Monday, April 11, 2011


I had planned to write this evening about the joys of epoxy putty. I had it already half-written in my mind: sure, it's a bit of a mess to mix up, and something of a bother because you can't mix very much at one time lest it harden before you use it all, but other than that it's really easy to use. I was going to write about how smoothly it comes off the knife, how well it sticks to the wood, and how easily it takes the desired shape.

The thing is, I had forgotten that it was Monday.

Helmut von Moltke the Elder, the Prussian general, famously remarked, "No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy." Well, it was a war out there today, and the enemies were a brisk wind and the epoxy putty itself. It was uncharacteristically stiff from the moment I mixed it, it did not want to come off the putty knife, it resisted sticking to the wood, and the wind kept blowing it off my knife and down to the dirt below. After a futile struggle, I ended up smearing it on with my hands, wetting it down with alcohol, and slathering it into some semblance of the desired shape with the putty knife. 

Frankly, this is how epoxy putty is sometimes. Although I am always very careful to mix equal amounts of each part thoroughly and start with absolutely clean knives, some days it simply refuses to behave. I used to think this was a sign of the epoxy's getting old, but this stuff is still pretty fresh.

Whatever the cause, I have found that on days like this it's best to stop struggling and come back to it the next day. So I did, and I will.

As annoying as epoxy putty can be, it is nonetheless an essential material, because it is by far the most durable and effective patching material there is for wood. Bondo is another such good material, and it is preferable for patching large, relatively flat areas because it is cheaper and quicker to work with. Because it hardens so suddenly, however, it is hard to shape effectively, so you end up with a big blob that must be extensively sanded to shape. This makes it problematic for trim. 

Epoxy is fairly easy to shape, today's difficulties notwithstanding. It doesn't shrink or sag as it dries. It's resilient, flexible and easy to sand. It can fill large gaps in one application. With careful shaping, it becomes absolutely indistinguishable from wood once it is painted, and it stays that way more or less permanently. In my experience, no other exterior putty can make all these claims.

Here's a bonus wildlife picture I took today. I hope you enjoy it.

1 comment:

  1. Gooey STUFF, don't plug up all my hiding places.


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