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What is this Old Primer or Filler? (curiosity)

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  1. #1
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    Default What is this Old Primer or Filler? (curiosity)

    I have been stripping back some baltic pine external architraves from a timber cottage built about 1880-1890. It looks like the timber has been many years without a proper paint covering in places. There is a light brown primer, sealer or undercoat that has been lavishly applied to the original timber, and I'm curious as to what it is. I have been stripping it off OK, but it is relatively sticky and clogs paper very quickly so heat is the most successful method. The timber is in good nick, relative to its age, so this stuff must have been doing a good job. Anyone know what it might have been?
    (It would have been faster, easier and cheaper to buy new archs, but I just wanted to have the original stuff there, complete with nail holes and splits).

  2. #2
    Resigned SilentButDeadly's Avatar
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    It's called 'scumble'.....and can be stripped not just with heat but also with some strippers (we use Citristrip) and methylated spirits...I prefer heat then metho on open timber or citristrip and water with a scourer on intricate mouldings
    Joined RF in 2006...Resigned in 2020.

  3. #3
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    Default Primer/undercoat

    OK SBD, ya got me ... what's scumble when it comes in a can? Failing that, how'd they make it?

  4. #4
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    Scumble, eh? Nice word, that. But the only definitions I have been able to find seem to relate to thin coats of paint, and artwork, which is a long way from the stuff I'm curious about., Silent one. You obviously know the stuff and work with it - any clues to what it consists of, and whether it was used as a filler or primer? Is it still used? Probably not, given the lack of current information I've been able to come up with...

  5. #5
    Resigned SilentButDeadly's Avatar
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    You know what.....I've no idea why it is called 'scumble'...it's just the name I was told. But when one is verbally abusing something it feels better to know its name.

    I think it's a shellac based grain sealer. You can still buy it around the place....it's often used to create artistic or grain like patterns under paint. Google around the UK and it'll turn up.
    Joined RF in 2006...Resigned in 2020.

  6. #6
    Old Chippy 6K
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    My Uncle Alf 'Master Painter' used 'scumbling' to describe one of his techniques not a paint type. It was when he used a rubbed on solvent or even wax or soap to make the paint placed over the top break up and only partially adhere - creating a textured pattern. After the paint dried the scumbled surface was cleaned off and more paint or a varnish was applied. I note Haymes has a 'tin' of what it calls 'scumble medium' to do that job: http://www.haymespaint.com.au/haymes/main.php?c=172

    The layer you have uncovered is probably just one of the many primers around at the time - there were no standardised colour or mixes - many companies were making paints and painters (like my uncle) also mixing up their own from bulk ingredients they kept in their sheds.

    Could have anything in it so as always when working to remove all paints mechanically and especially using heat (which creates gases and aerosol particles and if the paint contains metal compounds that is not a good thing to breathe in!) wear appropriate mask and eye protection.

    It amazes me how many questions about risks on the forums come after the inquirer has already started sanding, drilling, sawing, heat gunning, welding etc without using any safety precautions. Dust and fumes and gases should be treated with great care - few are good to be inside humans. Masks, goggles/ glasses and gloves are cheap and work - use them.
    Advice from me on this forum is general and for guidance based on information given by the member posing the question. Not to be used in place of professional advice from people appropriately qualified in the relevant field. All structural work must be approved and constructed to the BCA or other relevant standards by suitably licensed persons. The person doing the work and reading my advice accepts responsibility for ensuring the work done accords with the applicable law.

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