A friend has asked me to repair a Victorian era walking stick that is made up of screwed sections. The screws are brass; the wood must presumably be hardwood although it is pale in colour.

Brass fittings screw directly into the wood - there is no brass inset to receive them. Here are some photos. Edit - the brass female fittings exist and they are intended to be glued into the wood. When I receive the piece, I didn't detect that fact because the male and female parts were tightly screwed together. I now realise that I have to glue the female fitting into the wood so that the male fitting screws into that. It's going to make it easier because I can clamp around the screwed-in fitting.

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My plan is simply to glue, clamp and leave until dry. I shall have to use commercially available wood glue and am based in the UK.


This a walking stick so (a) it must withstand someone leaning on it and (2) the glue must be weatherproof.

Please advise me what type of glue to use.

  • 1
    ...because this is a Victorian-era stick that's a problem too, since if the finish is still original it would be shellac and meths is the solvent for shellac. Even if the stick had been refinished within a couple of generations of the original owner shellac is virtually a certainty. And shellac is still possible, although I wouldn't call it likely, if it was refinished in recent decades.
    – Graphus
    Mar 24 at 4:35
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    @Graphus: Wax the brass threads, glue and clamp, screw in while squeeze out is still wet, and immediately screw out again (this should spread the epoxy around the wood threads, and reinforce them) , thoroughly (and carefully) clean the threads. If there is any remaining squeeze out, rewax the threads, and repeat screw in-out when the squeeze out is pasty. Mar 24 at 8:23
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    OP: Many hardwoods are pale: hazel, hickory, beech, ash, hawthorn, oak, elm. Also, mahogany goes that sort of colour after decades in the sun. Mar 24 at 8:25
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    @MartinBonnersupportsMonica, it's squeeze-out onto the surface that I was concerned with. Cleaning up epoxy 100% without the use of solvents is tricky, leaving a slight smear is all too easy. I presume you've had this happen yourself and needed to use steel wool, Scotch-Brite or light sanding to remove it?
    – Graphus
    Mar 24 at 9:57
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    Yes you can apply anything oily or waxy as a resist, and no glue can stick to what's underneath. This is actually standard practice in many situations. Wax is the best because it stays put and is effectively 'dry', rather than like oils or greases which are 'wet' at room temp. The thing to use for this is paste wax, since it's easy to apply just where you need it and to achieve a thin film, and once the solvent portion has evaporated it's far less likely to be disturbed by casual contact. The method you theorise, clamp then apply, is ideal — it'll ensure none of it gets onto the glue surfaces.
    – Graphus
    Mar 24 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


Normally to repair a simple split like this in wood that will go together so neatly I would suggest a PVA adhesive (e.g. Evo-Stik blue, or Everbuild 502) because of the easy water cleanup of excess glue.

But there are some problems with using PVA here. With waterbased glues only fresh surfaces bond properly due to this effect and because you don't have easy access to the crack surfaces you can't do much to reliably refresh them.

So, I think the adhesive of choice becomes epoxy, despite it being a little trickier to work with in this situation. Epoxy offers two main advantages, it seems to more reliably bond old wood surfaces and also it doesn't require the very high clamp pressures that PVA does to achieve its strongest bond. Additionally if you need to glue the brass into the wood it allows you to do the whole job with the one adhesive.

I think you're going to want a use an epoxy with a long working time for a comfortable, stress-free glue-up, so regrettably inexpensive 5-min is out. Even 10 minutes may not be enough so I'd recommend 30-min epoxy at minimum. Other than cost there's no downside to using an epoxy that sets slower than that if it's all you can find as I would recommend leaving the glue to set for a day at least regardless1.

Some quick tips:

  • I think the ideal 'clamp' here isn't a clamp at all, but tape. Electrical tape is great for this kind of job because it has some give and resists snapping so you can stretch it tightly as you wind it on, each wind applying more and more pressure. Work from the narrow end of the crack towards the open end.

  • Don't disturb the stick as the glue is setting. Even a slight shift can significantly impact bond strength. So after you've finished glueing put the stick where it won't need to be moved out of the way.

  • Additional stuff I'd recommend: gloves so you don't get epoxy on your skin; a screwdriver for leverage; a hair dryer2.

  • Apply the glue. Be liberal but don't go crazy. You want to get it into the entire crack, which is what the screwdriver is for — gently lever the stick apart to open up the crack a smidge so you can get glue as far into the narrow end as possible. With local warming it should seep in well.

  • Now close the crack and squeeze the stick firmly. Excess glue will squeeze out. Wipe off. Squeeze again and wipe again and then it's time for the tape.

1 The epoxy's full strength may only be achieved after 24 hours or longer at normal room temperature (slower if cold), so don't go testing the bonds the following morning!

2 Use the hair dryer to warm the wood, not the epoxy. You'll be amazed at how the epoxy becomes more fluid once it touches the warmed surface, allowing it to spread and penetrate a lot more easily. If you warm the puddle of mixed epoxy it makes it too fluid to transfer easily, and significantly shortens the working time.

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    I have seen packing tape (clear, plastic backed tape, often used to close up boxes for shipping) used on the surface of the wood to make clean up easy - epoxy squeezes out, wipe it off the slick packing tape surface; you didn't get it all wiped up? you sure will when you pull the tape off. HOWEVER I'm not sure about the effect of the packing tape's adhesive on the old finish on this stick. YMMV.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 28 at 15:57

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