Glue for a wooden spoon
May 31, 2015 8:06 AM   Subscribe

My favorite wooden spoon is starting to crack down the middle -- right down the middle of the bowl of the spoon. Is there a food-safe glue I can use to hold it together? Any other ideas?
posted by mudpuppie to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A little searching around tells me that Titebond III is what you want. Approved for indirect food contact. Since you'd only (ideally) have a thin glue line, perhaps ok...
posted by Namlit at 8:45 AM on May 31, 2015

Do you use this spoon to, for example, stir boiling liquids? That seems as though it would introduce extra complexity to the problem that wouldn't be present in fixing something like a wooden cutting board.
posted by XMLicious at 8:55 AM on May 31, 2015

Response by poster: Do you use this spoon to, for example, stir boiling liquids?

Yep, that's my concern. I know it can be decommissioned to non-soupy or -stewy things, but if I can find a way to repair it I'd like to keep it in action.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:01 AM on May 31, 2015

I don't believe any of the Titebond variations or similar yellow or white wood glues will hold up to heat and moisture. Neither, of course, will old-fashioned hide glue. Besides, yellow glues shrink a lot as they dry so they're bad at filling gaps.

That leaves urethane (Gorilla Glue) and Epoxy. I don't know about the food safety or temperature tolerance of either of those, but it should be easy enough to look up.

If research suggests that neither epoxy nor Gorilla Glue is a good match, I'd say you're chasing a unicorn and it's time to retire the spoon to lighter duty.
posted by jon1270 at 9:15 AM on May 31, 2015

I would worry about the food safety of any glue in a direct food contact use like this unless it's specifically made for food-direct applications.

Since you're asking this question, I'm going to assume that this is a much loved spoon that you'd be willing to go to extreme lengths to keep using, including maybe dropping a couple hours of labor on it.

If that's the case, then what I would do is let the spoon fully split itself and give it a few dowel joins along its length. If you have a dremel with a really small bore drill bit, use that to run a few holes into each half. Use bits of a very small dowel rod or maybe some toothpicks to make the join. You could even use a dab of glue/epoxy on both ends of the toothpick to secure the join. I'd worry less about that since the glue would be contained in the wood and wouldn't be making direct contact with the food.
posted by phunniemee at 9:26 AM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

The dowels would be subject to the same expansion and contraction issues as the rest of the spoon, plus I doubt you'd ever get a flush seam without considerable sanding. I'd go to etsy and contract a wood carver to make a set of copies based off the original. Wood utensils are not meant to last forever.
posted by Think_Long at 10:08 AM on May 31, 2015 [7 favorites]

Right, if you're using it in hot food, I'd say that none of the non-hide-glue modern variants are actually safe (and as jon1270 pointed out, hide glue is out of the question by nature). Even if a glue isn't toxic in itself, you don't want bits of it in your stew, and how would you know this didn't happen...

Now, the usual thing [musical] museum curators do [when an instrument is too fragile to be played any longer] is to make a replica, and put the original on display. If the spoon is copyable, have someone copy it! Aha! On preview....etc.
posted by Namlit at 10:09 AM on May 31, 2015

Cyanoacrylate is perfect for cracks. And, heck, it's used in surgery for gluing wounds back together.

There are assorted food-safe epoxies (although a bit of poking around mostly convinced me that for occasional contact the difference between food safe epoxy and most epoxies is how much liability insurance the vendor is carrying).

And as Namlit suggests, Titebond 3 is the most waterproof of the Titebonds, and plenty of people use that for cutting boards.
posted by straw at 10:16 AM on May 31, 2015

HOW MUCH do you love this spoon? Because the thing I keep thinking of is to take it to an independent jewelrymaker/silversmith, and have them fill the crack (here's my mind's eye, kinda like that last image) and then bind the bowl with food grade surgical steel wire. Or a far better idea that they might offer.

Also I was thinking that for filler there's stuff like consumer level food grade silicone putty that *may* work (something like this, maybe, if you could get it poked down into the crack), but even if it did, wouldn't keep the cracking from continuing apace.

Good luck! I love a hopeless quest of the heart.
posted by taz at 10:31 AM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Masterbond makes a high-temperature ( up to 450F) food-safe epoxy which would be perfect for this application, I would think. The epoxy seam would be stronger than the original wood, I would expect.

I can't find a retailer, but you might give the company a call (see the webpage above) and check. They appear to sell it in small volumes too.
posted by bonehead at 9:07 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

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