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View Full Version : how to fix a seam crack between sides and back



scaramanga
12-11-2009, 01:15 AM
hi there,

my kanilea has a seam crack between the side and bottom part.
it looks as though the glue did not work there (or the tension of the changing wood with moisture/temperature was too much to handle....)

i would like to fix it myself, if i can.
is it enough to apply some wood - glue in the seam with a needle for example and then give it the clamps?
or do i have to use a different procedure?

thanks

Sigmund
12-11-2009, 01:26 AM
The old adhesive needs to be cleaned out first in order to get a good bond. If the crack is open, you can probably slip a bit of sand paper in and clean the joint up. The put in some Titebond or similar and clamp it. Clean up the squeeze out before it sets and you should have a good joint.

Matt Clara
12-11-2009, 02:46 AM
How old of a uke is this? Even with temperature/humidity shifts, I wouldn't expect a uke as fine as a kanile'a to fall apart at the seams. If it isn't an old uke, I'd contact Kanile'a and see what they say about it.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-11-2009, 05:36 AM
Even with temperature/humidity shifts, I wouldn't expect a uke as fine as a kanile'a to fall apart at the seams. .

Incorrect. Paying close attention to humidity and temperature on any solid wood instrument cannot be overstated!

Flyfish57
12-11-2009, 07:22 AM
I think humidity and temperature found the weakest link in a less than perfect glue joint. You would need to do your repair in a climate controlled environment or run the risk of making matters worse. I’d contact Kanile’a and see what they say or bring it to a good guitar repair shop.

~Stephen

jerickson
12-11-2009, 07:26 AM
What kind of wood are we talking about? An old trick is to sand a piece of similar wood and mix the shavings with super glue. That way the color of the glue matches the wood. Insert glue with a pipette. Gently clamp and use a razor blade to gently remove any squeeze out. Be careful not to scratch the surrounding finish or you may have to do a spot repair of the finish. Of course, you may have to do that anyway if you want to sand and seal the repaired joint. This is a lot of careful work. I would call Kanilea to see if they will repair it through their warranty first! If not, see a local luthier or repair it yourself using the above stated techniques. Good luck!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-11-2009, 07:44 AM
I think humidity and temperature found the weakest link in a less than perfect glue joint. You would need to do your repair in a climate controlled environment or run the risk of making matters worse. I’d contact Kanile’a and see what they say or bring it to a good guitar repair shop.

~Stephen
"I think humidity and temperature found the weakest link in a less than perfect glue joint."
You stated that well Stephen.
Local repairs are often the best ones because local environmental conditions are taken into consideration.

Pete Howlett
12-11-2009, 08:38 AM
It never fails to amaze me how the ukulele community almost universally ignores warranty or is prepared to exact repairs with very little knowledge or understanding the process.

Repair work is normally 'expert' country - I rarely take on repairs unless they are to my own instruments (currently a tenor dropped from a great height... and I am still trying to get into the zone to figure out how I am going to repair the the 4 types of fracture that present themselves in the most inaccesible point on this instrument) deeming repairwork almost a separate trade.

I'm sorry to say that the above 'superglue' advice is unhelpful - controlling superglue is akin to herding cats! Any glue repair requires cleaning out the old glue and renewing the joint with a glue similar to that with which is was glued together.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-11-2009, 09:45 AM
If I ever get a repair I'm sending it to you.

Pete Howlett
12-11-2009, 09:57 AM
Not me mate...definitely not me!

Matt Clara
12-11-2009, 10:23 AM
Nobody said anything about ignoring warranty or abusing the ukulele in question. If it's not old, and was not abused, then there was a problem with its construction, which puts Kanile'a on the hook. If it's not old, but falls outside their warranty period, then they're still on the hook in terms of reputation. I'm not going to spend $900 on a uke, only to have it come apart at the seams, are you?

scaramanga
12-11-2009, 11:36 AM
wow, i did not want to create such a storm :)

lets clear things up:
the uke is a little over a year old and was shipped to europe from hawai'i.
it developed the crack in the beginning of this year (in the winter heating period).
anyhow kanile'a offered a repair on warranty but sending the instrument back and forth across the planet is a little expensive.

i did not have time to get it repaired until now, especially since i did not trust the two local luthiers here who looked at it like ("you want me to repair a toy?")

so now i just wanted to see if i can have a chance to fix it myself.
( i am a drummer originally and have some successful vintage drum-shell repairs under my belt)

so:
in case i would like to do it by myself:
1. carefully sand the crack to get rid of the old glue
2. carefully apply titebond (or ponal) or any good wood glue
3. clamp the parts together
4. wipe off excess glue
5. wait
6. remove clamps
7. play "your mine"

is there any other potential problem?

jerickson
12-11-2009, 11:53 AM
Pete,

I'm sorry you feel my advice was "unhelpful" but this is a common repair technique for guitars and ukes alike IF you know what you're doing. As I'm sure you are aware, when you add shavings from the sanding to the glue it thickens the compound thus reducing the odds of having to "herd cats". Along with using an accelerator to rapidy dry the glue. I know you have a reputation of having spirited debate on this forum and I respect the work that you have shown on this forum, but I was just putting my 2 cents in. All luthiers have different ways of handling repair issues. This is my method that works just fine for me.

