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Thread: Pitch Pockets Please?

  1. #1
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    Default Pitch Pockets Please?

    I think my Sitka boom has what I've read is a pitch pocket. Whatever it is, it looks like a slit, small as it is but it runs from one side of the spar through to the other.

    I would LIKE to simply clean it out and fill it with penetrating epoxy and follow with cabosil and epoxy. If I can do this, what can i pour into the slit to aid in clearing the pitch?

    The starboard side slit in this picture is 3/4" long



    Below, slit reappears on the port side at 3/8" long having traversed the spar at 45 degree angle (I assume a straight line)

    Oh, and this defect is about 3 feet aft of the forward end of the boom...


    So, what to do, what to do...

    Thanks,

    Greg

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Nothing at all. The pitch excludes moisture quite well without being non compressible, as epoxy would be. If anything more than just keeping it sealed with varnish or paint you could put a little 1/4" Dutchman over it to keep the pitch from oozing out in the hot sun. If you choose to plug it with wood make sure to use a piece of the same species with the same grain orientation. The mortise could be easily and cleanly cut with a biscuit cutter.

    The tree filled some sort of damage with pitch as protection against water, insect and fungal inroads.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Many thanks Gib, feeling better already... don't know what a biscuit cutter is but I'll research it ...
    Last edited by gregleetaylor; 02-13-2018 at 10:36 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Greg, a biscuit cutter is a power tool which cuts those 'half-football' shaped slots in wood or countertops so you can glue in 'biscuits' to join and align the two pieces - used here to hold in the pitch and smooth over the outside of the boom.


    Hope that helps . ,


    Rick

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Ok Rick, that sounds easy enough. I can make a spruce biscut i spoze... Cut a 1/4 deep slot on each side, how thick is a biscuit!! 1/8"?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Quote Originally Posted by gregleetaylor View Post
    Ok Rick, that sounds easy enough. I can make a spruce biscut i spoze... Cut a 1/4 deep slot on each side, how thick is a biscuit!! 1/8"?
    Greg, I don't own a biscuit cutter, but will be at a big-box store in the AM. I will check and reply if nobody has answered before then -- hope that helps ..

    Rick

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Helps, thanks Captain!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Greg, I went to the Rockler (no affiliation) website, and they show a biscuit cutter that can work with 4 sizes of biscuits - #0, #10, #20, and S6 - I think you will have to figure out what size machine or router would be available to you, and work from there


    Rick

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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    I think I'd just go with the dutchman....chisel a slot for a matching piece of spruce (that's pretty stuff you have there, by the way!) and glue in a matching piece...maybe 1/4 X 1/4 X whatever length you need to cover the pocket. The biscuit slot will be unnecessarily deep. Here's a short clip on using them. Really more for cabinetry.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cnm15Cigz_w

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    One needn't press the cutter all the way in, but a chiseled mortise will work just as well. I only suggested the biscuit cutter in case he or a friend has one. There's no real advantage if he doesn't already have one.

    A plugged counterbored hole would cap it just as well, but it would be more obvious.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Do not waste your time and/or money sealing something with "penetrating" (BS) epoxy if you intend to fill it with real epoxy. If anything, the solvent in it will probably do more to weaken the real epoxy and its bond than to improve anything. Snake oil is not for human consumption.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Boy, I'd be tempted to leave it alone -- is anything that involves removing wood going to increase the strength and flexibility of this spar? Don't think so -- but I'm certainly no expert.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Agreed. The chances that this tiny flaw will ever have any effect on the durability of this spar are minimal at best.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Leave it alone, the perfect is the enemy of the good here

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Yeah, I would not do anything but varnish. I like the smell of the pitch, at least in D. F.!
    "near it, a small whale-boat, painted red and blue, the delight of the king's old age."

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Dont touch it.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    I wouldn't have even looked twice at that, unless it was to admire it.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    It's trash.. we will be down to take it off your hands...
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    That is the best news I could hope for!!! A very consistent gallery we have!!

    I was fearing anything from drill it out and plug it to start over; "you'll need a new blank dude".

    I was also trying to satisfy myself that I could ignore it and doubt made me go to the collective. Glad you're all here...Thanks!

