Hide Glue for Beginners #1: Take it From a Real Expert

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 08-05-2012 04:01 AM 6747 reads 25 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Hide Glue for Beginners series Part 2: Some myths, some Pictures and some Videos »

I promised in a recent construction series about my current project to do a ”how to get started in hide glue” tutorial, but in researching for useful photos and making sure my facts were correct, I took a second look at a series of videos with Patrick Edwards on Kieth Cruickshank’s “Woodtreks” blog. I decided that if you want to learn about hide glue I’ll let a real expert tell you about it and in video at that.

You may want to watch these several times. I still pick up tips every time I watch them and I’ve been using hide glue almost daily for a couple of years plus I’ve had this talk from Patrick in person at his American School Of French Marquetry. He is as knowledgeable on this subject as anyone in the country and commonly says that he’ll change glues as soon as someone can prove theirs is superior. He’ll also tell you that in the thirty odd years he’s been saying that …. no one has.

So here's a link to a LOT of knowledge about hide glue from a true expert.

Enjoy, and I’ll field any questions I can and throw in a few photos and whatnot as (if) this develops.


P.S. I probably should have checked first. There are already several good blogs and articles on LJ’s ( search: Hide Glue) so there’s another resource. I suppose it’s good to bring it up again once in a while if only to have someone to throw questions at.

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

14 comments so far

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1126 posts in 3367 days

#1 posted 08-05-2012 09:04 AM

Thanks for the link. As you said there is some extremely useful information here.
I have a couple of questions. When you are assembling your wooden pictures do you use hide glue to join the individual pieces together before you lay the completed picture on to the chosen substrate? Do you need to reinforce your picture to safeguard it during the hammering process? Do you always use either ply or solid wood as your substrate material or do you use MDF on occasions?

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4291 days

#2 posted 08-05-2012 10:28 AM

The curves on the sculpted furniture looked so much like the curves I’ve been carving on my gunstocks that I want to fill my house with furniture made in this style. As soon as possible, I’m going to take a trip to tour the Maloof property to see the furniture Sam Maloof created.

Thanks for sharing the link on hide glue. The site has several videos I’ll watch later as well. This Fall I’m starting on a new project. I’m going to build 6 Maloof style low back chairs and a live edge slab table for a Christmas gift and another smaller table with two chairs for someone else. I had been planning on trying hide glue for the first chairs because, if while shaping them, and I go to far, I can remove the part, and carve another one. It sure beats scrapping a chair and starting over… If the chairs turn out as nice as everyone else has made, I’ll start making some Maloof style rocking chairs and I know I’ll need to remake more than one part over before I get all the flowing curves the way I want them to look. Most chairmakers have paid a lot of money for prime lumber to build their chairs. At least I’ve got a sawmill and I have been collecting nice walnut, maple and cherry logs for the last year to use to make both my gunstocks and the furniture I want to make. If I mess up an arm or leg of the chair, I can easily bandsaw out another part and fit it to start over. That’s not an option for most chairmakers. I’m going to make the first prototypes out of red oak before I use some of the beautiful cherry and walnut crotches I’ve saved. Last week I was given a 30’ long spalded maple log that’s 38 or 40” at the base. There’s a lot of gunstocks & chairs hiding inside that log. I can’t wait to see what it looks like inside.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4631 days

#3 posted 08-05-2012 04:23 PM

Super interesting Paul thanks for sharing this most detailed video on hide glue


View rance's profile


4278 posts in 4215 days

#4 posted 08-05-2012 04:49 PM

My ‘Hide glue technique’... Any time I see hide glue, I run and hide. :) Ha ha.

Seriously, I guess I fall into the catagory of folks that just want a quick, easy, non-messy glue solution. Emphasis on the easy. I subconciously put gluing into different categories.

1) Gluing long strips(trim) in place. This involves running a quick bead down a piece of trim, putting it in place, then tacking it with a brad or pin. Norm Abram uses this style a lot from what I can tell.

2) Gluing up shorter strips to make a cutting board, or other similar piece. This differs from #1 in that I would actually smear the glue on both pieces to get full coverage, and it would also be followed up by placing clamps to secure it until it dries.

3) Last, but not least, gluing inlays or odd shapes(usually small) in place where they will be sanded flush when dried. Inlays and marquetry come to mind.

Of these, the last seems to be the main use for hide glues. Because of the thinness of the wood maybe or the hammer technique to squeeze out the excess? I can’t really pinpoint the ‘why’ I feel this way. I just can’t see Norm(or me) drizzling a long bead of hide glue down a piece of trim with a brush before nailing it in place. It’s probably that nasty brush that Patrick is using.

Paul, please know that I am not knocking the use of hide glue. I am honestly asking if you only use it for your marquetry or do you use it for ALL of your gluing applications such as M&T and perhaps a cutting board glue-up.