I agree that warranty is always the 1st option, followed by visiting a qualified luthier. I was just outlining A (not the only) technique used for such a repair if he is forced to tackle it himself. Obviously, if he doesn't care if the joint repair can be seen he could always just squeeze some Titebond and clamp and wipe away the squeezeout with a damp cloth as was also posted in a previous post. That is that gentleman's method, which also would work just fine! And yes, the joint should be sanded to remove any of the old adhesive.

Pete: I didn't see your method posted!!!! :p

Matt Clara
12-11-2009, 12:22 PM
wow, i did not want to create such a storm :)

Don't worry about it, I'm just wound a little tight! And I'm not the only one! ;) Besides, it's not really a storm. A little squall, perhaps. Keeps things interesting. Who wants to visit a group of people who are constantly in agreement?

About that uke of yours. Since you reported it to Kanile'a w/in warranty, I'm sure they'd still cover it under warranty. It would not be cheap to send it to them and back, but, you never know what they will find when they do the work--perhaps greater structural problems that may require more attention, or a complete replacement of the original uke. Further, if Kanile'a does the repair, the uke's value will not be decreased. That's not the case if you do the repair, even if it looks just as good. How expensive would it be, anyway? I once considered sending my Ko'Aloha concert to have it refinished--it would have been $37 from Michigan, and another $37 back again. I decided against it, but I bought mine second hand, and tacking on $80 right then seemed like a lot. Also, mine is a factory second, and even though the only problem with it is a sag in the finish on the neck (not to mention lots of dings and scratches by its original owner), it'll always be a factory second--so says the black mark on the label.

scaramanga
12-11-2009, 01:18 PM
ok,
well it sounds like a good idea to have it sent to kanile'a, but:
the shipping cost from her in germany would be 101$... and thats one way.
i guess with usps shipping back there would be another fee of around 50$...
so i wonder if it is really worth it.
you have me wondering with the
perhaps greater structural problems that may require more attention bit though...
is it really so uncommon that this happenes?
and is the repair really so problematic?
thanks

Matt Clara
12-11-2009, 01:47 PM
ok,
well it sounds like a good idea to have it sent to kanile'a, but:
the shipping cost from her in germany would be 101$... and thats one way.
i guess with usps shipping back there would be another fee of around 50$...
so i wonder if it is really worth it.
you have me wondering with the bit though...
is it really so uncommon that this happenes?
and is the repair really so problematic?
thanks

Yeah, take what I say with a grain of salt--I'm new to most of this. I've simply not heard of a new uke coming apart at a seam, and certainly not one of the big K brands, and a google search for various seam splitting phrases, along with "guitar" only mentions center seam splits, and not a lot of those. I just wanted you to think about it before you operate on one of the Big K brands. Now I've probably just made you nervous. Sorry about that.

Rick Turner
12-11-2009, 04:37 PM
So far what I like best is the advice to clean out as much glue as possible with a strip of sand paper. Then use some LMI white glue or (and I hardly ever say this...) some Titebond. The problem is that these modern glues do not stick well to themselves, so you want to clean out the old glue as well as possible before injecting in new glue.

Superglue repairs really are for experts...it's just too easy to screw up. It might be easier if this is a poly finished Kanilea; you'd have to know when Joe switched over to polyester.

This brings up the whole issue of repairs vs. building, and has just been intimated here, repairing ukes and guitars well is MUCH more difficult an endeavour than building them. I speak several times a year to groups of learning luthiers, and I tell them to spend three to five years working as an in-store guitar repair tech before getting serious about building full time. There's no substitute for working on a few thousand instruments and dealing with their owners.

In one year alone, I worked on 275 Martins...I learned a lot about what goes wrong...and what not to do building my own instruments.

Flyfish57
12-11-2009, 05:18 PM
This brings up the whole issue of repairs vs. building, and has just been intimated here, repairing ukes and guitars well is MUCH more difficult an endeavour than building them. I speak several times a year to groups of learning luthiers, and I tell them to spend three to five years working as an in-store guitar repair tech before getting serious about building full time. There's no substitute for working on a few thousand instruments and dealing with their owners.

