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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Fingerboard glue question


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/350727

DC5 - Posted - 01/31/2019:  06:49:55


I know I'll come away from this more confused than I am now, but here goes. In preparing my neck I'm looking for the best glue to use. My thought is that it should be reversible, as there is a possibility that I'm going to have to fix the neck at a later date. Hope not, but again, this is my first build. I've searched the archives and most of the discussions are fairly old. On a Stewmac video they demonstrate straightening out a guitar neck with fish glue after inserting two carbon fiber rods. I've never worked with fish glue (never heard of it until I saw that video and read old posts). Seems it has many of the advantages of hot hide glue, but has a longer working time and is easier to use. I'm not set up to use hot hide glue. I think original Tight Bond, which I've used for the lamination, is more difficult to reverse. I've seen where some have used epoxy or polyurethane glue, but the same difficult to reverse problem seems to be there. Based on this I'm leaning toward fish glue, but want to hear more from the experienced.
So please, add to my confusion.

rudy - Posted - 01/31/2019:  07:01:45


Q: "Who recommends fish glue?"



A: Someone who sells fish glue.  cheeky

DC5 - Posted - 01/31/2019:  07:03:52


quote:

Originally posted by rudy

Q: "Who recommends fish glue?"



A: Someone who sells fish glue.  cheeky






Stewmac does



stewmac.com/SiteSearch/?search=fish%20glue

mbanza - Posted - 01/31/2019:  07:27:23


I think it's probably more important to keep your fretting-finger nails properly trimmed than to worry about reversibility of your neck to fingerboard glue joint.

Bill H - Posted - 01/31/2019:  07:29:14


I have always used Franklin liquid hyde glue when assembly time is an issue. When in doubt, glueing up some sample blocks can be useful. Gives you a chance to fool with different glues to compare release proprties, holding strength, glue line visibility, etc.

Ken LeVan - Posted - 01/31/2019:  07:48:12


The most reversible kind of glue for fingerboards is epoxy, which can be softened by heat.  Many guitar builders use it, and I do, too.  If you are one of the guys who epoxies in frets, then I don't think epoxying the fingerboard would be a good idea.

rcc56 - Posted - 01/31/2019:  08:05:49


Fish glue??-- No. Too many bad reports out there.



Polyurethane??--  Absolutely not.  I won't even bother to say any more about it.



Titebond/Franklin liquid hide glue?-- People have had problems with it also, but I have occasionally used it for medium stress joints with success. I don't think I would use it for a fingerboard, though. The bottle MUST be fresh [the first number in the date code is the year, and the maximum shelf life is a year] and I recommend doubling the drying time. I do know of 2 good builders who have used it frequently with no problems, but again, it must be fresh, and the stuff I see on the shelf is often expired.



I have never found epoxy to be easily reversible. Maybe Ken uses a different formula than I am familiar with.



Hot hide glue is my choice, but I don't recommend it unless you have experience with it.



Titebond Original?-- The number one choice of most builders who don't want to use hot hide glue. The joint can be opened easily enough with slow application of moderate heat from a 2" x 5" 50 watt industrial heat blanket plugged into a router speed control, or careful use of a clothes iron.



In the OP's case, I would recommend Titebond original. Easy to use, and we know what to expect from it.


Edited by - rcc56 on 01/31/2019 08:09:04

Bill Rogers - Posted - 01/31/2019:  08:18:56


See fret.com. No different than for a guitar.

heavy5 - Posted - 01/31/2019:  08:19:11


Ken, Just out of curiosity what epoxy do you use ?

There are so many out there , aircraft grade , marine , industrial , hardware store grade , off shore products , ? I do know from experience some of the cheaper grades will become brittle over time . I've used both aircraft & marine grades w/ lasting strength & adhesion & the cheaper types w/ unknown integrity (for giant scale RC planes) & 101 other applications .


Edited by - heavy5 on 01/31/2019 08:20:33

DC5 - Posted - 01/31/2019:  09:41:49


quote:

Originally posted by rcc56

Fish glue??-- No. Too many bad reports out there.



Polyurethane??--  Absolutely not.  I won't even bother to say any more about it.



Titebond/Franklin liquid hide glue?-- People have had problems with it also, but I have occasionally used it for medium stress joints with success. I don't think I would use it for a fingerboard, though. The bottle MUST be fresh [the first number in the date code is the year, and the maximum shelf life is a year] and I recommend doubling the drying time. I do know of 2 good builders who have used it frequently with no problems, but again, it must be fresh, and the stuff I see on the shelf is often expired.



