Breaking old glue bonds

Tommy P.

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Sep 2, 2020
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Having a topper for a turn of the century Schlenker u. Kienzle wall clock that is clearly sub-standard and does not match the rest of the clock, I'd like to dismantle it, save a few pieces, and build a new one using some of the old parts like the rosettes or medallions.
But before I start trying to slide a scraper under a hundred and fifteen year old piece of walnut and try to pry it off, I figured I'd ask here if any of you have a trick to pass on, such as heat or alcohol or something like that.
Thanks.

IMG-2626.jpg
 

svenedin

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if it is held together with animal glue then it will soften and can be pulled apart by using steam. The trouble is, it may have been subsequently repaired with something other than animal glue and it may be hard to identify the exact glue used. Be careful with the rosettes and other "carved" details. I was caught out by a Vienna topper where these details were made of the early plastic, celluloid, which dissolved into a mush when I was using alcohol to clean the surface.
 

Tommy P.

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Thanks,....I've heard you can soften hide-glue with heat, I thought about gently heating the pieces with my heat gun to a little over a hundred and some-odd degrees and gently trying to get a putty knife under one of the larger pieces,...with the exception of one of those awful-looking finials there doesn't seem to be any evidence of a newer glue being used. The only pieces I'd like to salvage are the round pieces and the routed "columns". I'm sure it's not original to the clock case as the stain is much darker and the quality is much lower.
 

Tommy P.

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I let some isopropyl alcohol bleed in under everything and it all popped right off. The only damage was to a couple of those "Medallions" that turned out to be made of some kind of clay-like material. I didn't like them anyhow, that topper is not original to the clock so I'm gonna re-build it the way I want. I've looked at scores of Kienzle and similar tops, enough to know that there were hundreds of different offerings made up of all sorts of combinations of pieces of stock. There doesn't appear to be any "rules",...other than the one that says it's gotta look good. It should be fun. Thanks for your help!
 
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Elliott Wolin

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Vinegar (acetic acid) is well known to soften aliphatic resin glue (carpenter's glue, yellow glue).

Concerning hide glue, I found these"

"Vinegar will break down hide glue. It can be soaked into a joint or injected with a syringe. If you use apple cider vinegar it smells good while it works."

and

"Alcohol will crystallize hide glue, enabling the joints to be tapped apart."

And there are many other methods recommended on the web for all types of glues.
 
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bikerclockguy

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Vinegar (acetic acid) is well known to soften aliphatic resin glue (carpenter's glue, yellow glue).

Concerning hide glue, I found these"

"Vinegar will break down hide glue. It can be soaked into a joint or injected with a syringe. If you use apple cider vinegar it smells good while it works."

and

"Alcohol will crystallize hide glue, enabling the joints to be tapped apart."

And there are many other methods recommended on the web for all types of glues.
I use 190-proof Everclear, injected into the crevices in small quantities with a syringe. Isopropyl alcohol will work, but it contains quite a bit of water, and for the small difference in price, I see no point in risking damage/discoloration from the water.
 

DeanT

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I use 190-proof Everclear, injected into the crevices in small quantities with a syringe. Isopropyl alcohol will work, but it contains quite a bit of water, and for the small difference in price, I see no point in risking damage/discoloration from the water.
Isn't Isopropyl Alcohol 100% pure so it won't have any water?
 

bikerclockguy

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It comes in different strengths, I believe.
Most isopropyl alcohol is 70% alcohol, 30% water. You can buy 90%, for about twice the price(when you can find it), but the corner liquor store will have Everclear(95% alcohol)for $3.00 or less for a half pint. I’ve used that successfully on several projects with no ill effects.
 

shutterbug

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Rubbing alcohol is 70% Isopropyl. Stores that sell farm equipment and tools will have 99% Isopropyl. If you're tempted to try alcohol made for human consumption, be aware that 90 proof is actually 45% alcohol (proof/2=alcohol content). I'm not sure how Everclear is labeled.
 

bikerclockguy

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Rubbing alcohol is 70% Isopropyl. Stores that sell farm equipment and tools will have 99% Isopropyl. If you're tempted to try alcohol made for human consumption, be aware that 90 proof is actually 45% alcohol (proof/2=alcohol content). I'm not sure how Everclear is labeled.
It’s 190 proof, 95% alcohol by volume.. Not as good as the 99%, and thanks for the info on that! So, I guess it depends on whether you’re closer to the farm store or the liquor store
 

DeanT

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It’s 190 proof, 95% alcohol by volume.. Not as good as the 99%, and thanks for the info on that! So, I guess it depends on whether you’re closer to the farm store or the liquor store
I've got 99% pure isopropyl but it is expensive. But i guess if you only use a small amount that okay.
 

shutterbug

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I reuse mine several times before it gets too dirty or saturated with water to use. That helps defray the cost. At the farm store, I can get a gallon of it for about $30.00.
 

Cpercy1961

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I use 190-proof Everclear, injected into the crevices in small quantities with a syringe. Isopropyl alcohol will work, but it contains quite a bit of water, and for the small difference in price, I see no point in risking damage/discoloration from the water.
 

svenedin

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I let some isopropyl alcohol bleed in under everything and it all popped right off. The only damage was to a couple of those "Medallions" that turned out to be made of some kind of clay-like material. I didn't like them anyhow, that topper is not original to the clock so I'm gonna re-build it the way I want. I've looked at scores of Kienzle and similar tops, enough to know that there were hundreds of different offerings made up of all sorts of combinations of pieces of stock. There doesn't appear to be any "rules",...other than the one that says it's gotta look good. It should be fun. Thanks for your help!
Yes I did warn you some of the parts may be made of celluloid. It dissolves in alcohol.....
 

Tim Orr

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Good evening, all!

I don't believe celluloid (cellulose nitrate – identical to "guncotton") is soluble in alcohol. I believe you would need acetone. There are plastics that dissolve in alcohol, but I cannot remember which ones they are. They're not very common anymore.

Best regards!

Tim Orr
(Recovering polymer chemist)
 

Ralph

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Ooops wrong thread.....disregard......The same situation has been posted in the past. I don’t remember if there was a resolution or not.

Ralph
 
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