Some Epoxy Handling Tips #1: Don't get any on you !

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 11-09-2011 10:13 PM 9112 reads 17 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Some Epoxy Handling Tips series Part 2: Mixing and Additives »

The first rule I try to follow when using epoxies is “Don’t get any on you !” and the second one is “Don’t get any on your handles !” Basically for more reasons than I need to get into here no one wants to get it on them. The question seems to be how to avoid it.

I’ve used A LOT of epoxy over the years for everything from gluing hulls together to making wooden fuel tanks, water tanks and even a bathtub and I’ve developed a number of procedures that help me stay clean.

I happened to have a little epoxy job this morning in the shop and thought it might be a good opportunity to document a few.

First and foremost is the need for a proper glue stick. What difference does it make what I stir my glue with ? you ask. Well none actually but a good glue stick will do many more things for you than just stir your glue. You want to keep the number of epoxy contaminated articles to a minimum so it makes sense to use a multi-functional glue stick. This is what mine look like. I usually spend a bit of time to make them and often use the same one many many times.

The features are:

1) Appropriate length for the job and the container you are using.
-Too short and it gets you sticky.
-Too long and it tips over the glue cup….. and gets everything sticky.

2) Comfortable fit in the hand. Like an artist’s brush, you’ll be using it for delicate finicky jobs. (really)

3) Wide enough blade to facilitate mixing but narrower further up to allow it to better reach tight corners.

4) Chisel tip to facilitate cleaning up excesses, cut at a little angle to make filleting easier and with a radius at the toe for shaping the size of fillet you want to use.

For the job today I decided to use what was referred to in my old shipyard as a “pukemouse” because, well it looks like a mouse and …. well you’ll get the idea.

Start by putting your finger into the corner of a plastic bag and stick it into a measuring cup. This will ensure that your glue will be concentrated in a corner.

Then pull the rest of the bag well below the rim and as carefully as possible fill with your epoxy. This is of course a technique only used with thickened epoxy which is the only way I ever use it as a glue. The only time I use epoxy clear is as a finish or to lay up cloth.

Tie off the top, snip off a tiny corner, and Voila you have a pukemouse.

Use the pukemouse (now you get it) like a cake decorator to neatly place the glue exactly where you want it.

Assemble your joint with whatever fasteners you are using and immediately clean any excess away with the chisel edge of your stick.

And scrape the excess back into the original mixing cup.

You can place more thickened epoxy along inside corners to reinforce the joint with a fillet.

Tool the fillet with the radius corner of your stick until you’re happy with it.

Carefully clean the excess with your chisel edge and return the excess to the pot.

And you’re done. The project is all glued up, there will be little or no sanding, and the only other things with epoxy on them are the glue cup (throw in the garbage), the empty pukemouse (also garbage) and the stick. I wipe the stick off with a paper towel (garbage) and set it aside to use again. I didn’t even get any on my gloves this time.

Hope some of you find this helpful.

Comments, critiques and questions are always welcome.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

22 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118065 posts in 4349 days

#1 posted 11-09-2011 10:21 PM

Good and useful Blog. Thanks Paul


View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 3706 days

#2 posted 11-09-2011 10:36 PM

Thanks Paul!

Those are great tips.

The last time I used epoxy It got on my fingers and hand. not a whole lot but I had to use lacquer thinner (following product instructions) to wash it off and I felt my hand burning even while running water on it (10 mn).

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View SPalm's profile


5335 posts in 4653 days

#3 posted 11-09-2011 10:43 PM

But how do you mix it in the first place? I chucked a chopstick (wrapped with a little wire on the bottom end) in a drill and inserted it into a Solo cup. Used it over and over again.

Are you getting a new doggie?

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3967 days

#4 posted 11-09-2011 10:53 PM

Greats tips. Thanks Paul. I would have never thought to use the pukemouse(love the name) method.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Schwieb's profile


1900 posts in 4233 days

#5 posted 11-09-2011 11:06 PM

Your experience is a good teacher for the rest of us. I have used the pukemouse idea but your technique is way more refined and predictable. Thanks for posting. This is a very useful blog.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4080 days

#6 posted 11-09-2011 11:11 PM

What brand of epoxy do you use? Years ago I used a brand named Resco but can’t find it anymore. Now I use West systems.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4695 days

#7 posted 11-09-2011 11:32 PM

I like this, neat and tidy just the way I like to work.

