The Gluepot Story

The Story of the MusiCaravan Traditional Brass Luthier�s Gluepot

Hank Levin - LuthierIn the 1960's, as a young luthier in New York City I specialized in building and repair of instruments from all over the world, particularly lutes, ouds (Middle Eastern lutes) and guitars. I quickly learned the importance of hide glue in constructing the vaulted lute and oud backs, and making invisible repairs in spruce faces. For many years I used a tiny iron pot with an enameled inner sleeve that I had found at an antique store. The enameled sleeve was wonderful in that it did not discolor the glue like plain iron pots did. One problem with that glue pot that I tolerated was that because the inner sleeve had a wide mouth and no lid, the glue evaporated and thickened, requiring the continuous careful addition of water. The other problem was that the cylindrical shape of the inner pot required a certain minimum of glue to be usable.

Because I never trusted hide glue kept more than a few days (even in the refrigerator), when only a small repair was involved I would end up wasting discarded glue. Unfortunately, when I moved to the West Coast, my little glue pot got lost. For years I made do with baby food jars in pans of water, etc. More recently I had to do an important and extensive restoration, and was determined to get a good glue pot.

Esthetically and financially repelled by electric gluepots, I searched the internet in vain for the perfect luthier's glue pot. No woodworking supplier in the U.S. had them. Even on E-bay, iron glue pots were few and far between, always too big, and none had lined inner sleeves. The few brass and copper ones that I found were overseas, antiques, and outrageously expensive. Even so, I bid on several, but (perhaps fortunately) was never the high bidder! I related my plight to an associate whose family was involved in brassware manufacture. He assured me that something could be done as long as I was willing to deal in commercial quantities. I submitted a design, and many months later received several samples. None was perfect, but I revised the specifications. Nearly a year later I finally had the perfect glue pot. In fact, quite a number of them.

These glue pots have a lid-with a raised relief design, no less - and a small cutout just the right size for a standard metal glue brush. The brass will not discolor or degrade the hot glue. The ample outer water jacket keeps the glue hot for up to twenty minutes.* Furthermore, the unique tapered shape of the inner sleeve allows me to work with as little as a half ounce of glue for fixing a small crack-all the way up to three ounces of glue, enough to build an entire cello-with no waste of glue. Furthermore, the tapered shape allows any hardened glue residue to pop out easily, requiring a minimum of cleaning. In all, it's a dream to use! *For longer projects without interruption, or to keep the glue workable all day long, consider purchasing our reasonably-priced Electric Gluepot Warmer.

(c) Hank Levin 2005 All Rights Reserved