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MMD > Archives > August 2000 > 2000.08.27 > 05Prev  Next


Piano Restorer Loves Hot Glue
By D. L. Bullock

Well, I must weigh in on the debate to state in no uncertain terms
the following:  If you hate hot glue, you don't know how to use it!

Let me repeat: If you hate hot glue, you don't know how to use it!

I used to be one of you.  Hot glue was a mess.  You never quite know
how much water-to-glue to use, right?  You have to keep futzing with
it, right?  You have to make a lid to the glue pot with a brush hole,
because that cockamamie "Hold Heet" company did not send a lid with
the pot.

The glue gets dry so you find yourself adding water.  You put too much
water in and it must sit without the lid until it evaporates enough
water off or you have to add glue flakes, right?  You go too long
between times of using it and the glue molds or corrodes a hole into
the glue pot liner so you need a new one, right?  You find that the
gadget they put inside the liner to wipe your brushes on rusts and
spoils the whole pot of glue, right?  The list of problems is endless,
right?

Wrong on all counts!  I have not had any of those problems for many
years now, ever since I took out the glue pot liner and its brush
wiper, and the brushes and put them all on the shelf for some future
use if it ever comes.

I had several hundred translucent plastic squeeze bottles made.  They
look much like the squeeze bottles used for putting honey on your
breakfast biscuit.  They are the perfect size for three of them to fit
into the "Hold Heet" glue pot with the metal liner removed.  (NEVER put
water into the glue pot without the liner in place.  It will leak into
the electrical element.)

I now use the system of making up a big pot of hot glue in the kitchen.
You can use a double boiler or microwave.  Never boil the glue!  When
the glue is the right consistency pour it into the plastic bottles and
refrigerate them.  Put the lids on them when cool.  If you keep these
in the bottom of the fridge, they keep very well until you need them.

I fill at least a dozen bottles at a time.  They last me several
months.  After weeks of storage, before you use the glue, open the
lid and make sure there is no mold.  If there is some, run water into
it and rub the mold spot with a finger to get ALL of it out.  Rinse it
several times or for several seconds under running water.  With this
system, I nevermore get mold when bottles are in the actual glue pot.

I use hot glue on *everything*: hammer installation, all felt gluing,
pneumatics, pouches, making up valves -- practically everything.
I find other odd uses for the stuff as well.  It usually bonds quickly
without clamping, usually by just pressing down and holding for half
a minute.  I do clamp pneumatics or other wood joints, but watch for
skating there, as with any glue.

My two glue pots keep six bottles going at one time.  They are on
whenever the lights go on in the shop.  If I leave over the weekend,
Monday morning the glue is still fine when it heats.  If I go on
a week's trip I will remove the lids, let a skin form, replace the
lids and refrigerate the glue.

I let the glue heat for about thirty minutes after the pot comes on,
and it is usually ready.  The only thing you may have to do once in
a while is to open the glue pot up with the two screws and adjust the
potentiometer in the bottom a little hotter (clockwise).  This is
because the glue has no contact with the heated sides except through
the plastic bottle, and since there is no water in the pot it must heat
a few degrees hotter.

You can use a candy thermometer to see that the glue in the bottles is
heating to 140F to 155F degrees.  Don't let it go over 160F.  I keep
one pot hotter than the other as it makes that glue slightly thinner.
The bottles do get too hot to handle in the hotter pot.  I alter a foam
soda can into a "bottle cozy" to allow use of hot bottles and to keep
the glue hot a little longer.

Use the first bottle of glue for about 10-15 minutes, put it back and
go to the next bottle.  Using this system, I never have to add water
unless I need much thinner glue for a special application.  I never
have to leave the lids off or add glue flakes.  I squeeze the glue out
exactly where I need it and spread it with a pinkie.  On rare occasion
I use a brush.

Warning!  The one catch in using this method is that every time you pick
up a bottle of glue to use it, you must squeeze some of the air out of
it first.  This means you squeeze, turn it over, then you have complete
control over how much comes out.  You set it down and release the
squeeze, sucking air back into the bottle and clearing the spout hole.

The novice has the problem of picking it up, not squeezing, and blowing
glue all over everything.  As you may know when you shake something hot,
it expands the air and it will actually blow glue out the spout.  If
you get into the squeeze habit you also never have the other novice's
problem of having to clean out the spout all the time.  When I have
an assistant that is constantly wasting time cleaning out the spout,
I know he is not squeezing.

I have sold my glue bottles to several folks on this list (3 bottles
for $2.00).  I would like to hear from them as to how much time they
have saved by using my system.

I also use hot glue exclusively to restore pipe organ chests and
reservoirs.  I clean up pouch boards with folded rags and hot water
or running hot water.  Hot glue cleans up very fast with a scrub brush,
and I remove no wood.  Anything you use hot water on, though, must be
dried fast, either in the sun or in front of a big fan.  I have never
had any warpage using the hot water, quick dry system, either.

If I am putting down bellows cloth or leather or anything else, and
I have decided that the glue cooled off too much, I get out my old
(pre-steam era) electric iron from the Goodwill store, and set it on
low heat or Rayon settings and press things.  It is not hot enough to
damage leather or rubber cloth, but it liquefies the glue as needed.

When I do a reservoir all things are put on with hot glue.  I use tacky
glue on things that are too slick for hot glue, or for sealing around
nipples (when not using burned shellac), but I am afraid to use it on
gussets (reservoir corners) because it will peel off under higher
pressures.  I figure if the factory used hot glue and it lasted 80
years, that is a good reason to use it again.

I also find absolutely no functional use for any contact cement in this
business, as it falls off in about 6 years.  I have mentioned all this
before, as can be found in the MMD Archives.

"Amen!" to Craig Brougher's latest hot glue sermon, by the way.

D. L. Bullock   Piano World   St. Louis


(Message sent Sun 27 Aug 2000, 07:12:12 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Glue, Hot, Loves, Piano, Restorer

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