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MMD > Archives > February 2006 > 2006.02.13 > 05Prev  Next

Advantages of Phenoseal
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  At the risk of offending all those who swear by shellac as
"the best sealer" just because it has been around for a long, long time
and certain companies only use shellac as a sealer, allow me to present
a few of my findings and opinions.

Recently, I poured 1/8-inch of Phenoseal into the lid of a plastic
container and let it dry overnight.  The next day I carefully removed
the 'film' and tortured it for a couple of days.  I started by placing
it under a 140 degree heat lamp for three hours.  Then I put it in the
deep freeze at zero degrees for 24 hours.  Then I put it in a 750 watt
microwave set to 'High' for one minute.

Guess how it looked and felt when I was done.  Other than a very slight
discoloration, which was caused by the microwave, it looked and felt
exactly like it did after it dried.  It was still as flexible as before
testing was started, it had no cracks, it wasn't 'sticky', it didn't
melt, and it was still 100% air-tight.  Try that with shellac...

I started using Phenoseal just over ten years ago when I was desperate
to fix internal leakage in Simplex block valve/pneumatic units.  After
trying shellac, which seemed to take forever to dry, I called Durrell
Armstrong and he suggested that I try Phenoseal.  After seeing how it
soaked into the wood and dried in less than an hour, I put the shellac
away.  From that point forward, I tested it on various devices and
materials to find out the limits of this great product.  I've even used
Phenoseal to seal the windows in my home instead of spending hours
scraping off the aging caulk and then re-caulking.

Unlike shellac, which cracks as it ages and therefore leaks over time,
wood sealed with Phenoseal will _never_ leak unless the wood cracks
badly* (see note below).  Phenoseal also works as an excellent sealer
around the edges of bellows, where air can seep through the cloth.
Phenoseal is so thin that it actually seeks out and fills tiny cracks
in wood that are invisible to the naked eye.  When used to fill larger
cracks, it creates a 'flexible' repair that will compress and stretch
without breaking.

This is especially useful when repairing cracks in the windchest of
a 100+ year-old reed organ, or other piece of wood that isn't under
constant stress.  (In other words, it isn't necessarily a strong glue,
although it does have some of the properties of glue.)  Applied
multiple times to aging bellows cloth that is still relatively supple
but beginning to leak at the stress points, Phenoseal will add years
of service for less than a dollars worth of product.  This is very much
appreciated by customers who really can't afford to have bellows
rebuilt.  (Naturally, the preferred and professionally recommended
procedure is to replace the cloth.)

* Note: Wood sealed with multiple applications of Phenoseal will not
leak even if the wood develops small cracks.  This is because Phenoseal
stretches.  Try it yourself.  Coat a piece of veneer with three coats
of Phenoseal and (after it's dry) crack the piece of veneer in half.
It won't come apart on its own.  You have to physically pull it apart.
That's because the Phenoseal is holding it together.  Try that with

Phenoseal also works as a great leak detector.  Painted on the surface
of aging bellows cloth while vacuum is being applied, it gets sucked in
through the microscopic holes in the rubber layer.  And, since
Phenoseal is translucent white in color when wet, the area where the
air-tight layer has good integrity stays milky-colored while the
damaged area quickly returns to its original color, showing you exactly
where it's leaking.  You can also apply positive air pressure to the
bellow and the Phenoseal will bubble where the air is leaking out.
This can also be done with wood.  In fact, that's how I discovered that
it was air leaking through the wood in the Simplex valve blocks.

In closing, Phenoseal is also easy to use and clean-up is a snap because
it's water soluble.  So, all you need is hot water to clean the brushes
or containers you've used to apply the product.  All-in-all, Phenoseal
is so much better in so many instances, and it can do so much more than
shellac ever dreamed of doing, that I'm surprised that anyone has
anything negative to say about the product.  For more information, go
to  hTTP://

John A Tuttle -
Brick, New Jersey, USA
(Diggin' out from our first real snow storm this season.)

(Message sent Tue 14 Feb 2006, 02:01:38 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Advantages, Phenoseal

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