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Subject: Wood fillers

Wood fillers

From: Lori Arnold <arnold>
Date: Friday, November 15, 2002
Jeremy Wells <jeremy [at] wells__net>

>I'm working on restoring a wooden window. Much of the exterior of
>the window has moderately deep (.25 inch) checks on the weather side
>creating a rough surface. My goal is to smooth the surface without
>removing the wood by using a filler. ...

You ask the "zen" question of architectural wood conservation. I
would be very curious to see what responses you receive as I will
employ such a product into my wood restoration projects. I would
imagine, that a product that would meet your criteria would probably
not perform well in the exposed environment. Despite the fact that
you will paint the surface, UV and exposure have to be a
consideration. We can never assume a paint layer will protect a
delicate or sensitive repair, especially when considering the high
degree of movement of wood when serving in an exterior environment.

What is your ultimate goal, appearance or reversibility? If
appearance is your goal, I'm afraid an epoxy will provide you with
the best performance--at least for 5 to 10 years. There are a few
epoxies out there that can be reversed, somewhat. None of them have
a flexibility compatible with the movement of wood. If installed
correctly, some may perform fairly well. If reversibility is the
more important factor, I would recommend doing nothing. The kind of
checks you are referring to are a patina of sorts--an indication of
age. If the surface of the wood is sanded properly and a high
quality primer and paint is used, the checks will cause no problems.

If you abandon the idea of filling the checks, your paint layer will
last longer and perform better as it will have very good adhesion to
a consistent substrate that moves uniformly. Most paint failure
occurs right at the location where epoxy meets wood due to the
difference in movement. Paint is your best line of defense for
preservation and conservation. The checks in the wood are truly a
minor issue--that is if you're more concerned with the conservation
of the piece as opposed to its finished appearance.

Lori Arnold
Architectural Conservator
Philadelphia Naval Business Center
4747 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA  19112
215-218-4877 direct
215-218-4747 main
215-218-4740 Fax:

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:34
                 Distributed: Friday, November 22, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-16-34-002
Received on Friday, 15 November, 2002

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