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How to Repair Celluloid Plastic

Updated April 17, 2017

Celluloid is one of the oldest plastics. It was used frequently in the crafting of toys, writing supplies, fashion accessories and personal grooming items. These are only a few of the items celluloid was made into. In most cases the celluloid material was so fragile that damage was very common. While the material is fragile, you can repair celluloid plastic at home with the right technique.

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  1. Clean the surface of the celluloid plastic with isopropyl alcohol applied with a cotton pad. Do not use acetone, as this will dissolve and damage celluloid.

  2. Tape the interior side of the celluloid plastic. If the damage goes all the way through the surface of the celluloid, the tape will provide a backing for the filling material.

  3. Fill the damaged area of the celluloid plastic with body putty. This material is used for filling damage in automotive bodies and mimics celluloid well when applied thinly. Allow the body putty to dry completely according to manufacturer instructions.

  4. Sand the surface of the fully dried body putty with a fine-grit sandpaper.

  5. Wipe away any excess sanding dust with a clean cloth.

  6. Apply a matching colour of paint over the repaired section of the celluloid plastic, using an airbrush. Allow the paint to dry fully according to manufacturer instructions.

  7. Remove the masking tape from the interior side of the celluloid plastic.

  8. Warning

    Permanently altering any antique can decrease its value. Consult a professional celluloid antiques expert before attempting any alterations that may devalue the celluloid plastic piece. Celluloid is very flammable and emits a noxious gas when it burns; keep celluloid away from open flame.

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Things You'll Need

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Cotton pads
  • Body putty
  • Masking tape
  • Fine-grit sanding paper
  • Clean cloth
  • Airbrush
  • Paint

About the Author

Tom Becker
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