    P.S. Thanks for the offer Denise
    Last edited by gregleetaylor; 02-14-2018 at 10:27 AM. Reason: add P.S.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    be like I was seeing a post on a HVAC forum. thinking.. whaaaaa?
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    It will likely start to melt out on the first hot day, and be an ongoing,but harmless annoyance for a couple of years.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Quote Originally Posted by gregleetaylor View Post
    That is the best news I could hope for!!! A very consistent gallery we have!!

    I was fearing anything from drill it out and plug it to start over; "you'll need a new blank dude".

    I was also trying to satisfy myself that I could ignore it and doubt made me go to the collective. Glad you're all here...Thanks!

    P.S. Thanks for the offer Denise
    I would use a razor knife blade or a pin to dig out as much pitch as possible, flush with acetone or turps to liquify the remaining pitch and wash as much out as possible, then let it dry and fill with a decent quality epoxy like West system.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    I would be inclined to leave it alone as well. If you must fill it, use a burn in stick such as is used to fill dings in furniture. They come in a variety of colors.
    Jay
    http://www.woodshopproducts.com/?gcl...SAAEgIulvD_BwE
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 02-15-2018 at 11:54 AM.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Dont touch it.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    It is really great to have the benefit of the Forum council (as it always is...). Moving forward without any "fix". Spars will be varnished.

    Best,

    Greg

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    I don't think it is a structural issue. I would keep a small kit of varnish ready to go (like a baby food jar) and each day for a week or two put a bit on that place with an artists paint brush. After a few days block it down to the existing surface and add some more. I have filled some major gouges far worse than that with only varnish...

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    I think you need shellac to seal a pitch pocket. My gut would be to leave it alone.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    Do not waste your time and/or money sealing something with "penetrating" (BS) epoxy if you intend to fill it with real epoxy. If anything, the solvent in it will probably do more to weaken the real epoxy and its bond than to improve anything. Snake oil is not for human consumption.
    This may actually be the one place that the penetrating (BS) epoxy works, since it is mostly lacquer thinner. This is not a good idea, since you would have to buy or have on hand some penetrating (BS) epoxy. A better and far more convenient form of solvent for this job is brake cleaner. It comes in a spray can with a nice little plastic hose to poke into the pocket, and dries cleanly and quickly. If you buy the non-chlorinated stuff, it also works for all kinds of small spot cleaning, as starting fluid and can even be used to clean brake parts.

    I was just out in the shop and noticed a very similar pitch pocket in some 2 x 12 DF that had been behind the wall in my house since 1989. I had removed it and recycled parts of it by ripping it into narrower pieces in October. One piece with an open and very similar pitch pocket has been standing vertically in the corner of my very cold shop. The pitch has mostly leaked out and run 2 feet down the board. So after 30 years it is still fairly fluid when it is sealed up inside the board. Had it been on the surface that long it would have dried up. I looked at it and thought of this thread. My finger was sticky, the brake cleaner was there and I needed to clean some grease off some angle iron that I want to weld. While I usually just paint or varnish over these things, in some places it might be a problem. Generally, the varnish skins over the void and seals well enough.

    If you are still with me, sorry about the rambling, but I am wandering towards my point. A little heat from a nearby light bulb (Some day you will read this, look at your LED lamp and wonder what I am talking about.), heat gun, or maybe not a propane torch will get the pitch moving and the brake cleaner will flush enough out to do the job. You can fill with epoxy, Titebond and sawdust, whatever sets up hard and takes varnish, and varnish over it. Bond strength is not an issue. between the geometry and varnish this plug isn't moving.
    Management is the art of counting beans. Leadership is the art of making every being count. --Joe Finch

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Do not under any circumstances heat up brake cleaner, it is highly toxic (as is carburetor cleaner) it contains tetrachlorethylene. I know that Dave didn't say to heat it, but I think it worth adding a warning so no one does. Personally, I never use brake cleaner indoors or in my shop under any circumstances.

    Short-term exposure: Low levels of Tetrachloroethylene vapour can irritate eyes, nose, mouth, throat and respiratory tract, and cause dizziness, headache, sleepiness and confusion. Direct contact with skin causes irritation and discomfort. Short term exposure to higher levels of Tetrachloroethylene can cause build-up of fluid in the lungs, respiratory irritation, severe shortness of breath, sweating, nausea and vomiting. In extreme cases, short-term exposure to higher levels of this chemical can cause unconsciousness and death.

