Glues Used In Guitar Repair

Aliphatic resin is amongst the most popular woodworkers glue used in instrument building and repair today. Titebond Original Wood Glueis quite common.

Unlike Hide glue, it is ready to use straight from the bottle. Woodworkers glue is water soluble, has longer working times than Hide glue and is very strong.

I use Hide or Aliphatic glue for nearly all wood to wood repairs including gluing bridges, bridge plates, braces, necks, most cracks and fingerboards. For the novice this is going to be the glue of choice as Hide Glue require more expertise and practice IMO.

Most glue joint failures are hardly ever related to the glues actual strength (or lack thereof). The most common culprit is insufficient glue, heat exposure or poor surface to surface contact. Glue is not a filler and should not be considered a fix for a poorly fitting joint. When repairing loose braces or bridges there is no need to seek a stronger adhesive as carpenters glue is more than ample.

Most glue joint failures are hardly ever related to the glues strength. Titebond or other aliphatic glues are more than strong enough to do the job.

Hide Glue

purchase hide glue

Hide glue is one the oldest glues used in instrument making and repair.
This glue is sometimes frowned upon because it is a little high maintenance. Hide glue is purchased in a dry form, mixed with water and then heated before use. It must be kept hot to prevent it from gelling and this requires a glue pot or other means to produce the heat necessary. There is no denying that hide glue stinks!

Hide glue will stick to itself, it is water soluble, and does not creep like aliphatic glue.

There is/was an instant Hide Glue available but you want to steer clear of that.

Super Glue (Cyanoacrylate)

purchase hot stuff super glue

Hot Stuff Super Glue happens to be an indispensable tool in this trade and can be a very dangerous one when not used properly. (see pic below)

glued braces look wet from glue residue

Unfortunately someone used
superglue on loose braces

I use super glue when repairing things that are not intended to come apart, on a musical instrument that does not include glue joints.

In other words, super glue is never used on loose braces, bridges (except where HPL is involved), end pins, open seams, pickguards etc.

My most common use would be: fingerboard cracks, cracks in the bridge, inlay repair and the like. It can be colored and used in many applications but because it is permanent it is not suitable for wood to wood glue joints.

Another dangerous but wonderful use for super glue is finish chip repair on some of the newer finishes. It is clear, dries hard, shrinks very little and is sandable, a perfect candidate for finish repair and used by most factories.

Permanent adhesives like super glue and epoxy should not be used to glue bridges, braces, necks and other instrument glue joints/seams.

Epoxy

purchase west system epoxy

Most of the warnings that come with super glue apply to epoxy. It is a permanent adhesive that you must sand to remove once hardened. Like super glue it should not be used on glue joints and seams.

Epoxy can also be tinted and used to fill chips in bridges, fingerboards and the like.

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