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Syb's picture

Glue for cork? (post #113195)

Hi, I'm usually over at CooksTalk, but most of us try to avoid glue when cooking, so I don't think they're the ones to ask.

Does anyone  know what kind of glue I should use to replace a small strip of sheet cork on the joint of my rosewood recorder?  I was able to buy the sheetcork from a repair person in a music store.  She would charge me $15 to glue it on.  Heck, I can do it myself.  When I asked her what kind of glue she uses, she said she mixes her own shellac-based glue, but since I don't have her special glue, she would use rubber cement. 

My husband, who has quite an array of glues, and does a fair amount of woodworking, doesn't think much of the idea of using rubber cement.  He is suggesting I use an Elmer's type wood glue.  Is she just trying to get me to make a mess of it so I'll take it back to her and pay her $15?

I don't want to mess it up, as this is a fine instrument.  I think part of the requirement is that if the cork fails again, I should be able to remove it and the glue without messing up the wood joint.  When I cleaned the joint today in preparation for the operation, the glue that I scraped off did kind of ball up like rubber cement.   

The cork in a recorder joint is subjected to a bit of moisture, and quite a bit of twisting, since every time I play it, I take it apart.

Bolts's picture

(post #113195, reply #1 of 32)

Pay the fifteen dollars,if you value your precision instrument.

You can make it fool proof but not idiot proof 

Edited 6/21/2006 2:44 am ET by Bolts

In a breakfast of bacon and eggs the hen has a passing interest but the pig is fully commited

BG's picture

(post #113195, reply #2 of 32)


I just paid $1100 to have my aunt's Haynes flute rebuilt..they use a shellac type glue for all the cork pads... 

Craig C's picture

(post #113195, reply #3 of 32)

I've used contact cement with good results, gluing sheet cork to wood with a polyurethane finish.

notDusty's picture

(post #113195, reply #4 of 32)

Syb ,    Unless a small container of rubber cement is more than $15 get some and use it and have extra for other uses ,

              good  luck    dusty

forestgirl's picture

(post #113195, reply #5 of 32)

"She would charge me $15 to glue it on." 
"Heck, I can do it myself."
 "I don't want to mess it up, as this is a fine instrument."
"Is she just trying to get me to make a mess of it so I'll take it back to her and pay her $15?"

OK, I'll apologize in advance for being rude.  Sheesh!!!  Take it back and tell her you were being a complete dunce and ask her if she'd kindly do the glue job for you.  It's customers like this that can make a skilled craftsman, repair-person, woodworker, etc., want to become a hermit and live in a cave.

$15 is pocket-change when it comes to "a fine instrument."  She charges $15 because (a) it takes a bit of time and (b) she knows all the answers!!!  Think of it this way:  You're not paying her $15 for the 15 minutes or so that it takes her to actually do the job.  You're paying for the knowledge she has to do the job right!

The denigration incorporated into all that verbage above is insulting and incredibly shortsighted.

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

Edited 6/21/2006 11:37 am by forestgirl

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

JohnWW's picture

(post #113195, reply #7 of 32)


Very well said.

John White

John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007

jazzdogg's picture

(post #113195, reply #9 of 32)

Hi Jamie,

You kit the nail squarely on the head! This lady's post reminds me of the countless folks who'll waste my time asking questions on topics about which they have no experience or knowledge without taking any notes; the same ones who want to know how I can possibly justify charging "so much" for a task that will take me so little time often tempt me to reply sharply, "If you think I charge a lot, wait until you see what it'll cost to correct the mess you make when you try to do it yourself!"

Typically, these are the same people who spend more time talking than listening. They're also the people who are likely to say they could make the same piece of furniture, for less, if they only had my tools!

I had one couple - she did all of the talking while he stood sullenly behind her - who wanted me to explain (in less than ten minutes) how to stain their recently-installed, unfinished, maple kitchen cabinets to look like mahogany! They didn't want to pay anyone to do the work, and thought I was lying when I told them staining maple to look like mahogany wouldn't be as simple as buying a single product and applying it mindlessly over the course of a weekend.

