Re-gluing climbing skins; yet another way
Updated October 2009
Skin re-gluing - Plan C
Note: as of Dec 2010, my conclusion regarding all of this is that ‘it’s too much work’.
Plan B is what you do when Plan A does not work. So consider Plan C below in this light. Frankly, my advice is to do it like everyone else does it. If you are not happy with that, perhaps the following might give you some ideas.
I've not been that thrilled with the usual methods of re-gluing skins. Painting the glue on can be a bit messy. By the way, if you paint over old glue sometimes strange things happen. If the old glue is dirty, the new glue may stick to itself more than the old glue, especially in the spring.
So take all the old glue off first. I learned this the hard way. However, I discovered a trick. A heat gun and scraper works quite well. That’s one option. However it seemed to me to be quite easy to damage the skins that use a rubber based backing, like the ones from Skins Direct.
Ironing on strips of paper grocery bags is another way of doing it. I’ve become impatient doing it this way, and I discovered that using strips of “Handi Wipes” (or similar) really speeds things up. Iron the strips down so that they saturate with glue. Then peal them off as you slide the iron along. If you pull them up when the glue is too cold, all you will do is get a bunch of fuzz in the old glue.
I’ve used iron-on glue sheets from Black Diamond and generally like the idea, however based on some Emails exchanges with the folks at ClimbingSkinsDirect.com, I think that the BD glue sheets are thicker than need be, and that the extra thickness actually changes the characteristics of the glue. After using my new Climbing Skins Direct skins for a couple of years, I became a big fan of the thinner glue layer they use. By the way I still love my CSD skins!
In any case, I decided to make my own iron on glue sheets.
- Cover a piece of cardboard with parchment paper, folding it over the ends and fastening it on the back side so the paper is tight and smooth. I ended up with about 2 and a half linear feet of the paper to work with.
- Pour a good puddle of BD Gold Label skin glue in the middle of the paper and use a 6 inch plastic squeegee to quickly spread the glue evenly over the surface. Doing it outside in cool weather helps. Let the glue dry thoroughly, and don't let the surface become contaminated.
- When the glue is dry, lightly press another piece of parchment paper over the surface. Don't push too hard, because this will become the release layer. After a day or so the glue sheets are ready to use.
- With a fresh straight edge razor blade, cut strips from the glue sheet just wide enough to cover sections of the skin. With this method, you do not need to remove the center nylon tape if the skins have it.
- Peal the release paper back an inch or so, carefully locate the strip, and stick it down as you would masking tape. Stick one end down, peal the release paper back for a foot or so and press down, then repeat.
- When the skin is covered, iron the glue in the same manner as you would for the BD glue sheets. The iron does not need to be too hot; just hot enough to melt the glue. It's the same method I described here:
- After ironing, turn the skin over and trim off the excess parchment and glue with a razor blade. This just keeps things neat and prevents little balls of sticky glue from getting all over the place.
- Let the skins cool, and peal the parchment off. If any of the glue is not completely bonded to the skin, put a piece of parchment over the spot and iron it down.
After a season of use, I can report that this method works, but it may be overly complicated depending on your point of view. So here are a few tricks for applying glue the conventional way.
From TAY’er Clem, I learned that warming the glue in a pot of hot water makes a huge difference in the ease of painting it on. I put the glue in a big pan of boiling water for a short time, then bring the works to the shop. The glue seems to stay hot enough.
Don’t use the brush in the can; instead, use a cheap 1 inch china bristle brush and discard it after use. It makes a big difference.
Put wide masking tape over the nap of the skin to help keep the glue off. Secure both ends of the skin to a long board of some sort.
Brush the glue on the same way you varnish: load the brush, then start the first brush stroke say 3 or 4 inches ahead of the wet line, and brush towards the wet glue. Brush back an forth a few times, just blending the newly applied glue into the old. Just as in varnishing, this avoids ending up with an uneven layer, thick in spots and thin in spots.
Let the glue dry thoroughly in a place where it will not get contaminated with dirt. The skins are ready to use at this point, but I add another step, that if nothing else, keeps things neat.
Once the glue is dry, and while the skins are still clamped to the board, apply strips of siliconized parchment paper to the glue surface. (I recently found some parchment paper from Finland that is thinner and works a lot better than the Reynolds brand I had been using.)
Once the parchment is applied, it’s easy to handle the skins without messing up the glue surface. Put them glue side down and peal off the masking tape. At this point I like to iron over the parchment to even out the glue. For long term storage, I trim off most of the excess parchment, and hang the skins on a hook. I think this is far better than sticking the skin to itself and stuffing it in a bag and leaving them for months.