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Gluing Fingerboards


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Hello, I know this seems like a basic question, but what kind of glue should I use to attach a fingerboard to the neck? I have searched this site, but can't find a definitive answer. I have seen some people recommend Titebond, while others claim that epoxy is the only good choice. Some people claim that backbow results from the moisture in Titebond, but others have used it without any trouble. These mixed opinions confuse me...what is really the best choice? I have never used epoxy before, but if that is best choice then I will learn to use it. Advice would be appreciated. :D

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Hello, I know this seems like a basic question, but what kind of glue should I use to attach a fingerboard to the neck? I have searched this site, but can't find a definitive answer. I have seen some people recommend Titebond, while others claim that epoxy is the only good choice. Some people claim that backbow results from the moisture in Titebond, but others have used it without any trouble. These mixed opinions confuse me...what is really the best choice? I have never used epoxy before, but if that is best choice then I will learn to use it. Advice would be appreciated. :D

This is one of those question's that will get various answers as everyone has an opinion on what works best. My opinion is that Titebond works just fine and I have never had any problems using it for gluing fretboards down. I am sure you will find other's who have had problems with it for some reason or another.

I have never used epoxy before for fretboards but I will try it soon to see which I prefer. I have some scrap wood that I might try an epoxy test on with a scrap fretboard so I don't waste a good board. As with Titebond I am sure other's have had problems with epoxy before. Who knows, maybe epoxy will turn out to be the best way for me but that doesn't mean it's the best way for other's.

In the end you will have to decide which is the best way for you to glue fretboard's to your neck. I started with Titebond but I am open to trying epoxy.

Good Luck,

Jeff

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I've been using the Smiths All-Wood Glue epoxy for fingerboards since I started. Because it was recommended to me, and because I still have a whole bunch of it, and it's just kind of habit now.

It's not hard to work with really, although you want to wear gloves if for no other reason than it's a pain to clean off your hands. It takes a little finessing to get a non-visible glue line. So I think I'm switching back to wood glue.

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I've been convinced into the epoxy camp and most definitely the shape the neck early camp. I save myself a load of work by shaping early, just wanted to remember to thank all who suggested such namely mattia. About two weeks after shaping the neck I had some backbow, not bad, but noticeble. Much nicer to take that off the neck than the fretboard or frets.

Anyhow, as for epoxy releasing with heat. It does this just as titebond does and is something to add in the benefits column of epoxy. Recently, I sanded an inlay and it became see-through on one side. This happened because I used thin scrap shell for the inlay and I didn't glue it together on a radius like I should have since it was thin, my fault. So, I was able to get the inlay out of the fretboard with a hairdryer in less than 5 minutes without any damage what so ever to the route. With some nice shell blanks I made a new block inlay and made it the actual size I wanted. Anyhow, I just want to really point out that epoxy is completey reversible as titebond and I mention this because people seem tentative to use it and shouldn't be. J

Inlay became see-through

Starting to remove inlay which was epoxied in

Finished removing inlay

Actually remembered to glue up at the proper radius

New inlay, best picture of it which is still crappy.

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What about slippage?

One thing I don't like about using wood glue is that it seems like the fingerboard is very prone to slipping under the clamps. Would I have the same thing with epoxy? (I don't like the stuff either, but I'm willing to give it a try).

On the other hand, from what I understand, the two glues form different types of bonds.

Wood glues seep into the wood and form a mesh of fibers with the wood--that's why the mechanical bond is so strong.

But from what I understand, epoxy is not meant to seep in, but instead remain on the surface acting as a joint between the two pieces. Which makes sense when gluing two objects made of different materials. But it also makes me wonder how it's possible to get an invisible glue line?

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Hello, I know this seems like a basic question, but what kind of glue should I use to attach a fingerboard to the neck? I have searched this site, but can't find a definitive answer. I have seen some people recommend Titebond, while others claim that epoxy is the only good choice. Some people claim that backbow results from the moisture in Titebond, but others have used it without any trouble. These mixed opinions confuse me...what is really the best choice? I have never used epoxy before, but if that is best choice then I will learn to use it. Advice would be appreciated. :D
'

Here is a nice article with pics for gluing fingerboard to neck.

http://gicl.cs.drexel.edu/people/sevy/luth...ard_gluing.html

Hope this helps, :D

-diatonick

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I'm in the epoxy camp. I had 2 incidents of back bow when using titebond, and none since switching to epoxy. The gluing area is so big that you can use most glues without concerns about creeping.

So what kind of epoxy do you use? 5min, regular? brand name?

I find that sometimes, the epoxy mix doesn't harden 100% (especially the regular Lepage Epoxy). The 5min Lepage epoxy seems to harden better.

The only thing I use epoxy for is for filling gaps. For gluing, it doesn't make sense to me. If you don't want a glue line, it seems to me like regular glue is best... or should epoxy also provide an invisible glue line?

I have the same question as Mickguard on this:

...But from what I understand, epoxy is not meant to seep in, but instead remain on the surface acting as a joint between the two pieces. Which makes sense when gluing two objects made of different materials. But it also makes me wonder how it's possible to get an invisible glue line?
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What about slippage?

One thing I don't like about using wood glue is that it seems like the fingerboard is very prone to slipping under the clamps. Would I have the same thing with epoxy? (I don't like the stuff either, but I'm willing to give it a try).

On the other hand, from what I understand, the two glues form different types of bonds.

Wood glues seep into the wood and form a mesh of fibers with the wood--that's why the mechanical bond is so strong.

But from what I understand, epoxy is not meant to seep in, but instead remain on the surface acting as a joint between the two pieces. Which makes sense when gluing two objects made of different materials. But it also makes me wonder how it's possible to get an invisible glue line?

I use wood glue, never used epoxy, and never had a problem with backbow due to moisture being added to the neck.

about the slippage, I always make 4 holes on the fret slots to avoid slippage. 2 on the first frets and 2 on the last frets, then I put pins (broken bits) on the holes. this way I can clamp as hard as I can and the pieces will not slip.

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Epoxy grips better than wood glue, but I still index with a pair of brads drilling through the fret slots. Two is enough. Remove them after the whole thing's glued up, presto, done.

As for epoxy: use something at least half-way decent, and something that takes more than 5 minutes to set. I'm currently using a 30 minute Z-poxy, but will be switching to some West Systems or an Italian brand the name of which escapes me momentarily, both with dosage pumps for accurate mixing. The stuff sands better than wood glue if it's decent quality, and isn't that tough to work with. Further advantage: 80 grit is as far as you need to sand. In terms of visibility, well, clamp well, and you shouldn't see a terribly clear glueline. In fact, you shouldn't really see one at all. Never seen problems, not even maple bindings to mahogany necks. You do need to mix the two parts fully, and get the proportions right.

Epoxy fills gaps and sticks to itself well, but it also has the adhesive/penetrating properties of a good wood glue. It's and-and, not or-or. There are also plenty of builders who laminate with epoxy (necks and the like), and it works fine.

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+1 on the west systems! I like the 206 hardener, a tad thinner than 205, little longer set time as well, which is beneficial for me personally, though not a big deal. The pumps are a blessing, so nice to have, wouldn't go without them now. I actually prefer to use epoxy now over other adhesives where ever I can, very nice to work with overall. All I need to say is try some west systems or other similar brand and then repost, I think you'll immediately see things differently. I know I did the first day I tried west systems, here is a picture after using it for the very first time. It was that big of difference, seriously.

West systems epoxy

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Has anyone tested the heat release of the West Systems? IIRC Mario Proulx specifically stated he used cheap hardware store epoxy to attach his fretboards, since it's plenty strong with the large glueing area, and releases easier than West Systems. I use Devcon 30 minutes, same stuff I use for grain filling.

Invisible glue lines are perfectly possible, just make your joints fit well and you'll not have a problem. Don't over clamp though, it's possible to starve an epoxy joint if you clamp too much.

I actually prefer to use epoxy now over other adhesives where ever I can, very nice to work with overall

Yeech - not me!! It climbs up my arms whenever I use it, and somehow magically turning up in places like my eyebrows and shoulders, where I *know* it can't have reached using methods explicable by conventional physics.

