it is the cold water or what that sucks the energy out of them. I am about 2 miles from the shore and there are hills here so the wind off the water isn’t too bad. We will probably get a good storm, but it has been pretty dry here and I am hoping for the best. I have water and candles (because when we lose electricity, the water pump doesn’t work either – something new I learned since moving to the country!) and I can always paint by candlelight or read if we get hit hard!

I will definitely keep you posted!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View OttoH's profile


891 posts in 3010 days

#8 posted 09-03-2010 10:05 PM

Sheila, I know the feeling of breaking something while trying to move it to a safer place all to well. It is a great design and I can’t wait to see it finished off with the Walnut veneer backing board, that should make it pop nicely.

Sorry you had to go through that ordeal, but as Cozmo said, you can’t appreciate the good days without a bad one every now and then.

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3018 days

#9 posted 09-04-2010 01:21 AM

Sheila, Please tell Keith that WE thought the fairy was awesome! Really! You did a fine job of repairing, I can imagine how Keith felt when it broke. It has happened to me before and I just couldn’t be mad at my love as it was an accident. No permanent damage anyway. Just be glad you didn’t drop and shatter it into bits!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2920 days

#10 posted 09-04-2010 01:29 AM

Well, once I dropped one of his first things and broke it and I am still here to talk about it! He’s pretty patient! Thanks for the nice words again. I will show the finished one for sure!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3115 days

#11 posted 09-04-2010 02:02 AM

glad to hear the repair did go well after all
sorry it wasn´t accepted
I has seen my parts of fairy´s the last ten years ,thanks to my daughter :-)
and say to keith he did a fantastic job , my daughter saw this a few hours ago
just before her bedtime and she made coments about it I think about 20 minuts
and its ain´t easy to impress her when it comes to fairry´s

have a great weekend both of you

View Handi75's profile


377 posts in 3474 days

#12 posted 11-17-2010 08:05 PM


Great Project. Can’t even tell that it was broken.

Love the Fairy.


-- Jimmy "Handi" Warner,,, Twitter: @Handisworkshop, @HandisCreations

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