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Glue for oil-soaked repair


Christopher Jacoby
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There's a violin that has come apart like a crysanthemum on the workbench. The glue has failed everywhere-- blocks; linings; seams, old cleats-- all because the parts were soaked so thoroughly in oil that the hide glue isn't viable. The glue on the plate/rib surfaces pulled away like little sheets of wax paper without effort.

Some amount of triton and other stuff to draw the oil out before regluing things has been successfull. 

But my question is whether casein or another reversible(ish) glue is viable on oily wood. Truly, impressively oily wood. It doesn't seem to be affected by curing in even high-powered UV. The instrument does have a fair bit of value, besides being useless, so the answer of epoxy isn't going to cut it.

Anyone have any solutions?

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1 hour ago, Mark Norfleet said:

This is scary!  I would not have expected all of the joints to fail so throughly if it had been soaked with oil after it was made, but then I've never tried it...

At least it will probably burn for longer than an oil-less violin.

I’ll let the owner know Mark:lol:

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43 minutes ago, FiddleDoug said:

Any idea what kind of oil it is? Everything that I can think of is likely to affect the finish. For example, you might be able to extract oil from the back edge of a plate by putting it on paper towel, on a glass plate, and adding acetone. Never tried it, so no guarantees.

The accelerated drying of the solvent will suck it out, hmm.

I’ve taken varnish out of end grain with mineral spirits and cotton and heat. I guess with the varnish as a backing on the outside this might be viable here too

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Back in the day when I was doing antique restoration, I dealt with oil stains in wood by making a poultice of diatomaceous earth and an appropriate solvent such as acetone or lacquer thinner or MS, applied it to the stain, and let the poultice dry. Sometimes took repeated applications, but at least got the surface oil out. Gotta be careful where you put the poultice, of course. Whiting itself is basically powdered chalk, and isn't thought to be very absorbent. Maybe worth a try if Brownell's sells it for that purpose, but that's the first I've heard of it.

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1 hour ago, Michael Richwine said:

Back in the day when I was doing antique restoration, I dealt with oil stains in wood by making a poultice of diatomaceous earth and an appropriate solvent such as acetone or lacquer thinner or MS, applied it to the stain, and let the poultice dry. Sometimes took repeated applications, but at least got the surface oil out. Gotta be careful where you put the poultice, of course. Whiting itself is basically powdered chalk, and isn't thought to be very absorbent. Maybe worth a try if Brownell's sells it for that purpose, but that's the first I've heard of it.

interesting, thank you!

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I remember reading about guitar makers who built instruments with rosewood parts.  It was recommended that before gluing you clean the surfaces to be joined with a fairly nasty solvent (I don't remember which one). Perhaps packing them in diatomaceous earth in a box for a few days.  You should be able to get it at a pool supply place.

 

DLB

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^ What Micheal R. said ^  

There are other poultices made with clay/chalk and sometimes even including paper or cotton fiber) that may also help you (like the whiting Rico mentioned) as well.

Stone and art conservators use poultices for a variety of extractions including oil and metal stains. You may want to check various conservation sites for details.

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1 hour ago, donbarzino said:

I would recommend bentonite clay. It is sold as powder under the trade name Oil-Dri for use as a sweeping compound on oil soaked garage floors.

https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-11683/Sorbents-and-Spill-Kits/Oil-Dri-Premium-Bag-32-qt

That's predominately Fuller's earth, correct? I haven't tried Fullers on linseed or walnut oil stains in wood... mostly because I don't fully understand the chemical reaction it may have when in contact with vegetable oils. My understanding is that it is/was used as an oxidizer/bleach for linseed oil and may cause heat buildup in some circumstances.  Have you used it without complications? Any chemists here that can offer information?

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I'm so sorry to have saddled you with this job, Chris...

It's really something, though. I can't wrap my head around why someone would so completely imbibe the plates and ribs with what seems to be cold-pressed linseed oil. We tried surfactants mixed in with laponite and that seemed to have no effect. 

The poultice idea is stellar, though. 

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2 hours ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

That's predominately Fuller's earth, correct? I haven't tried Fullers on linseed or walnut oil stains in wood... mostly because I don't fully understand the chemical reaction it may have when in contact with vegetable oils. My understanding is that it is/was used as an oxidizer/bleach for linseed oil and may cause heat buildup in some circumstances.  Have you used it without complications? Any chemists here that can offer information?

Fullers earth is a broad term for a variety of clays, but in practice is most often bentonite. So called for it's use in fulling wool, to draw sheep oils and other impurities out. 

While it can be used to "bleach" oil, the bleaching clays used for the purpose now are modified, often sold as "acid activated". 

Ordinary bentonite would have no adverse effects if applied to wood with the intention of drawing oil. That said, I'd suggest kaolin instead. The cosmetic grade is cheap as dirt (since it's dirt) and is more adsorbent.

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57 minutes ago, Nick Allen said:

can't wrap my head around why someone would so completely imbibe the plates and ribs with what seems to be cold-pressed linseed oil. 

I almost hate to point this out, because it's my opinion that this chapter is a big part of what caused a generation of people to throw the baby out with the bathwater on Michelman's book, but he advocated saturating plates with linseed oil before varnishing. Sigh. The other major factor in his dismissal being that most people trying his methods didn't have the lab background necessary to understand just how fastidious you need to be in making rosinate, especially with the washing stage. 

I'd guess that if your problem child was made after '45, Michelman may be to blame. 

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6 hours ago, JacksonMaberry said:

Ordinary bentonite would have no adverse effects if applied to wood with the intention of drawing oil. That said, I'd suggest kaolin instead. The cosmetic grade is cheap as dirt (since it's dirt) and is more adsorbent.

