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West Systems Epoxy - fill void and grain fill

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by chinjazz, Aug 16, 2017.


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  1. Hi folks,

    I've been looking at some of my next steps on my current build and looking for a bit of advice.

    I've got a maple top with some spalt that needs some filling and I was think ing to get the smallest amount of West Systems 105 + hardner to fill that and maybe the left over to grain fill my Ash body. If there would be enough of course.

    IMG_0425.JPG

    I heard there were smaller amounts that could be purchased but I hadn't located them yet. There's a few West Marine stores here in town. Maybe cheaper on line though.

    Also, I'll attempt my first 3 piece maple neck lam (assume I would not put in any other wood types) and I've heard that that West Systems is great for that, also saw Bruce Johnson post that LMI yellow glue is also good in terms of drying clearer than Tite Bond.
    Should I go for the LMI instead of West Systems?

    I've got Tite Bond original, but I'm on a tight budget and planning my next steps.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    i've been using this stuff lately:

    Amazon.com: Bob Smith 206 Slow-Cure 9oz Epoxy: Home Improvement

    it has worked very well for me. just did a rock maple lam neck with it and am very happy. mixes easy with a mixing cup, and has no noticeable odors (unlike West). i went with 5ml of resin and 5ml of hardener and this mix covered an entire length of 3" x 36" maple for lam 1 to 2. For lam 2 to 3, another batch of the same amount.

    the reason i use epoxy is that you aren't introducing water into the wood at glue up which can cause the neck to bow unfavorably. coming over from acoustic guitar building i bring picky habits. yeah, it's been done with TB and LMI white, and other PVA glues, and even HHG and fish glue -but the neck lam is not a "service" joint that you'll ever have to steam apart. neither are the body wings, nor the headstock scarf joint either.

    you could also use this stuff for some pore filling if you wanted to i suppose.
     
  3. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    A little goes a long way with epoxy. :) I use it for everything except fingerboards these days - it's nice not having to worry, not that I really worried with titebond either. :) I like how epoxy gives me a smooth and reliable surface for finishing, and strong joints in glue up. It gets quite a bit cheaper with volume, but a small amount should easily do what you want. How many instruments do you have planned? Maybe multiply that by 2.5 and you'll also have an unplanned number that arises in the next few years... :D
     
    chinjazz likes this.

  4. Thanks Beej

    Do you use West Systems? I'm thinking maybe I should start considering doing my top, and accent veneer with Epoxy as well. Thinking I would need to wipe excess squeege off the sides as it would become tough to remove if dried all the way.

    Or perhaps because that's a lot of epoxy... Maybe go with TiteBond for top/layers, but use epoxy for the fill on the top, and grain seal overall...

    I think I'll make a few basses, but of course going one at a time at this point. Just exploring at the moment.
     
  5. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Yes I do. I like the west system, it's pretty foolproof. I just keep a box of nitrile gloves on hand and change them regularly, liberally apply wax paper over all my work surfaces, and use small amounts of epoxy - just enough for the joint. I use 105, and mostly the regular "fast hardener", 205, but I've also used 209 in the dead of winter upon recommendation from some local boat builders. 209 can be used in high humidity environments, but it takes forever to cure - like well over 24hrs. I'm on the west coast, so humidity isn't bad in the summer, but it's high in the winter (read, "rainy season" :D). That said, my shop is heated, so I haven't had real problems using 205 in the winter anyway.

    I also use System Three products - mostly their "Rotfix" thin epoxy, because it gets great penetration into punky woods. I like building with found woods and driftwoods, so they typically need something to help stabilize the surface. I've cut into the rotfix after it's been dried, and it's been as thick as 1/8" deep into the material, which is excellent penetration for my needs. :) I've also used T-88 structural stuff, and that also works in a foolproof way. Locally, I can buy t-88 in smaller quantities than West Systems, not sure what's in your area... :)
     
    ronaldpdbrandt and chinjazz like this.
  6. Awesome, thanks!

    Come to think of it, I used an epoxy to attach a maple veneer on a peg head a few years ago. I need to check if it's still in my bin and if it may work for filling at least this void on the top.

