Tuesday 1 September 2020

Toilet Mirror Repair

I bought a rather fine Victorian toilet mirror from a friend of Balintore who was clearing out a house. One of the finials had been snapped off in this past, but this is surely not a obstacle for a castle restorer! :-)

Gregor stuck the finial back on with what I call "foamy wood glue" but which is properly called "D4 wood adhesive". This is enormously strong and even stronger than the original wood. If you get this on your fingers, it stays for days! :-)  In fact the finial did not connect directly with supporting column, clearly there was missing wood between the two components, but by dint of the glue expanding and a metal peg we got the two pieces re-connected in a good approximation to the original configuration.

Gregor said I should continue the repair with a two part mahogany wood filler. I got carried away with other things for quite some time, but eventually ordered the wood filler by post.

I had no confidence in my ability to effect the repair, but today was the day. I mixed the resin and the hardener and tried to shove it into the places where the wood was missing. There was no way I could fill and mould it at the same time. The spatula was the right tool for applying, but not the right tool for moulding, so in I went with my hands. The filler started sticking to my hands. I poured some of my cup of coffee into the lid of the filler tin, and used this to lubricate my fingers so the filler did not stick - bingo!

toilet mirror with broken finial on right

broken but glued finial

repaired finial

toilet mirror with repaired finial on right

My repair is not perfect, but a favourite new phrase of mine is "perfection is the enemy of good". After a certain amount of moulding, it felt that the law of diminishing returns was cutting in, and that I should stop. I still have to stain or paint the repair a darker brown. Anyhow, this is only my first repair of an antique wooden item, so it can only get better.  I love the way that owning a castle, makes one do things that one would never have imagined doing.

To donate to the Balintore restoration project click here.


  1. Someone with a lathe could easily recreate the damaged section.

    This could then be doweled into the original sections.

    1. Yes, this would indeed be the ideal solution. :-)

  2. I love seeing these pictures. We met you David a number of years ago when you had just bought Balintore Castle. We had a tour around it and arranged a fundraising with a bonfire on the grounds. Amazing memories and i check in often for updates.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Lorraine. That bonfire was a long time ago! ;-) I was hoping to do an open day this summer, but covid thwarted that. Keep an eye out on the blog, I will announce the next social event there.

  3. I have been following your blog for a long time and truly appreciate all your hard work and effort. Balintore is coming along nicely. I am very much looking forward to the day when one of the ground floor formal rooms is restored and decorated. Also, somewhere in your blog you commented on Chateau de Lalande, etc. I too follow Lalande but discovered another vlog which may help you: Chateau La Croix Honnet. https://www.youtube.com/c/ChateauLaCroixHonnet/videos
    They are excellent carpenters and have a wonderful eye for style and beauty. Wishing you the best! Walter

    1. Thanks for your kind comments. I am looking forward to a restored big formal room myself! Thanks for the Chateau La Croix Honnet link, I have enjoyed dipping in! :-)