"I'm Rocky Jr., and my putty is #1 with repair people and artists."

What Is DURHAM’S Water Putty®?
Rock Rockhard with can of Durham's Rock Hard Water PuttyWho Uses It?
How Long Will It Last?
How Do I Open the Can?
Directions For Use.
Coloring Your Putty.
Finding DURHAM’S ROCK HARD Water Putty.
Why DURHAM’S Is Better.
For Best Results … (Usage Precautions)

What is DURHAM’S Water Putty?
DURHAM’S ROCK HARD Water Putty® is a gypsum-based filler – a powder – that becomes very hard when mixed with water. It never shrinks and has great bonding strength. That’s why so many people use DURHAM’S to fill holes and cracks in wood, plaster, furniture, stone, and concrete. Once DURHAM’S is set in place … it stays in place. Return to top.

Who uses it?
Painters, decorators, woodworkers, electricians, carpenters, cabinet makers, handymen, housewives, pattern makers, electronics repairmen, manufacturers, plumbers, and practically everyone who has a repair job. Artists, modelers, and hobbyists use it, too.
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How long will it last?
Well, of course, that will depend upon what kind of repair is made, and what kind of use the repaired area gets. Here are some samples that have been “kicking around” our offices for quite a long time:

This doorstop is embedded in Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty. This was a sample piece that was made nearly fifty years ago to show what can be done with Durham’s. The doorstop is still tightly held in the water putty, and cannot be moved – the surrounding water putty is just as hard as when originally done – there’s been no cracking or shrinkage at all!

In 1962, we received a letter from Mr. Don Kinnaman, a manual arts teacher at Camelback High School in Phoenix, Arizona. He and his students had been making wooden “mosaic” pictures, using various varieties of wood scraps. He wrote an article about his process and specified Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty as the best material for grouting between the wooden tiles.

He would cut scraps to the correct shape and thickness, attach them to a piece of plywood using white glue, sand it even and then grout with Durham’s and sand once again. The resulting mosaic scenes were finished with several coats of “Deft  Polyester  Finish” and waxed with a carnauba wax.

Rocky’s hair and eyebrows are walnut, the mouth is red cedar. The face, neck, arms and legs are mahogany, and the shirt is white ash. His whiskers, facial and body lines were carved and filled with tinted Water Putty. The entire work is framed in Sassafras. As partial payment for the mosaic, the Camelback Industrial Arts Program received a 100 pound drum of Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty!

This likeness of Rocky Rockhard is well-traveled and attended many trade shows throughout the 60’s and 70’s. Rocky’s at home now, hanging in the Donald Durham Company offices! He’s aged very gracefully, and is in excellent shape, considering his age and treatment!

This screw was set in water putty over 50 years ago. It’s still tight and the repaired area around it shows no signs of shrinkage or deterioration.


To demonstrate Durham’s strength, our salesmen used to carry a block like this with them. The void was filled with Durham’s and a penny was embedded in it. This sample dates back to the late 1950’s and is still as firmly embedded as when it was made. The old “Wheat Penny”  has been twisted, pulled, and manhandled … and the putty is holding firmly in the wood block, and the penny shows no movement at all!

In the early years, sample blocks like this were made and passed out at hardware and paint trade shows. This one is from around 1968. The putty is still intact, hasn’t shrunk or come loose, and after being dusted off and cleaned up a little bit, it’s ready for service once again as an example of the great long-lasting repairs that can be made with Durham’s! Return to top.

How do I open the can?
Use a screwdriver or similar tool to pry up the friction cap. Work around the cap lifting it a little each time. When finished, tap the cap firmly back into place to keep the powder dry and ready to use. Return to top.

Directions For Use.
Mix DURHAM’S ROCK HARD Water Putty and water to a fairly stiff, dough-like, consistency – approximately 3 parts powder to 1 part water. Press firmly into clean, oil-free cavity with putty knife. Continue adding more and pressing again until putty “bounces” back, leaving an excess of putty. Do not attempt to smooth off the excess putty while it is wet. You can clean around the area with a wet cloth. Prepare only the quantity you need because DURHAM’S sets quickly.

