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NorCalluthier

 

Posts: 136
Joined: Apr. 16 2016
 

Hide glue pore filler? 

Hello All,

It looks like I'll never end my search for a clear pore filler that I can make work!

I use hot hide glue for almost everything in the guitar because I think it makes a better sounding instrument---Richard Bruné agrees...It's a lot easier to use than it has the reputation for being. I'm thinking of using it as a pore filler---no wood dust added as that gives a muddy look.

I know that Gene Clark had some objections to using it as a filler, though I've never been quite sure what they were. Anybody had any experience using it for filling?

Cheers,

Brian
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 14 2020 1:14:05
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7545
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

Hide glue is a bad filler because it’s hygroscopic. It shouldn’t be used as a filler because it becomes soft and can rot it’s left too thick.
Sometimes people use thinned glue as way to raise grain and get it stiffen so they can scrape or sand it. But it’s not the best substrate for varnish or shellac because uneven application can create glue ghosts in the finish. Hide glue can create a ground that takes the finish unevenly in how it absorbs and moves over the surface. Glue also masks the refraction of light into and back out of the wood - that’s what creates glue ghosts, uneven refraction.

Gene used aluminum stearate mixed with a tiny bit of glue to size and fill rosette tile end grain. Maybe experiment with that. Ever tried mixing pumice in epoxy and grinding it with a mortar and pestle until the pumice is cleared? Bet that would work.

There’s always Deft, it’s easy. Coat it sand back over a few times. A bit cloudy but it sands back. Nothing really beats pumice, but it’s not the funnest technique for everyone.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 14 2020 19:47:25
 
NorCalluthier

 

Posts: 136
Joined: Apr. 16 2016
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

Hello Stephen,

If hide glue were hygroscopic enough to matter, I think those of us that use it as our primary glue would be having trouble with joints failing. It has an excellent reputation for reliability over the long term, and it has certainly worked well for me for guitar joinery for nearly 60 years.

I've been working on this problem of a clear pore filler for many years, and have tried many products and techniques. I'll not take the time to go over the partial successes and failures here, but if anyone's interested, I love to talk shop on the phone:

707-961-1064

Cheers,

Brian
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 14 2020 21:05:27
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7545
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

Hide glue works for assembly because it’s best quality it that it bonds materials at a molecular level. The bond between well prepared surfaces that meet flat are more than a mechanical bond. If the joint is tight the glue is so thin there’s not enough of it to collect moisture.

If you fill things that are as big as wood pores then there is enough glue in the pore to collect moisture. It can collect moisture from the finish solvent like alcohol or atmospheric moisture. A shellac film is not impervious to water, it sheds contact water, but water molecules can pass through shellac films. This is part big the reason tap plates glued on with white glue dry. The water evaporates through the shellac slowly and through the top.

A thickness or glob of hide glue can gain moisture in some conditions because shellac is a barrier that water molecules can pass through. If a guitar player is a big sweat maker the moisture from their body can permeate a shellac film, if the substrate or ground includes relatively big globs of hide glue, like some pores are tenths of mm deep then the moisture can get withheld under the shellac film long enough for the glue to attract it and change into moist glue.

Do the science, I didn’t invent this.

In addition to that, all finish material has a refractive index, which means it allows a certain amount of light to pass through it, hit the wood cells below it and refract back out of the wood and hit your retina, which then creates a picture for your brain. Glue has a low refractive index compared to varnish or shellac (clear or near clear) it allows more light to pass into the wood and back out to your retina.

You can get a comparison chart of materials refractive indexes in Ralph Mayer’s classic The Artists Handbook. He also talks about hydroscopic glue and how it behaves. You can also reference Max Doerners book on artist material. Or visit meastronet forum and ask the violin makers about hygroscopic properties of glue. Several of the regular members are chemists.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 15 2020 2:14:31
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7545
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

One of the reasons Gene was so good is that if he didn’t know something he’d go to the library and study intensively. Then come back and teach it chapter and verse.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 15 2020 2:35:23
 
Echi

 

Posts: 650
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

Great 3D.
The traditional English french polish method uses to seal the wood with diluted Hide glue as a ground for the schellac .
The most complete wood about historical varnishing methods (the Turco, only in Italian) is quite critical with this and reports the purpose of the English method being to better seal the wood of forniture exposed to the wet english environement.
The traditional french method is said having a siccative oil as a ground for a better transparency and light reflection. Torres’ shellac is reported to be plenty of oil.

