Repairing broken carvings.

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Forum topic by MarkTheFiddler posted 05-29-2012 09:01 PM 6946 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2068 posts in 2183 days

05-29-2012 09:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: carving repair epoxy

I’ll add a few images later.

Today, I try to do something I have never tried before. I want to attempt to repair some broken and missing carved tips on a ball and claw foot coffee table.

I think I need to use some wood epoxy and “artfully” rebuild them.

If that’s the way I should go: Is there a wood epoxy brand that will be easy to work with, tougher than the orginal and stainable?

If not – I’ll all ears about doing it the right way.

I’m not going to try and tackle that part today. I’m going to work on cleaning it instead.


-- Thanks for all the lessons!

8 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile


1730 posts in 2804 days

#1 posted 05-29-2012 09:11 PM

Mark I have never attempted to repair that way but it will probably work, maybe . I have repaired several over the years by cutting uniform rebates at the damaged area, filling with wood and then rasping, filing and sanding back to orig. inegrity. If your client is very scrutinizing the filler may not work. The process I just described is very quick and ends with good result, for me anyway. Enjoy the journey JB

View Ben's profile


302 posts in 2325 days

#2 posted 05-29-2012 09:22 PM

I’ve done a few repairs on antique carvings myself. I work in architectural antiques and I am an amateur by anyone’s standards and not a carver by any stretch of the imagination. I personally wouldn’t use epoxy at all. Everything is an individual decision on how you may want to go about it. In most cases, I’ll sand the broken edge to a flat surface and glue on a piece slightly larger than you need (not too much though) After the glue sets, i’ll carve bit by bit until i am close to the profile I need, then go the rest of the way with sandpaper or small files if there is room for that. just take it slow and keep checking your progress to one of the intact pieces. I can usually get it really close and if I matched the wood well, it is tough to tell where the repairs is.

-- Welcome to downtown Coolsville, Population: US! --Hogarth Hughes

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302 posts in 2325 days

#3 posted 05-29-2012 09:25 PM

Yeah, what he said

-- Welcome to downtown Coolsville, Population: US! --Hogarth Hughes

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10377 posts in 3643 days

#4 posted 05-29-2012 09:39 PM

Fillers that have strength and toughness don’t take stain well
at all… Bondo and Durham’s water putty for example. If you
use them don’t expect a mere stain job to conceal the repair
well at all. The trick is to learn how to use acrylic paints and
a dental pick to scratch out a grain pattern where needed.

Sometimes it makes more sense to find a way to install replacement
wood. Once you get over the fear of cutting away material
and start doing it so you can put new pieces in it become
an interesting and rewarding way to make repairs.

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2196 days

#5 posted 05-29-2012 11:09 PM

Do you have some parts of the carving you can duplicate? Put some was paper down over a good section of a carving, tightly, use bondo is ok for a reverse imprint, when the bondo is dried, get some Mohawk wood epoxy filler comes in a tube you have to mix. Door companys will use this stuff for exterior doors…. make your imprint on the bondo let it dry then just transfer what you need to the broken carving. Use some ca glue to hold it in place and touch up from there…... I hope this helps….

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2281 days

#6 posted 05-29-2012 11:14 PM

If you’re talking about really small replacements…. like 1/2 inch or less, you can either do as has been suggested and sand the area flat and build it up again OR you can drill it out and glue in a plug, being careful to match the grain direction and, of course, use the same wood species. The drill method is usually only used if there’s a lot of deep damage. I had a rather ornately carve talons-over-ball that was badly damaged right in the front for all to see. I used a japanese saw to actually cut a 3/4 by 3/4 rabbet to remove the damaged section, glued in a new block, and carved it back to match. I carve wood and stone so there’s a qualifier there someplace. :)

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2183 days

#7 posted 05-30-2012 04:54 AM

Wow – I love this forum already. You all have given really great advice. I am so so intrigued that I’m actually staying up late to give a response.

I think the sanding down and attaching new wood is the method I will try. For wood match I can use a half inch slice from the corner blocks then sandwich a new piece of wood to them. I inserted a picture of a medallion I will practice with because I have never done anything like this before and I’m pretty concerned about ruining the piece.

The epoxy tricks you all shared will go into my back pocket for future restorations. Thanks so much for those.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View KarenW's profile


131 posts in 2183 days

#8 posted 05-30-2012 08:23 AM

Absolutely agree with the above advice about glue-on, carved back and I’ve done this many times over my 30 years of working on furniture. I also keep bits and pieces of fancy trim work or medallions salvaged from other things that I’ve been able to incorporate into a restoration job. Sometimes it’s nice to have some aged replacement parts.

-- Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best. --Theodore I. Rubin

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