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Restoration

Disclaimer: I do not have a degree in conservation. Below I describe what I have learned informally and through trial and error. If you have something really valuable that needs restoration, take it to a professional.

Adhesives

Old adhesives:

Mah Jong and other game cases are typically constructed of dovetailed wood sides and cardboard. The joints are glued and the covering applied with hide glue. Hide glue softens with heat and moisture, so it is unusual to find paper-covered cases intact today. If covered in oilcloth, they tend to hold up a bit better.

New adhesives:

To repair old cases, I use wood glue for the frame. But for the covering I use a mixture of wheat paste and PVA - very similar to that used by bookbinders.

For plastics, I have found Duco cement (nitrocellulose) to be best for celluloid (cellulose nitrate). The method used by guitar makers is to dissolve celluloid in acetone, and use that mixture as an adhesive. Too tricky for me. For other plastics, especially catalin, I use a slow-setting epoxy with good flexibility.

adhesives

Repair of Plastics

Plastic game pieces can break and delaminate. Click on the thumbnail below for more on adhesives and the repair of plastics. I also describe the repair of a broken mah jong chip holder - see the last thumbnail below. See Care and Repair of Plastics for more on how to keep your vintage plastics in good shape.

Game Cases

It all started with an old Mah Jong set whose case was quite literally falling apart, held together by nothing more than packing tape. I thought it would be a shame to throw the case away - the wooden sides were intact, the top and bottom boards were there, and the hardware was actually in good shape. I didn't take "before" pictures, but you can see how that first case turned out below. Then came the second, and the third, my technique changing a bit each time. Now I have a closet full of old cases waiting for me to finish this website and get to them. Below, see the cases and more.

 

brushes pva first case second case third case chip holder
Supplies
Adhesives
First case
Second case
Third case
Chip holder
broken tile stopper        
Tile stopper
Fourth case
       

 

 
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