Full Chisel Blog

March 3, 2013

30 day e-pox-ee or traditional Cutler’s Cement


As many of you know, and all of you should, that I don’t use modern things when it comes to doing traditional woodworking.  I don’t like modern white or yellow glues as their manufacture is extremely dangerous, highly polluting and based on petroleum distillates.  Same with modern poly glues and plastic finishes, I have no use for them.  They are just inappropriate for what I do.

What I was missing was the equivalent of e-pox-ee, the word does not even come out of my mouth, but I needed a permanent adhesive for chisel handles and for attaching wooden handles onto metal objects.  I did some experimental archeology and recreated the 1824 Cutler’s Cement from the Universal Receipt Book that I reprinted.

Well the stuff works great with only one drawback and that is its incredibly long drying time.  It does take at least 30 days for the stuff to completely cure and that is even helped along with keeping the newly ‘glued’ pieces near a heat source to aid in the drying and curing of the cement.  I also live in an arid mountain desert with low humidity.

I went with the exact formula on this batch, carefully measuring out the two main ingredients then adding just enough linseed oil [in the form of Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish, which is high in linseed oil with a bit of turpentine, gums and resins, etc.], to make a very thick paste.

small eating knife

small eating knife2

On a small German [F. Herder, Solingen] eating knife with a beech handle, I first etched the metal tang with a fresh cut clove of garlic, then pushed the thick past down the hole of the handle and checked it until it was pushing excess back out the hole.  I cleaned off the squeeze out and set it aside to dry.

small eating knife4

small eating knife3

After about a week I noticed that the oil had soaked through the beech wood handle in two places near the blade.  To my surprise the oil had not traveled with the grain of the wood but it migrated along the medullary rays, through the grain or growth rings.  I found that astonishing as I assumed the oil would flow along a ring rather than through the annual growth ring.

After a few more weeks the blade was securely held in the handle and I raised the grain and allowed it to dry.  I lightly sanded the beech, applied some Moses T’s Reviver [a lean oil] and some burnt umber dry powdered pigment.  I wiped off the excess and allowed it to dry for a couple of days, followed by a couple of coats of Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish [a fat oil].

small eating knife5

This knife has been used, soaked twice and washed with soap and water over a dozen times.  Blade is held securely.

The other items, brazier handle ferrules, saw handle, awl, chisels, etc., have all dried for the required time and all are very secure.  So now I have my appropriate, traditional adhesive that is waterproof, heat resistant, all natural, safe to make and use, and not a permanent inflexible dangerous petrochemical plastic.




  1. Could the curing time be reduced by heating the metal part? I think that would heat the cement from within, like boiling water in a microwave instead of an oven. After the cement has cured, will high temperatures loosen it? Or is it truly permanent? You likened this cement with epoxy. Do you think it could do other things that epoxy is used for? Could you make carbon fiber parts with this cement??? It would be very interesting to compare the strength of this cement with modern epoxy resins and cements. Perhaps join two blocks with the stuff, one block has a hook, and the other has a rope that enables everything to be hanged. Then put more and more weight on the hook until the blocks separate.

    Comment by Anonymous — March 3, 2013 @ 10:34 pm

  2. I don’t usually approve someone named Anonymous, but this was filtered as spam but I approved the post.
    The stuff is as close to modern epoxy as anything I have ever encountered. As far as the upper temperature, hard to say, my mulling iron is heated to about 300 degrees F, I think it will take higher temperatures.
    I do heat the entire item after the Cutler’s Cement is applied to help in the curing time.

    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — March 4, 2013 @ 10:39 am

  3. I am thinking about marketing this stuff if there is enough interest. Anyone interested?


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — March 4, 2013 @ 10:40 am

  4. Once it’s cured, can it be carved or painted?

    Comment by Gary Roberts — March 4, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

  5. Gary,
    I doubt it can be carved unless you let enough thick stuff to dry for several years. No problem painting after it has dried. More of an adhesive/cement rather than a composite. I have recipes for composites that can be carved and painted.
    Why do you ask?

    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — March 4, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

  6. Stephen, I’m thinking of a replacement for the epoxy used to build up wood rot and damp weakened wood pieces. If a mix could be carved, it would be a good alternative for those instances when a wood rotted part needs to be built up and carved to match the original contours.

    Comment by Gary Roberts — March 5, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

  7. Gary,
    The iron filings would not be good for your carving tools. I would recommend wood flour [very fine wood dust], marble dust or whiting as the bulk filler. You can add dry powdered pigment for color. Now you can make two versions, one based on water and hide glue for a water based composite that dries quickly. Or you can use linseed oil/turpentine mix making it oil based, just takes a while to dry depending on thickness.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — March 5, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

  8. Thanks for the recipes. I’ll note them and try them on some upcoming projects. I have avoided the epoxy mixes as they’re so permanent and toxic!

    Comment by Gary Roberts — March 5, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

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