Coming back to hide glue, Sacconi, a famous violin maker considered the most expert conosseur of Stradivari, used to seal the wood with very diluted hide glue.
This is what I learned from his disciple but I always preferred an egg wash.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 15 2020 11:08:50
 
NorCalluthier

 

Posts: 136
Joined: Apr. 16 2016
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

Hello All,

Many thanks for all the responses!

I'll be sanding back to the wood so that there isn't any glue left on the surface, just in the pores.

I'm starting a test today of a comparison of a shellac pore fill and an HHG pore fill. They both cure up hard, so I'm guessing that they will have about the same---minimal---effect on tap tone (Q). Plain shellac improves the Q of my LS redwood by about 30%, to my surprise!

I pre-finish parts, which is a trick that I learned while making furniture in Frank Ford's Gryphon building back in the early 1990's. Backs and sides are filled, and cured in a drying cabinet at 90-100° F., as are necks and bridges. I then proceed with French polishing when the guitar is all put together---notes available on request.

I worked for Gene Clark briefly in 1963, and have the highest respect for his work. Marc Silber and I in the early 1990's talked him into going back to building guitars.

We all have a tendency to fall in love with our own ideas, and Gene was no exception. Though we always remained friends, he had less than no interest in hearing anything about what I had learned. He had considerable technical background too, having been a radio ham, and a marine radio operator.

Cheers,

Brian
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 15 2020 17:10:59
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7545
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to Echi

Regards Torres’ shellac films on guitars proved have the original finish- where is the documentation of the microscopy analysis of this claim?

Second- Shellac and drying oils Do Not co polymerize under normal conditions or in Torres’ time.


—————

Regards Gene in the sixties and his second epoch- I think he was a legend in his own mind enough to make a wry self observation that he had two epochs like Torres. 1960 to 1978 and then the next epoch when he made the guitar of his second act in 1997. It was in 1997 that he made the first guitar of the second epoch.

There are a lot of guitar makers who are are good as Torres or as significant, Gene was perhaps one of them. I’m no judge. I observed that as he spoke about the 1960’s the thing that became apparent was that he was interested in the mastery of skill that spanned the time between the renaissance to the mid industrial revolution ( his marine radio career aside) in guitar making the mastery of the way makers up until Torres time solely engaged him. He learned his technique from a violin maker that he studied with in 1958-59-60 and used those techniques as a foundation.

During the sixties he often recalled to me that many people were enamored of new technology and worked in developing what he deemed as unnecessary short cuts to accomplish mastery of technique to build guitars. He wasn’t interested in bypassing the world of the 1550’s, he was completely engaged in old world ethics of craft and didn’t want to spend his time searching the space age era for what he very rightly considered to be extrinsic to his technique.

If that makes sense. He was fairly self contained as a craftsman after his studies with the violin maker and given he was trying to make guitars based on Torres through Barbero that technique served his needs. He told me straight up that he thought peripheral forays into trying to make renaissance technique better were esoteric distraction. He said there’s no substitute for actually sitting down and mastering technique, he saw no need to reinvent 1650 through 1900.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 16 2020 2:16:50
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7545
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

Eugene was a legend in his own mind to be sure- but at least half of that was completely justified.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 16 2020 2:18:28
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7545
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to Echi

Stewart Pollens’ 2010 monograph on Stradivari-

Pages 262 to 266 detail the use of Fourier trans-form infrared spectroscopy *FTIR on varnish samples collected by Sacconi from four Stradivari instruments- two violins from 1708 and 1710 and celli from 1730 and 1736-

The results were that the two things the investigators didn’t find were hide glue or any protein substances in any abundance on any original varnish samples, but trace amounts on sections that were overworked by old repairs. Second they didn’t observe the mineral ground that other investigators have said they’ve encountered.

The main thing they found was oil resin varnish layers, occasional shellac, and various color agents from charcoal to unidentifiable red /orange pigments.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 16 2020 3:50:40
 
Echi

 

Posts: 650
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

Just a couple of notes.
Re: Torres we must trust people who had access and examined many of his instruments: Romanillos, Waldner, Lodi and Bruné have a a very qualified say about Torres. Two of these luthiers report that the shellac finish in Torres guitars is very oily and I see no reason to doubt it.
Re: Sacconi I wrote that he (Sacconi), an important violin maker of Cremona himself, opted for diluted hide glue as a wood sealant.
Sacconi did many studies about the wood treatment used by Stradivari and the different oil varnishes used at the times of Stradivari.
I myself have a couple of “quaderni di liuteria’ bought in Cremona with the original discussion about the silicates found in the Stradivari violins etc.
Sacconi experimented for some years with different things and eventually opted for diluted hide glue. That’s what I meant above.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 16 2020 7:27:47
 
NorCalluthier

 

Posts: 136
Joined: Apr. 16 2016
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

Hello All,

When Gene and I first started the only information available, aside from A.P. Sharpe's booklet on Spanish guitar making, were books on violin making. The violin maker that he new in San Jose was Ernie Shertenlieb and we went to see him occasionally. We were both taken by the idea that an oil varnish was the best instrument finish.

I got hold of Michelman's book on making rosinate varnish, and influenced by Meyer's book on artists materials, I believe it was, went to the trouble of finding cold pressed linseed oil. I then synthesized the resins for my varnish, used dipentine as a solvent, and finished three guitars. It killed the treble on them all, even though I increased the resin content on the last two.

My conclusions from the oil varnish effort were that the treble might have come back to some extent in a long period of finish curing---I cured it with UV light. And that its damping effects were probably a good thing on violin tone, and that was why it had such a good reputation among violin makers.

So, all my experience since going back to guitar making in 1993 is that just shellac, and not much of it, is the best finish for nylon string instruments. Gene's use of walnut oil is one place where we differ.

I wrote an eulogy on Gene for American Lutherie when he passed away in which I described him as "The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met"---borrowed from the Reader's Digest series.

Cheers,

Brian
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 16 2020 22:45:42
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7545
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

I don’t understand where guys are coming from with your talk about materials:

Shellac and oil do not mix. I do not understand what “oily French polish” means- if someone used a drying oil under shellac, that hardened up more than a hundred years ago and you can’t analyze it unless you do some method of spectrometry on a sample.

Synthesized resin to make oil/resin varnish? ??
The resin comes from pine trees. Unless you are a pine tree you aren’t making resin.

Why don’t you just sit down for a few days and actually learn to use the pumice? Is that too difficult?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 17 2020 0:18:00
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 1979
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to estebanana

quote:

Why don’t you just sit down for a few days and actually learn to use the pumice? Is that too difficult?


Steve, I think what Brian is referring to is a quick fix, and I can totally agree with that scenario.

The problem is that there is nothing that will totally be without some shrinkage unless he wants to hang the guitar for about a year and then nothing is going to be perfect.

And that's the beauty of French polishing.

Gernot Wagner told me that it takes 8 days to finish off his guitars, and they definitely show shrinkage, but that's the beauty of his work.

Years ago, Tim Miklaucic, Guitar Salon told me that my French polish was so perfect that the finish looked like Formica so he asked me to give it a little more hand done appearance.

So, I guess the moral to this is that you can't please everyone:-)

BTW, I agree with your research.

_____________________________

Tom Blackshear Guitar maker
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 17 2020 1:23:41
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7545
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to Tom Blackshear

There is no such thing as a quick fix.
My first teacher Mr. Tenney told me when I was a senior in high school- he said look, this instrument will last for 400 years if it’s passed on and doesn’t get caught in a fire or otherwise destroyed. It’s worth it to do it right, there’s no quick route, you have to put the time into the instrument.

We live in time when people can’t understand that. We are not different than the people who made these kinds of flamenco guitars before us.

It would be hilarious if musicians did the same kind of avoidance learning to play-

Oh that F chord, I need to find a way around using that. Do you know any thing that sounds exactly like an F, but isn’t an F chord?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 17 2020 5:28:58
 
Echi

 

Posts: 650
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

Estebana, by oily finish I mean to 2 things.
The most obvious (no need to say it) is that there are different french polish techniques and while nowadays many luthiers tend to use as less oil (as pad lubricant) as possible, in the past it used to be the opposite. What you call the spiriting off process after any session wasn’t common at all. A lot of oil ended up being trapped between the different layers of shellac.
Also different oils where used in different french polish traditions: in my area a specific “olio paglierino” was used, a product you won’t find in other countries.

