29 March 2012


Doing stuff in your own workshop as a hobbyist generally is a fairly relaxing activity...I make a bit here, a bit there, whenever the fancy takes me really, but whichever way you slice it there comes a point when the stress levels can go through the roof because you've come to that 'make or break' point...the dreaded glue up!

Such was the case yesterday.  I got to the point on my current project (a bit of a secret here, but all will be revealed in due course) when that moment had arrived, however sanity (or should it be senility?) was preserved as I took extra pains to ensure that the process would go as smoothly and hick-up free as possible.

The first 'pain' was that I cleaned the 'shop.  I like a clean, clutter free 'shop normally, but at glue-up time it's so pristine it's like an operating theatre.  Secondly, there's the application of copious amounts of masking tape so that all internal parts can be polished.  This has a two fold effect as it's impossible to do the inside afterwards and also the wax acts as a 'resist' so that dried glue lifts off with the point of a scalpel.

But perhaps the biggest change was that I used 'Cascamite', a urea-formaldehyde glue sold as a white powder.  Mixed with water, it forms a gloopy, gruel like, viscous liquid which has a much longer 'open' time (around an hour) so that once the whole ghastly process is under way, you've got better than a fighting chance of getting the project together correctly.

There are down sides though.  The glue sets glass hard so that when you come to plane off the residue from the outside of the joints, the plane iron after a few moments use is liable to resemble a hacksaw blade.  Then there's the waste...mix too much and it can't be put back into the tub, it just sits there in the mixing container gradually going to the consistency of jelly and then to a solid lump of rock!

And then there's the storage.  UF glues have a wonderful, almost magical affinity for humidity...the slightest breath of moisture in the tub and the whole lot after a while is liable to set to a mass of granite hard stone.  Fingers crossed, I hope I've got round this one by decanting a small amount into a clip-lid plastic container and then lobbing in a couple of silica gel sachets, which I hope will keep the stuff usable in the 'shop, whilst the bulk of the powder is kept sealed in our nice, toasty airing cupboard.

Having taken the job out of the cramps this morning, it looks like it's gone together well...at least the mitres have pulled up which is a bit of a miracle in itself.  Having used the LN block plane to roughly clean up the joints I've just got to work out how to re-sharpen a hacksaw blade...

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