Last winter I helped my buddy, Connecticut remodeler and Fine Homebuilding author Chris Green, build and install a kitchen. We used biscuits to align the face frames on the cabinet boxes. Late one afternoon, I made a lazy move. Instead of repositioning a tall cabinet to cut a biscuit slot near the top of the box, I reached overhead with the joiner. The tool slipped and mangled the inside edge of the plywood. I was embarrassed, but Chris didn’t flinch. He walked to the other side of the room and came back with his West System epoxy kit.
“For repairs that are more structural in nature,” Green said he prefers West System epoxy over other wood fillers. “It’s a super adhesive and gap filler all in one. The ability to adapt the viscosity from a maple-syrup consistency to mashed potatoes and everything in between is a huge advantage.” The one downside, he told me, is that it is slow drying.
The thing is, you don’t have to make a mistake like I did, to find a use good use for an epoxy repair kit. Where these products really shine is on exterior repairs, often the result of poor flashing and water management details, the kind of thing green builders are often called in to fix. I’ve seen large sections of porch columns successfully rebuilt with epoxy. Yet I’ve been warned to proceed with caution.
South Dakota woodworker and remodeler Ben Brunick has done extensive repair to damaged window sash and other exterior trim with epoxy. He is quick to remind me that unless you first fix the problem that is causing the rot, you are wasting your time. The wood around the repair will just continue to degrade and the repair will fail.