Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

glue for bow faceplate replacement

Mat Roop

Recommended Posts

General consensus seems to be that CA glue is used for replacing bow tip faceplates and splines.

But... I can find no info on which type of CA glue... ie... superthin? regular? thick?  although they say to use "fresh glue" and " industrial glue"

so my questions ...

1- is there a big difference between the hardware variety of CA vs industrial?

2-which viscosity to use? If you clamp first & dab the edges, will thin or regular wick all the way thru? or should the thick version be used first and then the surfaces mated & clamped/

btw... I have been using g2 epoxy for faceplates , so have no real experience with the CA glues. ... Thanks for your thoughts!... Mat


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let me get this started as lower- end thoughts.

There are a bunch of CA glues available for purchase. When I worked in manufacturing, it was possible to purchase "industrial" generic CA for relatively cheap. The distributor put their own name on the bottles. One learns to use what is available.

At hobby shops and and higher end maker groups, there are at least 3 viscosity types that I have seen including a gel. There are also instant set sprays and drips and releasing agents available. For a quick fix, I use CA because the can be carefully released. Splines have other issues, so will not necessarily recommend CA for splines though I have used the compound in most repairs. Try going online for further research and see what is available. I do buy the smaller bottles in quantities where I receive a discount. I never have finish a large bottle, nor a small bottle.

Become familiar with the materials purchased. With whatever you purchase, place a few drops on different surfaces and test how long it takes to set. Test while bonding, then experimenting scraping at the hardened material. I have sharpened end of a "dental pick" and will use that to scratch at what small amounts that has not wiped off. It allows one to get into tight spots. ( corners maybe. )  

I have handled/ repaired a bunch of school grade bows, so CA is very convenient given the short amount of time stopping by. It is also easy to show how it can be done to some teachers if only half of the tip fell off above the mortise. Loose buttons, rattling slides, etc. Even a bad repair by a teacher can be reversed in most instances. Lots of drink cups glued to the table.  

Given a higher- end bow, anything 5-digits $usd, even the ones I own, they are sent out to appropriate bow technicians. I just feel better about it and they see things I miss with faultier eyes. I still complete the rehairs.

For mid- priced bows, I have sort of changed things, in that I have started using weaker PVA glues. I am not suggesting you try this, only that it is my choice. I have plenty of older strips of ebony too, but with the advent of synthetic tips, fibre is finding its way on student bows. Of course these students bows are thousands of dollars but if the tip likely to experience similar stress, a shock that forced the break, that the newer fibrous material might be better than ebony. I have, perhaps fortunately, not seen enough examples to know what it looks like after the second break.

I do pre- thin ( 80% of target? ) pre- drill and sometimes pre- bend the tips before tying them on. Sometimes I soft clamp as tying can produce a mess, but PVA is easy to work with.

Still not sure if I like the fibre reinforced tips. 

On PVA glues, I use various titebond- like brands around the house. I have two bottles remaining of a European branded white PVA that is very cream to touch, but thin.

I resist suggesting a CA glue as I have not recently tested what is recently available. Out here in the west, I have purchased my personal CAs from hobby shops that tend to RC ( remote control ) planes and helicopters. The repair techs make good suggestions and explain how they and their customers use the CA. With CA repairs, I sometimes pre- stuff the mortise with a tiny rag or a strip of what is available, nylon mesh. I remove it just before or after tying just in case there is too much CA going everywhere. If there is finish on the bow, it's very difficult to scrape of the CA if it has flown everywhere.

Good luck and look forward to more learned responses. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don’t claim to be the ultimate authority on the subject, but I use CA glue for face plates and splines.  Since it’s all the same stuff — cyanoacrylate — I doubt that the brand makes much difference, but I always use the thin stuff for penetration and ease of application.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, not wanting to do a whole lot of experimentation and testing... here is a link to several Loctite glues available in small 3 gm sizing for about $8 Canadian or $6 US ....which for a smaller shop like mine is cost effective.