I have never found epoxy to be easily reversible. Maybe Ken uses a different formula than I am familiar with.



Hot hide glue is my choice, but I don't recommend it unless you have experience with it.



Titebond Original?-- The number one choice of most builders who don't want to use hot hide glue. The joint can be opened easily enough with slow application of moderate heat from a 2" x 5" 50 watt industrial heat blanket plugged into a router speed control, or careful use of a clothes iron.



In the OP's case, I would recommend Titebond original. Easy to use, and we know what to expect from it.






Thank you everyone, and Bob, thanks for the breakdown on the different glues.  I agree on polyurethane glue and I only use it rarely and usually on outdoor projects or gluing different materials, like rocks to pipes or something.  I've used Titebond liquid hide glue to do some minor repairs on my fiddle.  Original Titebond sounds like the best way to go on this first build.

sunburst - Posted - 01/31/2019:  10:16:08


Of all of the fingerboard joints I've separated over my (many) years of repair work, the most difficult have been old Gibson mandolins from the teens, glued with hide glue.
Titebond? No problem, Get it hot a slip a blade into the joint.
Epoxy? Same thing get it hot and off it comes.
Polyurethane (Gorilla)? Don't even try. Saw or mill the fingerboard away.
Hide glue? Heat the bejesus out of it, try not to set it on fire, and work up a sweat forcing a blade into the joint. When the joint starts to open a little hot water on the blade can definitely make things easier.

Hide glue's main advantage in a fingerboard joint is it's lack of plastic deformation. The joint does not creep, so it contributes to keeping the neck straight. Titebond can creep, especially when it gets hot (like in the car in summer). Epoxy much less creep than Titebond, but perhaps not as stable as hide glue... I really don't know the numbers on that comparison.

Many use epoxy to avoid the introduction of water into the wood of the neck and 'board, and there is something to be said for that.
I use hot hide glue for stability of the joint, and hope that I never have to remove the board.

rcc56 - Posted - 01/31/2019:  11:04:25


There will hopefully be no need to remove the fingerboard at a later date. I rarely have had the need to remove one. But if you're concerned about it, Titebond will be fine.



A heated blade can come in handy for opening a stubborn glue joint.


Edited by - rcc56 on 01/31/2019 11:12:12

Banner Blue - Posted - 01/31/2019:  11:51:28


Highly skilled people have been repairing violins for well over 300 years. Violins are made to be disassembled. Violin makers have been able to observe how repairs hold up/fail that were done a hundred or more years ago. I would say that we have much to learn from this sort of experience. They work with hide glue with few exceptions and frown on liquid hide glue. They use alcohol, not water to facilitate the removal of violin fingerboards. They also use several types of hide glue with varying degrees of strength depending on which joints they are gluing. Perhaps reading about the glue up of violin fingerboards and their removal might help inform this discussion.

Quickstep192 - Posted - 01/31/2019:  13:47:39


I love epoxy for its predictability.
I use MAS epoxy. I have low viscosity resin that really penetrates and a resin that’s thickened for using as glue. I also have slow, medium and fast hardeners.

I also like that it doesn’t introduce water into the joint that could cause warping.

It’s reversible with heat, but what’s left behind is a bear to clean up.

I don’t know what polyurethane glue is food for. Sure, it foams and fills a gap, but the gap has no strength. So, it still requires a good joint to work well and if you’ve got a good joint, virtually any glue will work.

rcc56 - Posted - 01/31/2019:  13:49:19


What Banner Blue said about hide glue is right on the money. But Dave said he's not quite ready to try hide glue, though.



Alcohol and vinegar can both be useful for breaking down hide glue. However, most fretted instrument finishes are alcohol soluble, so you have to be verrrry careful. And I've seen vinegar turn wood and surrounding surfaces grey or black.



I prefer to mix hide glue a little bit lighter for fingerboards than I do for guitar bridges.



It takes experience to get controlled, consistent results with hide glue. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I curse it. I don't like to use it this time of year because it's hard to get my work areas as warm as I would like them to be. Heating the parts helps, but . . .



But the only way to get experience with hide glue is to buy some granules, throw them into a baby food bottle with some water, heat it in a pot full of water on the stove, and use it until you get a feel for it. You don't learn if you never get started.


Edited by - rcc56 on 01/31/2019 13:51:38

Ken LeVan - Posted - 02/01/2019:  06:47:28


I am not a repair person, strictly a builder, although I guarantee my work, so will repair it if need be - something I try very hard to avoid having to do.



