Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Q&A About Imported Bone Tatting Shuttles

Q&A About Imported Bone Tatting Shuttles

Dave tries to never rag on any other shuttles or shuttle makers, but he has gotten a few questions from patrons asking what they can do about the inexpensive imported bone shuttle they bought that has come apart where it has been glued together. He provides the following information from his experience:

"These imported bone post shuttles are held together with modern CA glue or cyanoacrylates [tradenames: Hot Stuff, Zap, Crazy Glue, etc.]. CA glue is great and I use it on wood and ancient ivory however I do not use it to make a bone post shuttle. Why? Bone is not ivory! Ivory is a modified tooth (tusk) and is formed differently than bone. Bone was a living organ within the animal and filled with blood, marrow and fatty acids and oils. The processing of bone includes a "de-greasing" process which requires soaking in a solvent to remove all the grease. If not completely de-greased all the way through, the bone will continue to oooze oil to the surface, even years later. My guess is that the problem some folks are having is maybe the bone material was not completely de-greased. It would be something like rubbing a little vasoline on the 2 surfaces and then trying to stick them together with glue. That won’t work!

If you want to keep your bone shuttle I recommend you pick up a can of liquid Coleman Stove Fuel which is also called "white gas", put some in a mason jar and soak the bone shuttle parts in it for about a month, changing the solvent a couple of times. The white gas is flamable and should be kept in the garage or outside and away from any ignition sources. Once de-greased and dry you can rough up the glue points on the bone with sand paper and re-glue with CA glue.

A couple of years ago I bought a few bison leg bones from a Buffalo Ranch here in Oregon and started the process of cleaning and de-greasing the bone. What a job! What a mess! It seemed to take for ever changing the solvent time after time before I felt all the oils were all out of the bone. I still don’t use the bone for gluing post shuttles, I only use it to make the one piece side shuttles and Lady Hoare shuttles.

Ivory on the other hand is a different story. Fresh ivory may have some natural oils but I do not use fresh ivory. The ancient mammoth ivory I use has been in the ground or ice for over 10,000 years and any oils have long since been leached away and the CA glue works perfect on an ivory shuttle.
One time I did find that some ivory I bought had been polished in a tumbler using a walnut shell medium. While nut shells polished the ivory it left a oil film on the ivory that would not hold glue. It took me awhile to figure out what was going on and I that had to de-grease that lot of ivory if I was going to use any glue.

You have heard the saying that oil and water don’t mix...well nether does oil and CA glue! I just suspect that the imported bone shuttles are more production shuttles for the world market and in production modes sometimes quality control is lacking and short cuts taken.

Hope this helps answer some of those questions. I figured some other tatters might find this useful."