Guitar Repair Glues

February 18th, 2010

Super Glue Pro Kit

Super Glue Pro Kit
Source: Repair Materials

Glue Failure:
I have used a lot of different glues in guitar repair. Unfortunately experimentation with glues does not always work out in your favor.

If you experience a glue failure, you will have an unhappy client, a rework project (if you are a quality minded repair person that is), and possibly a repair condition that is worse than the original repair.

Occasionally you will experience a glue failure that is beyond your control. I remember one time I purchased a bad batch of epoxy glue. Everything seemed fine with the glue jobs, but I had several botched repair jobs as a result of that bad glue. I lost almost a weeks worth of work as a result of that.

I wound up filing an insurance claim with the glue manufacturer and was awarded the claim. Now with every batch of new epoxy that I get, I do a test glue to make sure it is OK, because I now know the frustration and lost time this can cost.

Different Types of Glues:

2-Part Epoxy Glue

2-Part Epoxy Glue
Source: Repair Materials

2-Part Epoxies – Both Fast Set and Slow Set:
The Epoxies are used mostly used exotic woods with lots of resin:

Some repairmen use different glues on the exotics after a through cleaning with Acetone. I won’t risk it. I will use 2-part Epoxy on any resinous wood, just to be on the safe side. So I reserve these glues for any wood that is glued to these exotic woods, even if it is spruce to exotic or maple to exotic etc.

Since the Epoxies have a superior holding strength, I will use them on difficult repairs, where nothing else will hold. Like a difficult neck break, Headpiece fracture or similar conditions like that.

Animal Glues – Hide Glue:
Although this was the instrument makers choice for centuries, it is now being replaced by more chemical dependent glues. There are still luthiers, especially Classical Guitar, violin and other small shops that use it exclusively.

There is a feeling that the glue enhances the sound qualities of fine instruments and the second and more compelling reason is that an instrument is much easier to dis-assemble that is constructed from hide glue. Just a heated knife is all it takes.

I have not used the animal glues to a great extent, since repairs are often more necessary from glues with greater shear strength.

I have found that if animal glues are used, the glue joint is practically invisible. This works great for top repairs where a repair glue joint is often visible.

Titebond III Glue
Titebond III Glue
Source: Repair Materials

PVAs (aliphatic resins) Titebond Glues:
Titebond is the woodworkers choice of glue. It can be used with almost any wood to wood glue joint that is not involved with exotic woods. In guitar building, I use this glue for at least 75% of the gluing operations.

For repair work, it is a glue of choice as well. There are now (3) versions of the Titebond family. The original Titebond, Titebond II and now Titebond III.

Titebond Specs:
Strength: 3,600 psi
Open Time: 5 minutes
Chalk Temp: 50 degrees F
Viscosity: 3,400 cps

Titebond II Specs:
Strength: 3,750 psi
Open Time: 5 minutes
Chalk Temp: 55 degrees F
Viscosity: 3,200 cps

Titebond II Specs:
Strength: 4,000 psi
Open Time: 10 minutes
Chalk Temp: 47 degrees F
Viscosity: 4,200 cps

I now use Titebond III almost exclusively. This is a great glue and it just gets better. Easy cleanup with water, very strong strength factor, long open time and it’s unaffected by finishes.

Super Glue:
Super Glues have incredible bonding strength for jig-making, quick repairs, fretting, binding, inlaying, finish touch-ups, nut slot rebuilding, and countless other tasks. They are available in thin, medium and thick viscosity for differing repair jobs.

Penetrates close-fitting wood joints and fingerboard cracks. This water-thin glue is great for fast minor finish touch-ups, too. It cures in 3-5 seconds, for a strong moisture-resistant joint.

Medium is the general-purpose super glue. It’s a bit thicker, to fill small imperfect joint gaps, and cures in 10-25 seconds. It’s also available in black and white, time-savers for ebony inlay work and for repairing bindings.

The Thick Super Glue has epoxy-like gap-filling consistency, and cures in 30-50 seconds to allow joint repositioning.

Here is the Super Glue Kit that I use for guitar repairs.

Gorilla Glue – Polyurethane Glue:
Personally, I do not like this glue. While it is extremely strong, you get a thick, dark glue joint that is unsightly for many repair jobs and for guitar building.

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