We spend countless hours mastering skills and invest thousands of dollars in education, books, magazine subscriptions, supplies, tools, etc.,  and someone inevitably thinks $15 is an unreasonable fee. I can't help but wonder how much of this idiocy is attributable to do-it-yourself TV?

Thanks for the opportunity to rant,



"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie


"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie

AndyE's picture

(post #113195, reply #6 of 32)

The recorder I had as a kid was plastic and one piece. I am guessing the joint you mention is where the mouthpiece attaches to the body of the recorder, and the cork is used to provide a snug fit. Assuming that is correct...

I would go with the rubber cement.

Here is why.

You, for some reason, are replacing the cork. Some day this may need to be done again. Rubber cement will allow you to peel off this cork, clean the joint and reapply a new piece. Buy a NEW can of rubber cement with all of its solvent in it and no gummy bits floating around. A nice thin layer on both parts to be joined, let dry and apply. The cork is captured in place when the instrument is used so there is no danger of it "creeping". Also rubber cement won't be affected by the heat and moisture from your breath as you play.

I wouldn't use an Elmer's type glue.

Here is why.

Cork is very porus. A fair amount of glue will absorb into the cork and possibly the wood of the instrument also. The next time you want to change the cork there will be a much greater chance of damage to the recorder when you try to remove the old cork. There is also the possibility that glue soaking into the wood of the instrument, or the sanding to remove it next time, could change the tonal quality. I wouldn't be able to tell the difference myself but you state " I don't want to mess it up, as this is a fine instrument." That could mean antique, hierloom, or just good quality. Up to you how you want to go about it.

If it is really a fine instrument is it not worth the $15 to have it done "professionally"?

Just food for thought.


"It seemed like a good idea at the time"

JohnWW's picture

(post #113195, reply #8 of 32)

Shellac is a classic glue for applications like this and its characteristics are very different from rubber cement.  I would be surprised if it worked as well. 

You are correct in thinking that the glue will have to be easily removed in the future since the cork will eventually have to replaced again.  Shellac based glues are perfect in this respect since they will wipe off with alcohol.  Most other glues, including yellow carpenter's glue, cannot be easily removed and should not be used. 

Another difficulty to consider is that the cork is being applied to a slightly tapering surface and it will have to be properly cut to a slightly curved shape to achieve a good fit, a simple rectangular strip of the cork won't work. 

The down side of using the wrong glue is that it might not work and then you will have to pay out the $15.00, or more, to get it done properly, and you'll have to be very humble when you return to have the shop do the work. 

There is also a chance that the solvent in the rubber cement will damage the finish on the recorder and saving the $15.00 will have proven to be false economy.

John White, Shop Manager, Fine Woodworking Magazine  

John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007

Syb's picture

(post #113195, reply #10 of 32)

Thank you all for the helpful information.  I think I'll try to find some shellac-based glue. 

Some of you are pretty uptight about some amateur trying to do your job, or complaining about your bill.  I do understand your feelings on the subject, but I don't think you understand mine.   Fifteen dollars is not pocket-change.  I would be paying fifteen dollars for "the knowledge she has to do the job right," but I can also do the job right with the knowledge of the correct glue to use.  That's all I need to do the job right.  (The bore tapers, but not the joint, so the piece of cork is rectangular with no tricky fitting necesssary.)

We're coming from two different places.  Most of you, as professionals, see people trying to do things for themselves, really screwing them up, then expecting you to right their mistakes.  It's true, most people these days don't have a lot of sense, or the skills to do anything except what they've been specifically trained for.  

My husband, on the other hand, can do anything he sets his mind to.  He's got the skill (dexterity, good judgement, problem-solving, creativity, etc).  All he needs is the  knowledge, and he gets that from talking to people and reading.  So he does pretty much everything himself instead of hiring someone whom we can't afford to pay. 