    It's pretty darn humid down here but I plan on doing this work inside a well air conditioned spare guest room (for epoxy)..
     

  7. Thanks Arie!

    What's the cure time on Bob Smith 206?
    Certainly is looking affordable :)
     
  8. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    open time is 30 min, full cure is 6 to 8 hours. i go next day or 24 hrs -whichever works out to be between 8 and 24 works fine.
     
    chinjazz likes this.
  9. Very good, thanks!
     
  10. T_Bone_TL

    T_Bone_TL

    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    Most epoxies are temperature sensitive, so for a faster cure, let the room get warmer - even get everything clamped up, and then warm it up. Most of the "fast cure" versions have additives that make the mixing/reaction itself make more heat. Contrariwise, if you need more time, keep it cool. Check the data on whatever system you are using for details, they are usually there. I'm personally currently using the Crazy Eddie of the epoxy world (but then, you may not recognize Crazy Eddie, as he was a regional fixture from decades ago in a different line. Anyhow, the place I got my current batch from seems closely related in some ways - Progressive Epoxy Polymers - terrible website, decent epoxies/prices with a "somewhat less sensitive" mix ratio 1:2 for the stuff I have than the usual 1:5 for West. As mix ratios get further from 1:1 they become more sensitive to measurement errors in the smaller proportioned part - then again, West has those handy metering pumps, so that may not be much of an issue.)

    One bit of elderly epoxy advice (passed on, surely not directly from my head) I will re-share (pretty sure I've said it around here at least once before) is that if you mix (in a cup) (on a sheet) you should transfer the mixed epoxy to a fresh (cup/sheet/dispensing syringe) rather than pouring/applying straight from the mixing cup/sheet. It's a small extra expense for the second cup, but it reduces the potential of getting poorly mixed material from the mixing area onto your project. It's surely fussy, and you can be quite fussy about mixing, but even if you are, this step adds insurance.
     
    chinjazz and Beej like this.
  11. rwkeating

    rwkeating Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2014
    Chicago
    none
    I know we are talking brands here, but are there any general guidelines for choosing a 2 part epoxy to use to glue wood or in theory would any work? In other words, besides cure times and mix ratios, are there other differences that make some epoxies better for wood than others?
     
  12. T_Bone_TL

    T_Bone_TL

    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    There are truly a VAST array of epoxies (with various properties) available. But, the vastly common sorts have adequate similarities for wooddorking purposes that I don't generally get too concerned (other than I avoid polyester resin which is not really epoxy anyway, and I avoid 5-minute epoxies - both stink, literally.)

    As an example of something I don't think anyone would want to use in luthierie or wooddorking in general (but I could be wrong, and they certainly mention wood) I once used Armstrong A-12 on a work project. It's not clear, it needs heat to cure unless you are vastly patient, and it has the interesting property that it can be made harder or more rubbery when cured by varying the mix ratio. It's also strong as <bleep>; Expensive as <bleep>, too.
     
    rwkeating likes this.
  13. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Bob Smith Industries is one of if not the major supplier of adhesives to the hobby industry. I've used everything from their wide variety of CA's and their slow, fast, and fuel proofer 2 part epoxy products and i've had nothing but great luck with all BSI products
     
    chinjazz likes this.
  14. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    The main thing you want in an epoxy for gluing wood-to-wood is a relatively low viscosity. You want the epoxy to sink down deep (like 1/16" to 1/8") into the pores of the wood. That's what makes the joint strong. The general category of "marine" epoxies are made specifically for gluing wood-to-wood, and also for coating and protecting wood in harsh outdoor environment.

    My favorite is West Systems, which has been around forever, and is the most popular marine-type epoxy. Gougeon Brothers is the company that makes it, and they also make other products. Their standard classic marine epoxy is the 105 resin used with either the 205 Fast or 206 Slow Hardener. They also make other hardeners and various materials that you can add it to get different properties.

    System Three is a competing company, who also makes many different epoxy products. System Three's General Purpose Epoxy is their original epoxy product, and it's a "marine" epoxy similar in characteristics to West Systems. That is, it's optimized for gluing wood-to-wood, in larger surface area joints. It's relatively low viscosity, to sink in.

