In Praise of Hide Glue...

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by RogerBean posted 01-14-2016 06:14 PM 1089 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

LIke many here on LJ, I have used PVA glue for most everything… for many years. I still do, for some things. It’s a good, solid, strong glue.

But a little over a year and a half ago, I had the pleasure of spending two weeks with Patrick Edwards at the American School of French Marquetry. As many of you may know, Patrick is one of the foremost advocates over many years, of protein glue, both hot hide glue, and “Old Brown Glue” which he makes and sells. In French Marquetry, one uses hide glue exclusively, so I got to try it first hand. So, OK, I left thinking that maybe, just maybe, it’s not such a bad idea.

After making my chevalet, my next project was to build a Federal inlaid Pembroke table (see I chose to use hide glue to follow the original theme. Well, along the way, I managed to glue up one of the veneer faces on the drawer, and lo and behold, it had slipped… to much to save. Remembering Patrick’s entreaties that it could be re softened, I tried. Out came my heat iron and a bit of water spray, and ….behold… it came loose, and I saved the drawer front.

Just this morning, I went out to the shop, and found that the large cove moulding, the one that supports the hood assembly, that I had so carefully cut and glued yesterday afternoon, ...had slipped under the clamp pressure. I now had a big gap and crooked molding. Not even remotely acceptable. And that darn molding took over a whole day to make. After the initial harsh words (really!) I stopped to think. Can I remove this thick molding after it had hardened for a whole day? Can I get it wet and warm enough without burning it to release the glue?

Uncertain, I sprayed water into the joint (which had separated somewhat) and let it set for several hours, keeping it wet in between. I got out the heat gun, and being careful not to burn the molding (I really, really, don’t want to make another one!) I began to slowly warm the molding. Being a big molding, I was not at all certain I could get it warm enough to release.

Well, just as Patrick promised, a little chisel pressure in the joint, and with a subtle sucking sound, the joint slowly released its grip and came apart. Have to admit, it felt good. lol A really depressing situation, saved again by hide glue. Patrick: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The joint is now reglued, and curing as I write this. I hope Patrick sees this post, as I really owe him one. So, for those of you who have not tried hot hide glue, or the slower curing Old Brown Glue from Patrick, I can recommend it in spades. I am a believer. It’s not just that someone a hundred years down the road may be able to disassemble a piece I made, but that I can disassemble my own piece when I make a mistake like this one!!

It has saved me many hours of work. There are numerous sources for hide glue, but Patrick sells both glue granules for hot hide glue, as well as his well known Old Brown Glue at I’m a believer. Perhaps you should be too.

I’m a ways from posting the finished Newport Stephen Goddard clock, I’ll post it soon as it’s finished.

Thanks for reading my ramblings….


-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

5 comments so far

View Eyal's profile


91 posts in 2339 days

#1 posted 01-14-2016 07:22 PM

Its good to know that you could reverse the process on a big joint, as in your case with the large moulding.

View BoxBuilder's profile


130 posts in 3903 days

#2 posted 01-16-2016 10:49 PM

I got hooked on the glue after reading Patrick’s article in Fine Woodworking. I have also become a believer, especially as you don’t have to worry about glue lines messing up the staining process.

-- Richard, Pennsylvania

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 4107 days

#3 posted 01-31-2016 06:03 PM

Great stuff. I use it too, but I still use PVA on some things when it is more convenient.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 1949 days

#4 posted 02-01-2016 03:23 AM

More encouragement for me to find the time to try hide glue. Just wish I had about 40 hours in a day they I could get caught up and have some fun.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 3726 days

#5 posted 02-01-2016 01:04 PM

After a year or so of using hide glue (hot and Old Brown Glue) it’s hard for me to imagine going back to TiteBond for any piece of furniture. I still use PVA once in a while for non important applications like fixtures or exterior projects, but not much. As I mentioned above, hide glue has saved me more than once.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics