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Removing hide glue excess


DougP
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What is the best method to remove hide glue "squeeze-out" on joints such as when attaching top plates? I leave the spool clamps on until the glue has set, then have a hard time removing the glue line that protrudes. I can't get under the clamps to remove the glue while it is still soft. I searched the forum and found many O&As about hide glue, but not anything on removal of glue lines.

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My method is this:

Since I use locating pins, that has a tremendous effect on the way I do this. If you don't use them, you will have to adapt your methods accordingly.

Also, you have to make a dry run of clamping the plate beforehand - no short cuts - all of the clamps have to be put on adjusted and removed then laid out around the violin in order where they fit. If you encounter any "surprises" while gluing the plates on, or, if you have to stop and adjust each clamp to fit as you go - it just screws up the proceedure and takes way too long.

You need to start gluing the plate on at first with spool clamps at key positions - all the way around the plate, for example, one clamp at each corner one at each end block and one each mid bout. Make sure the plate is adjusted correctly and is just EXACTLY where you want it. Quickly wipe any excess glue squeeze out from the seam area in between the spool clamps at this point with a warm damp cloth. Then start adding the remaining spool clamps (they just need to be snug, they don't need to be CRANKED down) to fill in the empty areas, so that there is wall to wall spool clamps all the way around the plate.

At this point, I remove and replace the original clamps one by one and clean up the squeeze out that was behind those clamps with a combination of a damp cloth and a fairly stiff bristle brush dipped in hot (150 degree) water. Wipe the excess moisture off with a dry wash cloth as you go. I end up by removing individule clamps as necessary and cleaning the glue off and then re clamping them.

You can go around and remove-clean up-reclamp as much as you want to at that point, because removing a single spool clamp from between two adjoining clamps doesn't disturb the plate at all. I don't like there to be any trace of dried glue on the edge or ribs if I can help it.

It's just a matter of being meticulous.

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You can and must work around the clamps to get the glue out while it's wet. You'll find on many better violins that drying glue will contract and rip off the varnish if you don't! I use a small rule with a bend in the end to get under the clamps with a damp paper towel, so that every last bit is removed while the joint is under pressure. Craig's way is fine, too, but you want to make sure that putting the clamps back on doesn't squeeze out just a bit more that needs to be removed!

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Thank you all for the great advice. I have a great knack for making things over-complicated. I really appreciate the tips on how to glue up the top to the ribs. I made up enough spool clamps to go all the way around the top with very little clearance between them. There is a great wealth of knowledge and experience on this forum. I know a bit, but nothing like the members who have been doing this for years.

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Since you're begging for info :-) I do things almost like Craig, but just a bit differently. I do the corners first, and then the c-bouts between them. I get those spots just the way I want them, and clamped, because there's really nothing to be done--they sort of fit only one way, with a limited amount of pushing around that really doesn't affect anywhere else. Then I do the bouts by pushing things around until the average margin is right, and held with two or three clamps. Then I fill in the spaces, pushing things around a little as I need to. I don't use pins, so it's really important to get a view of the whole bout at once when you start clamping, to make sure the margin is distributed well.

If I'm putting a top back on an old violin, I'll do the center first, and make a preliminary neck pitch check, then the lower bout, and then the upper last, because once everything is held down elsewhere, I can do fine upward adjustments on the neck set by measuring it and adding a little shim under the end of the neck, if necessary. I always try to figure this out in advance, so I sort of know what the situation is going to be up there--for instance if the pitch is high, no matter what, I'll cut a little out of the notch in the top where the neck fits so the neck can fall forward a bit. Then when I glue the upper bout, I'll adjust that precisely with the aforementioned shims.

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I have done it the way Michael and Craig described in the past as well but recently I purchased a set of those garland gluing clamps (6 piece, one per bout) which I find much easier to use especially when cleaning up the squeeze out along the seam. You don't have to remove or loosen the clamps to get in there with hot water, a stiff bristle brush and a rag (or paper towel). Doesn't anyone else use these? The one thing that I do caution you on when using these is to be extra careful when clamping down because it is very easy to over tighten them which is not a good thing especially when the ribs get wet from cleaning up the glue ... Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way! I find this method much quicker and easier than using individual spool clamps

Joseph

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The problem with garland clamps is that they assume that the ribs won't be wavy in height, nor that you'll have to do a lot of local pushing around to make things fit. On old instruments such things are almost inevitable.

Locating pins are tiny pegs into the end blocks through the top or back that set the alignment in those areas.

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They are the tiny wooden dowels that you sometimes see near the center seam going into the neck and tail block at the extreme ends of the plates, usualy near the purfling. They are used for quickly locating the plate in position and holding it for gluing. They are usually about tooth pick sized in diameter,.

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Joseph, I use the same clamps as you do for the new instruments.

Used to clean the excess glue like Craig but changed the way.

Now wait untill glue get jelly and pick it up with a sharpened wooden stick (formed like a flat chisel No 2).There are no even a traces of glue remaining in the corners or onto the ribs.

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Yes, you are correct Michael, I should have mentioned that I was referring to using the garland set of clamps for new violins being made. Assuming that everything is close to where it should be (I use alignment pins most of the time as well) there is very little pushing around to be done. I still use the spool clamps in repair jobs as you suggest, especially on old violins which have had the top removed in the past.

Joseph

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Compleatly hiding the pins would be tricky, but some makers place them under the inlay. This means they put the inlay in after the body was glued together. I nice touch you see on most Strads is half the locating pins peeping out from under the inlay on the back.

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I still struggle with glue clean up. Currently, I wait till it gels, then scrape with a kind of a rounded 1/4" knife. the point gets into the corner, and the round plows it of. there really is alot of time in the gel stage, so I'm in no hurry. Then I wash and clean with a hot water brush and towel on a stick.

I agree. spanking clean no glue line , no surface glaze.

Even scrape a little wood.

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  • 11 years later...

I have done it the way Michael and Craig described in the past as well but recently I purchased a set of those garland gluing clamps (6 piece, one per bout) which I find much easier to use especially when cleaning up the squeeze out along the seam. You don't have to remove or loosen the clamps to get in there with hot water, a stiff bristle brush and a rag (or paper towel). Doesn't anyone else use these? The one thing that I do caution you on when using these is to be extra careful when clamping down because it is very easy to over tighten them which is not a good thing especially when the ribs get wet from cleaning up the glue ... Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way! I find this method much quicker and easier than using individual spool clamps

Joseph

I too use these clamps (A bit pricey from StewMac.com) and they are a great labor saver. Just use wet q-tips then follow up in the really bad areas with a thin screwdriver and damp cloth to remove areas of heavy glue. Best policy is to not get insane with the glue. If you feel you need a lot of glue to seal things then it would be better to level and test fit for a flush fit before glueing.

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