Sunday, May 8, 2011

Better Living in Two Parts, Part Two

It was a beautiful morning on Friday, so I and the boys went outside to get some sun before I got to work.

Travis loves sunny days. He's such a good-natured dog that he often looks quite goofy, but as with any true professional, he's at his best when he's working, whether it be sniffing out some varmint to tree or protecting us against burglars. At such times, he looks every bit the classic sporting hound. Here he is just starting to detect a whiff of squirrel.

We never let our cats out unsupervised, but we think it's a bit cruel to keep a cat cooped up all the time if he wants to explore a bit. Benny used to spend all his time outside, and he's quite comfy there. He'll even happily walk around on a leash hooked to his collar, but today I let him out untethered.

We've only recently allowed Adam out-of-doors, and when he's out he likes to role-play, like Snoopy vs. the Red Baron: "Here's the wily ocelot, hunting down his next meal."

Actually, he's gotten so big and wild-looking that he might as well be an ocelot.

Of course, the yard will be much nicer once we do some proper landscaping, but already it's quite a haven for butterflies. Throughout the spring and summer months, there is always at least one hanging out on any given sunny day.

It always makes me happy to see a butterfly enjoying his day in the sun. After all, he has worked very hard to earn it. He reminded me that it was time for me to be about earning mine.

I was finally done with all the liquid epoxy work, and I'd finished the hand-sanding of the figured areas, so it was time to putty. While WoodEpox is formulated from the same resin and hardener as LiquidWood, it behaves rather differently, so I'll give you the low-down on how I use it.

It's a lot messier to mix, because you have to scoop equal amounts out of the tubs and mix them together by hand, all the while taking care not to contaminate the tub of Part A with some Part B and vice-versa. Moreover, unless the air is very cold (near freezing or colder) or humid, there is no need for an induction period. By the time the two parts are completely mixed together, the reaction is well underway, and you don't have more than 20 minutes or so before the mixture becomes stiff enough to start resisting your attempts to shape it. 

I usually only mix together one tablespoon of each part at a time (one ounce total volume), unless I have a large void to fill. I have found that for the usual work of patching holes, cracks and divots, one ounce is the most I can work with at one time without its becoming too stiff to work well. For a big job like the casing, however, I will need a lot more than one ounce, which can take a lot of time just with the cleaning of tools between parts.

With a job like this, then, I find it saves a lot of time to measure out as many units of each part as I think I'll need at the same time. That way, I only have to clean the tools and the measure (and my gloves—don't forget, always wear gloves) twice before getting to work puttying.

As with the LiquidWood, I use denatured alcohol to clean everything up. I put it in a spray bottle for ease of use.

When I'm ready to putty, I take one unit of each part and knead them together until the color is entirely uniform throughout. Then, I flatten out the mass of mixed putty as thinly as I can and put it on a plastic dish or tray that I can work from (this day, I used the top of a cottage cheese container: I'm just a recyclin' fool!).

Remember that the reaction of resin to hardener generates heat, and heat accelerates the reaction. Flattening it out helps dissipate the reaction heat, keeping the putty "open" (workable) as long as possible. I take the putty with the knife right off this plate, which puts the putty on the knife in the ideal position for application.

Here is the completed putty job, or rather, the completed first pass. 

Building up the profile of the sill will take several passes; when it's all built up and the entire casing is sanded level, I will prime it, which will reveal where I need to putty more. I could try to complete all the puttying before I prime, but I've found that at a certain point it's a better idea to get everything the same color; this makes any remaining irregularities far more evident. 

Although the putty begins to stiffen fairly soon, once it's deployed like this it will take a while to harden enough to sand, from several hours on a hot day to overnight. If you are in a hurry, you can speed the hardening by heating thoroughly with a hair-dryer on the hot setting for ten or fifteen minutes. That should get it hard enough to sand within an hour or two.

Notice how the left piece needed much more patching than the right; it practically needed a skim-coat of the entire surface. This is because the right side has received at least some protection from the sun by the house next door, while the left side has always been more exposed. Note also the odd bands of less-weathered wood on each side of the casing; it's taken me years to figure out that this weathering pattern was caused by the shadows cast by the casing on the siding as the sun traveled from east (right) to west (left). I expect that this pattern will remain somewhat evident even after I'm done patching and painting. It's just another badge of honor the Queen of Mentor Avenue will wear with dignity.

1 comment:

  1. Truly an outdoor haven for wildlife. To survive the farmhouse must endure the harshest elements! A valient journey.


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