Design & DIY

Why you need two-part epoxies in your toolbox

A close up of a wooden toolbox By donatas1205/Shutterstock

Every cottage is a cesspit of entropy, where buildings, machines, furniture, and fun toys are in a constant state of falling apart. Repairing this stuff is often doable for the average cottager, but traditional tools and materials can’t always solve the problem. That’s why two-part epoxies should be in every cottage toolkit. Epoxy has excellent durability, gap-filling ability, and very high bond strength (some formulations are stronger than steel). After curing, most epoxy can be machined, drilled, threaded, ground, sanded, and painted.

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Unlike glues or construction adhesives, two-part epoxies must be stored as separate resin and hardener, then mixed together just before use, usually in a 1:1 ratio (check the label). Some epoxy comes in two tubes that you squeeze out in (hopefully) equal quantities. Or you can get twin-tube dispensers that meter out both resin and hardener from a double-barrelled syringe. Epoxy putties are a little different, with resin and hardener all together in a single stick or tube. To activate, you pinch off a lump of putty and mix it by hand.

After mixing, the “pot life” begins, which is the time you have to adjust parts before the epoxy sets permanently. Depending on the product, this working time can be a few minutes or a few hours. Curing to its final strength can take 4–24 hours.

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The setting and curing times—be sure to read the label—usually correlate to bond strength, with quick-setting formulations being slightly weaker. In my experience, “liquid” epoxies seem stronger than epoxy putties. There are some two-part epoxies specifically made for use with metal, others for plastic; they can be intended for exposure to marine environments, petroleum products, or high temperatures. Although epoxies can bond with almost anything, they’re generally not recommended for flexible surfaces like rubber, vinyl, or leather. And they don’t work with soft plastics, particularly polypropylene and polyethylene, so it’s a good idea to test before using on unknown materials.

This article was originally published in the August 2022 issue of Cottage Life.

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