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It seems like people have had positive experiences with both types of glue. If I do decide to use epoxy, my next basic question is how do I use epoxy? I know it comes in two parts so how and in what should I mix them in and what should I use to spread it out with on the neck? Thanks for all the replies so far guys. :D

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As for West Systems releasing with heat, I didn't get temps or anything, but I was easily able to get my inlay out as I showed in my earlier post and all I needed to soften it was use a hairdryer! It was no problem and took like 5 minutes. So, I don't see having any problems what so ever with getting West Systems to release with heat. J

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As for West Systems releasing with heat, I didn't get temps or anything, but I was easily able to get my inlay out as I showed in my earlier post and all I needed to soften it was use a hairdryer! It was no problem and took like 5 minutes. So, I don't see having any problems what so ever with getting West Systems to release with heat. J

jason, why dont you ever post progress threads here? that fb looks amazing! you should show us what you are working on!

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Thanks! I will make a thread soon, I just work so slow everyone would get bored waiting for me to finish, so I'll just wait till I'm almost finished then make a thread to share. BTW thats the fretboard I got from Jon, just beautiful wood and will look great with the matching headstock plates. The next thing I am doing to that fretboard is going to be the toughest thing yet and the one that makes it look the best. It will look great as I already tried it on scrap, but it will be a pain to do well for me. This is a taste of what it will look like finished, it will be a pain overall, but should look nice. Scrap practice

Anyhow, thanks and I'll have lots to share soon as I am getting close to the finishing process, which is when I will share everything. That way if I royally botch the finishing process, at least I can say I did alright on the building part, lol. J

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Thanks! I will make a thread soon, I just work so slow everyone would get bored waiting for me to finish, so I'll just wait till I'm almost finished then make a thread to share. BTW thats the fretboard I got from Jon, just beautiful wood and will look great with the matching headstock plates. The next thing I am doing to that fretboard is going to be the toughest thing yet and the one that makes it look the best. It will look great as I already tried it on scrap, but it will be a pain to do well for me. This is a taste of what it will look like finished, it will be a pain overall, but should look nice. Scrap practice

Anyhow, thanks and I'll have lots to share soon as I am getting close to the finishing process, which is when I will share everything. That way if I royally botch the finishing process, at least I can say I did alright on the building part, lol. J

yeah, that test looks great! i wish i had some wood like that. it looks like some extreme cocobolo i have seen. cant wait for the thread.

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It seems like people have had positive experiences with both types of glue. If I do decide to use epoxy, my next basic question is how do I use epoxy? I know it comes in two parts so how and in what should I mix them in and what should I use to spread it out with on the neck? Thanks for all the replies so far guys. :D

This is just basic stuff, really whatever you like. I went and bought a bunch of little paper bowls at the store, they have like a wax coating so it doesn't get absorbed or anything. While I was at the store I bought some plastic spoons for mixing and distributing if need be. I just take a bowl hit one squirt from each can, one squirt resin, one squirt hardener. Then I mix with my little spoon and use it for whatever I need. You can apply it anyway you want, it really is the same as any other glue and clean up is nearly as easy, instead of using water and a rag like you would with titebond just use acetone and a rag for clean up. Like I said the difference between the average stuff you'll find and the ones mentioned is significant. For some reason I just get a kick out of applying to different woods to see how it looks. Here is some zebra with some epoxy. Thats what I do with my excess or throw it on some of my clamping cauls so they last longer. J

Yeech - not me!! It climbs up my arms whenever I use it, and somehow magically turning up in places like my eyebrows and shoulders, where I *know* it can't have reached using methods explicable by conventional physics.

:D I couldn't stop laughing when I read that, too funny.

Edited by jmrentis
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I asked this question to an experienced builder on another forum, and he responded that he has also used epoxy for gluing fingerboards, but has recently switched to using polyurethane glue. He has built many excellent basses, so I believe that he knows what he is talking about. Any other comments? I still haven't decided what I'll use, but soon I'll make a choice and then stop bothering everybody. :D Thanks.

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Polyurathane glues aren't formulated to bond wood to wood like wood glues and certain epoxies are, the bond is no where near as strong as wood glues and epoxies are. But it's not like the fingerboard takes on a great deal of pressure, I don't see any issue using a glue one is experienced with. Regardless, everyone will use what they like and what works for them. I use titebond because it is readily available locally and doesn't cost a great deal.

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Oh, I don't know, there are plenty of polyurethanes out there that do a perfectly good job of bonding wood to wood, and are designed to do so. I laminate end-blocks and other things that really never, ever need releasing (molds for acoustics, etc.) with Poly. Thing about poly is that it doesn't release, every, which is not something you want in a fingerboard, really.

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