Make Your Own Putty
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 1:19 pm    Post subject: Make Your Own Putty Reply with quote

This just in from Erica and Buzzy Dodge in Portsmouth, New Hampshire:


we suggest you make your own according to the following recipe: one pound finely ground calcium carbonate (limestone or marble) mixed with 2 fluid ounces of raw linseed oil. Measure out the material, mix by kneading as you would normally prepare a fistful of putty. Mix it up as you need it. The ingredients have an indefinite shelf life stored separately.


Best regards,

Buzz and Erica

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jade



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Location: Hawley MA

PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey john....
any way we can communicate with buzz and erica to get additional info on their experience with the putty?
thanks....
.......jade
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They are old house restorers who seem to operate in alternate time dimension. I got their message above in in response to an email I sent them three years ago. I'm going to try slip into their dimension and meet up with them this fall, or would that be last fall? (If you get there before me you put a mark on the wall, and if I get there before you I'll erase it.)

Buzz was the one who first told me about using live steam to remove paint from the side of a house back in the 1970s, ("Live steam" is much more dangerous that the atmospheric pressure steam we use.) and he cautioned against it's use, based on his experience.

In any case, I'll report my putty findings right here.

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cabinfeverarts



Joined: 05 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This recipe is essentially the Allback glazing recipe. So if you like or dislike the Allback glazing, then the same would apply to making it yourself. I do stained glass work and the traditional stained glass putty for the lead came is raw linseed oil, boiled linseed oil, and whiting. I wondered how the addition of boiled linseed oil affects the putty, so recently I went ahead and used the Allback glazing on the stained glass windows in my house. Now I will know in the future how it compares and holds up. I have heard that the boiled linseed oil dries faster than raw. In stained glass work, you don't want the putty to ever completely dry out. Well, that's my 2 cents.
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 11:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, this is the time-honored recipe. (well, some old recipes also included stuff like lead-oxide paste, lime, powdered marble or limestone, tadpole tales, newts eyes, etc.) Hans Allback said he went to the 19th century German trades manuals to get his start in making linseed paints and putties. Hans said his putty has 2 or 3 different types of whiting, to get the subtleties of consistency for application and long-term performance that he likes.

The old trades manuals i have read talk about letting the mixed putty age, so the oil migrates in between all the particles of whiting, which does not happen from simple mechanical mixing.

Until about the 1870s almost all putty was mixed in small shops in small batches as needed. ("...lay your two gallon batch of putty on the floor in front of the bench, hooch the back of your butt up against the edge of the bench and kneed the putty with your bare feet adding a little more whiting at a time until the putty stands up in little columns between your toes...") Then they used roller mills and mechanical kneeders.

To get the oil mixed in well and quickly modern putty mixing in the factory uses an initial vacuum chamber process to mix the oil and dry ingredients, then mechanical mixing to get the air out and extruders for packaging. One of the neatest packaging systems I've seen used sausage stuffing equipment from the meat packing trade and the final packages looks just like 3" diameter sausages stacked up on the shelf.

Small shops that still make their own putty use the Hobart mixing machines common in the baking and food trades. Window putty is a lot stiffer than bread dough so the Hobarts burn out and break down frequently, but don't worry, the Hobart repair guy will be right over to fix it up like new.

I think every window worker needs to mix up a least one small batch of putty and used it on windows, just to learn more about their work and materials. I'm starting in include that in my extended training sessions and internships that include window work.

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jade



Joined: 11 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i'm familar with the traditional putty ingredients and its simplicity...

today's linseed oil is different than what was available one hundred years ago so i was curious about the 'knife-ability' and drying times...sarco uses a naptha product to increase the skin over time...

as much as i would like to avoid additional chemicals, waiting 3-4 weeks to apply a primer coat is not feasible for the vast majority of projects i work on....

indeed, boiled 'dries' faster than raw linseed oil...the term 'boiled' is a misnomer as drying chemicals, rather than a heating or boiling process, is employed in the manufacturing of boiled linseed oil....

john...remember the putty--was it perma glaze?--where they indeed mixed the putty in hobart mixers but the workers neglected to sufficiently clean the bowls after mixing silicone products and before mixing the putty? the result was bits of a rubbery substance in the putty that confounded the hell out of folks in the trade...

i just thought of a quote i would like to use on my website--'Preservation, onward and backward'!

