Cleaning up after yourself

It happens to all of us at one time or other:

You’re working on something and you shift around to get a better angle on it–

–and there’s a crash behind you.

Cringing, you turn to see that a plane or saw has fallen to the floor and broken the tote.  If you have foresight, you’ve put down a wood floor instead of the concrete that’s common to our usual shop spaces (basements and garages), as many plane castings have been shattered by the unyielding solidity of concrete.  But still, the tote is broken!  Like, total bummer, dude!

It may be that you need to graft on a whole new piece.  I had to do that with my panel saw when I bought it.  The horns had been snapped off sometime in the last hundred years, and lost in the temporal maelstrom.  Now repaired, I use it almost every day–

–only to knock it off the bench the other day and crack the tote clean through.


As a parenthetical observation, do notice that the horn repair (pear wood grafted on the original apple, if you’re curious) survived unscathed, while the wood broke.  A properly fitted glue joint is stronger than wood.

Anyway, it was a clean break, with no splinters missing.  As long as I could get glue all the way inside the joint, and do so without making a mess, I could simply glue the crack and move on.  Thankfully for me, hide glue fit both of those parameters.

First, hide glue has an interesting property: the hotter it is, the runnier it is.  So all I had to do was get it nice and hot and it would run into the crack like water.  Proper glue volume, check!

Second, hide glue is water-soluble, even when cured.  So, even if I got some glue on the tote that I didn’t wipe off, all I had to do was worry it with a damp rag and it would come right off.  No refinishing required!

Once the glue is applied, the only question remaining was how to clamp the darn thing.  You really don’t want to clamp on the horns (lest you make more work for yourself), and the curving surfaces of the tote are exceedingly awkward to try to fit a clamp around without some sort of caul.  But there’s an easy, cheap way to do this with any sort of odd bit that doesn’t want to clamp nicely.


A couple of zip ties around it holds it securely, and they don’t mess up your surface or finish.  I let this sit overnight, then cut off the zip ties, wiped down the tote for any excess glue, and got to work again with no one the wiser.

Well, no one was the wiser, anyway…