You didn't mention how big these gaps and cracks are. Nor how old. Age is
important because if the gaps/cracks are largish and old then the wood
surface on the interior of the gaps/cracks has aged and weathered and may
present an adhesion problem with whatever you put in.
You really have only three choices (and probably only two practical ones)...
1. Clean up the gaps/cracks and glue in wood splines or dutchmen with
weather proof glue. Probably not practical but if you decide on doing it
you need to have fresh wood to glue to and the way to do that is to cut
partially thru the quoin with a saw or router, choice dependant on width of
crack. Cut wide enough to have fresh wood on each side.
2. Caulk. True, it isn't all that sandable but it *is* sliceable. Handles
expansion and contraction well too. This would be my first choice for
smallish cracks - up to 1/8" or so. Caulk *can* be applied smoothly.
3. Resin with a filler. Two main choices of resin: polyester and epoxy.
Multiple choices of filler: saw dust, silica (Cabosil), micro balloons, talc
and more. Silica wouldn't be good, too rigid and hard to sand. Micro
balloons make a fairly easy to sand putty as does talc. Bondo is polyester
resin and talc.
The problem you may encounter with any resin/filler combo is wedging; i.e.,
expansion/contraction of the quoin against the rigid filler may either cause
the crack to crack more or push out the filler a bit.
I used to have a good sized wooden sailboat and used both Bondo and
proprietary filled epoxies to fill gouges and dings (never a crack though).
Both did a decent job, couldn't see any diffrerence between them; after a
year or two or three areas filled with either were a smidge proud and needed
to be sanded down again. Neither ever "let loose". I think Bondo is under
The only cracks I ever had were on a teak transom I put on. I fixed them
with teak splines as explained above.
Good point. Given the age of the house and the fact that upkeep has
been variable over the past 150 years, I would assume that most of the
cracks are old and have weathered.
In terms of size. They vary in width from hairline to maybe 1/4" (or
3/8"), with most of the fillable ones being more like 1/16" to 1/8".
How would you compare the following resins:
Miniwax High Performance Wood Filler
I can't. The only one I've used is Bondo; actually, "automobile body
filler" - Bondo is a trade name.
I suspect the Minwax one is Bondo revisted. The System Threee would be an
epoxy with some type of filler, I know not what. Ditto the Abatron.
Just as a general thing, anything with epoxy will have better adhesion than
one with polyester resin (Bondo). However, beaucoup tons of polyester have
been used...both now and over the past 50+ years to repair/fabricate boats
and fix dings in cars. Seems to last pretty well :)
I've used Bondo and Minwax. Minwax is a better product for your
application. It appears to me to be just an epoxy mixed with some sort
of filler, possibly even wood dust. You add a hardener just like you
would with regular epoxy. It sets pretty fast so it's not a good idea
to mix a lot at once.
It's paintable, sandable, water proof and easy to shape.
The only reason I haven't used the other products mentioned is cost and
availability. (Minwax is available at the Borg)
I also find Bondo a bit harder to work since it is so darn sticky (it
sticks to any type of tool you use to apply it and shape it). I also
have noted that when it is sanded thin it can sometimes peel off
(probably what you mean by poor adhesion).
But it is cheap and I have used it successfully for interior,
Still curious whether this is just high priced Bondo or whether it is
more like a SystemThree epoxy. The fast setup time and mention of
drawing out a thin bead of hardener plus the description of a noxious
volatile odor reminds me more of Bondo.
I have used SculptWood a bit my only complaints are:
- It's pricey (as you mention)
- It is also hard to tool but it's the opposite extreme of Bondo --
I find that it is not sticky enough and that it is hard to lay out
a thin layer with a putty knife - though it is great for filling
bigger gaps or for shaping missing pieces.
On the positive side, it is easy to mix (just knead together two equal
size balls), it has minimal odor, and it has a longer setup time than
Bondo (actually I would love to have something between the 5-10min pot
time of Bondo and the 8 hours or so it takes SculptWood to harden
enough to sand)
I'm curious about Abatron since they advertise a lot in Fine
Homebuilding and other mags.
I've got better things to do than waste my time on Bondo.
So buy a gallon kit, (5 gal bucket if it's a big job) of epoxy (Slow
hardener), a bag of mico-balloons and mix your own putty to whatever
consistency works for you as well as reduce cost.
You will get at least 30 minute pot life.
If working outdoors, don't work in direct summer sun.
OK - Now you have tickled my interest.
- How would I make up a SculptWood equivalent using epoxy and fairing?
- What products would you recommend?
- What proportions?
- Would the epoxy+fairing mixture have the same workability when
mixed? Would it have the same sandability and wood-like
machineability when cured?
Would making it yourself really be that much cheaper?
Last time I looked, the West System hardener and Resin were not
exactly cheap either. Just to keep the comparisons apples-to-apples,
I looked at Jamestown Distributors online and used similar volumes
(i.e. I didn't compare pints of one to gallons of another)
System Three Sculpwood: $34 for 2 pint kit (1 each hardener & resin)
West System Epoxy Resin (1 quart) $34.95, Hardener (0.44 pint)
$16.25, West Low Density Filler (12 oz) $34.45
So, it seems to me that if anything, making it yourself using West
System is even a little more expensive. Am I missing something obvious
It's all in the packaging.