I make fingerboards using multiple laminations that become the side-markers for the fingerboard. Here's a picture of fingerboard assemblies that will be glued on to necks:





 



I do a LOT of glue-ups and in my shop, I keep and use about 8 kinds of adhesives in the shop, none of which is hide or animal glue.  In the course of making a banjo, I use 4 different kinds - Titebond 1 to laminate the neck blank, catalyzed urea laminating glue to laminate rims, and two epoxies for anything that has to do with the fingerboard: a fast cure one for non structural stuff like peghead veneers and a structural one for the fingerboard itself and underlayment sub-assembly.



Why do I do this? am I independently wealthy and just want to spend extra money on expensive glue? I don't think so.  Is this a lesson I have learned? Don't ask.



Fingerboards want to be flat and necks want to be straight.  If you glue them with glue that it water based, the moisture acts on the wood and causes it to cup and warp as the moisture is absorbed or evaporates.



Here is a picture of two fingerboard sub-assemblies made with the same wood; two glued with Titebond, two glued with epoxy.  It's easy to see that the Titebond ones both cup and backbend while the epoxy ones stay straight.  I tried numerous ways to straighten the cupped ones - heat, moisture, clamping between cauls for weeks, more heat and moisture, and they just go back.  I can never use these and keep them around to remind myself not ever to use Titebond for fingerboards.



This is a very graphic microcosm of what happens to the neck, wherein stresses are there at work permanently and only the integrity of the wood and glue joint force the neck into straightness. Gluing the assembly on to the neck will straighten it, but only under protest, and maybe only temporarily.  Better, I think not to introduce those forces in the first place.





"Path dependence" is a situation where methods and materials are used because of some long held habit or tradition despite better technology being readily available.




Edited by - Ken LeVan on 02/01/2019 06:50:11

heavy5 - Posted - 02/01/2019:  07:16:34


Thanks Ken for another informative post & answer to my question .

DC5 - Posted - 02/01/2019:  10:31:27


quote:

Originally posted by rcc56





But the only way to get experience with hide glue is to buy some granules, throw them into a baby food bottle with some water, heat it in a pot full of water on the stove, and use it until you get a feel for it. You don't learn if you never get started.






I agree with this statement, and learning to use hide glue is on my list of TTD, but I'm trying to limit to only a dozen or so learning curves on this build.  Next build will add another dozen.

DC5 - Posted - 02/01/2019:  10:37:00


Ken LeVan , Thank you for that very detailed and informative post. This is why I love this place, so much expertise, and so much willingness to share.

Dan Drabek - Posted - 02/01/2019:  11:14:36


Well, you've convinced me Ken. I've always used Titebond, but the epoxy certainly makes sense. The proof is in the photos.
I have the same T-88 marine epoxy by System 3 and it's good stuff.

DD

Ken LeVan - Posted - 02/01/2019:  11:45:58


quote:

Originally posted by Dan Drabek

Well, you've convinced me Ken. I've always used Titebond, but the epoxy certainly makes sense. The proof is in the photos.

I have the same T-88 marine epoxy by System 3 and it's good stuff.



DD






Dan, your buddy from the Santa Cruz Guitar Company posted some info about how they do this this a couple of years back and really convinced me.

Aradobanjo - Posted - 02/01/2019:  13:49:11


Hello Ken,

Thank you for the demonstration. To me, the cupping is more because of the multiple layers of thin wood and water based glues. Does this apply to 1/4” ebony/rosewood fingerboards?

Dan Drabek - Posted - 02/01/2019:  13:53:48


quote:

Originally posted by Ken LeVan

quote:

Originally posted by Dan Drabek

Well, you've convinced me Ken. I've always used Titebond, but the epoxy certainly makes sense. The proof is in the photos.

I have the same T-88 marine epoxy by System 3 and it's good stuff.



DD






Dan, your buddy from the Santa Cruz Guitar Company posted some info about how they do this this a couple of years back and really convinced me.






Hi Ken. As far as I know, Richard Hoover mainly uses Titebond and hot hide glues. You may have him confused with Rick Turner--who's shop is also in Santa Cruz. Rick is credited with starting the "boutique guitar" concept with Alembic electrics. and currently with Renaissance acoustic guitars. I remember him advocating epoxy mounted fretboards on this forum a few years ago. He has an incredible grasp of guitar design and building and as far as I know was the first to offer the idea on this forum. I also think he may be the first to build a guitar with ceramic frets. I saw one at his shop and was blown away by the perfect craftsmanship. And they will never wear out like metal frets. 



Sadly, I think he was scared away from the hangout due to so much bickering and ego tripping going on at the time. A huge loss for the group.  



I continued using TiteBond 1 for my fretboards because it was tried and true. But your images of the warped laminates has finally convinced me. 



