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MMD > Archives > November 1996 > 1996.11.06 > 09Prev  Next

Comparisons Between Glues
By Craig Brougher

Some readers have had some nice things to say about their own glues, and fully endorse the white and yellow carpenter glues for player piano work. While nothing I can say here will, by itself, change their mind, to those who are still on the fence about it, I would like to say this; A player restored with yellow glue throughout is practically unrebuildable the second time. You have rebuilt it for the last time. I do not criticize rebuilder's methods, personally, but I certainly will in this instance, in general!

So now that I've stuck my neck way out on this subject, maybe someone will explain to everybody here how to get yellow glue (especially) out of the wood. I've asked this question before with no results, but one never can tell who might be listening today.

Anyway, the first rule of restoration is, "DO NO HARM." And since the use of white and yellow glues do irreversible damage and render a player mechanism a tomb, then I most strongly object to their use, and would also appreciate anyone else who is conscientious and objects to ruinous materials to write in with your experiences about this, too.

There is also a lot of talk about fish glue that isn't true. Fish glue is not strong. Wasn't intended to be. It's used for an instant "tack" for things like forming reservoir boots and things in the pipe organ trade. It is very convenient, and works great for what it is intended to be used for. It has been used for centuries for things like this.

It is not successful in areas of continual high humidity if left unsealed because it is highly soluble even after drying. [You can slightly moisten dry fish glue and wipe it right off.] It also requires that soft parts joined should be shellacked or coated to prevent moisture from loosening it years down the line. If anyone remembers the old "Lepages" glue they used in kindergarten to stick valentines on a page, then they remember fish glue! Warm up a can of Lepages, and you have (roughly) "HOT" fish glue. But put a player together with Lepages, and in a few years, you will have to do it again, and again, and again, in certain localities. That isn't what the glue is designed for.

By the way, the belief that you can press a pneumatic down in wet carpenter glue, pick it up again and see if it's going to be a 100% bond is false. You can even let the two parts get tacky first, then stick them together and weight them down for 24 hours, sand down to the joint, and STILL find an uneven pattern. The reason? Carpenter glue will not dry until all the moisture has been absorbed by the wood. Since it never fully sets wet, like hot hide glue, by cooling and jelling, it MUST leave a lacy trace behind as the moisture gets out of the way. So even the best joint with carpenter glue will only be 80-90% because of the percentage of moisture in the glue and the fact that it does not prevent thin boards like pneumatics from curling up from the wetting action. It also is not designed to fill voids, which otherwise leak, too.

As far as hot hide glue stinking, those that say hide glue stinks probably don't use it, or know the proper way it is to be used. When they say it's too much trouble and bother, they have just told you they actually know little about it. It is the glue of choice for all legitimate rebuilders, stronger than any carpenter glue (when selected knowledgeably and used fresh), and its bond is perfectly airtight every time! It jells to fill voids and gets a "death grip" on parts as it sets, preventing them from curling away and allows perfect bonds without clamping. It is also removeable, and allows your player or band organ to be rebuilt by the next generation. Isn't that important to you? If not, then perhaps the next point will be:

If you are selling to a wise collector, he may buy your instrument on the promise that only original or easily removeable materials have been used! Otherwise, he knows that he is just buying a pig in a poke! (Exclusions noted right on the bill of sale!) And the penalty would be that the seller (you) would be liable for the cost of removal and restoration of all parts (other than broken wood repairs) restored with unremoveable glues. "Your signature please-- just sign right here." Or, just as bad, you will be marked as a rebuilder not to be trusted, and other buyers will (and should) be steered away from your door almost as if by magic. And if you write us here on the internet and proclaim that you use carpenter glues universally in your instruments, I doubt that you will find many buyers for these glue-entombed instruments once you have made this clear. So repent and be saved!

Craig B.

(Message sent Wed 6 Nov 1996, 14:46:41 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Between, Comparisons, Glues

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