We’ve had couple of comments lately about black epoxy, not just as an adhesive but as a design element. Have you ever used it and when would you consider using it?
Rob Johnstone: I have used black epoxy and highly reccomend it. This product has long been a trick card up the sleeve of Luthiers. (I was trained as a Luthier and worked at it for a while, but I think my membership card has been revoked. I’ve even forgotten the Luthier’s secret handshake!) When inlaying lighter colored woods or material such as mother of pearl into ebony or very dark wood, it really does cover a multitude of sins. Our Contributing Editor, Mike McGlynn, in our 25th Anniversary issue (available for sale on our home page) used black adhesive as a design enhancement. He glued white Avonite feet onto the legs of a Ruhlman inspired cabinet creating a black with black cyanocrylate glue from Stewart – MacDonalds’s Guitar Shop (800.848.2273). My guess would be that they would sell the black epoxy as well.
Ellis Walentine: I don’t know the term ‘black epoxy,’ although I’ve used West System epoxy with ebony dust or lampblack on countless occasions, usually to fill open or cracked knots and other defects in black walnut and other dark woods.
I came up with a simple method to make the dust I needed for mixing with the epoxy. If you have an oscillating spindle sander, chuck your largest drum on and then take a large piece of kraft paper, fold it in quarters and cut out a hole for the drum. Place the paper over the drum on the sander table, and hand-hold a scrap of ebony against the sander. You can also use charcoal for this. It makes a fine dust that looks good as filler.
To use the epoxy mix, just spoon it into the crack or defect and leave it slightly proud of the surface so you can grind it flush after it cures. To squeeze the air bubbles out of the epoxy, you can place a small square of waxed paper on top of the patch and clamp it down lightly with a scrap of MDF or other flat material until the epoxy cures.
Ian Kirby: Colored epoxy laid in router cuts or saw kerfs has been used as a design element about as long as we have had epoxy. It works just fine. Since there is no solvent loss as it cures, there is no shrinkage. It can be flattened and polished with abrasives. I wish more people would use it.