Plastic Wood

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Plastic Wood

Postby Nick Jackson » 13 Jun 2009, 13:07

I've often heard and read about people using plastic wood to create heads. Is this the stuff you buy in little tubes from B&Q but in larger quantities or do you wonderful craftspeople use something else with the same generic name?

I sometimes create a compound of my own from the fine sawdust I get when boring a fingerhole (against the grain) using a spade bit. I scoop it up and keep it in a large jar then mix in varying amounts with wood glue.

If I'm sticking in a Punch nose, for example, I use the mixture rather than just wood glue – the bits that squeeze out are easily wiped and then sanded when dry. I have occasionally mixed to a thicker consistency and added details by working the putty around a small tack.

But I'm wittering now: It's the first question I was looking for an answer to.
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Postby Chris » 13 Jun 2009, 17:48

The only really successful type of plastic wood - the original - was made by Rawlplug as Rawlplug Plastic Wood. It was basically a mixture of wood flour together with Durofix cement and Durofix thinners. Unfortunately this is no longer manufactured.

Most modern wood fillers have a water soluble base and are to my mind unsuitable. They certainly are not suitable for the techniques used with a solvent based product - and it is these which are now largely unobtainable.

If you trawl back through the entries on this site, and on the message board on the the Puppet Guild Message Board, on one of them, you will find a discussion on this topic. Some people have tried different kinds of modern wood fillers and reported their experiences.

80% of the puppets I have made employed plastic wood, a few I carved, and then the rest would be papier mache. This latter is perhaps the most satisfying, although time consuming, but plastic wood is hard to beat for speed and ease of use, and durability. My Punch set, now over thirty years old, has had very little maintenance and neither Punch nor Judy have ever lost nose or chin. Certainly many wooden sets will have fared worse.
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Postby Nick Jackson » 13 Jun 2009, 21:21

Thanks for that, Chris.

And can I presume your Punch set is made from the older type of plastic wood you mention?
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Postby Chris » 13 Jun 2009, 22:09

Well yes - as I say they are over 30 years old. It's only over the last 10 years or so that there has been this concern with the environment and concern over solvent based products.
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Postby Nick Jackson » 13 Jun 2009, 22:10

Shame! I've had many a happy afternoon in my shed with a bottle of Nitromors.
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Postby Chris » 13 Jun 2009, 22:21

I've found the thread I referred to - it is in the Technical Workshop, 29th July posting, on the Puppet Guild Message Board. There is a long discussion on plastic wood. Apparently Rustin's still do a solvent based version which seems to be the best substitute. The address for source is given.
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Postby Nick Jackson » 13 Jun 2009, 22:27

Thanks very much for all the info.
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