Some of our tools around the shop are just plain fun to work with. One of our favorites is Shapelock (Friendly Plastic) – it’s a bunch of small little plastic balls that melt when heated and can be formed into any shape we want. Oftentimes we use it to make cauls for clamping areas that are tough to reach with traditional methods.
This week we were tasked with fixing the binding on a pre-Gibson 1951 Epiphone Deluxe Regent, which had cracked and separated from the body of the guitar. Clamps just won’t just reach into some the more extreme curves of this instrument, so we had to improvise. While our Shapelock was melting in it’s pot, we heated the binding with a small hair dryer to help it flex into shape.
Then we pulled out the Shapelock and played hot potato with it for a few moments, allowing it to cool and solidify just a little bit. It was really hot… why didn’t we wear gloves for this?
Next we pressed the Shapelock into the curve of the guitar where the binding was broken. We kept a piece of wax paper in between the plastic and the guitar, to protect the finish.
The Friendly Plastic hardens into a perfectly shaped caul for the clamp to affix to. We flooded some glue into the seam of the loose binding, attached a clamp to the plastic, and allowed the glue to cure overnight. The next morning, we remove the clamps and our custom plastic caul, and we’re done!