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Hillbilly Kintsugi

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

When I was a kid there was a show my dad and I watched called “The Red Green Show.” Red was the kind of man who loved fishing, hanging out with his friends (often while fishing), and doing his own repairs. 

Those repairs, more often than not, included the use of copious amounts of duct tape. 

I’ve often teased, over the years, that if it can’t be fixed with duct tape, it’s broke. But there is one other adhesive in my arsenal that I might love even more than duct tape; JB Weld. 

JB Weld really is a miracle substance. I was reminded just how awesome it is in recent weeks and went on a kick where I used the stuff to repair nearly everything in my home that could benefit from a little JB Welding. 

It all started with the microwave. The bottom of the door handle came loose. Not wanting to replace the entire microwave, but needing to reheat coffee and leftovers, we spent a couple of days carefully grabbing the handle only at the top. This obviously couldn’t last forever, though, and Nicole insisted unsightly duct tape wrapped around the door repeatedly wouldn’t suffice. So, after debating the merits of various glues, goops, and two-part epoxies, we settled on JB Weld. 

It was the perfect choice. After mixing up my JB Weld I scraped off the old adhesive, coated all the parts, and held it together with rubber bands while I waited for the adhesive to set-up overnight. Because it takes it a while to set-up, I was able to wipe off all the excess that squeezed out when I clamped everything up. Once it set, you couldn’t even see the repair. 

Hooray for JB Weld! 

But I wasn’t done. I have a lamp that I brought into the relationship that has been broken since my move. It isn’t an expensive lamp, but I like it. I had repaired it before, with a glue named after a certain herbivorous great ape. But it expands as it dries, and it dries an ugly, translucent yellow color. It wasn’t a pretty repair. So, I took a pocketknife to it. I broke it back apart, scraped off all the primate glue, took the three separate pieces, and put them back together with thin lines of JB Weld smoothed on with a toothpick. Once it set-up I put the lamp back together normally, and it looks ten times better than before. 

Not content to stop there, I used it to repair an expensive pair of headphones the toddler had broken. This repair, with breaks in two separate places, required me to fill the grooves on the back of the headphones with adhesive to hold all the parts together. There was no way to hide this one, so instead I embraced it.

I did the same with an old wooden egg shaker our toddler had cracked, filling the area and wiping off the excess. Then I used some to patch a small chip in the back of a dulcimer in the same way. 

In Japan there is a process called kintsugi, the art of putting broken pottery back together with gold, to embrace and accentuate the break, and make it both stronger and more beautiful in the process. I feel like this is what I’ve achieved with JB Weld. I’m embracing the fact that things get broken, and that doesn’t mean they need to go in the trash. You can continue to use them. You can make them just as good, if not better, than they were before. And you don’t need to hide that they are repaired. But it doesn’t have to be as obtrusive as a strip of duct tape. It can be a thin grey line of the greatest two-part adhesive known to man – both handsome and handy. 

Jeremy D Wells can be reached at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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