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West System 104 Junior Pack used to create bullet coat racks

by Zella Compton 13 May 04:00 PDT
West System 104 Junior Pack used to create bullet coat racks © David Caldwell

Dee (David) Caldwell has spent his lockdown creating bullet coat racks. Using locally sourced WW2 bullets he's collected at Medmerry, West Sussex, and wood from a cedar planted by Capability Brown in 1750, he's started a new business in his garden workshop.

Dee's enterprise began six weeks ago when his wife Penny suggested he use all the bullets he'd previously collected, and his wood pile, to make coat racks. Dee also took her advice as to the best tool for the job: epoxy (she is a ceramicist and uses epoxy to repair fine vases).

Dee invested in a West System 104 Junior Pack which is ideal for small projects and contains a 600g pack of West System 105 Epoxy Resin and 205 Fast Hardener.

The process is straightforward. Dee washes the bullets with cold water before hammering them to get rid of the debris like mud, and clay. He sands them down to the original bullet and dips them into the mixed West System epoxy, waiting for one end to cure before he repeats the process at the other end of the bullet.

"I use epoxy," Dee says, "to get the best protection and the smoothest finish. The odd bullet has a hole in it, I fill those with West System epoxy as well."

He attaches the bullets to the cedar planks - West System epoxy is incredibly strong - and treats the wood with four coats of oil to bring out the fine grain before applying brackets to support the coat racks on the wall. No two racks are the same given the individual nature of the wood and the bullets' unique properties.

Dee collected the bullets from Medmerry, they are remnants of a 1940s bombing range. Aircraft flew inland and fired live rounds of bullets into the range. The area was recently 'realigned' to create a salt marsh on the south coast, so Dee estimates his supply will only last for a couple more years before the beach is fully underwater.

Dee had worked with epoxy previously; he repaired surfboards in the 1980s. But, he says: "West System epoxy is straightforward to work with. Timing is key, so make sure you follow the instructions carefully. It gives great results."

Aside from making beautiful coat racks which David is selling from £75+ (contact him via Chichester_wood on Instagram or chichesterwood on ETSY), Dee is also General Manager of Solite, the custom fit water-shoe manufacturer used by professional surfers and sailors across the world.

"We're constantly amazed by the ingenuity of our customers," says Ian Oliver, MD Wessex Resins and Adhesives (the company which manufactures West System epoxy in the UK, under licence from Gougeon Brothers Inc). "West System epoxy has been developed and refined for fifty years, but we doubt anyone would have imagined it'd be used for bullet coat racks. It just goes to show its versatility and strength. If anyone is considering using epoxy for the first time, we have lots of guidance and advice on our websites, wessexresins.co.uk and epoxycraft.com - plus people are welcome to contact our technical team."

West System Epoxy can be cured over a wide temperature range to form a high-strength solid with excellent moisture resistance - it is designed specifically to wet out and bond with a wide variety of materials. It is formulated without volatile solvents and has minimal shrinkage after curing. Moreover, it has a relatively high flash point and no strong solvent odour.

West System 104 Junior Pack has a RRP of £22.99, and can be purchased from all good chandleries as well as online retailers. Details of stockists are on epoxycraft.com

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