...the leaves are turning bright orange, red and yellow here in western massachusetts--GORGEOUS!

...jade
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catfeesh



Joined: 07 Feb 2013
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Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 4:48 pm    Post subject: linseed oil putty drying time Reply with quote

It's an old post, but this is perhaps the only linseed oil putty recipe I found. Info is scarce, so I'd like to add my experience on using a home made linseed oil putty.

I used raw linseed oil (circa 1850 brand) from the hardware store in my putty. After glazing, I let my windows sit around in a dimly lit, cold room for a couple of months. Now that I want to install the windows, I've found that the putty has skinned over slightly, but that's it. As a test I applied the same putty to the same wood and had it sitting in a bright warm space, it has cured quite hard in about a month.

Although the raw linseed oil I purchased was cleansed of mucilage (mildew food) that process also destroyed it's ability to dry quickly, which I found was 3 days for cold pressed, unrefined raw organic flax oil.

If you want to go raw you'll have to know something about how the oil was processed, otherwise it may not polymerize in your lifetime.
Chemical processing = bad.
Sun, heat, salt, water & time processing = good.
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The slower linseed oil dries the more durable it is. It's interesting you let your sash sit around in a cool dark room for months, because that is exactly the method I was taught in art school for drying linseed oil painting on canvas. This has been the practice for fine art oil painting for centuries, at least since the 1300s, and is the main reason we still have so many of the masters paintings from centuries ago is that they all followed this practice.

For the best durability of linseed oil paint and putty on windows, let it dry slowly. The longer the drying time, the longer it will last.

Of course, high speed work and immediate gratification is all the rage these days. I do this work to earn a living. Here's my motto: "Speed up to earn a living. Slow down to do good work. Where's the balance." Sometimes I even let my customer make the decision. Are they willing to wait for longer lasting work?

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catfeesh



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Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 9:36 am    Post subject: glazing putty failure Reply with quote

John, thanks for your comments and pointing me back to this thread. (Original thread here: http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1256)

The details:
--I made glazing putty using RAW linseed oil (Circa 1850 brand) and limestone powder (agricultural grade)
--The putty was allowed to cure on my sash indoors for several months prior to window installation. The raw oil took a long time to skin over.
--After ~3 years, the putty most exposed to the sun has begun to flake and curl.
--My windows were finished, but not painted, and are behind aluminum storm windows
--The newly exposed putty under the dry flaking material is rubbery, and uncured!

John has recommended the following:
-- the putty glazing system needs paint on it to protect it from the sun and moisture, even when there is a storm window
-- you have to drive the moisture out of the limestone powder before making the putty, this is usually done by "baking" it at a high temperature
-- to shorten the skinning over time you could use boiled linseed oil
-- the most successful putties use a powder that has a variety of specific sizes

I don't know how crazy to get with Linseed oil information here, but I do blame the oil for my putty failure. The industrial process used to produce such oil ruins it's drying ability. I have not tried Allbacks products, but I have tested unrefined edible flax seed oils. Unrefined flax seed oil polymerizes very quickly (in the sun). My putty test using edible flax oil has been sitting outside fully exposed to weather for ~3 years, and although weathered, is solid as a rock. Unrefined flax oil does unfortunately contain the goodies that mildew apparently likes to grow on?

There are ways to purify flax oil to a very (unnecessarily?) high degree yourself: http://www.tadspurgeon.com/justoil.php?page=justoil.

Big thanks to John for the tips and wisdom!



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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Data from a 1906 analysis of commercially produced glazing putty:

"Good glazing putty consisted of 84-88 percent chalk and 12-16 percent linseed oil. 0.1 percent phenol was additionally added to the putty to prevent mould formation. Small quantities of siccative (manganese borate, lead oxide, rede lead or zinc white) were added to the putty to produce rapidly drying grades of putty. To produce black putty some of the chalk was substituted for mangazese dioxide (brown-stone); and read lead was added to produce red putty."

"...it is the aim of all putty manufacturers to incorporate as much chalk as possible in the putty. However, if the putty contains too much chalk it will crumble and can no longer be used. If the putty does not contain enough chalk then the outside will harden very quickly, but the inside will remain soft for many months with the result that even the slightest pressure will deform its shape."

--source: Calcium Carbonate: From the Cretaceous Period into the 21st Century, edited by F. Wolfgang Tegethoff, 2001, page 147

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