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Thread: Hide glue

  1. #1

    Hide glue

    I know it is recommended to install the felt in the drawers with hide glue. This got me interested in using hide glue for the construction of a chest itself.

    I have both 192 and 251 gram strength hide glues to experiment with as well as Old Brown Glue which is a liquid hide glue with a longer open time. The reversible nature of hide glue appeals to me. If I happen to glue and clamp a drawer slightly off kilter, it can easily be fixed by applying heat and getting it back apart for a second try.

    Compared to aliphatic resin, it takes 24 hours to dry and requires a longer clamp time. Also, you have to be quick while applying the glue and clamp pressure before the glue starts to set. This seems like it wouldn't be too much of a problem as long a you have lots of clamps and are quick with your hands.

    Does anyone have any further input, objections or experience with using hide glue?
    Last edited by Paperweight; 10-26-2016 at 02:10 PM.

  2. #2
    I use hot hide glue to glue down the felt and occasionally for veneer repair, but I like the yellow glue for repairs to the wooden parts of the boxes. I vividly remember our shop teacher, Mr. Rhoden, gluing two pieces of wood together with what was then white glue. The next day, he unclamped them and proceeded to attack them with a hammer. the wood all broke away well before the joint was compromised. I prefer this kind of strong repair. I can see why they use it on musical instrument and the like, but I prefer yellow glue for these boxes. Just my opinion based on 69 years on the planet.

    Some guys are put off by the process of heating the hide glue, checking the temperature, and such.

    I have a regular system set up with a small crock pot and a digital thermometer. I don’t buy that glob of stuff from Gerstner. I use a granulated hide glue product from people who make and repair musical instruments.

    It much easier to handle and measure out. I can do a whole box in under fifteen minutes and it comes out great! I brush it on with disposable chip brushes, toss in the felt, smooth it down with a plastic putty knife, and it’s off to the next one.

    Whatever works!

    Last edited by user459; 10-26-2016 at 04:53 PM.

  3. #3
    True enough, yellow carpenter's glue is stronger than the wood itself. If done correctly, so is hide glue from everything I've read. The plus side is that it is easily repairable should anything go wrong.

    Patrick Edwards who came up with Old Brown Glue also carries 192 gram strength granulated hide glue for $10 a pound and is sourced from Milligan and Higgins in Johnstown, NY.

    His videos are a good watch as well.

    Upon further reading, the urea added to liquid hide glues gives it a longer open time but probably wouldn't be as good as plain hide glue for joints under stress. Still, for doing the felt in the drawer bottoms, it would seem to be okay.
    Last edited by Paperweight; 10-26-2016 at 02:15 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Kenlew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I really like hide glue. I mix my own, rather than buying the bottled version as it is supposed to be better. You can buy a Mini crock pot and it will typically keep it at the correct temp. I just make the amount I will need for each setting. Sometimes I will keep and reheat if I'm working the next day or two.
    Ken Lewellyn

  5. #5
    I use Tite Bond Hide glue. Haven't had any issues with it. I do have to turn the portable heater on in the garage on cold days for awhile so it can flow. And, it does smell like hide glue, but it's also ready to go right out of the tube. I tried the flake hide glue and the pot, but just never got the knack of it.

  6. #6
    Already have the small crockpot, thermometer, glue brushes and mason jar ready to try out my 251 gram strength ground hide glue on the base frame and drawers tomorrow. I have a 10 amp variac so I can pretty much dial the temperature in perfectly.

    One day, I'll either buy or make a toothing or keying plane for veneer work.

  7. #7
    I officially love hide glue. It's so forgiving.

    I got the B1804 cabinet all glued up as fast as possible. I should have used a bigger brush to hold more glue. A smaller brush means more back and forth to the glue pot. The stuff cleans up well so I shouldn't have been worried about it. I got it clamped together and checked square. It was off by quite a bit. Loosened the clamps and it squared itself up. All was well. I was done for the day.

    I went to check on it this afternoon and discovered a hairline spot where I didn't check how well it clamped together in the back. I was disappointed in myself and was about to throw in the towel. A few hours later, I had the thought to try wetting and heating the joint under clamp pressure. With a wet shop rag I wiped the outside and inside until the wood along the seam was wet. I took a second damp but not soaked shop rag and laid it over the length of the seam I needed to close. I worked over both pieces of wood that formed the joint and as close to the seam with a clothes iron set between the wool and cotton setting. In less than 10 minutes, I had glue squeezing out of the joint. With a third clamp, I had the seam closed up completely. I can't express how satisfying that is. Also, using a damp rag and the iron made cleaning up any fresh or dried glue really easy.

