Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hide Glue, why does it keep hanging around?

During my recent class at Marc Adams I got to use hide glue for the first time.  Its been one of those things I have always wanted to try but had never gotten around to.  Hide glue can be a little intimidating, especially with all the stories out there.  I often hear stories where create all these crude concoctions.  It brings to mind a which over a kettle adding a pinch of lizards gizzards.

It isn't surprising that these things happen.  You have to expect people to tinker with your chemistry after you have been around for 4000+ years.  Even how to mix the glue up seems to be a bit of a mystery.  Some folks do it one way and other do the opposite.  Like I said, fairly intimidating.

Hide glue is like sharpening, the more information (and is there a lot of it!) you get the less you know.  You don't need any fancy equipment.  If you are just wanting to try it out you can use a stove, sauce pan, and candy thermomenter and you will do fine.  That is, if your wife doesn't catch you.

If you want to get your feet wet there is another option, the option we used at Marc Adams.  We used Old Brown Glue.  This is simply hide glue that has been mixed with urea so that it will remain liquid (or somewhat liquid) at room temperature.  The glue has a one year shelf life but that can be extended if you store it in the fridge.  When your ready to glue up simply heat the glue to get it to the right consistency and then apply it.  It doesn't have to be that warm.  Simply putting it in a window sill on a summer day will do just fine.  But in the winter you might want to invest in a small $10 croc pot.

I have been using hide glue since the class and love it.  I feel more at ease using it.  The are the benefits I have seen so far...
  • No fuss clean up.  Simply take a damp rag and you can remove excess glue easily.  Also works great at getting it off the workbench, clamps, etc.
  • No more glue blotches when applying stain.
  • Has the right consistency.  The glue has sort of a snot consistency.  Seems to stick to the wood better and you get some initial tack.
Obviously this is the glue for all situations but my bottle of Titebond is getting pretty lonely.  I urge anyone who hasn't tried hide glue to give it a shot.  You'll be glad you did.

Photo by Chris Schwarz

1 comment:

Chris Kodya said...

I have to agree with the hide glue. I started using it about 2 years ago and haven't looked back. I use epoxy for some items such as filling in knot holes, but everything else is hide glue. If I know there is going to be a glue up that day I turn on the hot plate when I go into the shop and work till I need it. The smell becomes as normal as shavings in the shop. I encourage everyone to try it.