View shipwright's profile


8554 posts in 3569 days

#8 posted 11-10-2011 12:33 AM

Greg and Steve, I use System Three now. I’ve always used Industrial Formulators of Canada but they have been absorbed by System Three so I now buy the same products, under most of the same names but from a different company. Not a fan of West, just me.
I combine the two parts in a graduated cup or tub and hand mix it with the above stick, whose one flat side incidentally, is left that way to enable the constant scraping of the sides of the pot to ensure complete mixing.

No Steve, no new doggy. We’re driving to our place in AZ this year and taking the dog and cat. This will be the “kitty RV” and will have a semi detached but en suite bathroom. I may just post it.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View wuzfuzde's profile


27 posts in 3422 days

#9 posted 11-10-2011 01:18 AM

Ok if your still speaking to me after my %^&%& hinges experience let me ask a more direct question

I’m not familiar with the brands you discussed———- but recently i was ordered by my bride that i was to repair wrongs(sp) in my daughters dinning room chairs in time for Thanksgiving.

My experience with two part epoxy has been less than great….
A local talented wood god took me aside and spoke of the power of a product PC-7 and its magical wonders but he recommends putting the mixture on a putty knife and heating it till it becomes more fluid then applying to the chair….I would appreciate your thoughts my thanksgiven dinner is resting on this.. and my bride of 50 years come December is watching and the clocks running …thanks for all you do for us lesser beings
Be well …

View shipwright's profile


8554 posts in 3569 days

#10 posted 11-10-2011 01:39 AM

I would hesitate to use epoxy on a really good chair, particularly an antique. It is great glue but a bad chair joint is likely the result of a structural problem in the joint that should be addressed. If you epoxy one loose joint and later have trouble with another or several other joints, you will have a lot of trouble and grief trying to disassemble it to make a proper repair. That’s why I believe (not just me) that chairs should be glued with hide glue.

I can’t pass judgement on the product you are referring to as I don’t recognize it but heating any epoxy will accelerate the cure. Better to start with one that is not too viscous in the first place.

Sorry I can’t be more help.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View wuzfuzde's profile


27 posts in 3422 days

#11 posted 11-10-2011 01:55 AM

that helps a lot thank you

View Muzzy's profile


4 posts in 3163 days

#12 posted 11-10-2011 02:42 AM

I have always used west system. With the pumps 1 for 1 makes it almost fool proof. 1 extra pump of hardener on cold days , 1 less on hot days. Also thier fillers work well. Only problem it does go bad don’t buy a gallon unless you need it, stay with the smaller sizes. I mix it with a toung depressor makes a nice radius, also use a popsicle stick for a smaller radius or paint it on with a small brush. I wet a rag with acitone before mixing for wiping my hands and fingers or if it gets on anything I don’t want to be stuck together. I rarely use it on wood anymore the new glues, titebond 2 & 3 work well and are easier to controll.

View shipwright's profile


8554 posts in 3569 days

#13 posted 11-10-2011 02:55 AM

To each his own but it’s not generally a good idea to mess with epoxy ratios.

The hardener is not a catalyst. Both parts are consumed in an exact ratio like sodium ad chlorine in salt. A higher or lower level of hardener will speed or slow the reaction because a greater or fewer number of reagent ions are adjacent to one another and available to cross-link but when all the dancing is done there will be a few dancers without partners. These unlinked ions are detrimental to the finished characteristics of the polymer.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View xwingace's profile


229 posts in 3360 days

#14 posted 11-10-2011 04:18 AM

Nice tips—sometimes it’s really the ‘simple’ things, isn’t it?

-- I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was.

View thebigvise's profile


191 posts in 3672 days

#15 posted 11-10-2011 04:38 AM

I agree that West is a good brand. A couple of points may be useful:

1. after mixing, then pour the mix into a fresh mixing cup in order to lessen the chance that unmixed epoxy on the sides could contaminate the glue that is applied to the workpiece

2. if you need more time to work, the reaction can be slowed by making a thin film in, say, a pie tin rather than leaving it in a cup or jar after mixing; this is useful particularly when I am using strips of fiberglass tape or cloth

3. cleanup with rubbing alcohol

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

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