Glue pot #1: Finally getting hot in Copenhagen

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Blog entry by mafe posted 02-11-2016 04:29 PM 3058 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Glue pot
Finally getting hot in Copenhagen

This is a little love story, so don’t expect an experts advice, just a grown up boy seeing things that amaze him.
I will just show a few pictures on my way of restoring and bringing two old pots back to life here.
As always I take my detours and a few of the pictures will not be sharp. ;-)

So this was where it started back in 2012, I fell in love with a old glue pot and made my bid online.
Judging from the photos the inner and outer pots were in a really fair condition and fully functional.
Not sure what to think of the sellers taste when it comes to plant pots…
Ohhh yes and won the auction at a price that was more than fair, in fact the pot’s price was 1/4 of the shipping.

Made in England, that’s usually a good sign when it comes to old tools and the quality should be fine also, even I think it’s just a old marketing stunt from back in the days.

I must have written about in on LJ (don’t remember any more), this because I received this wonderful letter in the form of a glue block after. It came from the most wonderful man Gunnar living in a part of Denmark called Fyn, he had made the glue him self and thought it would come in handy. Gunnar used to work as a cabinet maker and so he grew up with animal glue in all forms and have been helpful with advice.

So I was ready to go ahead…
But never did, other projects and things came in the way.

Then one day Flemming who is a local artist and a dear friend came to me with this pot, a mini glue pot and yes I was sold.

Here you see the size.
It can hold a handful of glue I guess.

Inside some old lead, so guess it have had a life…

This picture was supposed to show the lead in the pot…
MaFe out of focus.

Out of focus again, perhaps I had forgotten the autofocus that day…
But you can see the melted lead as this was melting.

Most of it came out.

Just a wee bit would not come out.

But with a wire brush I cleaned it and removed most.

The rest was removed with sandpaper as I was giving the pots a light clean up.

Here the info.

Clean inner pot.

Just a light clean up where the surface rust are removed but the history can still be read.

Then I gave it a coat of graphite paste, this gives it a wonderful color and keeps the rust away.
Clean with a cloth after to remove the rest.

That’s the kind of restore I like, not too much not too little.


Enough of this.
This was done to the other pot also.
Then time just passed again…

In a antique shop I was lucky to find an old electric stove top, brand new unused in the box and probably thirty years old, that makes a vintage architect happy.
I don’t always use my wood burning stove, so this will be needed and also easier to keep a steady temperature.
Also I ordered some hide glue granulate, this time from Germany (could not find a fair dealer here), bought two kilos, then it should keep me going for a while.
(Dictum also sells bone- and rabbit glue granulates).
Ohhhhhh yes and I also got a cooking thermometer for the pot.
Then another year or so passed…

Finally something happened when I was making my wood lanterns inspired by museum versions I had seen, it was just the right project to use hide glue since it would be how it was made back in the days.
So no more excuses MaFe.

The setup.

Important to be able to keep a stabile temperature, if the glue gets too hot it will lose its strength.
So I made a test run with water to see if it was possible to do this and it worked fine.
In Denmark we use degree Celsius (°C).

As so often one thing leads to another and I wanted lid on my pot to keep dust and dirt out also it would make the heating up faster.
So I cut some scrap that was by the table saw.
Used ply since this would hold its shape when hot and wet, even I felt a wee wrong not using solid wood…
Guess that’s how I always do, trying to understand how things were done, but not always doing it and using what we can do now when there are a good reason or it makes life easier.

Marking the center.

So back to the glue pot.
Take out the inner pot.

2 parts hide glue goes into the pot.

1 part lukewarm water.


Now heat the water in the outer pot to app 75°C or so.

Let the granulate soak up the water.

The pot goes in and now you need to constantly stir it until it reaches its temperature.
Heat it up slowly then you get the strongest glue.

Ok back to the lids while it warms up.
Here marking up the pot size.

Cutting on the band saw.

As you can see here, I marked up where the pot handles are and cut this out also.

Then a screw through it and up on the table saw to make a quick rabbet.

Like this!

Now some dye.
Just to make it sexier…
(And hide the fact I used plywood – gangster I am – lol).

A string to open it and we are having a lid.

Also for the small pot.
I put my MaFe mark and drilled a extra hole for the thermometer.

Once the glue was hot I made the first glue up on an old stool that needed a fix.
Wauuu this glue is like honey.
Love it, don’t think I have much more to say.

Yes there are much more to say.
The glue up can be warmed up so that you can take it a part if needed.
You can re glue on old glue just remove the loose parts.
Restore old furniture as they were made.
There are different types of glue, rabbit glue are more flexible.

Some how this is where it belongs, on top of the stove and on winter days this will be the case.

