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Cutler's Resin Recipes

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Here's a recipe posted by Tai Goo a few years ago on this forum:

 

"I've used pinon rosin straight or mixed with Dung. Moose dung is my favorite. Virgil England sent me a whole box of it from Alaska. hee hee

 

On stick tangs, if you get a good tight fit to the handle first, you can just heat the tang to about 300 degrees with a torch and rub it with a small piece of rosin. The rosin will melt over that tang and coat it nice and even. Then just slide it in the hole in the handle, and wait for it to set up. The heat from the tang also heats the inside of the hloe which helps the rosin bind with the handle material.

 

Heat will soften most any type of rosin or resin. I think the natural pinon rosin starts to soften at about 150- 200 degrees, but keep in mind that epoxy will completely fail around 250 degrees, last I checked anyway. Those boys in the epoxy labs have been working real hard lately."

J

 

JDWARE KNIVES

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I wonder if resin would actually hold better than an average hardware store epoxy? I do seem to have a lot of trouble getting epoxies to completely fill a tang slot with no gaps or bubbles. It might be nice to try a glue that is a bit less viscous.

 

-Dan

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Not to hijack the thread, but try warming your epoxy before pouring it. A light bulb in a box is plenty, you don't want to get it too warm, 100 degrees or so. It'll pour right in.

 

Geoff

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I was hoping for a little more specific ratios, but such is life. :lol: Tai did post that somewhere, maybe here, maybe over on the Outpost.

 

JD, you're in the place where copal resin comes from... I bet that would cook up into a really strong cutler's cement. Ever try it?

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Okay, to the best of my knowledge, this is my current recipe:

1 lb pine pitch (brewer's pitch)

about 1/2 lb beeswax

2 teaspn. sawdust

1 tspn. metal dust/filings.

1 tspn. anhydrous borax

 

Heat in cheap disposable pan over low heat source (emergency style stoves great for this!) and stir well, it should smell slightly like honey and look a glossy black colour when dry. And never try and use the pot for anything else again. And the spoon you stir it with? Yeah, if you left it in the pot it's gonna be there until you heat things up again.

Edited by Al Massey

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Mine is very basic:

 

Roughly equal parts by volume of pine pitch (pinon rosin, heated and strained)

and powdered charcoal (or stone, brick, metal filings...any particulate filler seems OK)

plus about 5-10% beeswax (for flexibility)

 

The exact proportions depend on climate, available materials, and probably my mood at the time :P. The most crucial element as far as I'm concerned is how much wax gets added, too much makes the glue tacky, while too little leaves it brittle. I add wax a little at a time, and periodically drop a little bit of resin into a pan of water to cool so I can handle it and check the texture. It should be hard to dent, but also hard to chip...a happy medium :)

 

In actual glue-up, this stuff is worked with hot, so it will flow...it also helps adhesion to heat all the metal parts, and to have a heat gun or other heat source handy to extend working time. It sets up very quickly once it starts to cool down.

 

A few other considerations: overcooking the glue will make it more brittle, and each time a pot is reheated it seems to change the balance somewhat, too. I prefer not to add fiber to my glues (as in the moose droppings above); in my opinion it makes the mixture too clumpy without adding much strength. This glue will stick to just about any material...it sticks tenaciously to clothing, shoes, and so on. It is usually easier to clean up after it cools, when it can be sliced or chiseled off. The last residues can be wiped off with alcohol or acetone on a rag. It is 100% waterproof, but continuous exposure to hand oils will make the glue tacky; I've not found it ideal for sealing cord-wrapped handles for this reason.

 

Unlike most all modern glues, this stuff smells truly pleasant, like a pine forest...my wife has asked me if I was burning incense!

 

A side question: besides pine-pitch glues, what other natural glues have you used, or heard of being used for knifemaking? Anyone know where to get Laha (used by Nepali Kukhri makers/Kamis), or other exotic adhesive resins online?

Edited by Orien M

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Is pine "tar" the same as pine resin? In foxfire 4 page 252 they enplane how the old timers make pine tar. For those with out access to the foxfire books ray mears shows how to make tar in this video (the end of part 2 shows the harvesting of the wood)

 

I'm really wanting to make at least a partial move to cutlers resin, just wondering if tar and resin are one in the same.

Edited by N. Runals

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Is pine "tar" the same as pine resin? In foxfire 4 page 252 they enplane how the old timers make pine tar. For those with out access to the foxfire books ray mears shows how to make tar in this video (the end of part 2 shows the harvesting of the wood)

 

I'm really wanting to make at least a partial move to cutlers resin, just wondering if tar and resin are one in the same.

