Full Chisel Blog

March 9, 2012

Foaming Polyurethane Glue disaster

I started this project a while back, and it has been hidden in the corner of the shop until I recently started to clean and organize my shop.  The leg was badly repaired and broken again, here are details.

When I first started repairing old furniture about 40 years ago, my nemosis was modern white and yellow glue, then hot glue guns became the rage and just when I didn’t think things could get worse, foaming polyurethane glue was introduced.  Me against modern technology, and the new stuff beat me on this one.,

I had to make a decision, try and get the pieces clean enough to re-glue, which is what I normally do, trying to save as much of the original as possible.  In this case the damage was so catastrophic that I had no choice but to remove all of the damage and put in a new piece.

After I sawed off the damaged wood I used a toothing plane to get it flat and properly prepared for hot hide glue.  I fashioned a new piece separately and will glue it on the the existing leg then do the final feathering of the details.

I loaned my large glue pot to a friend and am in the process of cleaning and re-tinning my small one, so I will have to do a makeshift glue-pot for this repair.





  1. The details look like a very nice match. I’d like to see how you did the details on the patch piece. Is it mostly gouge work?

    As a former anthropologist, I love the title of the photos ‘primate glue disaster’.

    Comment by Joe Cunningham — March 9, 2012 @ 11:29 am

  2. Modern Science! A great leap backwards…

    Comment by Gary Roberts — March 9, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

  3. I’ve yet to try hide glues, but I’ve been hearing you rave about them for a while. Need to order some soon, and a pot (if you can recommend a source for the pots?)

    I’m also quite interested in how you approach finishing to blend the new wood to the color and patina of the original.

    Nice work!

    Comment by Nick Roulleau (@MansFineFurn) — March 10, 2012 @ 7:57 am

  4. Joe,
    I cut the piece out with a bow saw, planed the sides flat, toothed the joint surfaces and shaped the curved part with a small bronze spokeshave with a spoon bottom. I did the beads with a scratchstock and used my tombstone scrapers to finish.
    I am still amazed that people think there is a better glue than hide glue.
    Order glue from Tools for Working Wood, Joel also sells an electric glue pot with a copper liner. Or if you want something more traditional see: http://musicaravan.com/gluepot
    I will cover the finishing process on this and post the proceedure.

    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — March 10, 2012 @ 10:20 am

  5. It’s always tough having to decide which angle to take when removing what’s damaged and you’ve done a great job there. With a little finishing you’ll hardly notice and think it is part of the piece – it would be nice to see the outcome.

    Comment by Ryan @caws — March 12, 2012 @ 3:53 am

  6. I have done this same repair many times. The leg needs strength, but I have never used “Foaming Polyurethane Glue”. As you stated, when ever I used Foaming Polyurethane Glue, clean up was not nice and future repairs to the area meant major work not minor. I have used the Titebond’s Liquid Hide Glue with great success. I would recommend it, especially when you hot pot needs heating for small repairs.

    Comment by John Elliott — March 18, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

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