Q: What kind of tradesperson fixes failed window seals? My windows are foggy between the panes, but I don’t know who to look for to fix them.
A: There’s no official trade name for this kind of work, but there are a number of companies around who specialize in resealing windows. Modern windows usually have two panes of glass in any given spot, with a sealed space between them. When this seal fails, it can let in moisture that condenses on the inside face of the glass causing condensation. Google “window seal failure repair” and a number of options come up. Contact several companies, then ask for and check references with previous homeowners before you choose. Before you do any of this, consider how old your windows are. Depending on the age, condition and number of windows with failed seals, you might consider window replacement instead of repair. Replacement will cost more, but you’ll also probably get better window performance.
Finishing a Wooden Countertop
Q: How should I finish a three foot wide by 10 foot long lodgepole pine countertop I’m making for a kitchen and bar? I want the wood to be protected from spills.
A: The challenge with every wooden countertop is creating a finish that’s both durable and repairable. Polyurethane provides great protection, but when it starts to get cut marks and areas of wear, there’s nothing much you can do except strip back to bare wood and start from scratch. That’s an especially big hassle because you have to work in your kitchen.
The best finishing option I’ve used is something called Watco Butcher Block Oil & Finish. Don’t be fooled by the term “oil” because this stuff does form a protective surface film, something like varnish. It’s also easy to work with. When it comes time to rejuvenate the finish, simply rub the countertop down by hand parallel with the grain using 180-grit sandpaper to remove anything loose and roughen the surface, then recoat. I’ve used this product in several situations and it works and lasts quite well. Depending on the level of wear involved, you’ll have to re-apply more Butcher Block Oil every year or two.
Repairing Old Chairs
Q: What’s the best glue for restoring teak dining room chairs? I’ve dismantled a couple of teak chairs that were originally assembled with hide glue. I cleaned the joints and reassembled with wood glue, but the joints failed. I’ve bought more hide glue to use again, but perhaps you can suggest something else.
A: That sounds like an interesting restoration you’re doing. How tight are the joints after you’ve cleaned and prepared them? Ordinary PVA wood glue can be quite strong, but it does require tight joints for strength. I wonder if the reason your PVA work failed because the joints weren’t tight enough?
The thing about using hide glue for the restoration is that it can be fragile. Too much moisture and especially too much heat after it has dried will soften the hide glue bond. Have you considered epoxy for this repair
Besides being very strong, epoxy is also quite good at filling gaps. I believe that a slow-cure, industrial strength epoxy will do a good job for you. Have you every used anything like this?
Also, teak is a naturally oily wood, and this oil can interfere with the bonding of any glue. As a final step before re-assembling the parts, wash the joints with a light, volatile solvent such as lacquer thinner. Flood the joint areas, then wipe the wood and let it dry completely before glue application. If the joints on some chairs are loose but still together, try a product called Chair Doctor. It seeps right into loose joints, swells the wood and locks the connection.
— Steve Maxwell loves fixing things rather than buying new. Join 27,000 people who get his email newsletter for free every Saturday morning from Steve’s website BaileyLineRoad.com