Hide Glue for Beginners #2: Some myths, some Pictures and some Videos

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 08-06-2012 01:32 AM 18886 reads 17 times favorited 32 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Take it From a Real Expert Part 2 of Hide Glue for Beginners series Part 3: A Bigger Glue-up »

There are lots of myths around hide glue like it isn’t very strong, won’t last as long as modern glues,smells really bad, won’t keep long once hydrated, is really messy and hard to work with and that getting it wet will ruin it.

There are more but I’ll start with these and you can question me about any others you may be worrying about.

1) Not very strong.
In fact even the weaker hot animal glues are stronger than most modern glues and ultimately who cares because they are all stronger than the wood they are gluing.

Here’s an example. These joints were made with no clamps, just hide glue smeared in the holes and on the fingers and then assembled.

You can imagine that those six screws can exert a lot of force. The only thing holding this press together is the glue. No pins, no bolts, just glue…........and I do crank on those screws.

2) Won’t last as long

Evidence exists for the use of animal glues as much as 8000 years ago. The Egyptians used it 4000 years ago and it was used exclusively by the furniture industry until about 100 years ago. There exists furniture hundreds of years old with still holding animal glue joints. There simply are no pieces made with synthetic glue that are much more than 100 years old.

3) Smells really bad / won’t keep well 
If left in the gel state in a warm place it will attract mold and essentially rot producing the smell associated with any rotting animal product and yes that’s REALLY bad. ... But it ceased to be glue when the first mold appeared. The mistake was not caring for the glue properly.

I use it every day so my routine is that it goes up to the shop with me first thing in the morning and gets plugged in and every night when I leave the shop I take it down to the house and put it in the fridge. I’ve never had it go bad and I never throw it out, just add to it as needed when it starts to get low. Constant cooking like this actually makes it stronger.

Here’s my glue pot in the shop …........... next to the radio.
When I leave the shop at the end of the day I turn off the radio and that reminds me to take the glue pot….. simple.

It spends its evenings between the cat food and the Gatoraide.

4) Getting wet will ruin it

To soften (reverse) hide glue you need the presence of both moisture and heat (so don’t take baths with your furniture.) Immersion for a period of time wouldn’t be good either but casually getting it wet is not a problem. On the other hand when you need to repair a piece made with hide glue you can dis-assemble the joint with a very hot wet rag. Once apart you can immediately re-glue without removing all the old glue.

5) Messy and hard to work with

Here are a few short videos I did today for Rance. They should give you an idea of how messy and hard to work with it is.

The process of making the splined joint above in the third video (and yes, I meant to say Spline sled and cut splines) with hide glue is covered in this blog.
That’s it for now.

YES, In fact I am on a little crusade for hide glue. All I ask is that you give it a try before you dismiss it.

Ask questions, make comments and criticize if you wish.


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

32 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


8821 posts in 4294 days

#1 posted 08-06-2012 01:40 AM

The last video seems reluctant to load.
I’m working on it.

edit… I guess you’ll have to click the link.

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

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4186 days

#2 posted 08-06-2012 01:46 AM

How does the Tite Bond Hide Glue compare with your hot hide glue? Where do you get your glue? Will one of those little pot pourri pots work to keep it hot?

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 4327 days

#3 posted 08-06-2012 01:46 AM

After watching your’s and Patrick Edwards videos, I’m convinced to give it a try.
You’re in inspiration to all of us Paul.
Now I have to hunt down a supplier and a pot. Do you order your supplies or is there someone local?

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View shipwright's profile


8821 posts in 4294 days

#4 posted 08-06-2012 02:11 AM

Liquid hide glues will give you some of the advantages like reversibility, strength, and ease of cleanup (does not seal the wood against stains etc.) but do not have the quick gel that is required for rubbed joints and hammer veneering.
Hot glue gains decent strength in a few minutes as it moves from liquid state to solid by cooling, then achieves its ultimate strength in about 24 hours by drying.
Liquid hide glues are made by adding retardants that prevent them from gelling at room temperatures so they gain strength only by drying.

I’ve added this link to the original post above. It shows the steps in a quick splined joint

Thanks for the interest.

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

View rance's profile


4282 posts in 4657 days

#5 posted 08-06-2012 02:29 AM

Well Paul, I am AGAIN honored that you post a video just for me. Thank you for the information. You’re doing a great job of convincing me I should at least give Hot hide a try. Trying Titebond’s Liquid Hide Glue would not be a problem. However, I would not be benefiting from some of ‘HOT’ Hide Glue’s benefits.

What recommendations would you have for someone that wanted to just ‘give it a try’ without investing in substantial equipment(an expensive heat pot)? In the temperature ranges(140-180, I believe), what DIY alternatives are there? Something as simple as a coffee warmer type of setup? What are the HHGUG’s recommending for starter folks? And is the granulated Hide glue from WoodCraft a reasonable place to begin? (Edit: I see you answered this above)

HHGUG – Hot Hide Glue User Group

PS: Even with the mess of a pot on Patrick’s video, I was surprised at the lack of smell AND the simple water cleanup. I’m leaning towards the dark side.

Edit: And it doesn’t impeed stains? Wow! How is its sandability?

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

View ArtB's profile


20 posts in 3648 days

#6 posted 08-06-2012 02:32 AM

Never thought to use hide glue,but now I would give it a try. But like GaryLwhere do you start? It isn’t something big box stores carry.

