Saxophone Forum


by Mr T
(2 posts)
6 years ago

Hot glue or shellac

I'm studying woodwind repair fulltime. I prefer shellac when repairing saxophones. I find it easier to work with, it last longer and so on. Now, my teacher say shellac is old facioned and that hot glue is the only thing to use. Not even good hot glue, just the stuff you buy at your local grocery or stationary shop. We don't even have a choice wether to use shellac, we have to use hot glue. When re- padding, we are told to put a piece of cardboard under the pad if it leaks at the back, and then bend the key cup if it leaks elsewhere. I have done some sax repair before, and made sure that the key cup is in parallell line with the tonehole and then "float" the pad if any leaks occure. Of cause using shellac! I would like to hear other repairers view on this matter!

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  1. by gloss1
    (27 posts)

    3 years ago

    Re: Hot glue or shellac

    I use the industrial glue sticks that have a much higher melt point and better adhesion by far. The regular glue sticks are too sensitive to low temp heat and can allow pads to shift. These glue sticks that are on Ebay that are for dent repair are incredible and they come in a variety of colors. Just thought this might be of help to you. Blessings

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  2. by newreedsyndrome
    (343 posts)

    6 years ago

    Re: Hot glue or shellac

    The woodwind repair industry is corrupted. You are correct; you should float the pad using shellac. Bending key cups is a terrible idea, and hot glue will never come out. Don't listen to a word this person says, and maybe you should find a new teacher.

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  3. by JBTSAX
    (364 posts)

    6 years ago

    Re: Hot glue or shellac

    Many of the repair techs that I know prefer shellac over hot glue for saxophone pads. There is one school of thought that holds that shellac can crack and fail in very cold climates and in the cargo hold of aircraft when the sax is transported that way. I have seen no proof of this one way or the other. I really like the method Curt Alterac uses to install pads. The tone hole is leveled, the key work is tightened, the pad cup is straightened and leveled and then the pad is put in without shellac to get a "dry fit". The dry fit is done to determine how much shellac to put on the back of the pad and to see if all the other factors are perfect. Once the pad is installed with the shellac, then a minor amount of "floating" is done to make the pad seal perfectly with a minimum amount of pressure. A very old school method is to use flake shellac mixed with alcohol to paint the key cups and then heat the cup to evaporate the alcohol. It seems foolish to me to add alcohol as an agent to apply the shellac and then evaporate it off in two steps, when you can apply the shellac just as accurately and evenly by melting it on the the back of the pad in one step. I think this is why hardly anyone uses this method anymore. There is absolutely nothing wrong with key bending when it is necessary. I strongly recommend that you follow your teacher's directions to the letter while you are in the class and learn as much about his approach as you can. When you graduate from the class, you can then find what works the best for you from all of the information you have gathered. I also strongly recommend that you join the NAPBIRT organization and become a part of this organization that has so much to offer new techs like yourself. I joined as soon as I started doing repair professionally, and I have learned so much as a result. Send me an e mail if you would like to chat some more about repair stuff. I'm always available to share my experience. John Talcott aka jbtsax

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    1. by newreedsyndrome
      (343 posts)

      6 years ago

      Re: Hot glue or shellac

      I have nothing against key bending. It's pad cup bending that I object to, and often, a sloppily bent key can bend the pad cup. The more the pad cup is bent, the harder it will become to get any leaks out, because the cup is not even with the tone hole. Ive heard the same thing about shellac, but have not seen any evidence of that. Plus, the great thing about shellac is that if it cracks and the pad moves, all you need is a lighter and the problem is very easily solved.

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      1. by chalazon
        (547 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: Hot glue or shellac

        I always dry seat my pads..however , I've come to prefer George's glue for seating...it works for me. I find ordinary hot glue to be unusable..I straighten keys..try to avoid bending..careful of the key cups ..and patience, patience...

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        1. by newreedsyndrome
          (343 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Hot glue or shellac

          Yea, I recently tinkered with dry seating, and it didn't make that much of a difference for me. I usually just put the shellac in the pad cup, and float the pad while holding the key firmly closed. What makes George's glue better than shellac? Ive always just used shellac, so I wouldn't know

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        2. by JBTSAX
          (364 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Hot glue or shellac

          A properly adjusted pad will touch the tone hole 360 degrees at exactly the same time with virtually no pressure on the key cup. Once this is achieved by floating and tweaking the pad when the shellac is still plastic, then a nominal amount of pressure is used on the key to make a slight impression (seat) in the pad. To install pads to this degree of accuracy simply cannot be done by just heating the key cup and firmly closing the key till the shellac cools. You may get lucky and come close, but you will probably compress the pad felt which will later expand and change the seating and you will certainly put too deep an impression (seat) in the pad which is never a good practice in my opinion.

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        3. by newreedsyndrome
          (343 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Hot glue or shellac

          I think we differ in our connotations of 'firmly'. I just mean 'firmly' as in, so that the key will not open, or in the case of keys that sit closed, like the palm keys, I just let them sit closed while the shellac hardens, sometimes with a light key clamp, depending on the spring tension on that particular horn. What I don't understand is if you put the pad in the cup without shellac, don't you have to take it out to put the shellac in? So why do it in the first place? Keep in mind I'm not arguing with you. I'm just curious, because maybe I could improve my practice.