The second aspect is the preparation of the surface; the book I quoted (written by A. Turco) clearly teaches to use a receipt of linen oil as preparation of the wood before french polish, in order to give a better light reflection to the film.
This technique was very common in France as opposite to the use of hide glue, common in England.

Nowadays people wants an unnaturally thick and transparent shellac film and this is just something different from what french polish has been for centuries.
Summarising, diluted hide glue was used in England to prepare the surface before polishing (which is in relation with this 3D) and by Sacconi. We don’t know how Torres did it but we know his french polish was in line with the methods used at his times: thin, cloudy and oily. Luca Waldner still today uses a french polish technique which requires a good amount of oil.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 17 2020 6:54:28
 
NorCalluthier

 

Posts: 136
Joined: Apr. 16 2016
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

Hello Stephan,

I've tried different grades of pumice and different techniques for using it, and the results I've gotten have ended up with a good deal of wood dust in the pores. That looks muddy to me, and so I've been trying to come up with a clear fill.

Nobody has ever accused me of trying to get a quick fix---just ask my wife! There is virtually no ridiculous extreme that I'm not willing to go to, if it promises to result in what I think is a better guitar.

Gene "mixed" walnut oil with his shellac. When I asked him how much, he said "Some". So it was not just for lubricating his pad, it was to produce a more durable finish. He told me that his finishes stayed "tender" for up to a year. That sounds to me like the time required for the walnut oil to take on oxygen and polymerize.

Cheers,

Brian
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 17 2020 16:45:23
 
NorCalluthier

 

Posts: 136
Joined: Apr. 16 2016
 

Rosinate varnish (in reply to NorCalluthier

Hello again Stephan,

Michelman "rosinate" varnishes start with pine rosin. He modified them with chemicals that were readily available to the old Cremona violin makers in order to duplicate their various varnish colors. Perhaps I should not have used the word synthesized.

John Dick, a classical builder in Iowa, has had some experience formulating rosinate varnishes, and says that though they start out duplicating the old Cremonese varnish colors, they fade over time.

The last I heard, nobody had figured out how the old guys got their transparent, colored varnish. Apparently it was not restricted to violin makers, but was used by other trades as well.

Cheers,

Brian
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 17 2020 17:20:53
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 1979
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

"Gene "mixed" walnut oil with his shellac. When I asked him how much, he said "Some". So it was not just for lubricating his pad, it was to produce a more durable finish."


Maybe I'm wrong but Somehow, walnut oil marries with shellac and sets up its own hardness. I used organic walnut oil on several of my guitar finishes and it makes for a quick build-up of finish but does not polish out very well, or at least, not as shellac and olive oil, so I finished off the surface with shellac and olive oil, then compounded out with a final polishing method.

_____________________________

Tom Blackshear Guitar maker
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 17 2020 17:31:06
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7545
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

It’s worth repeating that drying oils and shellac do not mix or copolymerize because drying oils aren’t soluble in alcohol.

Ok? That’s just basic high school chemistry.

I’m just resign while I’m behind because neither of you ever listen. Gene said a lot of things, doesn’t mean he actually did them. And I know because I was there talking about walnut oil in shellac because we were assuming it copolymerized, what actually happened next is that I consulted chemist who disabused me of this falsehood.

But it’s ok, carry on with your fantasies about the physics and chemistry.

BTW nobody uses Michelmann’s varnish recipe these days for two reasons A. It’s a fabulous way to blow up your house. And B. The cremonese didn’t make varnish that way, and there is a ton of literature in the violin making community that explains why.

You guys are nice and all, but you need to admit you haven’t kept up o the topics you’re speaking of. You could get away with this malarkey in 1975, but all this folklore has been undergone analysis in the scientific community that does instrument conservation science.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 18 2020 3:58:52
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7545
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Hide glue pore filler? (in reply to NorCalluthier

One thing before I go back to the hole I crawled out of-

Why don’t you try what I suggested and simply mix pumice with 60 minute open time clear epoxy. Then scrape it on with a credit card and sand it back the next day.

?? Magic bullet, you’re welcome.

😆

Here’s the tip, clear the pumice with alcohol ahead of time.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 18 2020 4:04:14
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