A simple repair for
A Bad Break
© Frank Ford 2005; Photos by FF

Yow!  This was one nasty looking break!  When the owner of this mandolin picked it up in its unlatched case, it hit the deck, and HARD:

The peghead was totally severed from the neck, but fortunately all the pieces of the break remained in place:

So, the course of action was pretty easy to determine.  I warmed the parts with my little portable hair dryer, and slathered both sides of  break with some nice fresh hot hide glue. Hide glue is clearly the best choice for an old mandolin like this one. Not only is it tradtional, and the glue with which the entire instrument was originally constructed, it provides a very rigid joint that won't fail in the heat of a parked car.

Working quickly, I clmaped the break using a flat plywood caul on the front of the peghead, and a bendable one on the back, with some closed cell foam to pad and compensate for any unevenness in the clamping system:

Tpo keep the glue from sticking to my cauls, I used some waxed paper between them and the work.

The next day, I had quite a lot of squished out dried hide glue to clean up:

Some warm water and lots of wiping did the trick.

I did a bit of sanding to level the cracked area, and applied some shellac by French polishing over the next couple of weeks to fill any little voids and blend into the surrounding finish:

All in all, the job came out very well, with little sign of the original damage:

It was a bad break, but in a way it was a lucky break because it went back together so nicely!

I think this old fellow is ready to go another eighty-five  years!

Back to Index Page