Monday, April 6, 2020

Waiting for Negentropy

No Further Words Needed..

This post is intended for everyone today who is staying inside their homes and working to do nothing so that we can "flatten the curve."  I do not need to explain since we all are in this together.  When the Beetles sang "Come Together" they should have added "with a respectable social distance, of course."

From time to time I play Judy Collins' album "Colors of the Day" and it always gives me the emotional support I need to get through the day.  I also like to look up and appreciate the wonderful variety of clouds that change from day to day.

For those of you who are not outside, I would like to post some of my favorite cloud images, along with the lyrics from Judy Collins:

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all


Sunday, April 5, 2020

You Should Not Be Afraid of Your Glue

Have You Tried Old Brown Glue?

My first experience with super glue was when I was working in physics nearly 50 years ago.  I didn't know what this glue was capable of and accidentally got some on my thumb.  When my thumb came in contact with my first finger it instantly got stuck.  I was somewhat amused and tried to pull them apart, with no success.  As I thought about living with my thumb glued to my finger I became concerned and asked one of the technicians in the lab for  his advise.  His response and attitude toward my situation indicated that I was about as stupid as a rock.

He handed me a razor blade and said, "You need to decide which side to cut.  Do you want your thumb or do you want your finger?"  Then he called over the other tech to watch me make the decision.  All I can say is that it was a painful learning experience and I have kept my distance from super glue ever since.

With that in mind, I remember seeing the introduction of Gorilla glue many years ago.  I was interested in this new product and read the label carefully.  I noticed there was a 1-800 phone number on the label so I called to ask a question.

"Hello, I need to ask you about getting this glue on my skin.  How do I get it off?"

The cheerful response was as follows: "It will wear off eventually."

I had some strange dreams that night.

In fact I was told that if my dog or child accidentally ingested Gorilla glue then immediate surgery was necessary, as it would form a blockage in the digestive system.

To contrast with this, I have had many shop dogs over the years and they all kept the floor clean of any spilled hide glue, which is a protein.

On one occasion I had a black lab who was always at my feet during work.  When I opened a new can of tung oil for a finishing project and set it down on the floor for a moment to do something else, Bruiser drank the entire can.  I expected him to get sick but his fur just got shiny...

I do not like toxic materials.  I use protein glue, shellac, wax and other traditional materials for this reason.  They also are reversible and work just fine.

Here is an article I cut out of the New York Times paper in May 2015.  It was a result of the federal discussion over the use of formaldehyde, an important additive to commercial wood glues and wood glue products.  The argument is between worker's health or profit.  It seems that industry is willing to risk toxic chemical exposure in workers if it means more profit on the bottom line.  Among other reasons, this was an important factor in my decision so many years ago to retire from high energy particle physics and devote my career to furniture conservation using organic materials.

Now it is time for the final video in the Fine Woodworking series.  This is about hammer veneering.

Enjoy:It's Hammer Time!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Synthetic Glues Rub Me The Wrong Way

Got Glue?

In my somewhat distinguished and long career as a woodworker, I can say with confidence that I have never been concerned about running out of wood glue.  In fact, I cannot remember the last time I actually went out of the shop to a store to buy glue.  Of course I do go from time to time to places like Home Depot to get something and then I usually walk by the isle of glue and wonder what all that stuff is good for?  Gorilla glue, Titebond, Elmers, epoxy, contact cement, "super" confusing.  Don't even take the time to ask a salesman which glue should I use.  The answer you will get depends on what glue they sell the most or which glue they need to sell more of.  I can guarantee that the salesman who is advising you has never used any glue for any reason.

As a furniture conservator in private practice I have seen the results of amateur woodworkers trying to repair broken furniture by following the advice of these young salesmen.


Here are a few examples:

Hot Melt Glue Gun
In the hobby field of home crafts, there are many people who use a hot melt glue gun.  This devise appeals to those who want to hold a gun in their hand and quickly stick two things together by melting semi liquid plastic.  The photo above shows how you can attach a loose molding to an 18th century tall case clock easily and permanently by simply using a hot melt glue gun.

Gorilla Glue
One of the most commercially successful brands in the past decade has been the dominance of Gorilla Glue on the market.  This stuff is made in China and imported in large quantities.  The success of this product is in the advertising and product placement.   Even the smallest hardware store in the most isolated town has a special stand with this glue front and center.  The slogan "Strongest glue on planet Earth" is catchy, but I shudder when I see the result.  Frankly it should not be used.

Yellow Glue

Various forms of "yellow" glue are essentially a type of plastic.  It doesn't flow well and has a weak resistance to creep.  If the joint is not properly clamped quick enough the glue creates a thick layer which really doesn't stick to any surface completely, but must be removed using invasive methods before a proper repair can be done.

Yellow Glue on Top of Old Protein Glue
Restoring damage like this is how I make a living.



Or this:

I repeat: WTF????
This photo shows the application of these remarkable repairs:

This is NO way to treat a Lady!

I am an old hippy, but when I see work like this I just want to do bodily harm to the perp.

This was the repair made to a French Napoleon III card table as an effort to attach the leg.  Perhaps the best feature was the inclusion of the twisted steel staple, perhaps as a last resort.  You should know that removing these staples cause more damage than you can imagine.