View Praki's profile


203 posts in 5493 days

#7 posted 08-06-2012 02:42 AM

Hi Paul,

I have read a lot of articles/posts where the advantages of hide glue have been described. I like how you have addressed the usual hide glue concerns and finally I am telling myself that I should try it on my next project,

I do have a few questions in this regard. My woodworking happens on weekends and I don’t expect to be gluing stuff every day (not even every weekend!). Fridge space is at a premium in my kitchen and I am wondering about the best way to work with hide glue under these constraints. Should I make a small batch and discard it after use or is it possible to somehow take it to a dry state to be hydrated again?

Secondly, what strength of hide glue do you recommend for normal woodwork and buy where?


-- Praki, Aspiring Woodworker

View rance's profile


4282 posts in 4657 days

#8 posted 08-06-2012 02:49 AM

Wow! It looks like WC carries more than I thought. I can pick up some BT&C on Tuesday evening. I’m thinking the 192 gram would be best. Could you confirm?

We’ll see what I can come up with for a heat pot. Hey, what about an old coffeemaker? You can find these free on freecycle. From CoffeeMate to GlueMate. :)

Except for the fact of having a glass container in the shop, I think it might just work. And there are ones made of SS. Oh, and Paul, I think it might be time for a dorm refrigerator in your shop(s).

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

View derosa's profile


1597 posts in 4332 days

#9 posted 08-06-2012 02:50 AM

Rance- Just a warning on the titebond hide glue to really keep things clamped for a long time. I tried it one time and would never buy it again, lacking a lot of clamps I often only wait a few hours for regular titebond to dry and then unclamp things and don’t stress any of the joints for 24 hours per titebond’s direction. So with the liquid hide glue I didn’t think anything of unclamping my headboard and clamping up the foot board and didn’t pay attention as I removed the clamps and the top board shifted slightly without me noticing for another day. The result is that the top of the headboard has a slight gap in it all the way across so that a small amount of each tenon can be seen if you look closely. Thankfully I noticed it happening on the footboard even though about 18 hours had passed before I attempted to unclamp it, a quick reclamp and another 24 hour wait made sure it was dry.
I am watching this because the hot glue interests me and from what I’ve heard doesn’t suffer the same overly long drying time.

-- A posse ad esse

View shipwright's profile


8821 posts in 4294 days

#10 posted 08-06-2012 03:22 AM

Rance The “Rival” brand electric kettle available at Walmart for around $10 plus or minus has a thermostat and is a widely used starter pot. 192 gram is the best all round for woodwork.

You do have to get all glue off the surface, which you can do with a bit of warm water and a scrubbing pad after ten minutes or so but glue that soaks in will have no effect on stains or oils. It sands very nicely because it hardens hard unlike the pva that you are used to.

Praki, You are right. The best way for you to go would be to make smallish batches and discard after use. One thing you can do is hydrate a larger batch and freeze it in an ice cube tray. Then you have ready hydrated glue that will last a very long time. When you want to use it just throw a cube or two in the pot and when it’s hot it’s ready.

derosa, you can go back any time and reverse the glue in those joints by wrapping them with a hot wet cloth for a while. The joint will come apart and you can re-set it and re-glue it. No need to clean out the old glue as you would have to with pva because new hide glue adheres to old. That’s one of the biggest advantages that you do get even with the liquid stuff. It’s always reversible. There’s no need to live with that mistake.

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

View shipwright's profile


8821 posts in 4294 days

#11 posted 08-06-2012 03:31 AM

Sorry, I missed a couple of questions.

Andy I get my glue from Patrick at ASFM but WoodCraft is likely easier for you.
I’m not familiar with the pot you ask about but the one in the photo above will work well for cheap.

Gary See above for where I get my glue. Highland Woodworking carries the glue and the pots but an internet search for “Hold Heet Pot” will get you a variety of prices.

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

View rance's profile


4282 posts in 4657 days

#12 posted 08-06-2012 03:46 AM

I think you are right Reverand. I’m still not impressed with the LHG. I’m looking at the HHG.

Sorry Paul, I’m bouncing back and forth here. I looked at your “Rival” pot from your economical veneer hammer. I read up that it has 7 temp. settings. I’m guessing that you get it to 150 degrees or thereabouts and then forget it. I’m guessing you use it as a double boiler with the Mason jar for the glue container.

Edit: Sorry, we are posting intermittantly. You’ve answered my questions. Thank you. :)

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

View apprentice's profile


223 posts in 3656 days

#13 posted 08-06-2012 06:44 AM

Like nature and chemitry, natural glues can be sucessfully manipulated for a wider range of useages.

You can add 1% aluminium sulphate to your pearls in order of making it waterproof and for flexibility in places like the canvas backing on a roll top tambour, add some glycerine for a rubber hold.

Not so sure it would stand up to salt water and a marine enviornment though?

The test for a useable consistency is called the “Straw Test” After mixing equal amounts of glue and water bring into the hot liquid state and dip your glue brush into the pot and quickly lift it out above the pot so as the liquid falls back into the pot.
What your looking for is a straw of glue to be in a constant gravitational unbroken line for around 12 inches before it starts to begin breaking off the straw into droplets, a continuous straw for that foot will give you a useable consistency…to adjust the straw length, simply add more water and test regulary as the water boils off through the day.

And most important of all, Never let your water jacket run dry or the glue will cook and be ruined.


View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5378 days

#14 posted 08-06-2012 12:26 PM

Amazing Paul. Why is this all new to us?

And what a wonderful thinker you got. Keep it coming.

Thanks for the push,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View CL810's profile


4303 posts in 4484 days

#15 posted 08-06-2012 02:40 PM

Thanks Paul for a great blog.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

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