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Epoxy and Ivory

Ed Twilbeck

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Hi Ed,

I work with bone and I think that ivory is more dense, what applys to bone must apply to ivory... I´ve never used epoxy but the glue that the woodworkers use (and a tight clamp) to glue bone to bone and bone to ebony and the result is ONE piece. The glue doesn´t leave space between the pieces glued, you can´t see even a line... ;)

I use a taz (the little plane jewelleres´ anvil) with different sandpapers to let the faces perfectly even then glue them and hold them 24 hours with a simple c-clamp to make sure that the glue will work (otherwise you can separate the two pieces with one hand) and after you can work with powertools and every other regular tool that you use.

I hope that this explanation works! ;)



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  • 11 months later...

I have a supply of antique piano keys that I've managed to remove the ivory from the wood. I like to scrimshaw on them and mount them to pieces of wood to create little sculptures, (of which I've posted pics on this site). Epoxy works great. I clean the excess off with laquer thinner, although David Broadwell recommended white vinegar, because of the toxicity of the thinner. I've also stacked the ivory keys together with epoxy and made a cool little insert for the inside top of a wooden sheath that I made. I filed out the slot for the knife blade to fit through and glued it in place. The choil then fit snugly into the slot. Nickel-silver went around as a collar on the outside. (I covered the basswood sheath in frogskin). It was neat and worked out well. I was intentionally looking for the sandwiching "lines" within the slot, so it all worked out. Sorry, no pics to show.

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I've bonded ivory to many different things with epoxy and it works well. The trick is to use a good epoxy. The stuff in the bubble packs at the grocery story is poor quality epoxy. Use a marine or aircraft grade. I use System 3 marine epoxy. There are other good brands as well, such as West System. Also, as a general rule, the quicker the setting time the poorer the quality.


As Mike mentioned, I use plain old white vinegar for clean up. It doesn't get in your liver and rot like lacquer thinner will! The techie at System 3 told me about the vinegar. Works well.


I'm not very wild about CA adhesives. I haven't found any that work well and will hold for a long time. I can't even get it to stick my fingers together for long!



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