DD


Edited by - Dan Drabek on 02/01/2019 13:57:23

Ken LeVan - Posted - 02/01/2019:  18:03:56


quote:

Originally posted by Dan Drabek

quote:

Originally posted by Ken LeVan

quote:

Originally posted by Dan Drabek

Well, you've convinced me Ken. I've always used Titebond, but the epoxy certainly makes sense. The proof is in the photos.

I have the same T-88 marine epoxy by System 3 and it's good stuff.



DD






Dan, your buddy from the Santa Cruz Guitar Company posted some info about how they do this this a couple of years back and really convinced me.






Hi Ken. As far as I know, Richard Hoover mainly uses Titebond and hot hide glues. You may have him confused with Rick Turner--who's shop is also in Santa Cruz. Rick is credited with starting the "boutique guitar" concept with Alembic electrics. and currently with Renaissance acoustic guitars. I remember him advocating epoxy mounted fretboards on this forum a few years ago. He has an incredible grasp of guitar design and building and as far as I know was the first to offer the idea on this forum. I also think he may be the first to build a guitar with ceramic frets. I saw one at his shop and was blown away by the perfect craftsmanship. And they will never wear out like metal frets. 



Sadly, I think he was scared away from the hangout due to so much bickering and ego tripping going on at the time. A huge loss for the group.  



I continued using TiteBond 1 for my fretboards because it was tried and true. But your images of the warped laminates has finally convinced me. 



DD






I think it was Rick Turner as you say.  I remember he was a strong advocate of the epoxy, and there was a thread talking about "squeezeout".



Also, I sadly admit that I was probably one of the guilty parties who turned him away.  It seemed at the time that his point of view was that we banjo makers don't know what we are doing, but guitar builders are much smarter.  Anyway, if I was responsible for being less than friendly, I apologize, especially in light that I took his suggestions to heart and actually did what he suggested.

banjoflatpkr - Posted - 02/01/2019:  19:11:02


I repair many kinds of stringed instruments and even built a few.
Number one choice for gluing a fingerboard to a neck would be hot hide glue. Number two choice would be fish glue. Lastly Titebond or similar wood glue. Would definitely stay away from epoxy or any waterproof glue.
Someone may have to remove the fretboard in the future. Any of the glues I recommended can easily be removed with heat and moisture.
Hot hide glue is not difficult to use with some knowledge and experimenting. Don’t need any special tools either. Glue can be heated on a stove in a pan of water if you don’t have a glue pot.
Jim

Quickstep192 - Posted - 02/02/2019:  04:53:39


On my first banjo, I used Epoxy because I wanted to avoid any warping. I also used a slab of marble as a clamping caul. Maybe beginner’s luck, but man did that thing come out flat!

Ken LeVan - Posted - 02/02/2019:  05:25:10


quote:

Originally posted by banjoflatpkr

I repair many kinds of stringed instruments and even built a few.

Number one choice for gluing a fingerboard to a neck would be hot hide glue. Number two choice would be fish glue. Lastly Titebond or similar wood glue. Would definitely stay away from epoxy or any waterproof glue.

Someone may have to remove the fretboard in the future. Any of the glues I recommended can easily be removed with heat and moisture.

Hot hide glue is not difficult to use with some knowledge and experimenting. Don’t need any special tools either. Glue can be heated on a stove in a pan of water if you don’t have a glue pot.

Jim






This is from another builder's forum:



"I know it is one of those contentious issues, but my main reason for using epoxy is that it does not add any moisture into the fretboard/neck join. I have had longer (cittern/bouzouki) necks move quite a bit when using Titebond and I have not had similar backbow problems with epoxy. An epoxy glued fretboard is no harder to get off than one glued with Titebond. Both glues release at about the same temperature. Using epoxy has become quite common in the recent years in the guitar building world, though it is, of course, endlessly argued about."



"Endlessly argued about" is the operative phrase.

rudy - Posted - 02/02/2019:  06:11:33


Yes, it is interesting how often this comes up.  The type of glue that is used and the results of that have to be tempered with the exact methods used for glue-up and the experience level of the person doing the job.  The same question appeared a week ago; here's text from that topic:



*****************************************************************************



quote:

Originally posted by stricklandmeister

I'm about to start on Rudy's easy banjo build as described in banjohangout.org/archive/300493



Have been thinking about doing a banjo build for a long time. Rudy's build using the hand drum looks ideal for a first build.



I notice that Rudy calls out a slow cure (30 minute) clear epoxy for gluing up the neck. Would Titebond or Liquid Hide Glue work as well? What are the advantages to epoxy? I'm using maple for the neck and sapele for the fingerboard.