You are looking at small repair kit pricing.
Buy a 5 gal bucket (45 lbs) of resin and a gallon of hardener and
watch the price drop.
A 30# bag of Dicaperl (HP-500) (micro-balloons) was less than $25 the
last time I bought a bag.
Sounds good. But why is the West Systems micro-balloons fairing soooo
much more expensive? (15oz for $30, 14lb for $300!!!!)
(BTW, when I googled, Dicaperl HP-500, I mostly got articles about
nuclear waste disposal and couldn't find any online sites selling
it -- where can I buy it?)
Also, if I go with West Systems and had to choose one hardener to
start, would you recommend the Fast (205), Slow (206), or Extra Slow
Finally, other than experience and trial-and-error, how do you figure
out how much fairing to add?
Sounds like phenolic balloons which are super light weight for the
race boat crowd.
They are VERY expensive and unneeded for this application unless you
plan to race your house in a sailboat race<G>..
Try "Dicaperl" to find a distributor in your area, then ask them for
Corporate hd'qrs are here in Torrence (Los Angeles). HP500 mis mined
in Colorado, New Mexico area.
You want slow or extra slow.
Ever do any cooking?
You get a feel for it in a hurry.
Mix up 3-4 OZ of resin, then add balloons, mixing until it feels like
what you want.
It ain't rocket science.
Just make sure you wear protective clothing such as gloves.
Got a Harbor Freight around you?
They are getting close... just started entering New England but not
Boston yet -- but I plan to take a ride out to one about 50 miles away
one day... What do they carry that I should look for?
Boxes of non sterile surgical gloves ($5/100 max) and boxes of 2" chip
brushes($0.25 ea/max) when on sale.
Check their web site.
BTW, find a restaurant supply house, you are going to need paper cups.
It's amazing how many kitchen implements and recycled food containers
I have in the shop. I can tell which room I'm in by the smell - the
shop smells better! I am one lousy cook and I love the smell of
You might consider replacing the compromised quoins (good usage by the
way - almost everyone incorrectly calls them 'coins') with something
like Azek or another expanded PVC product? The stuff holds paint
wonderfully well and is very easy to work.
- The quoins have a raised-panel like profile that I would need to
match and machine. Also, being 150 years old, they are not likely to
be standard dimensional lumber (or synthetic) thickness so I would
probably also need to plane it to thickness. Finally, since nearly
all the quoins have some cracking, it would be a lot of work given 4
corners (times two sides of each corner) time 2 full stories.
- Given the "historical" nature of the house, I am a bit "snobby"
about trying to do a faithful restoration using the original
materials like wood (though sometimes I do think that I should just
swab the whole house in vinyl siding, vinyl windows, PVC trim, etc.
and be done with all the upkeep :)
Get the comparison and the low-down over here at my website:
then see the Report on Wood-Epoxy Repairs:
and join the epoxy discussion at the Forum:
There is a lot to be said for traditional woodwork repairs too. See
the current Report from the Field:
take care, work safe and keep in touch.
You wouldn't be planing the PVC down, you'd be building it up if
Here's the matching and machining process. Buy a sheet of expanded
PVC (comes in plywood sized sheets and thicknesses up to 1"), run
sheet through table saw and cut blocks to size, tilt blade to required
raised panel angle, run blocks through table saw on all four sides.
Without seeing your situation, and not knowing the exact dimensions,
but being an expert with a lot of experience in wild assed guesses,
I'm guesstimating one or two 1" 4x8 sheets per corner - that's about
$140 - $280 per corner. The stuff also comes in 16" (nominal) width
plank, if that fits your needs better.
The sheets are available in much longer lengths. From the Azek site:
"AZEK Sheets are the perfect trim product for pop-out bay window,
raised panel, dormers, soffit and other trim applications over 16
inches wide. AZEK Sheets are available in 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4 and 1
inch thicknesses and in sheet sizes from 4ft x 8ft up to 4ft x 20ft."
I understand the desire to remain faithful, but using expanded PVC
trim and painting it, well, you're the only one who would ever know,
and the main ways you'd know would be the reduced amount of required
maintenance and the extra time and money. Then again it isn't my
money and I shouldn't be saving it for you. ;) You also should
remember that the guys that built your house would have used a
weatherproof and maintenance free product if there were any available
back then. Frankly, it would be no different than using Ice and Water
Shield under the shingles when you reroof - it's an improvement that
doesn't compromise the quality or look of the house at all.
BTW, if you have white trim, you don't have to paint the Azek at all.
If you have dark painted trim, you don't want to use expanded PVC - it
doesn't like dark paint and strong sun as it expands too much.
What you want is an epoxy make for wood repairs like Abatron. I've
also used MAS epoxy with wood powder added. Bondo and Minwax wood
filler won't be flexible enough. on this old house last season or so,
they used stuff from Advanced Repair Technology
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