He, along with my help, has built our house, including electrical, plumbing, developed the water source, built a ferro-cement water tank, built a solar water heating system, built furniture and more.  He balks at having anyone else work on our cars, because there's a good chance that they'll screw something up.  Whatever he does almost always turns out to be better than the work a professional would do (I'm not talking about any of you, of course) because he knows exactly what he wants the outcome to be, and he can figure out how to do it, if he doesn't already know.  So that's our philosopy.  You do things yourself if you can.  (We know that with this philosophy you have to have the sense to know when to seek professional help.)

By the way, except for the fifteen dollars, I would have no problem going back to the repair person.  She would still be happy to do the job.  She was perfectly nice when I asked about the glue.  And I don't have a problem being humble.

My "fine" recorder cost me about $500.  It's not top of the line, but I spent about twenty years wishing I had a recorder of that quality.  If I mess it up, I wouldn't be replacing it in this lifetime.

JohnWW's picture

(post #113195, reply #11 of 32)

I Googled "musical instrument repair supplies" and got a few useful leads, this site: , sells what looks to be ordinary contact cement for gluing on instrument cork, so you could probably use hardware store contact cement to do the job. 

Narrowing the search to "cork cement" turned up a shellac based product:, that is probably what your repair shop uses.

Googling the brand shown on the second site, "Kwikset Pad and Cork Cement" turned up pages of hits including numerous places to order it from.  If you are trying to be as self sufficient as possible, learning how to use search engines is a skill worth developing.

You are correct in that several of the postings, mine included, are from tradesmen who have been asked for "free" advice or had to deal with the aftermath of botched amateur repairs.  It touches a nerve and I apologize if my comments seemed blunt.  

John White


Edited 6/21/2006 2:50 pm ET by JohnWW

John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007

Syb's picture

(post #113195, reply #12 of 32)

Thanks so much.  I Googled for quite a while yesterday, but I guess my search techniques weren't as good as yours.  I looked at both your links. . . cork cement.  Then I remembered a site I'd come across that sold sheet cork.  I just called and inquired about sheet cork and asked what kind of glue to use.  The amiable young man told me to use contact cement.  Then he told me it was exactly the same as cork cement.  It's what they've been using on instruments for years.  Maybe no shellac, but it comes off easily if the cork needs replacing.

If you are trying to be as self sufficient as possible, learning how to use search engines is a skill worth developing.

I've been doing this for years.  I was too specific.  I used 'recorder' (along with other words to distinguish it from other types of recorders) instead of 'musical instrument' and 'glue' instead of 'supplies.'  Live and learn.


JohnWW's picture

(post #113195, reply #13 of 32)

Searching is a subtle art, I learn more every day.  Start with a search that covers the basic question in broad terms, like musical instrument repair, and use it to get a few words that are fairly specific to what you are searching for, then narrow the search down from there.  Once you can get to a brand name, or a term that is used only for one product, like "cork and pad cement" then the search gets easy. 

Whenever possible, enclose your search term in quotes, that way only results that contain the entire phrase inside the quotes will get posted.  If you search for instrument repair, without the quotes, you will get a lot of hits for just the word instrument or just the word repair, which could cover repairing cars or computers.  If you use quotes, only sites with the entire phrase instrument repair will be listed, making it easier to find what you want.

John W.

John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007

Syb's picture

(post #113195, reply #18 of 32)

Sometimes I do quite well searching, and other times I just don't choose the right words.  My mistake this time was thinking that 'recorder' was important to the search.  I am in the habit of using quotation marks.  Thanks for the other hints.

Patto's picture

(post #113195, reply #15 of 32)


My father at the age of late 60's decided to learn about woodwinds. He spent some thousands buying old wooden clarinets and serviceing them. The joints on a recorder and the pads on a keyed instrument are expendable items, if played regularly you can expect a couple of years out of them depending on the cliamate. The glue used for the joint is not the same as generally used for pads. pad sticking stuff needs body because it is also used to adjust the height of the pad so all on the same key are of equal height.

