Tips please for using putty

I watched a couple of videos and thought that replacing the missing putty on the old window in my study would be easy!

I’ve managed, but it’s not great, so I’d welcome some thoughts please if I ever need to do this again.

One of the things I found was that the putty seemed to snag as I pulled the putty knife over it when getting rid of the excess. So it didn’t lie beautifully flat against the wooden frame as in the videos.

Also, I’ve now got oily smears over the panes. Any tips please for getting off the smears? Should I wait a few days until the putty has set?

Thanks for any suggestions.

Prime the reveals before, mix in some filler type poly filler ou reboucher into the putty, keep the putty warm, and keep the putty knife very clean. Once the putty is dry (very) you can easily wipe the traces of oil off the windows.

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hum… I wondered if you had used the Property & Home tag rather than Technology… :grin:


My grandad was a glazier and, as a kid, I spent many an hour watching him re-putty windows. To get a really smooth finish on the putty he would spit on it and smooth it out with his finger, which I always found fascinating!

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Putty is fabulous, I love the smell of it (like oiling my cricket bat) and it is irresistible for fiddling with.


I saw the title and first thought of this too… as it is, my DIY skills are non-existent so I can’t help at all.


I was hugely disappointed that some modern putty is made with something other than linseed oil, so it has a horrid smell now!

I use a wet knife to smooth it out. You have to go at it with confidence in a single gesture.

Interesting they don’t show that in the videos. :slight_smile:

I do that when doing grouting round hand basins etc.

@Graham_Lees @Gareth I’m assuming this makes sense to you. All way above my pay grade. :grin:

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@JJones Glad to say Jane mine very much has linseed oil in it - hence my request for a solution for getting the oil off the glass.

A very useful tool (in fact using it to tunnel a VNC session at this very moment) - but I don’t think it holds glass into frames terribly well.


Linseed oil putty, lovely stuff.
Before double glazing, plastic windows and clip in beads came along one of my skills as a carpenter and joiner was glazing.
Watching you tube videos certainly helps the novice get by but it is very much like Blue Peter with “heres one I did earlier”.
Linseed oil putty was supplied in enormous drums and was ladled out by the handful. The top of the drum was always too wet and the bottom too dry as the oil would work it’s way to the top. It was the apprentices job to roll up their sleeves and start mixing, very much like kneading doe. There were 2 methods of getting the stuff to the right consistency either wrap it in newspaper for a while which soaked up the oil or plenty of spit.
I watched in amazement when I first saw a glacier running putty with a lump of the stuff in each hand. Running is the term used when feeding the putty into the window rebate or around the edge of the glass when glazed.
With practice I mastered the technique and could glaze a window in no time. The other art that had to be mastered was pinning in the glass with hammer and tacks.
Working outside in the winter months was cruel when the temperatures were sub zero but if you were glazing the oil prevented chapped skin.
If the putty was too dry to work with we would leave it by a fire and the heat drew out the oil and it was good to go.
Those were the days before power tools et al, just a tool box of hand tools and a big dose of job satisfaction .
I might have not answered the questions asked of how to do it, practice makes perfect, but have enjoyed my trip down memory lane.


[quote=“John_Hall, post:12, topic:32288”] I
might have not answered the questions asked of how to do it, practice makes perfect, but have enjoyed my trip down memory lane.

Yes, and very satisfying and enjoyable to read too @John_Hall . Full of warm embodied experience and movement. :hugs:


Lovely for soft hands :palms_up_together:

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A mistake that I made was not letting the putty dry enough before painting over it.

Putty needs 8 - 12 weeks to dry before painting.

As I’m new to using putty, I used masking tape to help make the edges straight.


My first thought :grin:

Alcohol will clean off the putty marks from the glass

Ah! I did my windows this summer. Firstly, after getting in a really bad sticky mess, I wore latex gloves - brilliant! I had read online that wiping your knife with a little linseed oil stopped the dragging, but as I didn’t have any I used spit (sorry!) which worked really well. I have to say that the end results were fabulous. I was also told that if you undercoat the wood before applying the putty it stops it from cracking over time as the oil doesn’t soak into the wood. Time will tell with that one.

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. One thing I did discover - the putty was still pliable yesterday so I was able to run my finger along it and smooth it out some more.

Interesting to know that the two handed method of applying putty is an acquired skill: I remember seeing a glazier work in this fashion more than sixty years ago. I was mightily impressed, but just assumed he was naturally ambidextrous.

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