    Extreme Danger when Heated

    Tetrachloroethylene is commonly found in brake cleaners used in workshops. Despite its toxicity, it is an extremely effective, quick drying and non-flammable solvent. Unfortunately, this chemical’s prevalence may lead to it being used for non-brake cleaning purposes, such as metal surface cleaning prior to welding. Heating Tetrachloroethylene brake cleaner residue past 315 degrees Celsius, such as in the presence of welding, creates Phosgene. Phosgene gas is a pulmonary (choking) agent which was used as a chemical weapon during World War 1. It is a white or pale yellow gas that creates a vapour cloud near the ground and spreads quickly. It can be fatal in doses as low as 4 parts per million. Once exposed, there is no antidote for Phosgene poisoning.

    Alan
    https://sites.google.com/site/helium12sofsailboat/
    Last edited by SNAPMAN; 02-16-2018 at 01:09 PM.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Protip. Good to know. Thanks.
    My Goat Island Skiff Project Photos:
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  31. #31
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    Quote Originally Posted by MN Dave View Post
    A better and far more convenient form of solvent for this job is brake cleaner. It comes in a spray can with a nice little plastic hose to poke into the pocket, and dries cleanly and quickly. If you buy the non-chlorinated stuff, it also works for all kinds of small spot cleaning, as starting fluid and can even be used to clean brake parts.
    Quote Originally Posted by SNAPMAN View Post
    Do not under any circumstances heat up brake cleaner, it is highly toxic (as is carburetor cleaner) it contains tetrachlorethylene. I know that Dave didn't say to heat it, but I think it worth adding a warning so no one does. Personally, I never use brake cleaner indoors or in my shop under any circumstances.

    Short-term exposure: Low levels of Tetrachloroethylene vapour can irritate eyes, nose, mouth, throat and respiratory tract, and cause dizziness, headache, sleepiness and confusion. Direct contact with skin causes irritation and discomfort. Short term exposure to higher levels of Tetrachloroethylene can cause build-up of fluid in the lungs, respiratory irritation, severe shortness of breath, sweating, nausea and vomiting. In extreme cases, short-term exposure to higher levels of this chemical can cause unconsciousness and death.

    Extreme Danger when Heated

    Tetrachloroethylene is commonly found in brake cleaners used in workshops. Despite its toxicity, it is an extremely effective, quick drying and non-flammable solvent. Unfortunately, this chemicalís prevalence may lead to it being used for non-brake cleaning purposes, such as metal surface cleaning prior to welding. Heating Tetrachloroethylene brake cleaner residue past 315 degrees Celsius, such as in the presence of welding, creates Phosgene. Phosgene gas is a pulmonary (choking) agent which was used as a chemical weapon during World War 1. It is a white or pale yellow gas that creates a vapour cloud near the ground and spreads quickly. It can be fatal in doses as low as 4 parts per million. Once exposed, there is no antidote for Phosgene poisoning.

    Alan
    https://sites.google.com/site/helium12sofsailboat/
    You are right to warn against the chlorinated version, and I should have made the distinction and recommendation for non-chlorinated more obvious. There are two kinds of brake cleaner. One is non-chlorinated, essentially lacquer thinner. Neither is safe to breath.

    I like this summary:
    Choosing a traditional brake cleaner poses a rather unsatisfactory question. Do you choose the flammable highly toxic one, or the alarmingly very highly toxic one?
    https://envirofluid.com/info-library...er-chlorinated
    There are chlorinated ones marketed as safety solvents that are straight tetrachloroethylene. You have to read the label. I don't snort the stuff, so I just look for non-chlorinated, but if I could identify a less toxic non-chlorine (or bromine) one in the local store I would buy it -- if it wasn't over priced.
    Management is the art of counting beans. Leadership is the art of making every being count. --Joe Finch

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    I'd dig that pitch out and soak it a few times with acetone. Then fill with epoxy and seal up with varnish. Or do nothing. Doing nothing might be fine too. Looks small.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Pitch Pockets Please?

    If you do nothing, the pitch will lift the varnish. I'd dig it out and epoxy a dutchman in.

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