Stainless steel, epoxy, and tableware

Are metal-related questions still allowed here? <grin!>
Christmas brunch was wonderful. My sister and I were invited to eat
with a cousin and her family, and the French Toast -- made with slices of French bread and peach butter -- was delicious.
As we sat around the table afterwards, one topic that came up was the odd look of their stainless tableware, or to be more specific, the knives. These were made by a company named Gorham (Fairview pattern?) and had given wonderful service for many years, but recently they had noticed that some of the knives were "separating": the blade had begun to separate from the handle, showing a minor gap of roughly 1/8".
Hoping for a simple fix, I spent a couple of hours exploring the 'Web with different combinations of keywords looking for instructions like "heat to 400degF for 10 minutes and the epoxy will soften, then gently press the blade back into the handle and it will be as god as new for another decade or two". Nope. Most of what I found related to stainless blades set into sterling handles (not the case here), and there were more descriptions of how to tear the handle off and sell the sterling than ideas of how to repair a knife.
Has anyone here ever seen this problem? My cousing said it might be related to washing the knives in a dishwasher, but only about a quarter of the knives seem to be affected.
Does anyone know how I could learn about the properties of the "epoxy" (an assumption, the term pops up a lot)?
It's not a life-or-death problem, but if anyone has any suggestions I would appreciate hearing from you.
Thanks. And a Happy New Year and a Euphorious Epiphany to all!
Frank McKenney
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Den 31-12-2013 23:01, Frnak McKenney skrev:

Not a fix for the knives but an advise for washing such knives in an dishwasher. Did see the problem years ago and a member of the family came up with this: Knives with blades glued into the handles are to be washed with the blade downwards. Did work for me and others in the family for years :-)
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Normally, only about two or three more knives than the population of the household ever get used. They get used, washed, and put back in the same place. By habit and position in the keeping place, they're the ones picked again next time one is needed.
Over and over. Got ten knives and two people at home? I'll bet fewer than five ever show any signs of wear.
Lloyd
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On Wed, 01 Jan 2014 06:04:27 -0600, "Lloyd E. Sponenburgh" <lloydspinsidemindspring.com> wrote:

That's the way it is here. I've swapped out two steak knives which got loose from so much wear, but the closest slot to the sink is the knife which gets picked time and again. The worn knives went to the back row farthest away from the sink, where I usually open the steak or roast to let the package bleed and rinse the meat before seasoning and cooking.
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On Wed, 01 Jan 2014 06:04:27 -0600, Lloyd E. Sponenburgh <lloydspinsidemindspring.com> wrote:

Good thought. I do notice that I use the same two table knives over and over, pulling them out of the drainer and ignoring the ones in the drawer.
Frank
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They use epoxy nowadays and if yours are epoxied in, I wouldn't mess with them until the blades actually fall out.
Traditionally, they used a proprietary mix of rosin, wax, shellac and a filler like plaster or brickdust. It was called "Handle cement" and is easily repaired. It is kind of like sealing wax (the kind you used to melt onto the back of a letter and stamp with a seal).
You have to be careful though. It absorbs moisture over the years and will foam up and spit the blade out when remelted. The trick is to melt as little as possible.
The tang on the blade is usually just a rough forged rod, about 3mm in dia and about 2" (50mm) long.
Wear gloves, use a propane torch and gently heat the 2" section of the handle and the bottom of the blade. Heat a little, then wait for the heat to soak into the middle and repeat. When it gets around 250 f (rough guess) it will start to push the blade out. when it does shove the parts together and be sure to pay attention to the alignment. When it is all good, hold still for a couple of minutes while the cement cools down, then run the handle under lukewarm water.
Excess cement will have oozed out. Chip it off with your thumbnail, any excess can be removed with alcohol.
Paul K. Dickman
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[...]

[...]

Thanks for the warning.

Thanks, Paul. I'll have to check with my cousin and see if she's willing to sacrifice one knife to test this with, but the process you've outlined is clear and specific. ( Is that legal here on on USENET? <grin!> )
Frank
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Thanks, Uffe.
Do you have any idea why that would make a difference? I suppose that, once any separation existed between the blade and handle, it would encourage water to drip out rather than collect.
Frank
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On Thu, 02 Jan 2014 18:31:26 -0600, Frnak McKenney

There's a big pressure differential between the knife handle being directly over the dishwasher nozzle and it being 8" away. There's probably a small temperature differential, too.
I hand-wash my dishes and they drip dry in the open dishwasher. ;)
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The Gorham line apparently still exists, as a part of the Lenox group:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorham_Manufacturing_Company
More generally, any major jeweler and/or manufacturer of silverware will know what cement is used, and how to re-cement a loose handle.

I doubt that a dishwasher can do this to quality silverware, such as that from Gorham. Lloyd's theory that most of the use is suffered by a few of the knives may be the answer.
But this may be the answer:
.. <http://www.silversuperstore.com/faq/silverware_9.html
The effect of the dishwasher may be chemical, caused by the detergent.

Depending on the age of the silverware, it may or may not be epoxy, although epoxy may be what's used these days.
The best epoxies cure slowly and require heat for a complete cure and maximum strength.
Joe Gwinn
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wrote:

I recommend Sauereisen cement but I have no idea about where to buy a small quantity.
http://www.sauereisen.com/AdhesivesPottingCompounds.aspx
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It's good cement, but I doubt that this is what's used.
I bet the original cement was litharge-glycerin. but I bet that's illegal now, because litharge in lead oxide.
Joe Gwinn
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A good cement that isn't toxic is the old "pyro cement" of ages past.
White, hard as stone, and sticks to almost everything.
Calcium carbonate with enough sodium silicate added to make a thick syrup.
Lloyd
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E. Sponenburgh wrote:

Never heard of pyro cement, though I had heard of various cements involving sodium silicate. Some google fu yielded two things, one a composition of shellac and black powder, used to stick fuses to pyrotechnic star shells and the like, the other being one part zinc oxide, one part calcium carbonate, and sufficient water glass (sodium silicate) to make a slurry.
The key question will be resistance to dishwasher detergents, especially phosphates and their phosphorus-free replacements.
I bet my old Handbook of Chemistry and Physics will have a formula or two. But I bet they didn't consider dishwashers.
Joe Gwinn
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That's the one, but my understanding was that the zinc oxide is not active, but only a pigment to whiten up the mix. Of course, I've not made any in probably four decades, and don't remember if it was necessary or not.
In any case, ZnO is not toxic, either.
This cement does not dry, but cures, and (IIRC) is waterproof after curing.
Lloyd
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"Lloyd E. Sponenburgh" wrote:

Do you have any idea what GC tube cement was? It was used to hold vacuum tubes to their Bakelite bases.
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Actually, Michael, I think that was the same goo. It sticks to glass and metal most aggressively.
Lloyd
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Hm. $65 a quart here, and that's the minimum:
http://www.ellsworth.com/product-list/Adhesives/Ceramic/Sauereisen/8860/9880/
I guess it depends on how much "losing" the little cream-colored band on her knives is worth, doesn't it?
Thanks.... um, "nobody".
Frank
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Thanks, Joe. So you don't think it would vary from manufacturer to manufacturer?
In any case, it's worth following up.

Hm. That describes the substance as a "super strong epoxy", but also describes it as becoming brittle. This stuff, which looks like a thin, custard-coloerd ring, seems to be in good shape. At room temperatures, of course. <grin!>

Could be, though the epoxy doesn't seem cracked or mottled or pitted. It's as if it partially melted, the blade slipped out a bit, and then tne epoxy re-hardened.

Hm. I'd say two decades or so, perhaps plus a little. ( But I should ask rather than assuming. <grin!> )

Ah, but what loosens them? ( The epoxies, I mean. )
Anyway, thank you for your comments.
Frank
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Things like that usually settle out to a few standard solutions. One does not sell silverware on the beauty of one's handle cement.

Another place to look is catalogs of jewelry tool suppliers, like Shor Intl Corp: <https://www.ishor.com/index.php . (I didn't look for handle cement, but if they don't carry it, I bet they will know who does.)

While one can soften a cured epoxy with heat, it will not melt. It is not clear that what you have is an epoxy. Nor do epoxies melt and solidify, unlike the traditional shellac-rosin-brickdust handle cement mentioned elsewhere in this thread.
This traditional handle cement is thus a form of hot-melt adhesive.
If this is what was used, the handle can be re-affixed by clamping the knife upright such that gravity tends to close the gap, and carefully heating the handle with a heat gun until the cement melts, and then walking away for at least three hours (to ensure complete cooling).

Stress while hot can do it. As can inadequate joint design.
Slow-cure (overnight) epoxy is far stronger than the 5-minute stuff. But in all cases, cleaning the surfaces to be glued is critical - even a hint of grease will prevent full strength.
If one is changing from traditional handle cement to epoxy, removal of all of the old cement is essential. This will require use of solvents. Beware ordinary acetone - it usually has some oil in it; this oil must be removed before epoxy will bond.
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