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Kay upright bass
Q: I have a Kay upright bass. From time to time the plywood edges start separating and they need to be re-glued. Is a Titebond Liquid Hide Glue a good choice or would Elmer’s wood glue be better?
A: I have always used medium viscosity superglue. It is clear and looks like finish when it dries. If there is bare wood, as well as separations, you can stain it with a felt pen before you put the glue on. For a dark brown Bass I start with a light tan pen. The wood soaks up the ink and gets much darker. If you started with a dark brown pen it would be way too dark.

    I have a special prejudice against Titebond Hide glue. Hide glue is the finest glue available for most projects. Titebond Hide has very little in common with real Hide glue. And, the Titebond needs to be fresh to work at all and because of its very limited appeal, I have never seen a bottle that wasn't past its expiration date. Elmer's wood glue would work, and it would be easier to clean up any slops.  The joints will swell, but then shrink down again as the glue dries. The ink trick still works but you are covering it with a semi-opaque soft plastic.  If there are gaps and unevennesses to fill, superglue will fill them. Elmer's will just shrink down into them. Most of the volume of Elmer's is water which goes away as it dries. It would take many applications to do any filling.

    Please note that I said medium viscosity, like a Stew-Mac #20. Hardware stores stock only the watery kind, which would all disappear into the wood, and the thick kind which might work but tends to glob. Have a rag and superglue solvent ready in case of drips. A steady hand is much more effective than clean up. Test the flow rate on a tongue depressor before you risk your bass. Kicker can make the super glue dry almost instantly, but air drying, while slower will give you a smoother surface. If you have a big gap to fill, carve and fit a piece of tongue depressor into the hole. For a very small hole, spray it lightly with kicker first. This will make the glue dry from the bottom up. If you fill the hole with a puddle of glue and then shoot kicker, the surface will harden, sealing liquid glue underneath. If your final surface is bumpy or spikey, smooth it down with knives, files, sand papers and a little steel wool. Avoid letting your smoothing tools touch the original finish.

Steve Mason

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