Monday, March 28, 2011


Harry Coover, Jr. died Saturday at 94.

If you're wondering who Harry was and why I care, it's because he is the inventor of Super Glue.  He came up with the stuff accidentally back in 1942 while working for Tennessee Eastman Kodak.  You can read the Washington Post article about him here.

Prior to getting into guitar-building, I hardly used Super Glue, maybe once or twice a year.  Usually when I broke some knick-knack of Pam's.  

But Super Glue is used a lot in luthiery, so much so that experienced builders don't refer to it as Super Glue (which is actually a trade name that came to be used for all forms of the glue, like Kleenex and Zerox), but call it by it's chemical name cyanoacrylate.  Calling it that shows you are a real luthier.

It also shows that you are a real nerd, but whatever.

Cyanoacrylate is mainly used in guitar-building for fixing screw-ups, like the time I blew out a piece of headplate when routing a rabbet for binding, or when there was a big gap in some rosewood binding.  But there are a lot of other uses as well.  Binding a cutaway, for instance, can be pretty hairy around some of the tight curves, but using cyanoacrylate with an accelerator allows me to use a lot of force to eliminate gaps, and since it binds instantly, I don't have to hold it long.  It's also great for filling tiny gaps in the binding prior to sealing, pore-filling, and spraying finish.

Inlay artists use lots of cyanoacrylate to bind the various pieces of shell together.  There are some luthiers who do there own inlay work, but in some ways it's a different discipline, and for now I prefer to outsource it.

But cyanoacrylate is really important in regular guitar-building, so I make sure I always have a fresh bottle of the regular stuff as well as a bottle of the thick-viscosity variety handy.  It has saved my butt plenty of times.

So here's to you, Harry Coover, Jr.

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