    System Three also makes T-88 Epoxy, which they call a "structural" epoxy, suitable for all materials. It's thicker, higher viscosity, and better for gluing different materials, such as metal-to-wood, metal-to-concrete, etc. Because it's thicker, it's better for repair-type work; smaller surface area joints. I don't have much personal experience with T-88, but I hear that it's a very good product.

    System Three also makes Mirror Coat, which is a "bar top" type epoxy, made for creating a hard clear surface coat on various materials. That's one of the favorites for coating fretless fingerboards.

    Flex Coat is another company which makes various epoxies. G4 is one of their popular ones, similar to T-88. They sell mostly in smaller quantity packages to hobby and sporting goods shops.

    And of course, 3M has a whole catalog of specialized industrial epoxies for all kinds of things. Real good products for their specific applications, and real expensive.

    And then there's Smith & Co., who make a special high strength epoxy just for gluing difficult waxy, oily woods. It was originally called Tropical Hardwood Epoxy back in the 1990's. Then it became All Wood Epoxy for a while. Then it was upgraded to Oak & Teak Epoxy.

    That's a quick rundown of most of the epoxies that I'm familiar with. Most of the epoxies sold in big box hardware stores, hobby shops, and auto parts shops are the "structural repair" type, like T-88 and G4. These are the thicker, higher viscosity epoxies better suited for repair type jobs.

    For what we do, which is tightly fitted laminations of hardwoods, I recommend the marine-type epoxies, like West Systems and System Three's General Purpose Epoxy.
     
    rwkeating and chinjazz like this.
  15. Hey T Bone,

    Thanks for the words of wisdom on mixing and transfer method!

    That Crazy Eddie reference made me laugh! I grew up in NYC and remember all of those commercials. Funny time back then! The PEP website is definitely from the dawn of the internet :). I'll have to check out the prices. Which ones do you typically use from them?

    I just went into my bin and found that I used System Three T-88 for the veneer pet head a few years ago. Probably won't use it for this build though.

    Side note, do all cats like to sit in Amazon boxes?

    IMG_0550.JPG

    Sorry had to do a station break :)

    Thanks!
     
    Bugeyed Earl likes this.
  16. Thanks Bruce!

    Your infinite wisdom and depth of knowledge is amazing and I truly appreciate it!

    As I mentioned to T Bone, I have some T-88 but will opt to not use it for this build, void fulling and grain filling.

    My last re-finish I ran an experiment with Solarez UV cure grain filler and the poly gloss. It came out ok, but not not as high gloss as Nitro. So, I'm shielding that for a bit.

    I'm sure others know this but for high gloss after grain filling with West Systems, what are good options for high gloss? At the moment I don't have a spray setup (current, but not permanent constraint). Key for me is again "on a budget".

    Thanks!
     
  17. T_Bone_TL

    T_Bone_TL

    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    Cats generally like boxes, especially if they are small. I also have one that likes Bass cases. Due to my personal biases informed by my wallet crowbar (I'm cheap?) and no need for air shipment, I use the basic no-blush. I also have some filler to make paste/putty when needed. I use it kinda slow and it does turn kinda yellow with time (you can call that amber if it makes you happier...)
     
    chinjazz likes this.
  18. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
    IMG_0514.JPG The west coast system was used in this repair, the headstock and neck was cracked pretty bad,it's stronger now than before!!
     
    chinjazz likes this.
  19. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    CRAZY EDDIE!!!!!! I haven't thought of that guy in decades; thanks for the laugh. That was back when Howard Stern was just a local punk on the radio and you could go down to 48th street and buy a mid '50s telecaster at WE BUY for $500 with no case but there was a strong chance you'd have to use it for self defense before you made it back home. NYC was a whole different place back then.....


    Crazy Eddie:

     
    Bugeyed Earl likes this.
  20. Rôckhewer

    Rôckhewer Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Mesa, Arizona
    Owner/Builder- RockHewer Custom Guitars LLC
    If you can SEE the dried color of the glue of a laminated neck joint.. AT ALL ... then your joint prep and/ or clamping methods... need serious, further attention!
     
    james condino likes this.