The joint is pretty critical, in a normal repair the strip of cork will be chamfered into a scarf joint, glued, and then carefully sanded to provide the right tension. Too little and it leaks, too much and you risk splitting the instrument. If you paid that much for the recorder you will be dissassembling regularly for pulling through and the ocaisional oiling and the cork will require gease after the sanding process. if you get the dry fit wrong (it is easier to assemble after greasing) you have to start again because you cant sand the greased cork.

Now, you can possibly do this, but my father had many years of experience with hand tools, knows how to ask questions, and was prepared to invest a lot in learning. Looking after his own instruments was what he wanted to do. I am still trying to deal with an early joint repair error he made on a clarinet given to my son.

If you are set on maintaining you own instrument, and many musicians regard this in the same way wood workers regard being able to fettle a plane, an easier solution that will work is waxed hemp. This is the standard used in bagpipes and consists of neatly winding a length of hemp or linen (no synthetic) thread around the joint that has been pulled through a piece of beeswax until well coated. Total job takes about 10 minutes. You will need suitable heavy thread (a roll will last forever) that is probably available from the music shop. You can creep up on the joint by testing as you go. It wil need to be replaced about every year because it rots. The only trick is to create a wide bearing surface by evenly distributed windings.

Have fun


Syb's picture

(post #113195, reply #20 of 32)

I enjoy hearing about your father's new hobby, after retirement, I assume.  Good for him.

For my project, I don't think the fitting of the cork is going to be a big deal.  The woman who sold me the cork looked carefully at the old piece that came off, which is still fairly well intact, to determine the correct thickness.  I have the old cork to use as a template for cutting the new piece. 

I'm well aware of using waxed thread.  Waxed dental floss has been the material of choice amongst my fellow musicians.  It works well, but is not as elegant or long-lasting as cork.

Thanks for sharing your information.

forestgirl's picture

(post #113195, reply #16 of 32)

"Some of you are pretty uptight about some amateur trying to do your job...."  First of all, just to set the record straight I am not a professional repair person or even, except under the most generous of definitions, a professional woodworker.  The following is the kind of statement that just stood my hair on end (think p|ssed off junkyard dog): 

"Is she just trying to get me to make a mess of it so I'll take it back to her and pay her $15?"

Ridiculous.  I stand by everything I said in my first post.  You belittled the value of her learned skills, no matter how simple this particular job is, and hinted (not so subtly) that she might just try to rip you off.  Yes, this is probably a simple job.  So, do it yourself and take your chances that you'll use the wrong glue, apply it improperly, whatever else might go wrong.  Or, pay her the $15 to do it right.  $15 isn't pocket change for me either, but you are the one who stated this is a fine instrumentRelative to a "fine instrument" $15 is pocket change.  If you want to do it yourself after getting advice from experts, I'd suggest going to an instrument repair forum, not a woodworking forum, for faster, more reliable results.  You might get horse-whipped in the process, but it's only in the cyberworld, so no harm, no foul.

For the Jazzdog's entertainment (JWW too?), I'll pass along my analogous experience ("this reminds me of......").  Back in the days when I sold vintage furniture, collectibles and a smattering of antiques for a living, customers would approach me for advice about what to do with a houseful of furniture and other belongings.  "Sure, no problem, $60 for the first hour, $25/hour after that."  "What?  Why so expensive?  You're only there for an hour?!"  "Yes, dear, but I spend 25-35 hours a week at auctions and other places keeping track of the market; I've got $1,000+ in books in my library (this was before the eBay Price Guide was available, LOL); and I know a dozen people to send you to for marketing the really specialized items.  You're paying for way more than 1 hour of my time."  Every darned one of them thanked me with great sincerity when I left their house after the review.


forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

dgreen's picture

(post #113195, reply #17 of 32)

You are so right. The doctor that takes out your appendix is only working for 15 minutes and he charges several thousand dollars. What you are paying him for is knowing where to cut. Knowledge, education and experience are expensive in time and money. Too many people expect you to give it to them for little or nothing.

Since the house is on fire let us warm ourselves. ~Italian Proverb




Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.
~ Denis Diderot

byhammerandhand's picture

(post #113195, reply #27 of 32)

I am a professional repair person. Two days ago, I drove 35 minutes across town and enroute, the consumer calls and tells me he needs to leave and will 1/2 hour late, so I sit in his driveway rather than burn off the morning and reschedule another block of time. Asks me a bunch of detailed questions about the planned repairs, then says he wants to think about it. Meanwhile, I'm out a couple of hours, since I scheduled time to do the work on the visit, 4 gallons of gas, and will probably never hear from him again.

All I have to offer is my time and my expertise. People who have always been on the clock for someone else don't seem to realize that.

AB's picture

(post #113195, reply #28 of 32)

 That kinda burns don't it.

I do want to commend you on showing up on time ready to work. I have found that many who concider themselves to be proffesionals missed the class on punctuality.Hopefully someone will read your post and realize actions have consequences.


byhammerandhand's picture

(post #113195, reply #29 of 32)

Yep, fortunately it's a small percent, but it's opportunity cost regardless. I do a lot of third-party pays (warranty work, retailer, and insurance) and those people are the most frequent violators. I try to be there -10min to +5 minutes of the appointment, or I call. It sometimes means running to get back on track or having to waste some time if short jobs occur. I always hated, "The guy will be there between noon and 4:30," so I refuse to do that.

Some of my colleagues have a policy, "If the situation is as you described, the work will be between $x and $y. Once I see it, I can give you a binding estimate. If it's in that range, I expect to do the work while I'm there. If it's beyond that range, you can opt out and there's no charge. Otherwise, there is a $45 trip charge."

joinerswork's picture

(post #113195, reply #31 of 32)


Don't despair.

I had a similar experience with a local doctor who had without doubt one of the finest collections of antiques in the country.  After his consult with me, he said he'd have to get back to me, after he talked to his friend "Wally" (Gusler, the curator of furniture at Colonial Wmsburg), to see whether I could be trusted to lay a hand on his collection.  Apparently, my proposed treatment passed muster, and I was called to his home several times afterward.  I made up the cost of that first consult on the first job I did for him, conservation work on a Thomas  Wagstaffe clock in a high style Philadelphia Chippendale case.

Much later, as he was writing out a check for some restoration I'd done on a Simon Willard tall clock, he says to me, "Not complaining, you understand, but this is more than I paid for the clock."  He went on to tell me he'd gotten it "for a song" years before at an auction of primarily English antiques.

He's been dead now for years, and the pieces I once worked on are scattered in museums and private collections all over (Sotheby's largest private estate sale).  God, I miss him!  And the opportunities to see the insides of all those wonderful pieces.

My point is that there are those out there who do appreciate the knowledge, judgement, and skill, and don't quibble about paying for it.  Hard to find them, sometimes, though.


Ray Pine

Syb's picture

(post #113195, reply #21 of 32)

I'm not normally a suspicious person.  That statement I made was not characteristic of me.  I said it because I thought rubber cement sounded like a strange thing to use in this application, and not very similar to her shellac-based glue.  She really was a very nice person, and I appreciated her willingness to sell me the piece of cork and talk to me about the glue.  She could easily have told me she couldn't sell me that little piece of cork, and that she couldn't tell me anything about the glue.  That would have been fine, but then I probably wouldn't be inclined to return to that store for other purchases.

I understand your point of view and don't fault you for expecting to be paid for your services.

I have to say that there are many people who have expertise in an area and who, in addition to making their living by using that skill,  love to share their knowledge with others who are interested in learning that skill.  I really like those people, and I like supporting their businesses when I have to spend some money. 

jazzdogg's picture

(post #113195, reply #22 of 32)

Kudos to you for remaining calm, rational, and civil.

In my experience, those behaviors are rare among customers looking for "freebies" which makes you part of a rare breed.

Good luck with your recorking,


"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie


"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie

Rich14's picture

(post #113195, reply #24 of 32)


I believe that if you had started this thread with exactly the same information, but had simply expressed your strong desire (compulsion?) to do the repair yourself, and learn in the process, without your remark about the instrument technician's "ulterior motives" (letting you screw up the job), you would have gotten almost total positve support here.

