My “granite counter repair / souvenir of an Irish pub in Japan” story

by Joey deVilla on February 13, 2017

Sooner or later, this happens to the edges of a lot of granite kitchen counters:

Not our kitchen counter, but an example of the sort of damage it had.

A couple of weeks ago, it happened to our kitchen counter, along the edge facing the right side of the kitchen sink.

The culprit

The chip in our counter came courtesy of a certain glass stein emblazoned with the logo of Sapporo LION, a chain of beer halls in Asia:

I’ve had this glass stein since 1998. It’s a souvenir of an evening in Japan, and of one stop in particular: Dubliners, an Irish Pub in Kobe. It’s another data point for my theory that once a city reaches a certain size and population, someone opens an Irish pub.

Yours Truly and Anne, Dubliner’s Irish Pub, Kobe, 1998.

I’d spent the prior ten days in the Philippines, and stopped in Japan for a week to visit my friend Anne, who was there for a year to teach English. It was her birthday, and I was taking her out on the town. You can see the stein in the photo above — it’s the one that Anne’s holding.

Alan Ryan and Anne, Dubliner’s Irish Pub, Kobe, 1998.

We spent a fair bit of our time there talking with the barman, Alan Ryan (he’s the gentleman in the photo above). When it was time to leave, he quickly washed out the stein and gave it to me. “To remember your time here, mate,” he said. I’ve had it ever since.

Life pro tip: If you take digital photos, annotate them or give them meaningful file names and be sure to include the names of the people in them. When you dig them up 19 years later for a blog article (or simply for old times’ sake), you’ll be glad that you included that info.

The chip

19 years later, I still use the stein regularly. I was washing it, and in the process of moving from the sink and onto the counter to dry, bumped it against the edge of the sink. A small chunk of granite went flying, and we were the not-so-proud new owners of a chipped counter.

You might think that glass would lose in a conflagration with granite, but this is a particular heavy and well-made stein designed to survive years of imbibing, carousing, and general abuse at the hands of salarymen boozing it up at izakayas. I’d tapped it against the counter at the right angle (or the wrong one, depending on your point of view) and the damage was done.

Anitra found the missing chunk of granite. It didn’t completely fill the chip; the rest of the counter that had broken off was a fine powder. I was time to do some research into undoing the damage.

I found a number of repair methods online that varied in cost and effort, but the super glue method was intriguing, as it was cheap and well within my home repair capabilities. The method is pretty simple:

  1. Use super glue to re-attach any granite chunks that have broken free and to fill in any remaining cracks or holes, then
  2. Sand and polish away any excess super glue.

This video should give you a general idea of what I did:

Most of the instructions I found recommended using a think gel-type super glue.

I used Gorilla Super Glue Gel and super-glued the granite chunk into the chip. I filled the remaining cracks with excess glue. I gave the area a fine mist of water from a spray bottle — the hydroxyl ions in water cause the cyanoacrylate (super glue’s active ingredient) to form long, strong polymer chains, which is why the stuff forms a solid bond.

My initial plan was to try sanding off the excess glue manually. After working furiously but fruitlessly for a half hour, I said “screw it”, biked to Lowes, and picked up a Black & Decker attach-to-your-drill sanding and polishing kit. I connect the attachment to my drill, and after five minutes of careful power-sanding with the kit’s sandpaper, the counter surface was smooth again.

The super glue dried as a translucent whitish solid. Using a black permanent marker, I drew a pattern to match the dark veins in the granite. Here’s what my repair looked like after that:

Almost there…

I then power-buffed the work using the blue sponge-like disk in the sanding and polishing kit, and then power-polished it using the kit’s fuzzy cloth. I then used some granite countertop sealant on the repair.

Here’s the end result. You’d be hard pressed to spot the damaged area:

Victory!

I’m pleased with the result, and especially pleased that the repair cost less than $15 in materials!

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