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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Melbourne
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    Default Glue used in 1880's window sashes

    I am looking at restoring a few windows originally made in 1886. Generally they are in pretty good nick, considering they look to have had three coats of paint and no other maintenance in that time, but there is the odd joint that's now loose and needs repair.

    My plan is to work in a like for like fashion, I have no interest in filling holes with epoxy etc. The glass will be changed, it's cracked in a number of them, which means it will get ~50% thicker (and maybe a low-e coating), other than that and brush seals I'd like them to be repaired in the fashion they were built - they've lasted this long and I would like that they are repairable in future.

    The two textbooks I have from the early 20th century are both English and give different methods - one implies hide glue only, but this book tends to emphasise best rather than common practice, the other states that for weather exposed windows paint should be used, not glue. "The joints are glued, or painted if the sashes are exposed to the weather, and wedged up. The corners should be pinned, especially if paint is used." Does anyone have information or experience of what was common gluing practice in 1880's Melbourne or Australia, or have good methods for determining what's in old and very dirty joints?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Bundaberg
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    If the joints were glued then hide glue would have been used; this is removable with heat and moisture.

    However; there is a chance that no glue was used at all. The frames should have been made with draw-bored through-tenons and these don't actually need glue. You need to remove the paint from the loose corners and look for the pins; there should be two per joint. You should also be able to see the end of the tenon which likely will have had paint wick through. Tap the pins out (will probably need a hefty "tap"!) and then push/pull the tenon through the frame; once it's out you can examine the tenon cheeks and see if there is any glue residue. If no glue was used then they should all come apart the same way.
    Nothing succeeds like a budgie without a beak.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Melbourne
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    Thanks, I'll have another look when I get to them on Monday. I don't think they are draw-bored, the tenons are wedged and my recollection is enough paint is missing to see that there are no pins. I faintly recall they may be nailed with a clout though, I'll check next week.

    The carpentry of the building is competent but certainly not high end, the fact that it was built quickly in a building boom is pretty apparent - anyone that reckons the old-timers didn't cut corners, I have some things to show you. So a nail wouldn't surprise me.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    South Australia
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    I would think 100% the nails are a later bandaid measure to save disassembly and doing properly, you will most likely need to replace the wedges, the joints will have shrunk that is why they are loose, hopefully there is no rot involved

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
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    Dandenong Ranges
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    Hi LW. Keep in mind I have only used hide glue once and that was just yesterday but....the instructions on the bottle are clear that it is not meant for exterior use. Windows are subject to plenty of rain and moisture. I'm would assume that the joiners of the day knew this better than me.

    "Things were better in the old days" we had an edwardian cottage with a dip in the ceiling. Turns out the old timers thought that a single ceiling joist was enough to support a strut supporting a purlin to break the span of the rafters supporting a terracota tiled roof - naughty! Joinery was generally better though

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Bendigo
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    760

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Ash View Post
    "Things were better in the old days" we had an edwardian cottage with a dip in the ceiling. Turns out the old timers thought that a single ceiling joist was enough to support a strut supporting a purlin to break the span of the rafters supporting a terracota tiled roof - naughty! Joinery was generally better though
    Exactly. Today we see a building, or a stone wall, or a piece of furniture and immediately say "Things were built better in the old days" but not realising or even asking ourselves how much didn't last. The well built chair has lasted while hundreds (thoudands) of so-so built chairs ended up as kindling.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Melbourne
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    They are in fact draw-bored, the pins have been left proud on the meeting rail and look pretty similar to a clout head until you take the paint off and find end grain.

    I've never worked with draw-bored joints, either to make or repair, so any tips on how to repair these would be appreciated. There are gaps at the shoulders of the tenons and the wedges are loose enough to just fall out now that the sashes are out of the frame. These are arch top windows and ideally I'd not disassemble the top joins, they are still solid, and not entirely simple.

    The joinery on this place is pretty good, as is the brickwork, the carpenters and plumbers were perhaps drunk though. The footings are deep and have a sensible damp proof course - which is negated by the dirt being left above it and the bearers for the floor then sitting half buried. Don't get me started on the stormwater...

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Sth Gippsland Vic
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    Do the pegs go right through so you can tap them out ? If not then you have to drill them out . A pretty normal thing to have to do with this sort of joint .
    BTW, Just because a M&T joint has a peg doesn't mean it was draw-bored . As in, the joint was pulled tight under pressure of the peg going in through off set holes . It can also mean the frame was assembled with clamps and while clamps are still on and joint is glued the hole is drilled and peg installed. Its the fastest way to do it. Draw-bore is more time consuming and was done in a situation where you didn't have clamps . Draw-bored should also be right through and out the other side.
    With just pegging in clamps he frame does not have to be kept in clamps. As soon as pegs are in and glue wiped off the frame is taken out of clamps and the next one gets done .
    If you can get a peg out and a joint apart it'll be interesting to look for signs of how it was done . A draw-bored joint can show signs of the pressure on the peg ( bent or cracked) or the hole in the tenon being forced in the direction needed to pull the joint .

    If you have to drill out pegs the best way is with a dummy plate . Its a drilled steel plate clamped dead over the peg that guides the drill and stops it sliding off the tougher end grain peg and into the softer side timber . Its also the way to drill nails or screws out . The hole in steel matches drill size . You can center punch peg after its chiselled flat first as well . I use leather in between plate and job as well to protect surface if needed . Last time I did this was on a set of polished Antique Brazilian Rosewood chairs . Pegs and nails everywhere through the joints .
    Here's some pictures of that. Login • Instagram

    If your joints are sloppy I wouldn't recommend re using Hide glue . Hide glue only works on tight joinery , its gap filling ability is ZILCH, Zero and No Good at all .

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