Full Chisel Blog

November 6, 2008

Little Repair on an Olive Wood Candlestick

Filed under: Drilling,Of Interest,Restoration,Techniques — Stephen Shepherd @ 2:22 pm

I have had this for a while and finally got around to doing the repair.  It is a candle stick made of Olive Wood from the Holy Lands and has sentimental value to the owners.  There wasn’t much to work with as it broke at its thinnest and weakest point.

Olive Wood Candle Stick, before

Notice the tiny dowel on the gnomon, made of a birch dowel which I recycled from some rock sugar candy, that I am fond of and save the sticks as they make fine small dowels.  I did have to shape this one down a bit to fit into the tiny holes.

Because of the fracture, there wasn’t a flat enough place to start drilling and the very hard nature of the wood and the very small neck I had to get the hole right in the center.  A conventional bit wouldn’t work, so I had an idea.  Sometimes that is a good thing. 

I took a small sharp square point awl and worried a hole in the center of the neck on both pieces and gently reamed a hole.  The advantage of this is that starting with a little hole, it is possible to ream it to the center if it drifts a bit.  This is a slow initial process until the hole is centered and enlarged to a certain diameter.

That diameter is the outside diameter of one of my brad awls with a double beveled chisel point.  I keep these sharp so I grabbed one the proper diameter, it was one of my smaller brad awls and begin to make the hole deeper.  But as you can see by the dowel, the holes are not that deep, so it didn’t take that long.

Using the brad awl produced a hole that was straight as it only cuts on the tip and doesn’t enlarge the hole, as it is getting deeper.  I then applied an ample amount of hide glue to all surfaces, took less than a big drop.  I then placed it together, the break almost disappeared.

Olive Wood Candle Stick, after

Using hide glue gave me the option of not clamping this until the glue dries.  Hide glue will shrink as it dries and the joint is very tight to start with and clamping needs to be perfect and this was a bit too delicate.  I thought about tape but dispensed with that idea and just let it sit, it will be ready on the morrow.

I put a coat of paint on the tin clock face today, it was flake white artist oil color paint thinned with turpentine.  Now, this paint is illegal today, and old enough that I had to use a scrap of wood to dig it out of the tube.  But it blended up nicely and put a good opaque coat of white on the tin dial.

I also cut the glass for the clock case today.  It was salvaged from an old window sash and it is old glass, a few nice ripples.  I do have an older piece, more seeds, real wavy, but too thick, therefore too heavy for a clock case door.  I will save that one for a larger project.  I removed the putty from the sash and was able to save the zinc triangle glazing points, which I will use to hold the glass in the door.  I will not putty the glass as it is not an exterior application.

I have been told to clean the glass before I cut it which I did, I thought.  I cut the glass while it was laying on a piece of slate from a pool table (I wanted a flat surface), made the marks and adjusted the straight to the offset of the glass cutter.  I use an old diamond point cutter and put a drop of oil on before each cut.  I made the first cut then when I lifted up the glass, I noticed it had paint speckles on it and it still cut just fine.  I made the other cut then scraped off the paint and putty on two edges.  I cleaned it with turpentine, then alcohol, then water.

I will put the gold strips on the inside of the glass tomorrow, I would have done that today, but forgot my liner.



  1. Two questions, if you don’t mind Stephen. What are the advantages or disadvantages of hide glue over today’s white glue? I have read that the ratio that you use determines the strength, but how do you determine that ratio in the first place? Clean fix, by the way. Thanks, Mitchell

    Comment by Mitchell — November 6, 2008 @ 4:02 pm

  2. Mitchell,

    The ratios are fairly standard, you want to get the hot hide glue to the consistency that it runs off the brush in a steady stream back into the glue-pot rather than breaking up into drops.

    I use a lot of liquid hide glue and the proportions are already done. As for the advantages, it doesn’t suffer from creep, is largely transparent to stains and finishes, cleans up now or after it is dried, washes out of your clothes, does not clog tools and sandpaper with swarf and it is reversible in case one screws up.

    I would not use modern glues on a bet, they are just not that good and have a brief history whereas hide glue has been around holding stuff together for thousands of years. I really need to finish the hide glue book.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — November 6, 2008 @ 10:46 pm

  3. Mitchell, you might want to click on the “hide glue” category on right side of the Full Chisel blog page. Stephen has written fairly extensively about hide glue and addresses your question and then some.

    Cheers — Larry

    Comment by Larry Marshall — November 7, 2008 @ 2:23 pm

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