Glue Block Rubbed in with Hot Hide Glue

The video I am posting today discusses rub joints.  Here is a simple glue block rubbed in with hot glue on a piece of furniture made just after the Civil War.  Notice that it remains in place after a century.  No nails or screws or staples.  Just simple protein glue properly used.

Time for another installment of the Fine Woodworking series: Hide Glue and Rub Joints

Friday, April 3, 2020

Hoe To Save Your Hide (Glue)

When you work in a shop for a while, things just seem to find a place and never go away.  I am always finding photos, stickers, cartoons and other stuff that I think is interesting or important at that time and I just tape them to any open space on the wall.

In September of 2008 I cut out this cartoon and taped it to the wall.  I thought it was funny and that the people in it were just plain stupid.  Turns out they were following government orders to stay indoors and prevent further infection.  I think of this cartoon every day I show up at work and turn the "open" sign around in the front window.  I am trapped in here; the street is closed.

In any event, I am working on several projects so I am not exactly bored.

Here is the video for today.  Again it was done by Fine Woodworking last year.  This one explains how to save your hot glue when you are not using it every day.  Of course, with the liquid Old Brown Glue this is not a problem.  It is guaranteed for at least 18 months.

FW Glue Video:Save Your Glue

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Cooking Oatmeal or Cooking Glue

You Cannot Make Marquetry Without Hot Glue!

At this age, I get up ever day at 5:00 am and hit the ground running.  I believe the first 4 hours of the day are the most important.  There are no distractions, it is so quiet you can hear the birds sing, and you get to see the dawn break.

After my shower the first thing I do is make coffee and oatmeal.  Then I watch the darkness change into light, as my kitchen window faces east and I can see the earliest light appear as I wash the dishes.

Making oatmeal has become a ritual over the past few years.  Organic oatmeal with flax, berries, bananas, and just a touch of brown sugar is all I need to fuel the body for the important things I need to do.  The coffee helps.  Did you know that caffeine has a high that lasts 24 hours?  No wonder I seem to need it to start the day.

When I arrive at work the first job is to check the glue pot.  Making the hot hide glue is exactly the same as making oatmeal, but without the berries.

Traditional Hide Glue Cakes

Today I am posting the second part of the Fine Woodworking video series about protein glues.  When I lecture on this topic, I always encourage my audience to not make this more complicated than it is.  Remember, protein glues have been used for 8,000 years and that is way before nuclear physics was even imagined.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to cook animal glue.

Just Add Cold Water and Heat

I think this video does a good job of making that point:Start Cooking Protein Glue Today!

Your Choice: Processed of Organic?

Tomorrow, the video gets into the application of this glue to common woodworking problems.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Video Series: Working With Protein Glue

Typical Synthetic Glue and Nail Repair
To say that I repair furniture is being modest.  For 50 years I have solved two types of problems associated with antique furniture.  The normal cause of wood failure is shrinkage and movement of wood as a result of age and environment.  This damage is also a result of movement by careless furniture movers.  You would think that professional movers would be careful with client's heirlooms.  You would be dead wrong.

I have seen solid curly maple Chippendale chest of drawers arrive in two sections (upper and lower) which was not the way they were made.  I saw a triple pedestal dining table put on the moving truck and then the heavy boxes of goods were stacked on top until all the legs (9 in all) broke at the same time.  Another antique Cuban mahogany dining table was transported properly with the top removed from the pedestals.  However, when it arrived, the mover carefully put down blankets and laid the top face down to install the pedestals.  Using sheet rock screws that were at least an inch too long, he proceeded to screw on the pedestals.  When he turned it over the result was shocking. It was also a difficult job to repair.

It is not always the movers.  Another antique dining table was damaged by the house cleaner trying to do a good job.  Her job was to polish the crystals on the chandelier which hung over the table.  It seemed a good idea to stand on the table to do this work.  The problem was that to reach all the crystals she decided to rotate the chandelier, instead of walking all over the table.  Eventually the screw holding it to the ceiling came loose and it crashed onto the table, resulting in a thousand very visible holes.  Another difficult job.

I am starting to get off topic here.  Sorry.  The second, and perhaps worse, type of damage is caused by amateurs (including movers) who use synthetic glue and/or sheetrock screws and nails to do the repair.

I have two prices:  The best price is if you bring it to me without trying to repair it.  The worst price is if you try to repair it and then bring it to me.  This is the reason I insist on using traditional and reversible protein glues.

I started to use hot hide glue when I opened my business in 1969.  I eventually was able to formulate a liquid version of this in 1995, which I sell as Old Brown Glue.  In experimenting and formulating this glue there have been some setbacks.

For example, I went home one day and forgot to unplug one of the glue pots which was cooking the glue.  When I arrived the next day this is what I discovered:

Do Not Try This At Home!
I need to point out that since the protein glue is reversible, I was able to clean up the mess completely.

In the last post I mentioned that Ben at Fine Working visited last year and shot a series of videos about protein glues.  Today I am posting the first of these videos, which previously were only available to paid subscribers.

This first video discusses the working characteristics of these types of glues.  I think you will be amazed at what they can do.

Fine Woodworking Video: Protein Glue Fundimentals

I will post the second video tomorrow.  Have fun and stay safe!