Help me remove old glue from fretboard

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by dharmafool, Jun 6, 2008.

  1. dharmafool

    dharmafool Member

    Messages:
    1,119
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2005
    I recently acquired a Gibson electric with an ebony board. It's all good, except for one thing: Above and below most every fret there is glue residue, presumably slop from seating the frets.

    I don't know much about using glue to help seat fretwork, but I thought that builders who go with that method used real thin Krazy-glue type stuff. I doubt what I'm seeing is that sort of adhesive. It's more like Titebond or hide glue, as it's got a yellow cast and is slightly viscous and tacky. It's definitely causing friction as I play lines or slide my fingers on the strings. It's also gunking up my fingers and strings, particularly once I have a little hand perspiration going and the neck and board are warmed with my body heat.

    What's the best way to remove this residue from along the frets? Naptha? Steel wool? Micromesh? Something else?

    Thanks in advance.


     
  2. alltone

    alltone Member

    Messages:
    257
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2008
    Location:
    Huntsville, Ontario, Canada
    Hide glue, one would expect, would be water soluble. If not.....I use methyl hydrate quite often. It does not attack finishes.
    A tooth brush for cleaning off the residue once you can determine what will soften it. Good luck, Cheers,Doug.
     
  3. Rich Rice

    Rich Rice Member

    Messages:
    1,051
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago NW 'Burbs
    If you choose to use a solvent, you may cause a bigger problem if the frets are glued in- be extremely sparing, as solvents will want to wick under the frets. This could cause the frets to come loose if they are held in with the glue. Can you scrape the excess off?
     
  4. dharmafool

    dharmafool Member

    Messages:
    1,119
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2005
    Exactly. I don't know whether to use a solvent or something abrasive. What would you use as a scraper, Rich? I initially thought of a clean Gem blade, but maybe it's too thin, hmm? I'd be happy to try scraping if I was confident I had the proper tool.

    OTOH, is Formby's Buildup Remover (containing aliphatic hydrocarbons) an acceptable solvent for this repair? I've worked with it before, but not for removing hardened adhesive. I'm guessing I can use it sparingly enough to keep it from wicking, long as a small amount of solvent (and some elbow grease) will do the trick.

    I'm definitely open to more input here.

    Thanks.
     
  5. alltone

    alltone Member

    Messages:
    257
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2008
    Location:
    Huntsville, Ontario, Canada
    If the excess glue is soft at room temp, you could try removing the majority with a guitar pick or plastic knife. A heat lamp may soften the residue further.The remainder may be removed with a Q Tip and then the toothbrush using the correct solvent sparingly.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2008
  6. Rhomco

    Rhomco Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,482
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2005
    Location:
    Burleson, Texas (DFW)
    Dont use a solvent! Get yourself some microscope slides ($10.00) and scrape the glue off. Works on bindings or fretboards just as well.
    Good luck,
    Rob
     
  7. dharmafool

    dharmafool Member

    Messages:
    1,119
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2005
    Microscope slides ordered. Will report back after trying them. Thanks for the suggestion, Rhomco.
     
  8. Rich Rice

    Rich Rice Member

    Messages:
    1,051
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago NW 'Burbs
    Yep. glass is the ticket. I use it on bindings all the time. Stubborn spots get a little attention from a single edge utility knife blade (sans handle). Polish afterward with 0000 steel wool.
     
  9. dharmafool

    dharmafool Member

    Messages:
    1,119
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2005
    Glass slides and steel wool did the trick. Used a single-edged blade in one or two places and it was perfect.

    Everything is a lot cleaner and smoother now, just the way I like it.

    Thanks to all for your help.
     
  10. Rich Rice

    Rich Rice Member

    Messages:
    1,051
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago NW 'Burbs
    Awesome. Glad it worked!
     

Share This Page