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Renaissance Workshop Company
The foremost manufacturer of early musical instruments worldwide

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Musical Instruments
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Glues and Adhesives

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I've read that you should wipe the surface of rosewoods and other oily tropical woods with acetone or naptha right before you glue them. Should I prepare the joint this way before gluing?

The consensus of our most experienced customers is no, you should not. It seems to make for a weaker joint. The reports we have of glue joint failure in rosewood or cocoblolo is that it generally occurs after treatment of this type.

Do I have to use epoxy to glue rosewood and other oily tropical woods?

The consensus of our most experienced customers is that Titebond and hot hide glue work just fine, but they caution that you should glue the fresh joint immediately, and not let the wood sit unglued after you plane your joint.

What's the best glue?

There's no single "best" glue, but there are several that have proven themselves over the years, and in the case of hide glue, over centuries.

Not all glues are created equal so don't assume that any glue readily available to you is good enough for your instrument - different formulations greatly affect quality, especially with yellow glues and epoxies.

Some glues have a shelf-life and will expire, yellow glues especially should be fresh.

Here's a quick guide to the strengths and weaknesses of the most popular glues. Note that there's a continuing emphasis on disassembly. The components of musical instruments as fingerboards, necks, bridges, tops, or backs need to be removed in order to replace broken parts or just because they're worn out. Some future repair person will either bless you or curse you based on your choice of glues.




Hide glue

Traditional instrument builders' choice. Very strong, can be disassembled for repair. Invisible joints with good woodworking technique.

Dry granules must be mixed with water, heated, then kept at a steady temperature. There is a learning curve.

Premixed liquid hide glue


Weaker than fresh-mixed hide glue. Not recommended for lutherie.

Titebond Original
Elmer's Probond Yellow Glue
(PVA, Aliphatic Resin glue)

Convenient, strong, easy to use over a wide range of temperatures

More difficult to disassemble/repair than hide glue. Oily/resinous woods (most tropicals) may require special preparation. Some joints, such as neck scarf joints, may creep over time, one year shelf life.

Titebond II, Titebond III

Waterproof (II), longer open time (III)

Not recommended for lutherie, doesn't dry hard.

Elmer's Yellow Carpenter's Glue

Low chilling temperature

Not recommended for lutherie, doesn't dry hard.

Plastic Resin/Urea Formaldehyde/UF
Cascamite seems to be the most popular brand

Strong bond, unlimited shelf life of powder, dries hard. Excellent for lamination.

Light tan color may show line when joining light woods. Difficult to disassemble. Powder is an irritant/sensitizer.


Strong bonds, can be used clear or with fillers/wood flour. Best for joining dissimilar materials such as wood and metal, works well on oily tropical woods.

May break down under heat. Some epoxies are waxy, potentially deadening instrument resonance.

Polyurethane glue ("Gorilla" is the most readily available brand but many people don't like it, they prefer "Probond.")

Convenient, strong. Gap-filling properties.

Stains skin, gap-filling foam is weak. Disassembly is difficult. Limited shelf life.

Cyanoacrylate/CA/Krazy/Super glue

Very fast bonding, dries hard and clear. Available in various consistencies. Good for strengthening porous woods. Good for repairing some clear finishes.

Low shear strength. Becomes brittle and releases under heat. May destroy some finishes. Reacts with some metals. Easily attaches fingers to objects under construction and to one another. Fumes are an eye irritant.


Copyright © 1999 Renaissance Workshop Company Ltd.
Last modification: 17 de septiembre de 2010
Phone & Fax:(+34) 91 450 30 50