You may be correct, but I'm not sure what all is in the bag that was suggested besides plain old bentonite ("clay based fullers earth" is usually a combination of minerals, correct?), but in" additional information" the product itself has listed:

"Not Compatible with (May generate heat or fire):
Turpentine
Hydrofluoric acid
Vegetable and fish oil
Other unsaturated, organic compounds."

As I mentioned, I don't fully understand the intricacies of the possible exothermic reaction, but I'd certainly do some testing were I to consider the using the product or other sources of "fullers earth"... or I'd talk to a chemist in an attempt to better understand possible dangers.

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I've not seen mention of what kind of oil is thought to be saturating the instrument.

My concern with this project is IF whatever is soaked into the wood was able to cause preexisting glue bonds to fail that any residue is going to cause problems in time.  I'm not sure I would want to be responsible for the long term viability of the instrument and would likely avoid working on it.

That said, if you're going to give it a shot, I think a combination of the above mentioned suggestions could work.  If you can find a solvent that will affect the oil and not the varnish, the parts could be saturated with that and then while saturated buried in one of the above mentioned clays for absorption Jackson's suggestion of kaolin is probably good, but as with all such things, test first!  If it were my project I would probably do this many times and with fresh clay each time, or at least fresh for the final few times if you're using just enough to cover the parts.  One way to increase the effectiveness of this process is to also incorporate vacuum cycling.  Drawing vacuum on the parts while submerged in the chosen solvent will increase penetration when the vacuum source is removed.  After the parts are removed from the solvent and put in the clay, vacuum can be re-applied to hasten removal of the solvent/oil removal.  Be aware of two things though (three actually).  The vacuum will hasten evaporation of the solvent and perhaps cause it to boil, which might increase the tendency to damage the wood structure, not to mention leave oil behind if the solvent is vaporizing.  MOST importantly though is the increased likelihood of explosion depending on what one is using to create the vacuum.
Proceed with caution...!


I'm going to get back to thinking about my own problems now.

 

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1 hour ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

You may be correct, but I'm not sure what all is in the bag that was suggested besides plain old bentonite ("clay based fullers earth" is usually a combination of minerals, correct?), but in" additional information" the product itself has listed:

"Not Compatible with (May generate heat or fire):
Turpentine
Hydrofluoric acid
Vegetable and fish oil
Other unsaturated, organic compounds."

As I mentioned, I don't fully understand the possible exothermic reaction, but I'd certainly do some testing were I to consider the using the product or other sources of "fullers earth"... or I'd talk to a chemist in an attempt to better understand possible dangers.

Good points.  Consulting a chemist is certain a very good idea.  I have found that material data sheets are often written with a shotgun approach and not terribly accurate.  I was looking at them for linseed oil years ago when helping a safety officer sort out why a fire had occurred at an air force facility and found MSDSs that listed one of the risks as vapor inhalation....  We're all dead.     The safety guy had not even considered the linseed oil as it seemed like a benign substance to him and was looking elsewhere for an unidentified cause...
No doubt the likelihood of exothermic reaction will depend greatly on the concentration of whatever it is that he's trying to remove.  A good case for doing this outside...., and for using fresh clay often.   And if it bursts into flames at least the problem has been solved.
With a somewhat different restoration project, I had a cello scroll in an ice bath with a remote temperature probe near the scroll so I could monitor the temperature make sure things were under control.

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1 hour ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

You may be correct, but I'm not sure what all is in the bag that was suggested besides plain old bentonite ("clay based fullers earth" is usually a combination of minerals, correct?), but in" additional information" the product itself has listed:

"Not Compatible with (May generate heat or fire):
Turpentine
Hydrofluoric acid
Vegetable and fish oil
Other unsaturated, organic compounds."

As I mentioned, I don't fully understand the intricacies of the possible exothermic reaction, but I'd certainly do some testing were I to consider the using the product or other sources of "fullers earth"... or I'd talk to a chemist in an attempt to better understand possible dangers.

Like I said, ordinary bentonite would be fine. I made no claims about your sample of fuller's earth, because I couldn't possibly know it's composition. 

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1 hour ago, Mark Norfleet said:

Good points.  Consulting a chemist is certain a very good idea.  I have found that material data sheets are often written with a shotgun approach and not terribly accurate.  I was looking at them for linseed oil years ago when helping a safety officer sort out why a fire had occurred at an air force facility and found MSDSs that listed one of the risks as vapor inhalation....  We're all dead.     The safety guy had not even considered the linseed oil as it seemed like a benign substance to him and was looking elsewhere for an unidentified cause...
No doubt the likelihood of exothermic reaction will depend greatly on the concentration of whatever it is that he's trying to remove.  A good case for doing this outside...., and for using fresh clay often.   And if it bursts into flames at least the problem has been solved.
With a somewhat different restoration project, I had a cello scroll in an ice bath with a remote temperature probe near the scroll so I could monitor the temperature make sure things were under control.

I had a chuckle about the situation with the linseed oil sds. 

It does really illustrate the point that SDS are generally only as useful as the amount of care that went into assembling it, and the standard is usually pretty low. 

As an example, that linseed sds. There actually is a substantial risk of danger from "vapor inhalation" with linseed oil, in that it gives off acrolein both at high heat and also when curing. The major caveat there however is that, especially when curing, the surface area of curing oil required to release sufficient amounts of toxic acrolein to hurt you is large. So the cautions of an SDS can on occasion be a "yes, but" situation. 

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Lastly, since I apparently wasn't clear enough before (and I apologize for that) - I wouldn't use a random store of something labeled "fullers earth" that I happened to have around. I would use cosmetic grade kaolin, which is sold for people to draw oil  from their faces if that gives you an idea of it's delicacy on surfaces. 

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