Using Adhesives To Repair Antique Furniture

You will need to use certain adhesives and also information on using them to repair antique furniture.

Using an adhesive such as glue is the best and most desired joining device to use on your antique furniture. Older furniture was actually assembled with a totally accurate fit but sometimes humidity would factor into the joints being a little loose and then strain would occur.

Glue is used very little in assembling larger pieces of furniture when manufactured but is necessary when repairing the furniture later.

There are many glues on the market for the repair of furniture, some will adhere on contact without pressure while others will require about thirty minutes of pressure. It is best to buy only the best in glue, not the off-brands and to follow the directions fully on the product label.

Sometimes you will need to repair only the leg of a piece of furniture and fast-setting glues are not used for this type of repair. You will need to use the old-fashioned heavy glue. It will be necessary when the pieces are in position to use a clamp and reinforce the leg. You can also do this for splits in the wood and you will need to glue and replace each section then clamp. Be careful and don't buy any synthetic glues as they will be less durable on anything that takes a lot of wear.

A clean surface is necessary as glue will not hold on oily, painted or dirty surfaces. You cannot make a good joint without pressure from the clamps or even a tourniquet. You might even want to cement untempered hardboard or plywood to the jaws of metal clamps so that the clamps won't mark the wood. When you loosen the clamps be very careful to keep the joint from slipping because of the lubrication of the glue. I would apply perhaps a little more glue than is necessary and then squeeze the joint lightly thus distributing the glue. You can add more glue where it is needed and clamp hard to squeeze out the excess.

Once a glue joint is made, it must be held very rigid without any further movement until the glue is hardened. This usually takes at least twenty-four hours. I would not attempt to release the clamp before that period of time elapses.

For the clamps I would recommend using a variety of clamps such as C cramps and sash cramps. You could also use either rope, string, cellotape, or spring clothes pegs instead of the clamps.

Impact adhesives that are jelly-like and rubbery are used to stick large areas like big sheets of plastic laminates or veneers. The surface is given a thin layer with a serrated scraper and is left alone until it is dry to the touch. You must take very much care as you cannot move the two surfaces at all.

Epoxy Resin adhesives will come in two tubes, and you will mix them together equally before applying. These are very acceptable when you need to secure brass inlays or stringing.



Resin adhesives are extremely secure and are waterproof or highly water resistant. They will harden within an hour of being mixed so must be used quickly.

Cascamite will be in the form a white, dry powder which will contain hardener and glue and when you add water it is activated. It requires high temperature to set.

Aerolite 306 is a power that is white and is used with an acid hardening agent. You mix the powder with water and apply to only one side of the surface then you join. This can be kept a few days.

Polyvinyl Acetate glues are very convenient in use as they come in a plastic container and can be squirted onto the surface. They are used a lot in the workshop area.

Scotch glue is purchased as a pearl or powder and is most convenient to use. The glue particles (or pearls)will be covered in water and soaked for twelve hours, then will be heated in a water jacketed container. After heating it should be like pouring cream. You will need to use cramps

with this glue.

Remember that you will need the two surfaces to be glued close together as glue will not be used to fill gaps in loose joints. When you apply the glue and press the two surfaces together and clamp you will form the contact surfaces together with the glue. You can make your furniture look like new with this process.

You will need to have an accurate fit when attempting to use an adhesive to repair your antique furniture. The joint will be very weak and there will be a line showing where they are joined if the fit is not totally accurate. You don't want the surfaces to rock. I would suggest using carbon paper by laying it between the two surfaces and clamping them together for a minute or so, then releasing and you will be able to tell if you need to chisel either of the two pieces. Also remember that as the wood is harder you must be very careful to have the proper fitting between the two surfaces. Each time after you chisel, repeat the process of the carbon paper and the clamps until there is perhaps only a tiny little bump.

You will need to refit the parts after repair as they must be refitted perfectly to assemble. The wood may have shrunk or even warped in the adhesive process. You might have to steam the wood. Try to do any cutting on interior surfaces so that it might not be seen to the eye from the outside of the piece of antique furniture. You will be surprised how just a little paring, here and there will make the repaired furniture be back to as nearly perfect as possible.

The use of a tourniquet is very useful when gluing pieces that are joined. It is done by tying a rope round and round and across a piece, then inserting a stick in a loop and twisting until the rope is very tight.

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