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Cloth Removal Techniques
Four Ways to Remove Cloth from Bellows

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Hi Dick,

There are four basic techniques for removing cloth from bellows. They are presented below in no specific order.

One, burn it off with a propane torch. (see note 1)
Two, sand it off with a belt sander. (see note 2)
Three, heat it with an iron and scrape it off with a sharp knife. (see note 3)
Four, soak the edge in a very shallow pan containing a towel saturated with water. (see note 4)

Note 1. When using this technique, the aim is to super boil the glue under the cloth, not to burn the cloth off of the wood. As you apply the flame, you can see the cloth start to bubble up, indicating that the glue has 'boiled'. At that point, you move on to another area. Once the whole area is 'charred', you scrape off the cloth with a sharp knife.

Note 2. When using this technique, it's important not to sand off any wood. So, the cloth has to be sanded off slowly and very evenly.

Note 3. This is a less aggressive technique than #1, but the goal is basically the same. By super-heating the glue, it will crystallize and weaken the bond between the cloth and the wood. This technique is much more time consuming that #1 or #2, but there is no chance of damaging the wood.

Note 4. This is perhaps the most time consuming of all the techniques, and perhaps the easiest. I demonstrate this technique at:



John A Tuttle

P.S. Portions of this email may be used in the creation of another web page at Player-Care.


On 3/4/2013 1:57 PM, Richard McGavern wrote:


Is there a first step to softening the glue on the cloth bellows? A process?


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