Tar is made from resin by applying the right amount of heat, but they are not the same. Mind that there is a hugh variety in voth resins and tars. It depends on the type of tree, how it's extracted an processed. Tar f.e. can be liquid, gummy or hard and beittle. The variation in properties is as great as f.e. metal. So you need to be very specific when selecting a resin or tar, or you end up with the equivalent of quicksilver while you needed the equivalent of spring tempered steel:)

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I see, thank you for the information. Do you by any chance have any more guidance as to what sort of method should be used to make cutler's resin? Can tar be used for this application? Would tar extracted by heat from the red pine roots be a useful substance for this? Does anyone know of a tutorial on the matter? Thanks all.

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I found an excellent post on Cutlers resin on Leatherworker.net by someone named "Knife Knut". Here's a link to the post CUTLERS RESIN POST. I tried to contact the author to properly credit him, or her, but have not heard back yet. If I do, I'll add their name. (the author is John Robert Mott, email JohnMott.SC@gmail.com)

 

The author of the post did a lot of research on this. Here's a copy of the posting (some of the links are broken, but the references may still be valid):

 

"The Old Recipies:

I have found There is much conjecture and error in current sources compared with old sources, which is one of the reasons for my search for multiple older sources. At this time, all of my older sources come from Google Books. Apparently reciepts has been replaced by the word recipie in modern word usage. Redundant recipies will not be posted from multiple older sources ( they are often repeated from source to source), as I will link to the sources, and so the sources listed are by no means exaustive. Text will copied and pasted as these references have passed into public domain.

 

Wrinkles and recipes: compiled from the Scientific American. A collection of ... edited by Park Benjamin

http://books.google....as_maxy_is=1860

Cutlers': (1) Pitch 4 parts, resin 4, tallow2, and brick-dust 2. (2) Resin 4, beeswax 1, brickdust 1. (3) Resin 16, hot whiting 1, wax 1. This is used for fastening blades in handles

 

 

Chambers' encyclopædia: A dictionary of universal knowledge, Volume 3 By William Chambers, Robert Chambers

http://books.google....20resin&f=false

Cutlers' Cement, used for fixing knives and forks

in handles, is made of equal weights of resin and brick-dust melted together; or, for a superior quality, 4 parts of resin, 1 of beeswax, and 1 of brick-dust.

 

 

 

The Working man's friend, and family instructor, Volumes 1-2

http://books.google....20resin&f=false

Cutlers' Cement, to fix knives and forks In tlieir handles. Black rosin, four ounces; beeswax, one ounce ; well-dried and finely-powdered brick dust, one ounce. Melt, and blend the ingredients intimately, and use in a liquid state. Thia will be found useful in families, as many, even of the best knives and forks aie not rivited into the handles. At. the same time, persons ihould avoid plunging- the handles into hot water, or exposing them to heat.

 

 

 

Workshop Receipts: for manufacturers and scientific amateurs, Volume 1

http://books.google....AAJ&output=text

Cutlers'.—This is the name given to various kinds of cement used for fastening knives, etc., in their handles.

 

(1) A very firm cement is made of 4 parts resin, 1 of beeswax, into which, when melted, 1 part of fine brickdust is stirred. It adheres with great firmness.

 

(2) Take powdered resin, and mix with it a small quantity of powdered chalk, whiting, or slaked lime, Fill the hole in the handle with the mixture, heat the tang of the knife or fork, and thrust in. When cold, it will be securely fastened.

 

(3) Take 1 lb. resin and 8 oz. sulphur, melt together, form into bars, or when cold reduce to powder ; 1 part of the powder is to be mixed with 1/2 part of iron filings, brickdust or fine sand ; fill the cavity of the handle with the mixture, and insert the tang, previously heated.

 

(4) Pitch, 4 parts ; resin, 4 ; tallow, 2 ; brickdust, 2. Melt the first three ingredients, and add the brickdust hot and finely powdered.

 

(5) Chopped hair, flax, hemp or tow. mixed with powdered resin and applied as above.

 

(6) 16 oz. rosin, 16 oz. hot whiting, 1 oz. wax. (7) 5 parts pitch, 1 wood-ashes, 1 hard tallow, melted together.

 

(8) 4 lb. black rosin melted with 1 lb. beeswax, and 1 lb. red hot whiting added.

 

(9) 16 oz. rosin, 8 oz. sulphur ; melt, and when cool reduce to powder. Mix with this some fine sand or brickdust, and use as stated.