Since I used only little glue, the rest are kept in the fridge where it can stay fresh.
I asked dear Paul and his answer were this:

I put mine in the fridge every night. Usually it goes back to the shop in the morning but it has stayed in the fridge for a week or two at times, occasionally even more. Once or twice after a long stay in the fridge I have noticed a little mold on top. I threw it out on those occasions. Freezing will keep it indefinitely. Also if you are going to leave it for a long time you can pour it out on some plastic and let it gel. When it gets firm move it onto some screen and let it dry out. Once dry it will last forever until rehydrated.
Glad to see you using the pot, I do love my HHG.

This was how it looked after three weeks or more in the fridge.

I could take it right out the pot as a gel.
My plan was to try and dry it but I trashed it by mistake, so next time I will do so.
Also I learned that I will make smaller batches, the hide glue goes a long way.

So a conclusion:
There are no reason not to get started on this, as long as you buy the glue granulate it is as easy as to make oatmeal, even easier since you will not need salt…
You can use two cans as double boiler so no need for fancy gear and you can warm it on your stove.
It’s easy to remove the glue so cleaning up after the glue up is a walk in the park.
It’s sexy! (Like in woodworker sexy).
You get a feel of the good old days.
Ok, it’s not as easy as picking up the glue bottle, you will not have the same guarantee for the strength (DIN norm), you need prep time, to clean after you and to remember to turn of the stove.
For me it will be a thing for special projects, restore and be used as a supplement to the glue bottle.
It is like using a hand plane instead of a sander, they can both do the job, no one will probably ever notice the difference but it will make you a happier man and that is reason enough for me.

Next project will be to fix one of these, like this I will have hide glue on the go.
Ohhhh I love this world of wood, we never close a door, every time we learn new, we open up a lot of new doors.

If you got hungry for more then go and look at Pauls blog series on the subject, he is if any one Mr. hide glue: here you will find all you need to know and more, Paul are not only full of wisdom he is also a great inspiration and with a warm heart.

Guitar maker telling the story and his thoughts:
Hide glue on clothes iron:
Lovely video from woodtrecks on the subject:
For Danes – Malerfagets behandlingsanvisninger:

Thank you: Flemming, Gunnar and Poul for helping me take the journey into this hide glue adventure.

Hope it can be an inspiration, perhaps even some old school gluing.


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

10 comments so far

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3549 days

#1 posted 02-11-2016 06:43 PM

Very interesting Mads, thanks for sharing!

-- I never finish anyth

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2917 posts in 2074 days

#2 posted 02-11-2016 07:20 PM

Fascinating ride, Mads. Makes me think.
Hopla? Is that like “Uuf da”?

-- Mark

View Sylvain's profile


1207 posts in 3510 days

#3 posted 02-11-2016 08:48 PM

I have read in various documents that hide glue should not come in contact with iron. You might want to redo the tin layer inside the inner pot.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View Sodabowski's profile


2394 posts in 3843 days

#4 posted 02-11-2016 08:53 PM

I’ve been using hot bone glue in the same granular form for book covers, quite not the proper stuff for the job, but for woodworking it will be awesome. I didn’t go as fancy as you did with the lovely vintage hardware, I use a crappy ebay-bought cup warmer, cost like 2€ free postage, put a tiny jam pot with the glue and water, and let it warm :)

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View farmerdude's profile


676 posts in 3050 days

#5 posted 02-11-2016 10:32 PM

Very nice blog, great pictures. I do love those pots. I’ve never tried hide glue, but would like to someday. Thanks for sharing your experience.

-- Jeff in central Me.

View shipwright's profile


8678 posts in 3808 days

#6 posted 02-11-2016 10:40 PM

Way to go Mads!

I waxed poetic in your project post so I’ll keep it simple here, well done!

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View lew's profile


13317 posts in 4766 days

#7 posted 02-12-2016 08:57 PM

My eyes were glued to the screen reading this ;^)

Thanks for the wonderful journey, Mads.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Roger's profile


21051 posts in 3814 days

#8 posted 02-13-2016 03:07 PM

Yes, I thank you for the ride as well. Always a pleasure to see your pictures and story that goes along with it.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4345 days

#9 posted 02-14-2016 04:44 PM

Great glue Mads with so many uses and so easy to clean up too. I love your antique glue pots, they add a lot of charm.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mafe's profile


12928 posts in 4100 days

#10 posted 02-20-2016 05:32 PM

Philip, it has been a fun journey, thanks.
Mark, hopla is like when doing a magic trick or a lion jumping through a ring of fire. ;-)
Sylvain, I think the only problem is it will take some color.
Sodabowski, you always come up with the clever simple solutions. Me I am the dino guy.
Farmerdude, yes you should.
Paul, I will comment there, thanks my friend.
Lew, yes you can’t hide after reading this… Thanks back.
Roger, a pleasure to have you in for the ride.
Stefang, think it will be a friend, it is so wonderful in many ways and also brings smiles, after all that is a important part of all this.
Thanks guys.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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