Tip of the Month: Repairing cracks, flaws and broken gourds
It is frustrating to pick up a beautiful gourd only to discover that it has an insect hole, stress crack or other flaw. It's even more frustrating to drop a half finished gourd and discover that it is broken! If the damage is severe, you may not be able to complete the project exactly as intended; but almost any break can be repaired or at least disguised so you can salvage the gourd.
Small insect holes can be easily filled with wood putty, but cracks will require a bit
more work to fix. Drill a small hole at the far ends of the crack before repairing.
This hole will prevent the crack from spreading further. Next, add some glue to the
crack. You can use wood glue, Weldbond or a gap filling super glue, but you'll
want to force the glue thoroughly into all areas of the crack. Once the crack is full,
force some gourd dust into the glue mixture. This will make the crack less noticeable
after it is sanded. You may have clamp the repair with some masking tape or duct
tape while the glue dries. The closer together you can bring the edges of the crack,
the better the repair will look.
Another option for broken gourds is to turn the crack into part of the design. I've
seen some really beautiful gourds where a crack was decoratively laced. Sometimes
you can cut an unusual shaped opening in the gourd to remove a cracked area. You
can disguise some soft pitted areas by carving and adding stone or resin inlays.
When a fragile gourd piece near the top edge or at a cutout area is broken, it can be repaired it so it is even stronger than the original gourd. Use a couple of small dowels pins made from toothpicks, paper clips pieces, bamboo skewers, or whatever seems the right size and strength for the job. Use at least two dowels to hold the repair. Drill small holes into the edge of the broken piece, and insert the dowels. Snip them off so they protrude about 1/4", and then glue them into place. Carefully line the pieces up as closely as possible and make small pencil marks where the protruding dowels touch the connecting gourd section. Drill holes to match, then test fit to see how the pieces line up. Once you are satisfied with the fit, you can glue the whole thing together and use some tape to clamp the repair in place while the glue cures. This will make a very strong joint which can be sanded and smoothed after it is completely dry.