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Repaired crack in spruce top is showing under seal coat
Author
Post
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 984
Hi all,
This is a little depressing. It is not really bad, but still.
When I was routing for the rosette in this top, I had the edge of the top plate hanging over the edge of my work bench. (I'll never do that again). I leaned in against it and the top split from the bottom up toward the upper bout about 7 inches, and in about 3 inches. I was able to glue and clamp the split, reinforcing it underneath, and when sanded, it did not show at all. I thought all was good. The repair is still good, this is not an open crack!

At the final sanding stage before finishing, this still did not show at all. I sprayed a couple of thin coats of Deft Sanding Sealer on the top, and sanded it back to the wood. It did not show at this stage. However, when I sprayed another good coat of the sealer, what was going to preclude the lacquer, the split now shows under good light and viewing it from an angle. From straight on, you can't see it, and looking across at oh, 70 to 90 degrees you can't see it. It sort of looks like a long pitch streak.
I am wondering if I sand back to the wood, and try steaming the joint with a damp rag and an iron, and try to work some thinned AR glue in, do you think I might make it better..........or worse!
Ken Cierp or John, do you guys have an opinion you would share with me, or anyone else who has tackled this kind of thing before?
I appreciate it. Part of me says leave well enough alone, but I sure would like to make it disappear!!
Thanks guys.

Kevin

Aug 24, 09 | 9:39 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
I may be wrong, but once the glue is in, the glue is in. If you see something now, you will always see it. The alterntive is to splice in a strip and use hide glue. Don't even slice out the strip until you have made the glue and are ready to use it. I have done that sort of a fix with Knox Gelatin on a top, though not quite as long. It held perfectly, and you couldn't see it. I couldn't find it afterwards. I did another that had sat for a week before I could get to it (it happened the first day on a week vacation). Waiting that long showed the crack no matter what I did. So cleanliness is imperative, but I think, unfortunately, you'd never get all the glue out without further harming what has already been done.

There is a certain amount of translucency in the cellular structure of the wood, and you are seeing the interruption from the glue from an offset, however thin it might be. I think that is why hide glue works better....it starts out transparent, and stays that way, not to mention the fact that it contracts as it crystalizes, pulling the parts even closer together. AR glues may be a little less transparent and will show from an oblique angle. My opinion anyway. Good luck with it Kev, thats a bummer.

Aug 24, 09 | 10:09 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Yeah, this is the commission build.........I don't think he will mind too much, and may not see it if I don't point it out, but I will know it is there.

Aug 24, 09 | 11:03 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
I learned the hard way that this was one of the downfalls of building for someone else. Hope it works out.

Aug 24, 09 | 12:03 pm
llajoy

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 295
Kevin, sorry no advice on the repair. When I route the rosette, I tape my top to a 3/4" plywood work board. I can move the top with the plywood as much as I like and never worry about the top cracking. I know it's a little for you, but hopefully this idea will help others.

Lance.

Aug 24, 09 | 3:49 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Thanks Lance, it is a lessoned learned, and that is a great solution to avert the problem.

I sanded back to wood on the top and tried to work with this split showing. I tried swelling the wood with moister and an iron, sanding across the grain to disguise it, What Kens said above about the "interruption from the glue from an offset" makes alot of sense. In the end, it looks no worse, but really looks no better.
It still doesn't show straight on, or from a horizontal view, just the inbetween view angles.

When it is done and delivered, I will disclose it to the buyer, and he will have the option to not take the guitar. It's the only thing I can do.

Kevin

Aug 24, 09 | 8:40 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
(Dare I suggest this) or make another top..........I bet you could do it within 5 days!

Aug 24, 09 | 10:15 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Ken,
Thanks for the suggestion, but the top won't be coming off this guitar. That is a scary thought. The reality is that there is always going to be some flaws. This is cosmetic and I suppose it could be just as bad as having a long sap streak suddenly appear after sanding down the top. At one point, I had a coat of sealer on this thing and the split did not show, but I had some splotchy areas showing, so I decided to sand it back to the wood. Then it appeared when I resprayed. But then it may have shown under the final finish anyway. I'm probably repeating myself!!! I am not crying in my mush, just wish it wasn't there.

Kevin

Aug 25, 09 | 5:59 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Kevin could you post a picture? And maybe I missed it but what type of glue did you use to repair the crack?

Have you thought about a sunburst finish?

