Preserving dead woodHardening

Hi every one , I would like to know if anyone has had experience with Smith’s cpe and / or super glue. I am keen to know the effectiveness of cpe in particular especially on the dead wood of deciduous trees. Here in the UK , Harry Harrington uses industrial quality super glue on his wonderfully carved dead wood, he says he wishes he had done this many years ago because the wood becomes as hard as rock with the application of the glue, but I have applied super glue on a small area of one of my privets and have found that although the wood does indeed become extremely hard and stable, it also alters the colour and dries to an unnatural gloss which not easy to brush off because it is so hard. The method used to apply the glue is also an issue for me because it is dripped onto the wood directly from the bottle which is obviously not as accurate as a brush. Look forward to your comments. Kev.

Hi @Kevnolan82 I’ve used super glue, not extensively but enough to feel like I can offer some observations which may be useful:

  • It has to be the very thin liquid type of superglue. Sometimes manufactures mix in silicone or something to give it more body. You don’t want that. You need it thin to penetrate into the wood and not sit on the surface.

  • Pound (£) shop, cheapo superglue is more than okay. It might even be better as I suspect more pricey brands try to “improve” Cyanoacrylate to justify their prices by increasing the body as mentioned above.

  • It doesn’t really work well on newly carved wood and certainly not green wood. Best to leave it to season considerably first for the wood to become more porous, otherwise I’ve found it’ll behave more like you’re describing.

  • Make sure the wood is 100% dry. Too much moisture makes the superglue cure too quickly and becomes white and cloudy.

  • I don’t really have a need for a brush (it’ll ruin any brush anyway) and find the long-nose dropper bottles mine came in work pretty well in dispensing/applying in a controlled way. Plus if it’s soaking in you want to encourage that and keep it flowing before it seals up its own entryways to getting deeper into the wood. That’s why I prefer it over a brush. If the bottles yours came in aren’t good for fine application and detail work, you can decant into long-nose applicator bottles (or syringe). The nozzles do get blocked so not ideal for re-use but they’re quite cheap and work well.

  • You can wipe/dab off any excess which is sitting on the surface and not getting absorbed with a rag (best if lint-free) before it cures to avoid hard shiny “coating”.

  • You mentioned brushing off to mattify the unnatural gloss. But also fine to take this a step further and use sandpaper or brushing & sanding bits in your rotary tool.

  • Lastly, like other deadwood treatments, it’s not going to look its best day one, and will generally improve with age.


Hi Ralph , many thanks for your comments , they were very helpful and constructive. I used the thin liquid which soaked in very well. When I referred to using a brush and being more accurate, that was when using cpe maybe I should have been more specific there. I tried using a wire brush in my Dremmel and that gave mixed results in removing the gloss. As you correctly say , these things take time and exposure to weather, I have to practice patience !
Thanks again Ralph. Kev.