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SMALL BRASS HINGES WITH ANTIQUE STEEL SCREWS

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johnwc812

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Hi all,
As a hobby I restore Victorian Tunbridge ware boxes.
The problem is refixing the small brass hinges.
The original steel screws will not bite in the old holes.
I have tried paring slithers of wood (matchsticks)
and gluing them in the holes, but the screws or fine drill holes
wander off centre. This ,of course, throws the lid off square.
It really needs a minute Rawlplug with a centre hole! If there ever was such a thing.
Any suggestions gratefully received.
Cheers John
 

foxhunter

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Have you tried enlarging the hole and inserting and gluing a dowel. A 4mm dowel likely to be covered by the hinge and therefore not visible with the lid open.

Brian
 

johnwc812

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Thanks Brian
The sides of the boxes are 9mm thick, and the hinge holes are off centre
so the screws are pretty near the edge.
If I split some wood to keep the grain straight and push it thru a dowel plate
and take it down to 3mm, "it might just work" as a Rawlplug.
Cheers John
 

Phil Pascoe

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Brian - the downside of that is that you'd be using old steel screws that don't have much grip in end grain wood. Could you try longer screws of the same guage? Or maybe get a woodfiller that's drillable, fill the holes and re-drill them?
 

Harbo

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With a precision pillar drill you should be able to micro drill a small hole in a tiny plug?

Rod
 

johnwc812

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Phil.p
You've hit the nail on the head! The screw threads are halfway between modern wood screws and machine screws ie no tapered points, and a bit of rust to boot.
Some sort of filler, that is not two brittle and stays a little plasticy might work. Any suggestions?
I wondered about a short piece of plastic cable insulation from bell wire, glued in, Any thoughts?
John
 

AndyT

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I've been using Titebond liquid hide glue a lot recently and have been experimenting with the 'traditional' method of using glue and sawdust to fill holes. I find that this glue (which also sands very nicely) has the right strength and give to it, and ends up being as workable as the surrounding wood. So it takes a screw thread without spoiling the alignment by being harder of softer. Worth a try with your tiny holes and screws, I think.

And btw, some pictures of these boxes would be interesting too!
 

johnwc812

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Hi
Photos of restored Tunbridge ware box. (as requested)
The top floral panel is made up of tiny wood tesserae.
600 per square inch.
The green timber is from rotting oak attacked by the green elf cup fungus TRUE!
John
 

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Teckel

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In the length of time I've restored antique furniture I have never used anything other than wood to fill screw holes. Matchsticks are no good for this because you basically putting a square peg in a round hole. Drill the the excisting holes with a bit of the same size and go a little deeper. Then cut a piece of wood a fraction bigger...pare it down to a dowel shape with a slight taper. Apply glue in the hole and tap the dowel in and leave to set. Then cut flush and take a pointed awl and centre this over the dowel and give it a tap with mallet. Then bore your hole for the screw.
Always works for me.
 

Matt@

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what length screws are you using? I would always tend to go for longer screws that bypass the messy hole and bite into the sound timber below. 9mm sides mean accurate drilling is imperative and maybe even angle the screws back slightly into the main body of the side thickness. Re. long screws - you can still buy brass in 1 x 3/4. 2 x 5/8 and 3 x 1. If doing it this way, use two pack filler to fill the hole and enable accurate marking out and drilling
 

mrpercysnodgrass

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John, after you have plugged your holes, one trick you can use to stop the hinges going off centre is to put a little epoxy on the underside of the hinge, line up the lid making sure the lock is properly engaged and apply a light clamp until the glue is set. this should be just enough to hold the lid in place while you gently lift it and mark your holes, or if you have enough space you can drill straight through the hinges. This should keep the hinges lined up and stop the lid from wandering.
Regards,
mrpercysnodgrass.
 

johnwc812

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Hi all
Thank you all for your helpful suggestions.
Appreciate that new, longer brass screws is the obvious answer but I try to use the originals if possible.
I like the idea of a spot of epoxy to hold the hinge in place (it would also hold any thin packing pieces that are often required).
Cheers John
 

AES

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@johnwc812:

I've never done any restoration of the sort you are showing (lovely box BTW) but have had a fair bit of experience at drilling/tapping/screwing tiny holes & screws into all sorts of materials, many not exactly ideal for screwing into (e.g. lite ply, ply, softwood, hardwood, even expanded foam plastics - and often oil-soaked)!

I've found Devcon 5 minute epoxy absolutely the best for such purposes, and it sets (after an hour is better than 5 mins) hard enough that you can sand the upper surface flush and it stays hard enough but "rubbery" enough that it will happily take a screw thread while the "rubbery" part means it doesn't split the surrounding wood.

I'm not sure if you'll find this particular brand in your normal woodworkers outlet but you will find it fairly commonly in aeromodelling and other specialist model shops. It's not cheap but you don't need much and it IS the best I've ever tried (and I've tried many).

Usual disclaimers
AES
 

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