 

(10) Take a portion of a quill, put it into the handle, warm the tang, and insert it into the quill in the handle and press it firmly. This is a simple method, and answers the purpose required very well.

 

 

 

New Recipies

Here are contemporary recipies that are not from primary sources.

 

Cutler's resin- any recipes?

http://forums.dfoggk...?showtopic=1403

5 parts pitch

1 part beeswax (tallow can replace this-available from your butcher)

1 part filler (wood dust, ash, metal dust, etc)

 

http://www.marquis-k...u/mt/000646.htm

8 oz pine pitch, 1/4 cup carnauba wax and 4 oz of beeswax,

 

 

Making Pitch Pine glue or cutlers resin...

5 oz Pitch pine resin

1 oz beeswax

1/4 oz carnuba

1 oz powdered charcoal

poured it onto a sheet of baking paper and let it just spread out under gravity. I kept an eye on it, and as it started to cool to the texture of putty, I rolled it up into cigars

 

Pine pitch is the key

http://www.bladeforu...046&postcount=5

1/2 lb of pine pitch

1/4 lb of beeswax

1/4 cup of flaked carnauba wax

 

 

Glue Recipies

http://www.knives.co...pies_glues.html

Cutlers Cement

 

Pine Resin, 8 parts

Sulphur, 2 parts

Iron filings, 3 parts

 

Cutlers Cement

 

Tar, 10 parts

Wood Ash, 2 part

Tallow, 1 part

 

Cutlers Cement

 

Pine Resin, 4 parts

Bees Wax, 1 part

 

 

http://www.janellest...l/adhesives.txt

8 oz pine pitch,

1/4 cup Carnauba wax

4 oz beeswax

I just ran up to the shop and tested - with my marking knife attached to

a ceiling clamp by the blade, I was able to hang from the handle with no

ill effects to the joint.

 

 

Pine Resin and Charcoal Glue Recipe

i use an empty minwax 1\2 pint can.

i fill the can about half way with pine resin

roughly 1- 1.5 tablespoons of wood ashes

roughly 1- 1.5 tablespoons of bear grease that has been thickened with wax (my bear grease is thickened to consistency of crisco vegtable shortening or a creamy peanut butter)

 

What I use is about equal parts pitch, bees wax and charcoal powder or fine saw dust.

 

Cutler's resin by Chuck Burrows, a knifemaker of stout repute:

5 parts pitch

1 part beeswax (tallow can replace this-available from your butcher)

1 part filler (wood dust, ash, metal dust, etc)"

 

J

 

JDWARE KNIVES

Edited by JDWare

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Thanks, JD! That about covers it. B) I know one restorer of old Bowies who uses the 4:1:1 recipe with brick dust, because he found that in a source about the Sheffield knife industry.

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Cutler's resin by Chuck Burrows, a knifemaker of stout repute:

5 parts pitch

1 part beeswax (tallow can replace this-available from your butcher)

1 part filler (wood dust, ash, metal dust, etc)"

 

all right now - I've lost 55 pounds and 6" around the waist so that stout comment is not appropriate or politically correct ya know .... heck I might even have to sue some one LOL ;):D;)

 

and this mix is for me the one I found most effective and yep for making exacting copies of 18-19th century Sheffield/English trade knives brick dust is the "proper" filler - wonder if the "chemical" makeup of the brick (clay, lime, etc) has something to do with the preference or maybe it was the red color since many such knives used "reddish" woods such as rose wood and others were painted red???? BTW - I've even used dried buffalo chips and moose poop for the filler - makes for an interesting topic of conversation - like "Mikey" I'll try just about anything!

 

Also with pitch/rosin/resin (not really the same things though from the same source and also exactly what it is may be dependent on the writer) will vary in consistency due to moisture content - less moisture the drier and more brittle the "pitch" will be...this can be as it comes from nature or it can be dried by heating to cook off the moisture.

 

 

and yes as Alan stated thanks for doing the research.....

Edited by Wild Rose

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Wow, so great to find so many specific recipes! i really enjoy working with these materials...the feel, scent, and the results are quite pleasing.

 

Similar recipes are used in the Japanese tradition for three main purposes...as an engraver's pitch to hold pieces being worked on with chisels (tagane/uchidashi), as a filler/glue for positioning and fixing metal fittings on the wood handle, and as a fix to keep the silk cord wrapping the handle from shifting...