In one year alone, I worked on 275 Martins...I learned a lot about what goes wrong...and what not to do building my own instruments.

I think I'm missing something? Who/what was intimated here?

Philstix
12-11-2009, 05:41 PM
As someone who has done a lot of repairs I don't know if I would say that repair is more difficult than building new but it does present a wider array of problems. This problem is relatively simple. Clean out the old glue, use a wood glue such as titebond, clamp carefully, clean up the squeezeout with a damp cloth. The beauty of this method is the answer to the first question you should ask yourself before you attempt any repair - is it reversable? The answer is yes, this repair does not unalterably change the instrument. If you have enough experience to do this without marring the finish with the clamps or distorting the uke by using too much pressure go for it. If you are concerned that there is an issue with the finish send it for warranty repair. Finish repair work is not something to learn on a good instrument

koalohapaul
12-11-2009, 09:00 PM
I will chime in and say that the best way to repair the separation is to clean and re-glue. The CA and wood dust trick will fill the gap, but technically not repair the damage. I use glue and dust to fill in minor gaps when joints don't meet up perfectly, but I don't use it to fill structural gaps. One thing to keep in mind if you do end up using the CA and wood dust trick. If your dust is very fine, the resulting fill will be darker than the color tone of the wood. CA tends to react with the oils in wood, often turning black. Especially true with koa.

Kekani
12-11-2009, 10:22 PM
I've simply not heard of a new uke coming apart at a seam, and certainly not one of the big K brands, and a google search for various seam splitting phrases, along with "guitar" only mentions center seam splits, and not a lot of those. I just wanted you to think about it before you operate on one of the Big K brands. Now I've probably just made you nervous. Sorry about that.

Stick around a while longer - happens more often than you think. Just wait until all of these spalted wood instruments go through a few seasons.

And I will ditto Rick (and Pete, and Chuck) - I'd rather build, than repair (which is why MGM has my Kamaka).

-Aaron

koalohapaul
12-11-2009, 11:58 PM
That's why you need to get yourself a Brian.



And I will ditto Rick (and Pete, and Chuck) - I'd rather build, than repair (which is why MGM has my Kamaka).

-Aaron

scaramanga
12-12-2009, 01:41 AM
ok. so i will work on the patient today, after i took my anaesthetics... :)

the last thing that makes me wonder:
if the crack appeared, because the wood needed to "reposition" itself due to the heavily changed climate (the fret-sides need to be resanded a bit also, since the neck contracted a little leaving the fret-sides not completely flush with the neck anymore),
it feels somehow strange to force it back in the old position.
is the tension which was created because of the climate change going somewhere else?

luvzmocha
12-12-2009, 05:17 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43sbE9n7zv4&feature=related

Importance of keeping a solid instrument humidified.

If I am being redundant I apologize.

George

Matt Clara
12-12-2009, 07:08 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43sbE9n7zv4&feature=related

Importance of keeping a solid instrument humidified.

If I am being redundant I apologize.

George

The follow up to that one--what to do about it--is also interesting, and relavent:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmRdEoV6_wk
The message being, re humidify first, repair second.

RonS
12-12-2009, 08:05 AM
ok. so i will work on the patient today, after i took my anaesthetics... :)

the last thing that makes me wonder:
if the crack appeared, because the wood needed to "reposition" itself due to the heavily changed climate (the fret-sides need to be resanded a bit also, since the neck contracted a little leaving the fret-sides not completely flush with the neck anymore),
it feels somehow strange to force it back in the old position.
is the tension which was created because of the climate change going somewhere else?

Winters are hard on instruments. Should be interesting to see what happens to this ukulele when the heating season is over.

Wood constantly moves.
It shrinks under low humidity (winter) and expands with high humidity (summer).

I've seen people leave guitars next to fireplaces or near a door leading outside. I've seen instruments next to baseboard heating or by windows where instruments are exposed to direct sunlight. Wooden instruments need proper care if you don't want them to crack.

scaramanga
12-12-2009, 09:50 AM
ok, i did it... see pic
btw. i always have a humidifier in the case and i take good care of the instrument.
however:
the instrument was produced in the tropical climate of hawai'i and then sent with a plane in winter to northern europe. so i guess that there are quite a lot of changes the instrument has to go through...

jerickson
12-12-2009, 01:00 PM
I will chime in and say that the best way to repair the separation is to clean and re-glue. The CA and wood dust trick will fill the gap, but technically not repair the damage. I use glue and dust to fill in minor gaps when joints don't meet up perfectly, but I don't use it to fill structural gaps. One thing to keep in mind if you do end up using the CA and wood dust trick. If your dust is very fine, the resulting fill will be darker than the color tone of the wood. CA tends to react with the oils in wood, often turning black. Especially true with koa.

