Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Gluing Fingerboard and Headstock Veneer on the Princess Banjo-Mandolin

Made some big progress on the Princess Banjo-Mandolin over the last couple of days.

You may recall I had done the crack repair/fills on the headstock. Then I sprayed clear nitro on the headstock and the neck. And let the nitro cure for about 10 days.

Finally I was able to reattach the headstock veneer and the fingerboard.

I had actually made one attempt to glue the headstock veneer on and it wasn't aligned properly. The veneer wanted to slide around when I tried to clamp it. So I bailed out, cleaned up the glue and stopped to ponder a different approach.

Then it occurred to me that I should put the tuners back on temporarily to use them as a guide for the location.

If you look closely, you'll see where they're stamped "Waverly Musical Products Inc., New York." This was a nicely made instrument and used quality parts.

Then I cooked up some cauls for the headstock. The one you see at the top left is for the top surface - it's a bit crude but it is the exact shape I need.

The other one is for the bottom.

I found in my first attempt that I needed steady pressure on the whole veneer. Using clamps in four or five spots didn't enable me to line the veneer up exactly, hence the cauls.

And guess what? If I ever work on another Princess like this one, I'll have a set of cauls ready to go!

Now we heat up some hide glue and brush it on the top surface of the headstock.

Then fit the veneer and clamp it down using the caul for leverage. You can see how it fits the headstock pretty well and lets me put pressure where it's needed.

The other caul is on the bottom - it's protecting the back surface of the headstock.

Now we move on with the fingerboard.

You can see the old hide glue that remained on the neck and the back of the fingerboard.

Need to get that off.

This is one of the nice things about hide glue. I wet it some with hot water and then used a scraper to get it off.

It looks disgusting but it comes off easily. That glue has probably been on the wood for 80 years!

The neck wood is a beautifully figured piece of maple.

Here are the cleaned up fingerboard and neck.

Now we can glue the board back on.

As with the headstock, I needed something to align the board on the neck so it would stay in place when it was clamped down.

So I used 2 small brads as alignment pins. Yes, they will leave small holes, but I can file a bit of the underneath part of the fingerboard extension to get some sawdust to fill the holes. They'll be invisible afterward.

I have some fingerboard clamps to hold the board down with.

You can also see that I stuck the rod back into the neck and used that as a support to hold the neck in a vise.

Tip: put the clamps over the neck first. You'll never be able to get them on the neck in time once the glue is on it. I had them pretty close to their final adjustment and ready to go.

Obviously, when working with hide glue, you don't have a lot of time until it begins to set. So I couldn't get pictures of the alignment and assembly.

Here's the fingerboard clamped up and waiting for the glue to dry.

You can never have enough clamps, by the way.

I wound up putting one at the very end of the board to keep it pressed down. Hadn't planned for that, but I was able to grab a clamp and put it on at the last second.

Here's the neck after the glue has dried. I have some squeeze-out to clean up, and I need to fill those nail holes.

You can also see that four frets popped out during the reattachment. I'll probably have to glue them back in. The frets are small and don't have a lot of tang to work with. Shouldn't be a big problem.

I have half a mind to just refret the thing, but I think the original frets will be ok.


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