 

the first two are heated to use/activate, the latter is blended to the right consistency for the current season and applied with friction (like bow rosin)

 

the main difference to European cutler's cement (likely because gap filling is not really required)is that no powdered brick dust is used, though engravers add plaster of paris or a similar fine filler...i would think another good reason to use filler/binder material would be to make the valuable resin go as far as possible...

 

this is pine sap boiled over a fire to reduce the turpenes until fairly hard and non-tacky on cooling, adding some lampblack or powdered charcoal for colour/binder, and then adding beeswax or vegetable oil until the brittleness subsides...i use it for fixing mountings and taking care of small gaps, makes a great waterproof seal too...

 

 

24-matsuyani-glue-tanto.jpg

 

as a side note, one reason the traditional "hot-fit" (eg, Japanese kitchen knife tangs) works so well is that in the process the heated wood forms its own natural pitch glue...

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Wow, I feel as if I just stumbled across a treasure trove of information!

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Thank you very much for the elaborate post of recipes as stated this is a true treasure and saved to my files as well .

 

Blessings and Best Regards

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I've spent the last 15 years surrouded by pine forrests and beehives... Now I know what to do with them!!! Thanks...

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I use cutlers resin a lot on seax and kitchen knives.

I make a standard mix of 4 1 1 with filler being crushed scale, brick etc.

I then mix up a pine resin and caranuba wax , bees wax, as n abrasive free sealer for finishing .

I also use it as a bedding mix for wire wraps .

tis good stuff.

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Here I am resurrecting this.

 

At what point did folks start using stuff like animal hooves to make glue?

 

I saw a reference recently regarding how amazingly good the Roman glues were that held the hair onto helmets.. lasting until modern times.

 

As you can see in my other thread I'm interested in the use of horse-hair for making sword components.. and that got me to thinking about using glues made from horse parts to act as the bonding agent. But. I only see historical recipes for pine resin derivatives. Not animal parts.

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Another "cutler's resin" I've run into is molten sulfur. The Kauhava Pukko video mentions and shows this, and I've taken apart old knives that were bound with something black and hard, but most definitely not pine- or birch-based.

 

I think the problem with most animal glues is that they will probably decompose faster than mineral or plant-based ones. I'm not a biologist, but I suspect it has something to do with the proteins not being stable over time like resins or minerals.

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Another "cutler's resin" I've run into is molten sulfur. The Kauhava Pukko video mentions and shows this, and I've taken apart old knives that were bound with something black and hard, but most definitely not pine- or birch-based.

 

I think the problem with most animal glues is that they will probably decompose faster than mineral or plant-based ones. I'm not a biologist, but I suspect it has something to do with the proteins not being stable over time like resins or minerals.

 

Molten sulfur eh? Hmm.

 

Yeah you are probably right on the animal glues Christopher. But I suppose if conditions are right for the preservation of stuff like wood or leather then maybe an animal glue has a chance as well?

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I'd doubt it. Animal glues are not waterproof. A dry environment like a desert cave might preserve it, but the wet anaerobic envirenment that preserves wood and leather would simply remove any hide/hoof/fish bladder kind of glue. Although as you might expect fish glue is the most water-resistant of the animal glues. ;)

 

Resins are the way to go for water resistance and archival stability, but for your horsehair project I'm at a loss to suggest anything historically correct. The Acryloid B72 is definitely the best choice, but not particularly historic. :P

 

Do we know what kind of glues the central Asians of the period used for making composite bows? I'd bet that would be close to your project requirements.

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I'd doubt it. Animal glues are not waterproof. A dry environment like a desert cave might preserve it, but the wet anaerobic envirenment that preserves wood and leather would simply remove any hide/hoof/fish bladder kind of glue. Although as you might expect fish glue is the most water-resistant of the animal glues. ;)

 

Resins are the way to go for water resistance and archival stability, but for your horsehair project I'm at a loss to suggest anything historically correct. The Acryloid B72 is definitely the best choice, but not particularly historic. :P

 

Do we know what kind of glues the central Asians of the period used for making composite bows? I'd bet that would be close to your project requirements.

 

Oh sure.. didn't even think of water solubility. I will probably stick with the acryloid. The main reason I was asking this is that somebody brought up to me the possibility of heating the horse-hair somehow and creating it's own glue in the process of molding it to make the guard. I know of animal HOOF based glues.. but I've never heard of them being made from hair. But I suppose they have similar make-up...??

 

edit: Asian bows were held together by animal glues. They were sometimes wrapped in water proofed birch bark from what I read.. but they were apparently easy to ruin in wet situations.

Edited by Scott A. Roush

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