Paul,

Thanks for the heads up on the oils turning the CA black in koa. Since I have primarily worked with various rosewoods (on classical guitars), this hasn't been an issue as you wouldn't be able to really see it on a small seam repair, but I have to admit that I don't have experience with lighter colored woods so I appreciate the advice should I come across a koa uke repair. I appreciate your kind and positive input.

Btw, I am a proud owner of one of your company's tenor ukes. Thanks for building such a high quality product!

Jon

jerickson
12-12-2009, 01:02 PM
ok, i did it... see pic
btw. i always have a humidifier in the case and i take good care of the instrument.
however:
the instrument was produced in the tropical climate of hawai'i and then sent with a plane in winter to northern europe. so i guess that there are quite a lot of changes the instrument has to go through...

Nice job! Can't tell by the picture that you ever had a problem. Of course, I'm sure that was your goal. Congrats!

Jon

koalohapaul
12-13-2009, 11:33 PM
Thanks for the support!

If we gap fill with koa, it's usually with white glue and dust. It's not as quick as CA, but it's the only way to preserve the color, short of making some home brew customized wood paste.


Paul,

Thanks for the heads up on the oils turning the CA black in koa. Since I have primarily worked with various rosewoods (on classical guitars), this hasn't been an issue as you wouldn't be able to really see it on a small seam repair, but I have to admit that I don't have experience with lighter colored woods so I appreciate the advice should I come across a koa uke repair. I appreciate your kind and positive input.

Btw, I am a proud owner of one of your company's tenor ukes. Thanks for building such a high quality product!

Jon

erich@muttcrew.net
12-15-2009, 10:43 AM
the instrument was produced in the tropical climate of hawai'i and then sent with a plane in winter to northern europe. so i guess that there are quite a lot of changes the instrument has to go through...

The girl next door bought a beautiful uke during a visit to Hawaii. Six months later she was ringing our doorbell going "oh my God, oh my God, look, can you fix it, please say yes..."

In this case, the crack was in the middle of the back at the base. I didn't know what to say except "bring it back, or bring it to a professional... if it was maple, spruce or mahogany I'd be glad to help, but koa? Sorry, I don't think so." After buckets of tears we agreed to do the best we could. We cleaned the crack with sandpaper and glued it with hide glue. It worked fine, and you really couldn't see it (unless you knew it was there).

The wood we use has been aged here in Germany for at least ten years, some of it for fourty years. Of course it can still react to temperature and humidity, but not the way a hawaiian instrument will. At the same time I am always in wonder and awe at how successfully Pete is able to tame koa to the climate of Wales.

Rick Turner
12-15-2009, 11:50 AM
It is possible to control humidity in a build environment wherever you are. It just takes a well sealed room and either a de-humidifier or a humidifier, depending on circumstances. My workshop is four blocks from Monterey Bay, and we don't have any problem keeping the wood/build room at about 48 % RH at about 70 degrees F. We have totally vapor barrier protected walls and ceiling and a sealed concrete floor in the 800 sq. foot room with a 10 foot ceiling, and we use a large Sears dehumidifier in there. It is amazing how much water it pulls from the air, but it's no problem. Some luthiers keep their wood and work in progress in a smaller dehumidified chamber when not actually working on parts or instruments, and that seems to work, too.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-15-2009, 12:44 PM
:agree:
I'm about as close to the water as Rick is and the daily RH ranges between 65% and 90% on most days. However, unlike Rick I am totally on solar power and cannot control the environment in my entire shop. I have a 100 square foot building room that is isolated from the rest of the shop where all the actual construction takes place and where wood sets are stored. This room too has plastic vapor barriers under the drywall and the concrete floor is sealed. I have a Sears dehumidifier but the 10,000 BTU A/C does a better job in both extracting water from the room and keeping the temperature at about 70 degrees. I maintain the RH at between 45% and 50%. At night when I need to conserve energy, everything in progress goes in to a dry cabinet that has a couple of small closet type dehumidifiers running. If you are building instruments as a professional it's really imperative to control your building climate. Even if you are building for yourself there are things you can do, like storing your wood properly, building when the weather is drier, etc,

erich@muttcrew.net
12-16-2009, 12:06 AM
I'm sure you guys are right, but we don't have the means or space to set up an operation like yours. Our wood is high and dry and our work space is climatized naturally to some degree by unsealed stone/plaster walls. But the main factors are outside: sun, rainfall, temperature, RH...

We don't build as much from November to March, and we try to wait for good spells, but we don't stop altogether. On the other hand it gives us more time to play together, practice, jam...:cool: