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How to apply CA(super)glue to a fingerboard?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by bassteban, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. I see people suggesting/referring to applying cyanoacrylate glue to fretless fingerboards. Can anyone tell me exactly how this is done(*imagines squirting glue from tiny super glue bottle sloppily all over bass*)? Thanks.
  2. I like to do mine in bed in my flannel pajamas!

    To begin, you must ALWAYS remove the neck from the instruments and strip the nut and all hardware from it. Then, you should tape off the edges of the fingerboard. I've used the blue masking tape but I think it's better to use the real heavy clear packing tape instead. The CA can soak into the paper tapes and then you have to so a little work to remove the residue from the side of the neck. The thick clear packing tape is tough and impervious and comes off clean. Make sure to tape all the way around the back of the neck because my method of application can cause runs that will drip around to the rear.

    I just keep my nozzle in contact with the fingerboard and sweep the bottle side to side while squeezing out the glue. Once I've gotten a good 1/2" long area covered from one edge of the neck to the other, I take a 1" x 6" strip of clear plastic cut from a sandwich baggie and hold it between the thumb and forefinger of both hands and stretch it across the width of the neck over the puddle of CA. I'll lower the plastic into the puddle but not all the way to the fingerboard. Then I'll just gently squeegee the CA forward under the plastic until it runs out of volume. You can see the wave of glue through the clear strip and see how it is covering the width of the neck as you go. When that puddle has run out, I'll repeat the process by pouring another puddle that overlaps the first one by about 3/4" so there's continuous coverage. Three or four cycles of this process and the whole neck is covered in a fairly even coat. I'll repeat this process once more for the entire neck before attempting the first leveling. You can do this as many times as you need to to get the depth of coat that you want.
  3. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    I use the slow set and a credit card...t
  4. Great! Hambone, how do you go about levelling? Tjclem, does the slow-set stuff more or less self-level or is there some sanding required?
  5. If you're working with a radius, it won't self level...
  6. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    ...unless you put it on a rotisserie spit maybe...
  7. John Ruiz

    John Ruiz

    Oct 9, 2000
    Plano, Tx
    Excellent! Answered one of my questions and I didn't even have to ask! Great advice as always Hambone!

    One question I do have though is this : is there a functional difference between using the slow set or the fast set stuff? I would think that slow set would be alot easier to work with seeing as how the fast stuff, well... sets fast.
  8. My method works well with the fast set stuff and it won't stick the plastic to the fingerboard. Of course, leveling isn't possible during the liquid stage unless you wanna dance around with the neck for about 30 minutes. CA in large quantities doesn't dry quickly at all - slow or fast set. Once the first couple of coats are on and I've got them leveled, I will do touchups and even larger spot coatings with the same technique but I will use accelerator to speed up cure time to about 30 seconds. If yall haven't got a bottle of this stuff around, get it now! I use it almost religiously, and now it replaces most general adhesives in my shop. Spread out the CA, let sit for about 30 seconds to find it way into any crevices and then ZAP! a quick shot of the juice and it gets rock hard.
  9. Leveling is done with an adjustable radius block beginning with 80 grit to knock down the mountains and just make the valleys disappear. Then it's on to 220, 400. 600. 1000 wet. 1500 wet, then polishing compound and some wax. Should you sand through an area, just repeat the application step above. The plastic strip can be use to put the CA only in the thin area by pushing down on the good side of the neck with the strip - that moves the CA over to the other side of the fingerboard. Then as you move down the fingerboard it spreads out.
  10. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    CA glue is so nasty and toxic. Will epoxy not work for this application?
  11. Matt, I do this under full respirator protection and ventilation. It's a small discomfort for a pretty easy method of applying a nearly foolproof material. Epoxy, on the other hand, isn't. My reasoning is this - Epoxy is great and a perfect solution in some cases - but epoxy can have a hard time adhering to oily woods and that's something I didn't want to take the chance with. Another thing is that mix ratio's, humidity, freshness of components, contamination of the mixture, mixture quality(completeness) are a few of the variables that can affect the application and curing of epoxy. And you don't really know how things went until the epoxy cures. Should one of those variables go wrong at the wrong time and you've got a total mess on the neck that is a major hassle to clean up. The Jazzwick project was too important to the client for me to take a chance that something would go wrong with that method so I used the one step material. Just last week,I mixed some epoxy for another project and it didn't harden the way it should have. Had that been my batch used on a neck - ugh!!

    I do not argue against epoxy. I chose against epoxy for ME in this situation, today, in MY shop.
  12. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I think that Dingwall uses epoxy on wenge for his fretless basses.
  13. elwood

    elwood there is no spoo

    Jul 25, 2001
    Mid-Hudson Valley, NY
    I spent a couple of weeks doing a CA finish on a neck-through because of the fumes. I would apply a layer, and get out of the garage as fast as I could. There was dust from the fumes settled on everything in the general area after a few applications. But it's sure hard as nails after it cures.

    edit- oh, and I didn't use accelerator because the accelerator I use at work will turn the CA white. I assume whatever you're using for an accelerator doesn't do that. Smells like squashed June bugs, too.
  14. Mmmm, tangy! :smug:
  15. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Got a fretless MIM Jazz with CA on the board. It was my luthier's idea after I suggested epoxy. Worked out really well, and it seems it would be easier to touch up in the future.
  16. I haven't had that problem with mine. It's not an expensive version. I got it from the hobby store in town here. They probably buy it by the gallon and re-cant it into the squirt bottles. Mine smells like a strange mineral spirits - but I'll keep the squashed june bug analogy in mind the next time and give it a comparison.
  17. elwood

    elwood there is no spoo

    Jul 25, 2001
    Mid-Hudson Valley, NY
    The stuff I'm referring to is Loctite 712 accelerator. I think I might try the Stewmac package next time around that has some accelerator in it.
  18. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Respiratory protection is great, and necessary, but don't forget eye protection. CA fumes can do real damage to your corneas.

  19. There isn't a good reliable barrier eye protection against fumes available from consumer sources but good ventilation will do the same thing. I use a small fan on my bench blowing across the surface between my work and my head so it works like an air curtain. That's about as good as you can do shy of an actual positive air filtration system.

    I think I'm probably going to replace my table saw before I buy one of those! :D
  20. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Both CA and epoxi are toxic, in similar ways.

    I've recently been wondering about mylar tape, or similar. Metal fretboards don't fit my workshop - gets too hot.