I happen to have an old country loncase clock circa 1750. The mechanism is a
brass face 30 hour movement . The case has been stripped to bare wood with
the exception of the inside of the door which looked to be painted black. I
surmise the case may have been black laquer, or more likely veneered
Here is the rub, the case has many worm holes and worm tracts on the
surface. So most likley it was veneered with a veneer the worms did not like
so they bored up to the veneer but not through it [plobably a mahogany
veneer] I have seen this before.
There worms are gone but the tracts remain . I have to have a reason ably
flat surface if I laquer the case And I wonder if anyone has had experience
with fillers that would fill these tracts . Bondo comes to mind but I have
had no experience using it with wood. Any suggestions appreciated.....mjh
Some eyars ago, Woodsmith had an article on smoothing wood to be painted using
Bondo. I never built particular project, but you might drop a note on the
August Home site if no one else here has any experience. It does seem to me
that there would be different expansion/contraction rates, but Bondo holds
pretty well on thin sheet metal, so maybe that's not a major problem.
Are you going to paint or veneer the case after filling?
"Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin - it's the triumphant twang of
a bedspring." S. J. Perelman
This is a great opportunity to diddle about a bit with a really
adaptable "goober" mix made from common shop trash. Do this....
Go to the kitchen & surreptitiously lay the grab on SWMBO's blender.
Take it to the sh..uh, laboratory. Find the most recent partial
bucket of premix drywall compound, open it & splop a few oz. ( two 1
1/2" putty knife's worth) into the blender. Whiz it out smooth. Keep
it small, you're only finding out about desired consistency here &
getting a "feel" for general alchemy.
Keep a few oz. of water around for thinning. Find the most recent
partial bucket of premix vinyl wallpaper paste AND/OR some dry
granulated wall size. These two act similarly, but slightly
differently in their ability to stiffen and toughen the resultant
goober. The paste will most affect the adhesion; the size will seem
to increase the hardness and brittleness of the dried putty that
eventually results... YMMV, you'll figure it out. Start out with very
little (1/2 tsp) added to the mud. Then, water-thin to the
consistency you want to apply. Hype up the additive ratios on
subsequent experiments on scrap to see what they bring and what they
Other additives you will delight in diddl... uh, researching, are
artist's acrylics to color the brew for when you may be coating with
something other than opaque primers and paints. A virtual lifetime of
crackpottery awaits you.
The point is, you'll have the means at hand to adjust the adhesion,
hardness and viscosity characteristics of a gypsum putty that "breaks"
to a very smooth tooth when sanded. The range of control will be such
that you can make a very soft filler (like drywall mud) with improved
adhesion, or crank up the stiffness to something that will remind you
of body putty when you go to sand. You can control subsequent
applications for thinner coats, touch-ups, shrinkage refills, etc.
Usually, the more water, the greater % of shrinkage.
It's "open" time is much more forgiving than Bondo & such, and in the
early stages, is water-removable, reversible, texturable, etc. The
reversibility is improved if applied over a wash coat of shellac or
appropriate sealer. One can easily whip up a creamy consistency that
will "credit card" apply very smoothly and will sand to vapor
thinness, thus taking the transmitted grain out of, let's say, a
to-be-painted plywood panel. Once overcoated with a primer, it's
quite bullet proof. Wouldn't use it in outdoor furniture.... but I've
never known it to fail in any interior application with proper finish.
And I've never purchased a commercial filler with as much versatility
of use; being dirt cheap & easy means you get to play it to great
Go... go get it. She won't mind; she never uses it anyway. You'll
clean it up real good anyway; she won't know.
I'm only a hobbyist, but have worked with several antique pieces. I haven't
seen any advice on damaging the value of this 250+ year old piece by
applying automotive bonding materials. Wouldn't that damage the value of
the piece somewhat?
Also, is the veneer coming off, or does he just want to fill in the sagging
spots from the worm holes underneath?
In most cases I use a product from a comapany called "PL", named "Fix,
Professional Woodfiller" because it is made from wood products and is easy
to sand when dry. As a hobbyist, though, and with a piece like that, I
would be temepted to seek a pro who could inject filler beneath the veneer
to fill the gaps.
Bondo is an awesome filler for an opaque finish. Probably
the only down side is the Bondo will leave a better surface
than the surrounding wood.
Also, the open time is minutes so depending on you
application you'll want to meter out only what you can work
in the next three or four minutes.
I'm not experienced at all with any of this, but I will say that a very
skilled furniture restorer that I know who is trusted with very old and
valuable pieces uses Bondo regularly. I've seen him build up major
components (such as the missing leg on a centuries old table) with the
stuff. He has become skilled at simulating would textures and such, but it's
definitely an art.
I've used Bondo on cars and boats and yes, it hardens very fast, but then of
course can be worked by sanding, chiseling etc., possibly even machining.
FWW several years ago had an article showing in detail how a couple,
if memory serves, of guys used Bondo in preparation for an opaque
finishing job. Still have some residue in the garage based on that
The timber framer guy next door used 'lacquer sticks' to fill in gaps and
holes in the timbers a few days ago. He heats up a putty knife and then
touches the stick to it,the melting drops fall into the holes and when full
he stops. A few seconds later a quick sanding and 'wow' is it great looking
To me , this is the choice. Please leave the bondo for plastic repairs,
metal for metal, and wood for wood.
OK, I'm becoming a purist in my old age, but I feel it wood be better done
with the 'sticks'.
Totally agree, JB.
Mike, DAGS for "shellac stick". They're very much like old-fashioned
sealing wax. I use a small soldering iron to melt them into the hole. They
come in a range of colours to match various woods. You can also chip
different colours into a teaspoon and melt them together to match any colour
you want. They sand easily and can be finished over with lacquer or shellac
You really don't want to use a modern product on an antique - do it the way
the old boys would have done it.
I have used Bondo on wood when building large scale r/c model
airplanes. It works very well for wood that's going to be covered with
an opaque finish! The airplanes went from cool basement to direct,
August sun with no problems where the Bondo and wood bonded.
Get comfy on some scrap, it works a little differently than other
fillers. Bondo dries VERY hard, sands nicely, and can allow you too
get a piano-like lacquer finish. You're going to apply it in very
thin coats and try to remove almost all of it with a flexible scraper.
Don't fill the holes in one shot, as the Bondo is harder than the
wood, and it'll be hard to sand level.
Mike, I don't know what your ultimate goal is but I strongly urge you to
avoid using anyting 21st century on a 250 year old antique. And the
best possible path of all would be to consult with a qualified antique
restoration expert. I say that only because you state that the case has
unfortunately been stripped. If I were you I would take a step back and
rethink the project ...
Mike Hide wrote:
That's good stuff. I just used it to fill my kitchen cabinet
doors to put different hardware on and it didn't shrink at
all like spackle and wood putty do. $2.69 at ACE; ought to
last me about 20 years.
Mike, I recommend the products available here:
I've used them on several projects, and they perform admirably. West
System Epoxy products would probably also work well if the holes are
small. The Rot Doctor epoxy formulation is more flexible than the West
System and so works better for larger repairs.
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