On another aspect, it seems I just want to be able to quickly reach for a bottle of glue and dab a bit on and be done with it. Having to keep a hot-pot ‘running’ throughout the day seems laborious. Please tell me it is not. I really emphasize ‘easy’ in my woodworking. I don’t want to ramp-up on another technology or process. Would the simple Liquid Hide Glue bottles that do not require the pot be a first step, or are these just not the same?

PS: Great video links btw. This one and one from one of your other threads.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View shipwright's profile (online now)


8703 posts in 3852 days

#5 posted 08-05-2012 06:06 PM


1) Yes and no on the first question. Yes if I’m assembling the picture on paper but It is not actually fastening the pieces together as much as assembling them onto a backing paper. This method is the traditional trademark procedure of french marquetry and requires very special butchers’ paper.
No if I am assembling on clear adhesive film which I am doing more and more. I think if the French masters had had this product two hundred years ago, they may have used it.

2) Marquetry is always pressed, never hammered. Don’t ask how I found that out, suffice to say that no one told me in advance.

3) I use baltic birch plywood and MDF. I like them both. Of course the old stuff was all done on solid wood so that’s also an option, especially if you are doing curved surfaces.

To each his own but I find hot glue to be quicker and easier and, while sometimes a bit messier than pva glue,
certainly easier to clean up.
As for your categories, I’ll do another segment with some photos but for now:

#1 and #2 would likely be done as rubbed joints with hot glue and the only differences from pva would be the lack of any need for fastenings or clamping, the length of time required before you could do further work with the piece, and the ultimate strength of the joint. all of these would favor the hide glue. Actually there are even more advantages like not sealing the surface and needing to be sanded or scraped before finishing, no down the road squeeze-out and on and on.
Fir #3, with hide glue you just dab some glue on the piece, press it in place with finger pressure for about as long as you might with CA glue and you’re done.

On your last point, it can be a pita to keep the pot hot and at the right temp all day with the home made style which is why most who get hooked will buy a Hold Heet pot before long.

Finally, liquid hide glue can give many of the advantages of hot glue but misses some others like hammer veneering and rubbed joints that depend on the quick set of hot glue.

Yes, I use it for almost everything. The lone exception is large area flat glue-ups like laminating sheets of PW together.

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

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4389 days

#6 posted 08-06-2012 10:29 PM

Interesting video Paul. I have seen it used a lot in various woodworking publications, etc. I can’t buy it off the shelf here in Norway, but I suppose I could buy it from the U.K. Thanks for the good blog and video link on this product.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4206 days

#7 posted 01-26-2013 08:27 PM

Hi Paul, Question about Hide Glue, do you know if cold temperature affectes it like other glues? I need to glue something up that I cant bring indoors and I’m hopeing hide glue will cure in cooler temperatures. Thanks!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View shipwright's profile (online now)


8703 posts in 3852 days

#8 posted 01-26-2013 11:29 PM

I’m not an expert on that but I would think it will cure fine. It may be difficult to get assembled in time (the glue must still be liquid) if the air temp is low but if it’s a small enough job to get assembled quickly, it will tack up very quickly as it cools and the rest of the cure is about drying so should not be affected by temperature much, provided it doesn’t freeze.
If you can heat the pieces, it will help. You can also overheat the glue a bit (150 degrees or so instead of 140) and make sure it is nice and thin… the water holds the heat.

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

View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4206 days

#9 posted 01-27-2013 01:13 PM

I’m using Old Brown glue, do you think that matters?

So it sounds like it won’t affect my the curing of the wood but it will affect my open time.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View shipwright's profile (online now)


8703 posts in 3852 days

#10 posted 01-27-2013 03:49 PM

You’ll have more time with OBG for sure but you should contact Patrick and ask him.
Here’s the OBG site.

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

View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4206 days

#11 posted 01-28-2013 03:59 PM

Thanks for the help Paul, I’ll check out their site.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Rocket187um's profile


6 posts in 2253 days

#12 posted 02-13-2015 11:44 PM

Great article. Thanks for the tips! Rocket

View ButchWeathers's profile


2 posts in 2514 days

#13 posted 06-16-2016 04:09 PM

Check out the pickling pot on for $23.50 it makes a perfect hide glue pot for a very reasonable price. It keeps the glue at the ideal temperature of 140 degrees, has a porcelain lining so it’s easy to clean, has a lid to keep it from evaporating too fast and I’ve let it dry out numerous times while still heating with no adverse effects. just add some water and shortly it’s glue again. It’s better than any glue pot I’ve seen for 5 times the price. It’s made for pickling jewelry but it couldn’t be more perfect for glue if they tried.

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2540 days

#14 posted 06-18-2016 05:00 AM

That was an informative set of videos. Answered many visual questions for me. I think it’s time to try some.

Thanks Paul

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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