You may have gotten some gentle advice about the dangers of "learning" on a fine instrument, but the reaction to your "attitude" would never have taken place. For the record, $15 for the technician's expertise, time and finished work is chump change.

In fact, most here admire and encourage the orientation that you and your husband apparently bring to problem solving and mechanical tasks. I think we are all here because we are driven in similar ways. The first instrumment repair I ever did was to remove and reset the warped neck on a vinatge Martin Guitar (a rare 0-18, long since out of production). I had never worked on an instrument before, but considered myself capable of learning and figuring out the process.

I read everything I could find on the subject. Fortunately, craftsman who have spent lifetimes developing such skills are willing to write and share their knowledge, for the satisfaction of sharing. Every single one of them advised that one learns on an inexpensive instrument, before working on "important" ones.

I sweated bullets while I steamed the glue joint open. But everything proceded logically, and there were really no surprises. (many years of working with wood, glue and lacquer finishes didn't hurt, either). The repair went very well and from there I went on to learning guitar making.

But I would do everything I could to discourage someone else from doing the same thing. I took a big risk. Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug. In my case, getting the guitar to a qualified repair shop had turned into a real PITA.

I think you'll do well with the repair you've described, and I hope you can appreciate the reasons for the rebuffs you've gotten here.


Syb's picture

(post #113195, reply #25 of 32)

I hope you can appreciate the reasons for the rebuffs you've gotten here.

I do.  As I said, that attitude is not normal for me.  It would have been better left unsaid.  But I assure you that I said nothing to the technician that would make her feel that I was belittling her skill.

Warnings from professionals not to try this yourself are often ridiculous.  Of course, for some people it's good advice, but for those of us who know our capabilities and our limitations, it makes no sense.  Case in point:  When we built our house, we designed it and drew up the blueprints to present to the planning department.  We had never designed a house or made blueprints before, but we did a lot of research and knew we could do it.  We could have hired an architect (pocket change compared to the cost of building a house, right?) and saved a lot of time, but doing it ourselves was a great experience for us. 

I don't generally let myself get in a position where I'm sweating bullets.  I wouldn't have taken on your guitar project, but you knew your level of comfort and had the confidence and skill to do it.  I like the idea that people don't always have to have an expert to do everything for them.  Doing it yourself is very satisfying.

Rich14's picture

(post #113195, reply #26 of 32)

LOL, I wish you hadn't used the example of house blueprints and architechtural plans. I am at the end of such a process myself and have been absolutely and completely stonewalled by our homeowner's association and city approval process.

No credentials, no acceptance. Period. Absolute and total refusal to look at the drawings on their own merit (they are quite professionally done, mind you). "Get an architect," is the message.

Didn't I say something about windshields and bugs above?

Syb's picture

(post #113195, reply #32 of 32)

have been absolutely and completely stonewalled by our homeowner's association and city approval process.

That is too bad.  We were certainly not encouraged by the planning dept., but they said it would be O.K. if we had an engineer O.K the structural stuff.  We met with an engineer for less than an hour to look at what we had done.  My husband had planned to use bigger lumber than was necessary, so there was no problem. 

I'm sure it helped to be living in a place where everyone was out in the woods building their own places, and few of them had a building permit.  The county was just happy to have us go through the process, and give them the money.

Rich14's picture

(post #113195, reply #23 of 32)


I agree with everything you have expressed in this thread. I'm glad you articulated it the way you did. I would have expressed far too much anger saying the same things.


forestgirl's picture

(post #113195, reply #30 of 32)

"I'm glad you articulated it the way you did."  Thanks, Rich.  11 years of on-the-job training in a pretty pressure-packed work environment.  Hopefully, it'll help me live longer, ROFL! [PS...afterthought... the stuff I wrote above would have never seen the light of day.  That was me being quite frank and more than a little irritated.  ROFL.]

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

Edited 6/23/2006 11:22 am by forestgirl

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-)