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        4. by JBTSAX
          (364 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Hot glue or shellac

          Especially when using the .160 in. thickness pads as opposed to the .185 in. ones the pad is a bit too thin for the key cup. When the pad is placed into the cup without shellac and the key is closed it will hit in the front first and be light or slightly open in the back. Seeing the gap between the pad and the tone hole in the back lets you estimate the thickness of the shellac to put on the back of the pad to bring it up to the proper thickness so a minimum of floating is required. The same principle is used on flutes except the pad is built up using paper shims instead of shellac. Dry fitting also has the advantage of letting you double check to see that the left to right alignment of the key cup is perfectly parallel with the tone hole before the pad is glued in. John

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        5. by newreedsyndrome
          (343 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Hot glue or shellac

          To Mr T: Dont mention Steve Goodson when your talking to jbtsax! You should know better than that! And just take it as carry on luggage. I would NEVER feel safe with my horn in the belly of a plane, no matter how many Walt Johnson cases its covered in. To jbtsax: Yeah, I usually use .185. I see how that could improve efficiency marginally, but how does it actually improve the pad seat? On a properly adjusted horn, the pad cup is parallel to the tonehole, anyway... And I get the double checking part

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        6. by JBTSAX
          (364 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Hot glue or shellac

          Newreedsyndrome. Please read my 2nd post again, it explains exactly why I don't use your "heat and squeeze" system to float the pad. The difference between good and excellent work on a saxophone can often be expressed as a marginal difference. Why are you asking me questions about repair anyway, since I am a member of the "corrupted repair" industry as you call it?

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        7. by newreedsyndrome
          (343 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Hot glue or shellac

          I understand the problem with putting too much pressure on the pad as the tone hole can leave too much of an indent in that pad, and compress it which will later cause it to expand and need to be reseated. I really dont use that much pressure. Read my 4th post. The only part I dont understand is how this actually gets a better seat, assuming the saxophone is in proper adjustment in specific regards to the pad cups being parallel to the tone holes and assuming one does not use an excess of shellac. WHat I meant about the repair industry being corrupted is that there are a lot of repairmen nowadays who really havnt the slightest idea what they are doing. I went into a shop recently to get my octave pad replaced because I was in a hurry and was out of them myself, and the tech said my whole horn needed a repad. I've seen a tech try to fix a dent in a flute headjoint by sticking the cleaning rod in and pushing the dent out, and when he bent the tenon, he than told the client they just needed to put some cork grease on it and it would fit just fine. From reading your posts, you seem to be quite a legitimate repairman, which currently seems to be the exception rather than the rule, unfortionally, and that is why I inquire into your process. And there is no need to get nasty. I'm not Steve Goodson. Have Mark Overton find my IPU

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        8. by JBTSAX
          (364 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Hot glue or shellac

          The reason the pad is leveled perfectly to match the leveled tone hole is that YOU adjust the pad while the shellac is in a plastic state by moving the edge of the pad up or down ever so slightly with a pad slick or similar tool until it looks perfect. This is done before any groove or seat is put into the pad by closing the key and exerting pressure. Your system of letting the tone hole both level the pad and create the seat at the same time while the shellac is hot is much less controlled and accurate. You are in fact compressing the felt before the pad is perfectly level making a different impression in different parts of the pad. It may seal well at first, but over time the pad is going to leak. I'm not getting nasty, I'm calling you on your ridiculously broad statement about the repair industry. I'm through answering your questions. If you want to learn more, enroll at Redwing or buy Reg Thorpe's book.

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      2. by Mr T
        (2 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: Hot glue or shellac

        Key bending is of cause nessesary when the keys are not allign with the key cups. I saw a demonstration by Steve Goodson once, on overhauling a sax. He bent key cups where needed, to allign them to the toneholes, swedged rods and tubing and staightened pillars. When all this is done, then the pads can go in. Using shellac... Also, I have heard of a case where shellac has gone brittle and a pad has fallen out. However, this was a very old sax that had not been repaired or serviced for about 20 years! With regards to weather changes and temperature changes; very cold and very hot temperatures should be avoided in any case! And one last thing; to everyone that send their sax as checked in luggage when flying, how do you avoid it getting damaged? I always (almost always...) carry it as hand luggage, even when it means arguing at the incheck about the size and weight...

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        1. by saxophonist_104
          (148 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Hot glue or shellac

          i've only done a clarinet using a glue similar to super glue (but not as quick-setting and a stronger bond), and it is necessary to bend the keys in order to align them. i just have no clue what y'all mean by bending the pad cup. i'll be working with shellac on the next clarinet i re-pad.

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          1. by saxophonist_104
            (148 posts)

            6 years ago

            Re: Hot glue or shellac

            i tried hot glue over the summer. two words: BE QUICK.

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            1. by chalazon
              (547 posts)

              6 years ago

              Re: Hot glue or shellac

              try George's glue. You can get it through J. L. Smith. It is much easier to work with and does a much better job than hot glue. I use hot glue for gluing on felts..that's about it. Super glue gell in not going to work..try George's..you'll be glad you did.

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