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Vintage Gibson Popsicle Brace Repair

August 29, 2013

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***Click Images to Enlarge

pre war gibson L-00 sunburst finish pre war gibson L-00 top crack
1. A 1941 Gibson L-00. 2. A Cracked Top by the fretboard tongue suggests that something is wrong inside the guitar.
pre war gibson L-00 loose popsicle brace pre war gibson L-00 hide glue on poorly fitted popsicle brace
3. The Popsicle Brace is a flat and wide brace glued to the underside of the top near the neck block.  This one has come almost completely loose from the top.  I’ll remove it with a hook-shaped chisel. 4. The Glue Joint between the brace and the top wasn’t very sound.  There are machining marks left in the spruce and glue-brush bristles embedded in the over 70 year old hide-glue.
pre war gibson L-00 repair brace with lie-nielsen standard angle block plane pre war gibson L-00 damaged kerfed lining
5. Cleaning Things Up with a block plane flattens the brace and removes the old glue. 6. Kerfed Lining helps keep the top and sides glued together.  At the factory, the braces were all tucked into the lining.  When I removed the brace, I had to break two small pieces of the lining free at one end of the brace in order to pull the brace free.
pre war gibson L-00 hide glue inside guitar box pre war gibson L-00 broken lining on removed popsicle brace
7. Glue on the Top of the guitar where the brace will be reglued has to be removed in order to achieve a solid glue-joint.  I was able to pull the brace free without damaging the lining on this end of the brace. 8. The Missing Lining is present.  One piece remains glued to the brace and the second piece will have to be repaired.
pre war gibson L-00 repair kerfed lining with chisel pre war gibson L-00 gluing kerfed lining with hot hide glue
9. Removing the Glue from the lining with a sharp chisel. 10. Hot Hide-Glue is my glue of choice for repairing this old Gibson.
pre war gibson L-00 glue broken kerfed lining with tweezers pre war gibson L-00 lie-nielsen bevel edged socket chisel with handle removed
11. Regluing the Lining with a pair of tweezers allows me to handle such small pieces of wood.  I’ll trim down the other piece of lining until I can easily refit the brace into the lining during my dry-run prior to gluing. 12. A Bevel-Edged Socket Chisel.  I removed the handle from the chisel so I can use the tool inside the guitar.
pre war gibson L-00 using a chisel inside a guitar cleaning up old hide glue squeeze out
13. Cleaning Up the inside glue joint with the chisel.  I’m using the chisel with the bevel against the underside of the top in order to cut away the old glue. 14. Cleaning Up the Glue from the kerfed lining with a dental tool will allow me to scoot the brace back in place between the lining and the top.
pre war gibson L-00 making clamping caul with stanley 18 block plane pre war gibson L-00 loose brace clamping caul
15. Making a Clamping Caul will allow me to clamp the brace in place.  Block planing the surface of the caul that will contact the brace slightly hollow or concave along its length will give me good clamping pressure while using only a few clamps near the center of the brace’s length. 16. Wax Paper taped to the caul will prevent glue squeeze out from sticking to the caul.
pre war gibson L-00 clamping popsicle brace with quick grip bar clamps pre war gibson L-00 repaired kerfed lining and reglued brace
17. Glue and Clamp.  Three small bar clamps are all the clamping pressure I need.  Clamping the curved caul near the center draws up the ends of the brace too. 18. A Repaired Popsicle Brace.  The repair is hard to spot from inside the box.
pre war gibson L-00 top cracks repaired with finish touchup
19.  The Top Cracks.  I glued the top cracks with hot hide glue and did a lacquer touchup.  The repair is difficult to detect.