Many of the people I’m connected to on social media seemed to be frequently engaged in major home alteration projects like putting in floors, hanging doors, or installing windows… all of which I thought were already present features in houses and you could thus forget about them.
I’ve seen pictures of their work and am amazed.
I strive for far humbler efforts of reconstruction, when I have to; and strive even more to avoid having to. For even the simplest things that involve the handling of raw materials for some higher purpose, like one of repair instead of replacing, become an ordeal. Maybe not quite rising to the level of tribulation, but still a hassle.
Worse, there is humiliation, too, as frequently the hassle is amplified by the hindsight of my having done something or somethings to add to its less than smooth trip towards success. Like the other day when I wanted to repair a plastic handle to our shed; a handle that allows for a lock to run through it and latch to an identical handle on the other door, thereby securing shed contents.
I went to the neighborhood hardware store, Fusek’s True Value Hardware Store, which is a store to which I only go when circumstances warrant it. They didn’t have a handle like the broken one, so I thought I might try my hand at repair.
“Yeah. It’s stronger than glue.”
So I went home with my little package of Devcon 14ml 60-Second Epoxy, choosing the 60 seconds kind because the least time involved in such an endeavor seemed best. As I was getting things ready, though, I noticed something tucked away at the end of the directions that I had stupidly and hassle-creatingly missed:
Does not bond polyethylene or polypropylene plastics.
I turned the package over and, sure enough, as clear as English language can be:
Bonds: Metal, Wood, Glass, Ceramics, Fiberglass
Yep, no mention of plastics, which is exactly of course from what my objet d’repair was made.
So back to the store. This time I brought home something called Plastic Welder. A lot longer set time, cure time and all around time, but Plastic in the title seemed encouraging. Even more encouraging was that on the front it said:
Bonds: Hard Plastic, PVC, Styrene, Acrylic, Ceramic, Fiberglass, Metal, Vinyl, Wood
I have no idea what PVC or Styrene is but Hard Plastic certainly sounded like my door handle, which was clearly plastic and clearly hard. But I’ll be darned if a similar disclaimer to my previous purchase, likewise tucked at the end of the directions was:
Not recommended for use on polyethylene or polypropylene plastics.
Granted it was a slightly less absolute warning. I mean, it didn’t say it would not work. Just that it wasn’t recommended. Though here some advice as to why it wasn’t recommended would have been helpful. Even more helpful would have been to write such an important bit of information in non-chemist language, maybe with an example or two.
I know I don’t have the greatest vocabulary in the world, but when did words like polyethylene and polypropylene enter the lexicon as everyday words. I know the word plastic, or thought I did, but obviously there is a lot more to that linguistic world than plastic or not plastic; a more that suddenly was crucial.
Neither staring at the object nor touching it provided any insight into its material composition. So I went on the Internet and searched the Web for images of the elusive non-bonding polyethylene and polypropylene plastics.
My reasoning here, by no means flawless, was that if none of the objects I saw looked anything like my particular object, I could assume the plastic wasn’t ethyl or prop. Which is what I did, and, after very carefully following the directions involving a double syringe of hardener and resin, air bubbles, a mixing paddle, and making more of a mess than what a person with greater aptitude would generate, I got the handle put together.
And, wonders of all-thumbs wonders just call me Mr Fix-it, it has held!