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Hide glue not holding

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by abracadabra, May 12, 2011.

  1. abracadabra


    Apr 21, 2011
    So I picked up this pretty cool old Czech ply bass, Wenzel Kohler. Its needed some work, nothing major mostly some gluing. I managed to reglue the fingerboard down using hide glue, it came out perfect.

    Today I got around to gluing some sections on the body that were seperating, the biggest one being a section where the back was coming off the side, maybe a total length of 6 inches.

    I used this hide glue: Buy Behlen Ground Hide Glue, 1 Pound at Woodcraft.com

    I set it up just like I did for the fingerboard, got some glue in there, and clamped it up.

    I just took the clamps off and it popped right open.

    Now I figure its either:
    -the glue wasn't mixed right (even though I did it the same way as I did the day before, according to the directions on the can, mix w/water, heat, etc)

    -I didn't wait long enough to let it dry (probably waited 7-8 hours)

    -maybe the surfaces needed to be cleaner?

    -maybe the glue isn't strong enough for this application?

    Any thoughts would be great. Part of me says f-it, use some wood glue, that'll hold. Talk me out of it!

    I only have two other really small sections to glue on the body and this bass is ready to go. The action is great and its plays and sounds as good as my Kay C-1, different of course but still nice.


  2. No wood glue. It won't stick to the old hide glue in the joint anyway.
    How long did you soak the glue granules, what temperature did you heat it to, and how long did you maintain that temperature? Did you use a double boiler, a glue pot, or some other rig? How much pressure did you put on the clamps?
  3. 360guy

    360guy Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2006
    Lansing, MI USA
    Give it a cleaning, reglue, and let it set for a full 24 hours.
  4. abracadabra


    Apr 21, 2011
    Well I don't think I cleaned out much old glue, that could be a problem.

    The glue was heated to around 150, it stayed there while I did the job, I used a tin can in a pot of water on the stove. I used to clamps, the Irwin quick clamp style, the only ones I had on hand that were long enough.

    I'll try again tomorrow. Clean out the surface more, let it stay clamped all day long.

  5. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    You do have to move fairly quickly-- if the glue gels before the clamps are tightened (not still liquid, in other words) then it will not achieve a bond. I have had a couple of fingerboard failures that I am pretty sure happened that way. So I heat my fingerboards pretty thoroughly before applying the glue, nowadays, to give myself extended working time.

    All that said, plate-to-rib seams are usually pretty forgiving.
  6. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    What's the temperature in your shop?

    Was the bass cold when you applied the glue?

    How did you measure the temperature of the glue?
  7. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    Is this the same as granular hide glue?
    I only intend to do minor repairs on my bass-- bumpers, etc., and don't need a pound can or an electric glue-pot,and my main concern is to not "hurt" the bass.
  8. There you go. New hide glue will bond to old hide glue, but if there is any other adhesive or other crap in the seam, failure is pretty much guaranteed.

    gerry, I've only used the granular stuff, but the bottled liquid hide glue sold at the hardware store is called inferior by people who know a lot more than I do. My luthier gave me a Ziploc full of granular hide glue, and I gerryrig (ha ha) a double-boiler out of whatever happens to be laying around when I need to glue something.
  9. George700DL


    Jan 9, 2009
    No, it's absolutely not. It's not recommended for lutherie, except some people (like Chuck Traeger I believe?) recommend it to be used with combination of real hide glue to glue tops to ribs, where you don't want a very strong joint.

    But... granular hide glue is cheap, and the granules should last a very long time (years) if properly stored. A glue pot can be rigged up for about $5.

  10. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    All of the above. Make sure the granules are well cooked before you start, make sure you get the clamps on while the glue is still liquid, Clamp tightly, and leave them on a full day.

    IMO, old glue doesn't need to be removed completely, but should be softened with hot water at least. Also, be aware that hide glue doesn't perform well when asked to fill gaps. If the surfaces don't mate well then you have to fix that first. Unless you want to break out the epoxy:eek:
  11. Rebop


    Jul 9, 2008
    La Honda, CA
    I'd use Knox gelatin instead of the hide glue in the bottle any day. Real granular hide glue should be the first choice.
  12. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    Thanks, guys.
    Real granular hide glue it is!
    GG :)
  13. zeytoun


    Dec 19, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    The Behlen recommends a 1-to-1 ratio (by weight) of glue to water.

    However, I found that the gel time for this is really fast, even if you preheat the surfaces. A little more water buys some extra time, and ensures a good bond.
  14. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    you don't have to invest in a glue pot especially if you are using a very small amount. I put the hide glue in a small jar with water then put the jar in a pot with hot water. When all is ready I remove the jar from the hot water/pot, the glue stays useable for several minutes, long enough to get the seams together etc
  15. George700DL


    Jan 9, 2009
    Really? When I turned down the heat before, the surface of the glue mixture started to develop a film less than a minute afterward. That told me the glue is no longer hot enough. I always play it safe and keep the mixture at around 145.

    I just use an electric burner, a old can, a small glass jar and a thermometer.

  16. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    I bought a used potpourri warmer from the Goodwill store, for $3, equipped it with an empty yeast jar from the kitchen, and have been using that for ten years. The lid of the jar finally rusted out, so I got a new yeast jar, but haven't put it into service yet. :)

    Pretty affordable service.
  17. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Hide glue sets up in a minute or less once the temperature starts to decrease below 145deg f. You have to work fast to keep it from congealing before you are clamped up. Wood joinery must be very very good and surfaces clean of nothing but wood. It doesn't fill gaps and it won't tolerate any kind of slop. Your environment can't be to cold or to damp.

    You can increase your open time by heating the wood you are gluing, try a hair dryer or something like that. The addition of urea can increase the open time but I think sometimes it decreases the bond strength. Most people have their glue pots or heat source right near what they are working on so the glue goes right from the pot to the work without sitting somewhere cooling.
  18. all of the above advice plus..slip some sandpaper into the seam, clean top and bottom surfaces, and turn the bass on its side so the glue flows into the seam..pump it in by flexing the joint. it's about one and a half minutes work.;)
  19. uprightben


    Nov 3, 2006
    Boone, NC
    You can also reheat the glue in the seam if it gels on you after it is in the seam. Clamp it, wet the seam with a hot water brush, wipe that and any glue off, and hit it with some heat (heat gun, torch, whatever). A little bit of heat will do it, do not damage the finish. You may need to retighten the clamps afterwards.
  20. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    You could also try fish glue. We use it at the shop I work at sometimes. It is stronger than hide glue I've found and still water soluble. Another plus is that it gives you a much longer work time than hide glue. We've had problems with seams not staying shut because the edging is really worn and roughed up, and fish glue has always solved the problem.

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