Ken

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978

Aug 25, 09 | 6:21 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
If the crack is showing , is it the glue line or an actual glue surface? In most cases you will be able to detect a glued crack if you can't get it perfect . A crack will have micro fibers that will not let the surfaces mate perfect. This will allow the glue to shadow the joint.
In most cases , with the crack being irregular it usually will look like the grain but in some cases it can stand out like your mother in a wet tee shirt contest , not a good thing to see.
Sanding back to bare wood is futile as the joint is the culprit as the glue is exposed.
You have 2 things you can do , use a toner and darken the finish , or sand to wood , make a long shallow grove and inlay a piece if spruce .
Pictures will help as at best we are guessing. A hands on inspection is really needed to be 100% sure what the best attack would be for this

John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc.
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center

Aug 25, 09 | 11:13 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Hi Ken,
I used CA glue, even though I had read that it would discolor the spruce, I tried it on some scrap first, and it did not cause that issue, so I went ahead with the fix. When done, it did not discolor. Oh gosh, a sunburst finish. I don't know if the guy who is getting this guitar (my boss) would want that. I can try and get a picture of it and put it up. I have just about resigned myself to leaving it as I don't want to make it worse

Hi John, and thanks for the input. As I was driving to work this morning I thought about what you suggest as a possibility; cutting out a groove and inlaying a piece of spruce. I believe I could do this. What would be the best glue to use for this repair? Is there much chance that I will then have two glue lines showing? I know it must be clean, clean, clean.

I was wondering if when I wiped down with Acetone, after sanding back to wood the first time (after spraying with sanding sealer, and the glue line did not show at that point), that the Acetone reacted with the glue joint and made it more visable?

I did disclose this flaw to my boss today, and although he has not yet seen it, he seemed to be able to accept what it may be, realizing that it will not be perfect, so maybe I should just leave it as is.

Still open though.....just don't want to make it worse.

Thanks guys

Kevin

Aug 25, 09 | 11:35 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
I use tite bond. The CA staining can come out weeks and months later. If your boss can accept it ,than the issue is moot.

Aug 25, 09 | 2:44 pm
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
I'm with John on the CA -- it can bite you way down the road, especially if it gets in the end grain. How about an antique toner? They are pretty dark.

Ken

Aug 25, 09 | 3:39 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
John,

Yeah, at the time the CA looked good. Another lesson learned.
Do you think a narrow inlay could be done with Tite Bond and be pretty invisible, if done right? I don't know how I would clamp it.

Kevin

Aug 25, 09 | 4:13 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
This can be a very clean repair. You can clamp this a few ways . My favorite are the rare earth magnets . http://cgi.ebay.com/10-Neodymium-Magnets-1-x-1-x-1-8-inch-Block-N48_W0QQitemZ150298723392QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item22fe808440&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14
this link will get you there on Ebay. They work very well. You can also try clamping and last but not least , good old gravity clamps. A slight weight or even tape.
I would only go about .060 into the top. That is all you would need. I try to keep the cut out about a wide as a grain set if you can. Make the fill piece just a tad higher than you need so you can sand down.
Tite bond or elmers would be the glue of choice.

John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc.
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center

Aug 26, 09 | 4:13 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Only my opinion, but I believe a second repair will make things look worse. If its OK with the buyer move on. $.02

Ken

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978

Aug 26, 09 | 4:32 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
John and Ken,
This thing is looking worse, far worse than it was before I messed with it the other night. I shows now straight on. I have to try and fix it. Here are some pics. John, I think I can do what you are suggesting. I will practice on some scrap spruce and see how it turns out. I will keep the trough as narrow as possible.






Ken, I hear you, and if I'd left it alone in the beginning, I would follow your advice. Wish me luck guys, I'm taking her in for a landing. I appreciate your help, advice and encouragement.
I'll post some before and after pics, can't work on it until Thursday night.


Kevin

Aug 26, 09 | 5:59 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
I agree that if your customer can accept it , that is all that matters but if you can't and I think that is what is more important , you can do it. As Ken points out , you can make the repair look worse . This can be pulled off but you need to run the slot the whole way. You are going to know it is there but if you are clean about it you can make it pretty invisible. I have used this technique a few times. It is something I learned at CF Martin.
There they use a slotting knife . I use my inlay tool . Block in the base so that you are as straight as possible. You have to hand cut the last few mms to hit the binding. Try and select a piece of spruce that you can match the graining as best as possible.
good luck
John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc.
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center

Aug 26, 09 | 1:11 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
John,
Thanks for the help. What I have that I tried last night is a gouging tool I use for leather to cut the slot. I cuts a "V", and the deeper I go, the wider it cuts, but I figure I can cut the slot, then use the tool to cut the filler strip just a bit deeper so it will fit in the slot proud. I am going to try it a couple of times on the scrap and see how it turns out. I think I've figured a way to clamp with some slight pressure, and will use LMI AR glue, keeping everything freshly sanded and clean. I can't see how it could turn out worse. (but I might find out right)!

When you say, "run the slot the whole way", do you mean all the way from top to bottom, binding to binding in that stopping part way is likely to show at that spot?

Kevin

Aug 26, 09 | 2:17 pm
llajoy

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 295
Kevin, you probably don't want to spend the money, but StewMac recently started selling a slick little scissor jack. For this type of repair it would work great. Make a caul to fit under the top and over the braces. Then clamp down from the top. I seem to think the jack was like $90 + the usual $10 - 12 S&H. Maybe you can find something similar with an internet search. You may want to check it out.

When I was at the ASIA symposium I watched a person replace a top on a Taylor with out disturbing the binding using a laminate trimmer. It was a cool demo and technique. I have an old 12 string in the shop that needs a new top, but I'm in the middle of a build so I have not tried this yet. The demo was done by Pat DiBurro of NH. I just checked his site, and he does not have the directions posted.