The spec sheet is included for each of the versions ... Loctite 401 low viscosity, 495 general purpose, 414 general purpose with more gap fill, and there is also a 409 gel from other suppliers.  

back to my original question... for those who have used ca glues, which type of glue do you use and does it effectively wick thoughout the entire tip liner?

Thanks for your advice!.... Mat

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I don’t claim to be the ultimate authority on the subject, but I use CA glue for face plates and splines.  Since it’s all the same stuff — cyanoacrylate — I doubt that the brand makes much difference, but I always use the thin stuff for penetration and ease of application.

I want to believe that CAs are the same. But 10+ years ago, the thin stuff used in manufacturing behaved more predictably than the thin stuff I purchase now...

In the drawer next to me, I have Satellite City ( Woodcraft? ) Bob Smith Industries ( which the RC store recommended ) Rockler, and something for Balsa that the label has come off... let me... I think it is the Zap brand, which offered a bunch of options early on. I certainly have a Zap catalyst and a Bob Smith "Insta-set" in their spray bottles.

Not knowing the fit or the materials in your project, my blind advice is that the BobSmith Superthin will virtually flow everywhere if you can move the tip side to side. There is workable time and not sure how much will get absorbed in the materials. 

Though I use Loctite brands for threaded metal construction, when offered CA bottles of Loctite, they just do not work as well. Let me be clear that it may not be the brand at all, as I respect what they offer, but perhaps the shape of the tip or the way the bottles have been stored... the results were not as precise as I had hoped.

The gel CA has never been useful. I can not get the gel to behave the way I think it should. So really, it is me more than the product.

Maestro Dorsey may have better suggestions.  Hope this was specific enough.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've only repaired few bows, my own or my childrens' including broken tips or lost faceplates and I've used CA. I've been using CA glues for mandolin binding and pearl inlays, filling fingerboard chips during refrets and many non instrument related jobs for years.

I've mostly used Loctite brand glues as nearly every grocery or hardware store holds them (I'm in EU). I use the 5g "triangular" bottles of thin liquid CA, and for binding gel in small tubes. These seem to be pretty strong, the gel is slightly flexible (much less than the illustration on package suggests) while the liquid dries hard. I've tried the cheapest no brand CA glues and they do work well but seem to be even thinner than the liquid loctite and on more porous woods they soak in before the glue has a chance to grab resulting in starved joints on spruce or such. On spruce I always use the gel. Or at least mix the gel and liquid on larger surfaces.

The tips of the get layer of dried glue after some time and I often scrape that off with knife but I don't recall a bottle going bad (though I  use it up always within a month or two) or tip clogging badly. I've tried the new 60-second Loctite variety but found out  while it looks similar to the gel CA it is significantly weaker.

You have to be careful with CA glues near any finishes (masking, clean hands etc.) and be prepared what to do quickly if any of the glue gets unexpectedly on the finish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have used Bob Smith Industries (BSI) CA glue.  My current bottle is packed and labeled exactly the same as BSI glue, and it even says "BSI" in small print on the label, but the big print on the label says "Hot Racing USA."  So I assume this is exactly the same product, manufactured and/or packaged by BSI, but sold under two different names.  This reinforces my suspicion that it's all the same stuff.  I wouldn't be surprised if it were sold under other names, too.

I have also used Zap and Aron Alpha.  But whatever the brand, I always use thin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for your helpful thoughts and experience...  I have ordered all 4 of the above versions and will try them as I go on. Using epoxy can also be a messy process, so I have always used a light tack masking tape to carefully cover the sides of the head ... makes clean up easier and quicker.... hopefully that works as well with CA glue.  Also, I clean the surfaces to be glued with acetone just before glue application. ...we'll see how it goes.

Cheers, Mat

Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 minutes ago, Mat Roop said:

…I clean the surfaces to be glued with acetone just before glue application…

I read somewhere that moistening wood with alcohol and letting it dry alters the PH in a way that improves the glue adhesion, so I do that.  I don’t know if it makes any difference.

When gluing bow face plates, I file the face of the head very lightly to clean it before applying the alcohol.  For other critical CA gluings, I often clean the surfaces with light scraping, water, acetone and alcohol.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...