I could write to Rudy directly, but don't want to take advantage of his time. I've already asked him several questions.






Hi Mike.  Parker is correct, and the reason behind its use is elaborated upon if you read the entire topic before proceeding.  Cupping of the fretboard or worse, introducing neck bow, is a possibility when using water-based adhesives, and the banjo produced in that topic doesn't use a truss rod so it's necessary to avoid creating any problems that have to be dealt with by using corrective methods.



I may have needed to re-title the topic "Banjo Building 101, a Recipe For First Time Failure" if I had recommended Titebond or hide glue for someone new to instrument construction.  wink



************************************************************************************

banjoflatpkr - Posted - 02/02/2019:  07:31:09


The thing is hot hide glue for instrument building has been in use since day one. If it has worked fine for all those years why change now?
My experience trying to remove something glued with epoxy is not good. Once had a guitar bridge that someone glued with epoxy. With lots of heat and moisture, scorched the bridge, it still did not want to separate. Had to rout the bridge off and make a new one.
Instruments need to be constructed with glue that can be easily removed.
Jim

banjoflatpkr - Posted - 02/02/2019:  07:35:16


When a glue joint is firmly clamped there will be no cupping or warping with water based glues. That is the fault of the person not the glue.
Jim

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 02/02/2019:  08:25:06


quote:

Originally posted by banjoflatpkr

The thing is hot hide glue for instrument building has been in use since day one. If it has worked fine for all those years why change now?

My experience trying to remove something glued with epoxy is not good. Once had a guitar bridge that someone glued with epoxy. With lots of heat and moisture, scorched the bridge, it still did not want to separate. Had to rout the bridge off and make a new one.

Instruments need to be constructed with glue that can be easily removed.

Jim






The reason for a change "since day one" is because hot hide glue hasn't worked fine for all those years. While hide glue does indeed work well for some purposes, it doesn't for others. I've encountered many an instrument made with hide glue that was falling to pieces, and that includes banjos, guitars, and pianos, as well as antique furniture. If you've ever worked on an old piano action, you would see easily that many parts glued with hide glue need to be re-glued. You may have to buy a set of "sharps" because the old ones have come loose and gotten lost. It's not a matter of mis-use, it's simple weather changes that take their toll. Hide glue, being a natural substance, has also been prone to fungus growth before it' s even been mixed that prematurely ruins the glue joint. Then there's the moisture thing. If you've ever installed a set of piano hammers, you'd know that the moisture in the glue can warp and twist the shanks they are installed on; water based glues have to be almost dry before you use them, so that moisture isn't as big an issue.  I can't think of a single piano made these days that is put together with these centuries-old adhesives simply because there are now better glues to use, and veneer hasn't been installed with hide glue for at least 75 years.



While epoxy may not be good for things that are prone to wear and damage that will need to be easily removed and replaced, I doubt seriously that a fingerboard is one of them; there are fingerboards that have lasted for over a century. I'd certainly prefer a flat board than one that has curled a bit from the moisture in the glue.



To me, various adhesives all have their advantages and disadvantages (including hide glue), and one might work well for one purpose, where another works well for a different purpose. In the long run, it's best to know what is best for a particular job, rather than relying on a one-glue-fits-all approach.

banjoflatpkr - Posted - 02/02/2019:  08:47:07


Not here to argue but the main reason hide glue has been abandoned by some is that the modern glues are easier to use, not that they are better.
Any glue can fail from abuse of the instrument or a poor glue job to begin with.
Jim

mikehalloran - Posted - 02/02/2019:  09:17:41


quote:

Originally posted by banjoflatpkr

Not here to argue but the main reason hide glue has been abandoned by some is that the modern glues are easier to use, not that they are better.

Any glue can fail from abuse of the instrument or a poor glue job to begin with.

Jim






A number of people have disagreed with that exact premise and given their valid reasons for doing so. There’s a lot of experience here saying that, for some jobs, modern glues are absolutely better.



Disagree if you will but don’t be dismissive.



I’m in the camp that likes hide glue for classical guitar bridges—knowing that they may need to be reglued every 30–60 years or so depending on humidity. For fretboards, I like waterless glues—epoxy is great.

banjoflatpkr - Posted - 02/02/2019:  09:28:33


At age 71 and over 40 years of repair experience what has worked for me I will stay with.
Epoxy joints are not easy to get apart no matter who says they are. Instruments may need disassembled sometime in the future including fingerboard, why make things difficult for the person that may have to work on them.
Jim

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