I removed a top on one of my guitars a while back. What I did was route out the binding just deep enough so that I could see where the top and kerf met. I then routed the top back off the kerf leaving the kerf in tact. The removal and replacement went well. Just goe slow and be patient if you have to go that way. Good luck with the crack repair and try that first.

Lance.

Aug 26, 09 | 3:58 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Kevin,

I agree with a few of the others. I'd check with your customer and if possible, skip the repair entirely. If your splice doesn't fit extremely tightly, you will end up with two gaps instead of one with the top likely looking worse.

Is that gap shown in the top filled with CA or is it open? Also how much did you flood the area with CA? I ask because running a gouge from soft spruce to CA soaked wood may make cutting a straight, consistently sized groove with any hand tool very challenging. With a laminate trimmer or such, you can lay down a straight edge for a guide and route a nice consistent channel, hopefully perfectly parallel to the grain. If you have the edge of the spruce top left, that should provide a consistent color match, though the grain pattern will be a bit wider.

If you don't run the full length of the top, you will have a very visible joint where your splice ends. Perhaps you could end it under a pickguard.

I always moisten a rag with paint thinner and run it over the surface, especially joints, prior to finishing any project. This helps me spot glue that I missed when cleaning up after gluing or find any dimples or dings in the wood that I may otherwise have missed. This may have helped spot the issue after your repair.

Just my 2 cents. Sorry about the split though. Your binding job looks great in the photos.

Ken

Aug 26, 09 | 7:16 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Hi Ken,
Thanks for your opinion. I did use CA, and it was invisible until, I think, I wiped it down with Acetone, like the solvent reacted with the glue. Right now it looks like the joint is not as tight. I actually thought about cutting into the dried CA as a possible problem. The tool I am going to try cuts a V, so the contact with the CA will be minimal. The first practice fix I did last night, and sanded down tonight turned out very good. It is only about 4" long, and I need to do a 10" strip on the guitar, but there is no glue line showing on either side of the filler, which is only about a 1/16" wide at the most. It blends in really well, and if anything, looks a little lighter in color than the surrounding wood. I am encouraged!! Tomorrow I will try a couple more practice runs the correct length and see how they look. I am at the point where I just have to try and make it better. I will use a straight edge to cut against with the gouge to keep the cut straight and on the split line. I will be cutting from the remains of the guitar top so the wood color will match.
I will take pictures of the steps, and the final product when done.

Kevin

Aug 26, 09 | 8:14 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Good luck Kevin, I think you're going about it the right way.

Aug 27, 09 | 4:50 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
For those that haven't tried the rare earth magnets, they are so much better . Stew Macs scissors jack is overkill. Jam sticks work as well and cost nothing , also there is a " golf club" jack that is a tool I would not be without.
For those of you that are real cheapies , use thin wall 3 nd 4 inch pvc pipe. Cut in widths of about 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Cut the pipe at one spot to allow pinching . Wrap in friction tape . These make great inside the guitar reglue bracing clamps.
Also there is a thing called a machinist jack you can purchase for under $10 that does the same thing.

John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc.
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center

Aug 27, 09 | 11:59 am
Laurent

Total Topics: 9
Total Posts: 109
Just a word of sympathy here; I have been wondering while making all my minor (and one major) goof-ups on my first build how it would be if that happened when building a guitar for someone else!

I wish you the best of luck repairing this one!

Aug 28, 09 | 2:39 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Hey Laurent,
Thanks for the sympathy, but heh, I did it to myself, right!

I did a practice run last night and it came out very good. The fix is pretty much not noticable, and if you didn't know it was there, you probably wouldn't see it. I spent a bit of time cutting out a fillet that is a consistent width and thickness, this was harder to do than I thought it would be, getting it about 10.5 inches long. I finally got 3 strips that should work, so I have a couple of extras incase one breaks or something.
I now know the tricky part will be cutting out the slot over the glued split so that it is consistently deep and wide, but less so than the fillet, and keeping it straight, and not making a mistake like slipping and cutting a groove across the top........YIKES! I can go slow, and even make a second cut to go deeper and wider if need be. I will make sure my gouge is good and sharp.
Tomorrow morning is the day, so as I said before, I'll take some pics and you all can see how it turns out. It is still scary, but doable. Thanks for the good wishes!

Kevin

Aug 28, 09 | 11:27 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
What glue will you use? I'd recommend hide glue or the knox gelatin hide glue, as both are clear at all times, hot, cool, gelled, and crystalized, and won't show any refraction through the wood, nor will it color the spruce like CA will.

Aug 28, 09 | 1:51 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Ken,
I don't have any hide glue, but I have LMI AR and Titebond. The LMI seems to dry pretty clear, and in this case, looks pretty good. I'm on a schedule now, although I don't want to mess it up. I need to be ready to spray by next weekend.

Kevin

Aug 28, 09 | 2:07 pm



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