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Thread: Shellac Glue Sticks

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    E-mail problem Tarzan's Avatar
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    Question Shellac Glue Sticks

    How does one go about melting shellac glue sticks? I thought about stuffing them in a hot melt glue gun, but that didn't seem like an option, as they didn't fit. (for the record, I'm still in high school trying to fix my clarinets and saxophone, I'm not out there advertising as a tech...) Anyway, I'm not sure whether to hold the stick and the cup over a candle (bunsen burner, alcohol lamp, whatever) or to stick it in the microwave untill it's a puddle (kidding) or what to do with this stuff. HELP!

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    SOTW Forum Adminstrator fballatore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarzan
    How does one go about melting shellac glue sticks? I thought about stuffing them in a hot melt glue gun, but that didn't seem like an option, as they didn't fit. (for the record, I'm still in high school trying to fix my clarinets and saxophone, I'm not out there advertising as a tech...) Anyway, I'm not sure whether to hold the stick and the cup over a candle (bunsen burner, alcohol lamp, whatever) or to stick it in the microwave untill it's a puddle (kidding) or what to do with this stuff. HELP!
    The preferred method is to heat the cup over a bunsen (or similar) burner (move the cup around while heating to avoid burning the finish). The heated cup will melt the stick shellac as you work it around the inside of the cup.
    "You can play a shoestring if you're sincere." - John Coltrane

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    Ari's Avatar
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    Default shellac stick blues

    Use a non sooting flame like an alcohol lamp or even more handy, a small blow torch (sometimes sold as cigar lighters or wind proof lighters).

    Apply some heat to your pad cup

    Apply some heat (gently - 'till you get the hang of it) to the shellack and it will soften - catch it in the cup.

    if you need to heat the cup more and repeat the steps as neccessary.

    BTW: true "shellac" sticks work fine but they stink - don't do this in your home unless you want everything smelling like burned shellac.

    much more preferable are what are commonly called "laquer sticks" in the woodworking industry - that's probably what you have.

    (here's a piece of useless trivia: shellac is manufactured from beatle secretions)

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    If your not really used to doing tech work its not too hard to burn your lacquer. Some...including myself use a heat gun. Mine was from harbor freight. On low setting it gets a key very hot but doesnt risk harming the finish.

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician tbone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigmund451
    If your not really used to doing tech work its not too hard to burn your lacquer. Some...including myself use a heat gun. Mine was from harbor freight. On low setting it gets a key very hot but doesnt risk harming the finish.
    The heat guns work great. I've put my bunsen burner away. I mounted a heat gun to the bench vertically and turn it on with a foot switch. It works in the same manor as the burner. Just turn it on and pass the keycup over the nozzle till it's hot enough to melt the shellac into the cup. Keys with pearls can be heated from the inside of the cup to avoid scorching the pearls.

    The Harbor freight ones are a great deal for the price.

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    E-mail problem Tarzan's Avatar
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    Thanks to all for the quick response! As soon as I have the inkling to do this kind of work again, I'll use a bunsen burner, heat gun, or hot melt glue... I did in fact use a candle, and it took FOREVER. As a note to anyone who tries this, DON'T! The cups take forever to heat up, and you can't hold the cup directly over the flame (as I found out when a cup turned black).

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    Thanks tbone...I never thought of that for the pearls. I tend to make a loose tin foil wrap/heat guard to keep the hot air from directly blowing on them. I never thougt to turn it over. DOH!

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician tbone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigmund451
    Thanks tbone...I never thought of that for the pearls. I tend to make a loose tin foil wrap/heat guard to keep the hot air from directly blowing on them. I never thougt to turn it over. DOH!
    No problem Sig! Here's another one for you. When floating pads after assembly, I have some small key cups that I've silver soldered to rods and put on small file handles. Hold the cup over the pearl while heating and fluff the pad as usual.

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician tbone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ari
    UApply some heat (gently - 'till you get the hang of it) to the shellack and it will soften - catch it in the cup.

    BTW: true "shellac" sticks work fine but they stink - don't do this in your home unless you want everything smelling like burned shellac.

    much more preferable are what are commonly called "laquer sticks" in the woodworking industry - that's probably what you have.

    (here's a piece of useless trivia: shellac is manufactured from beatle secretions)
    Heat the cup and not the shellac. There is on need to apply flame/heat directly to the shellac. With a cup sufficiently heated you can "paint" a nice layer of shellac over the total inside surface of the cup and install the pad before the shellac hardens. With time to spare too. The smell is minimal if you don't directly burn the shellac. I prefer real amber shellac sticks myself. There are some out there using hot glue, sealing wax, contact cement, French cement, George's glue and a host of other adhesives to set pads but, for me, real shellac still works best.

    BTW shellac comes from the Lac bug.

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    E-mail problem Tarzan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbone
    BTW shellac comes from the Lac bug.
    http://www.icar.org.in/ilri/basicinfo.htm - the 411 on the lac bug - lol.

    Anyway, I haven't found shellac to smell at all.. I completely agree with tbone about heating the cup, too... takes a little longer, but it works just fine. the only problem is getting the pad on .

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician tbone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarzan
    the only problem is getting the pad on .
    Just push and twist.

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    I dont have a bone yard but the keycup/Pearl guard idea is great for floating pads. I may have to find a couple just to have around. You should make and market them.

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician tbone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigmund451
    I dont have a bone yard but the keycup/Pearl guard idea is great for floating pads. I may have to find a couple just to have around. You should make and market them.
    Are you trying to play subliminal mind games with me Siggy? (Trying to get me to make you some. tisk, tisk, tisk! LOL)

    Ask nicely and you may receive.

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