    Too bad I don't care much for power saws. I don't like the noise and I need my fingers attached to my hands. I can't even watch someone else use a table saw. Otherwise, I'd probably throw all my free time into woodworking.

    Edit: Turns out I didn't need the variac. High on the mini crockpot was too hot. Low seemed to be not quite hot enough. Put the lid on and it was just slightly over 160 on low. Close. Set the jar of glue in the crockpot hot water bath resting on top of a washcloth to keep the jar from getting too hot and cracking as well as banging against the ceramic crock itself. Put the lid on slightly ajar with an opening for the thermometer to stick through. Temp went down to 130. Hmmm. Put some shop rags on top and tadaa, temp hit right on 145 degrees. Finagled them to cover most of the 1/2" lid gap and I was in business. As the temp went up, I would remove 1 or 2 of the shop rags. Goes too far down, add rags for more heat retention. The lid also kept a good bit of the steam inside and that kept the glue from forming a skin on top or losing too much water.

  8. #8
    You might want to try a quart ziplock freezer bag instead of the jar. Seal the bag with the glue in it and let the top of the bag hang out of the crockpot under the lid. No skin, no dilution from the steam, no shop rags needed.
    After it reaches temperature, I take the bag out, slip it into a plastic cup, and fold the top back around the cup for access to the glue.

    When I am finished, I just zip the bag shut and put it in the shop refrigerator for next time.

    Last edited by user459; 11-01-2016 at 10:55 AM.

  9. #9
    I'm going to be cutting and gluing felt into a Pilliod chest today. In preparation, I took the ziplock bag of glue out of the refrigerator, turned the crock pot on high, and took the crock and glue into the laundry room. I have tankless hot water, and the laundry room is the first stop from the water heater, so I get almost instantaneous, very hot, water. I let the water run in the crock to preheat it.


    Then I add the sealed glue bag to start melting it.

    I empty a little water out to allow room for the bag and the top, then place it into the base of the crock pot.

    I cover it and put in the digital thermometer. It's already well on its way to the 140 degree mark.


    I find that this saves me the wait for the crock pot to get up to temperature from a cold start.

  10. #10
    I made my living as a custom furniture builder for 17+ years. Hide glue is mighty fine stuff, been used for centuries, but it's most important trait is the ability to undo joints with heat and moisture. That's great if you have a 200 year old violin that needs it's top taken off for repairs....................not so great if you have a piece of furniture (or in this case a toolbox) you want to stay together. I highly respect hide glue and have used more than my share of it when I was a musical instrument repairman. However, when it comes to furniture (wooden toolboxes) I want whatever I put together to stay together.............permanently! That's why I use Titebond III on everything I build. And if the piece of furniture is going to an ultra dry climate like Tucson, AZ, I'm going to use epoxy on all the joints. Just sayin'...........................

    The tension between what is good enough and what is beyond that creates the space for character to become our work.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Lanso's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Long Beach, CA
    Hi Chris,

    I like reading everyone's glue opinions, I use epoxy not necessarily for strength but for the open time, it helps with complicated assemblies and with tight finger joints, it can act like a lubricant.
    Do you know of any other glue with those qualities?

  12. #12
    Yup...............hide glue!

    The tension between what is good enough and what is beyond that creates the space for character to become our work.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Lanso's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Long Beach, CA
    Thanks Chris,
    sounds like I would be sacrificing strength?

  14. #14
    Furniture builders have been using hide glue for centuries, Lanso. If a joint comes unglued, they'd just reapply hide glue and re-clamp. The use of hide glue is so when panels shrink and expand, they won't split, but will come unglued. Age old method. Who's to say it isn't the right one? I'm very careful to design furniture so the tops and sides expand and contract in the same direction and only smaller pieces might compete with each other. That's why I use Titebond III, or Epoxy. It's all in the planning.

    I might add...................if you are worried about using hide glue on your projects, think of this: Furniture found in the tombs of Egypt are glued (still solidly glued) with hide glue.

    The tension between what is good enough and what is beyond that creates the space for character to become our work.


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