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I have a small carved wooden pendant of an owl with its wings outspread, unfortunately one of the wings snapped off in a clean break. What's the best way to put it back together without worrying that the wing might break off again someday and I lose it permanently?

I was thinking of just using Elmer's Wood Glue or some super glue, holding it together with my hands for awhile and then leaving it to dry, just want to know if there's a preferred best practice for something like this. The pendant is of course in a unique shape so clamping isn't really an option if that's a thing. Thanks! the broken pendant

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  • "clamping isn't really an option" Well it kinda has to be since you won't get any sort of firm bond without some clamping force (something more than finger pressure, and applied for a lot longer). You can't just hold the pieces together and hope the bond will be good. De-clamp time for PVA glues is something like four hours minimum (some wait much longer) so, uh, how patient are you? ^_^ Obviously you can just press parts together using superglue, but superglue bonds in wood can be iffy. And if the superglue bond fails you're in a pickle, how do you remove the residue to try again? [contd]
    – Graphus
    Jun 25 at 0:04
  • [sorry forgot to finish Comment] In short if you try superglue you should be very confident indeed that it'll work, or you've lost your chance at the strongest bond possible as having the break surfaces pristine is your one shot. Personally, while I trust PVA for most bonding in woodworking this looks like it might be a troublesome wood to glue (can't tell, is it actually coconut shell?) so I wouldn't use it here. I'd go straight to a 30-min or 1-hour epoxy.
    – Graphus
    Jun 25 at 7:45
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I'd do the following:

  1. Clean the mating surfaces with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol or acetone and let dry. It looks like the pendant is made from some sort of dense and potentially oily wood, and you'll need clean surfaces to get a good bond.

  2. Clamp the larger piece in a small vice with some padding to protect the part. You want the part held firmly enough that it won't move around while you're working on it, but not so much that you'll crush it or snap off another piece. A wooden hand screw would work well.

  3. Put the parts together dry, so that they're exactly the way you want them. Apply a piece of painter's tape to the back of the pendant to help hold it in place. The tape will make a sort of hinge, so that you can still open up the seam to get some glue in there.

  4. Figure out how you're going to get some rubber bands on there to hold things together as the glue cures. You don't need a huge amount of force, but it really does need to be held firmly. You'll probably only get one good shot at gluing, so you might want to practice applying those bands a few times first. Note that the bands don't necessarily have to go around the clamped part... you could create some attachment points elsewhere. For example, if you're using a wooden clamp, you can drive some small nails or hooks into the clamp and connect the rubber bands to those.

  5. Using the tape hinge, open up the seam a bit from the front. Use a toothpick or maybe a straight pin (anything very small and pointy) to apply a small amount of glue all along the seam. You won't need a lot, but you want to get a the glue on most of the surface.

  6. Close up the seam, wipe away any glue that squeezes out, and apply the bands.

I think PVA (wood) glue is probably fine for this, but I'd be tempted to use a medium-thickness cyanoacrylate glue, which will set up much more quickly, especially if you give it a shot of accelerant after applying the bands.

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  • 1. Yes very much this, the first thing I thought of when I saw how dark the (wood?) was. 4. Noooooooo, please don't make me screw into my nice new handscrews! ^_^
    – Graphus
    Jun 27 at 7:53
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More than once have I been confronted with a similar problem. My "go to" solution is to use wood glue with clamping provided by rubber bands. I wouldn't try holding wood glue until it set. You might be able to get away with such an approach if you use super glue, but my attempts at that solution have given me a patch that doesn't last.

Before gluing, work out a way to wrap the rubber bands to give a snug mating between the two pieces of wood. Once you get a good fit, remove the rubber bands and dry fit it again.

Having practiced making the fit, apply glue. I always apply a little glue to both pieces, squeeze them together until glue is oozing out of the joint, pull them apart, carefully wipe away the excess.

Put the two glued pieces together again, apply the rubber bands as you practiced. Carefully adjust the alignment, set the pendant asie, and wait until the glue sets - I would wait a couple of hours or more. Carefully remove the rubber bands - maybe even cut them so that you don't place any stress on your new glue joint.

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    "I wouldn't try holding wood glue until it set" Understatement of the year? ^_^ My go-to brand at the moment says to leave clamps on for "several hours"!
    – Graphus
    Jun 25 at 7:49

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