Let set about 20 minutes. The putty will be like hard soap. Shave off the excess with a putty knife, leaving very little sanding to be done. This method gives a firm, smooth texture – perfect for shaving, cutting, and carving!

About 40 minutes later, DURHAM’S will become very hard and have great strength. Let set about 8 hours, however, before sanding if an especially smooth, light ivory surface is desired. For craft items, or repair jobs in which large quantities have been used, let DURHAM’S dry even longer.

For special jobs where slow hardening is desired, add a small amount of vinegar or milk to retard setting time. Return to top.

Coloring Your Putty.
DURHAM’S dries to a light ivory color. Add dry colors such as umber, sienna, ochre, or poster black to DURHAM’S powder for coloring throughout the putty. Experiment a little, and you’ll be able to obtain almost any color or shade desired.

You can also paint the putty once it is dried if you do not need the color throughout the mix. For more complete coloring information, check out “How To Color Your Art Objects.” Return to top.

Ask for The Original Durham's water putty

Finding DURHAM’S ROCK HARD Water Putty.

You can get DURHAM’S at your paint or hardware store, lumber supply dealer, do-it-yourselfer store, and at many hobby, craft, and art stores. It is available in 1- and 4-pound cans as well as 25-, 50-, and 100-pound drums. Return to top.

Why DURHAM’S Is Better.
DURHAM’S does not shrink. This is important for hobbyists who want their objects to hold their fine details and shapes. Handymen and crafters find this beneficial when filling holes in wood, plaster, and other materials.

DURHAM’S Putty sticks and stays put. It adheres in oil-free material such as wood, cement, plaster, stone, and composition when completely dry. Embed pebbles, shells, glass, tiles, and other materials in the putty when making mosaics. Add objects to sand sculptures without the worry of having them fall out.

As the name implies, DURHAM’S Putty is ROCK HARD and resistant to scratches. Repairs are also more durable, craft projects are stronger, and art objects don’t need firing.

Since it is a powder, DURHAM’S lasts indefinitely when kept sealed in its container. Mix only the quantity you need and eliminate waste!

Finally, this putty can be sawed, chiseled, sanded, polished, molded, painted, varnished, waxed, or colored. Always could be since the 1930s! Return to top.

How Do I Get Best Results … (Usage Precautions).
Your satisfaction is important to us. That’s why we want to also tell you about certain usage precautions.

Total drying time depends on size of amount of DURHAM’S used, humidity, and temperature. DURHAM’S Putty will withstand weather if kept painted, but paint will peel from damp Water Putty.

Moreover, DURHAM’S will absorb moisture, as from underneath a porch, deck floors, and from condensation within walls. Thus, an extremely humid environment such as a plaster shower or bathtub enclosure will prevent DURHAM’S from completely drying and adhering to the surrounding material.

For repair jobs, DURHAM’S Water Putty fills voids like holes, cracks, and the like. Just fill the void completely until the putty bounces back. After the putty has set up, remove the excess. It adheres to the sides of the hole for permanence. That means DURHAM’S isn’t designed to be spread in thin layers over large, smooth surfaces. For example, if a wooden door panel is weathered, replace it or sand it down. A thin layer of DURHAM’S spread over the panel will look great — but it may pop off with the first good slam of the door. Remember, DURHAM’S is meant to fill voids.

Where there is movement, expansion, or contraction — as between floor boards — Putty may become loose. DURHAM’S is not intended for load-bearing repairs. Finally, DURHAM’S Putty expands slightly as it dries so it will “stick and stay put.” This expansion, however, may also cause Putty to “pop” from a smooth concave surface.

DURHAM’S is to be mixed with water. If you add a great deal of powder or liquid paints, hardness and performance may be compromised. Complete coloring and staining precautions can be found under “How To Color Your Art Objects.”

DURHAM’S conforms to ASTM D-4236 so it is safe for children when used appropriately under adult supervision. However, you will want to use the product in a well ventilated area. Proper eye protection should be worn. NIOSH approved dust respirator may be required when using. Avoid ingestion. Return to top.

Questions about our product?
Although I’m on-line, the folks at DURHAM’S still like to talk to you personally on the phone. So include your name and phone number in an e-mail to: info@waterputty.com

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