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I thought I would start this thread for others and my education. I never heard of hide glue until reading a book Woodwork Right Technique by Bob Moran. Like many, I have exclusively used white and yellow carpenter glue, and a few times epoxy for my projects.

Hide glue has been around for over 3000 years and still holding Egyptian mummy boxes together. It is made from animal hides and is essentially an industrial gelatin. It’s the same thing we eat just stronger. One interesting property is that is can be unglued easily, making it perfect to repair furniture and musical instruments that are put together with this glue. That very reason makes this glue unsuitable for outdoor furniture.

I am new to hide glue. I have not experimented beyond melting it and gluing several scrap wood pieces together together. I understand how to thin it and thicken it. I can feel the “grab” when it starts to set. It seems that this is one of the shortest open time glue around but the one of the best for fine wood projects.

The research I have done has turned up has left many unanswered questions. It appears there is a wide range of temperatures the pot can be kept at 140-165. On the other hand some information indicates that it can be burnt above 155. Is the temperature manufacture specific?

Some say throw it away at the end of the day; while others keep adding to the pot each day. I have also read that unused portions can be frozen to prevent bacteria from forming. The information did not specify how long it could be frozen nor any hint of the strength after freezing. Can anyone out there please give comments on freezing?

It also seems that the ratio of dry hide glue to water recommendations vary considerably from 1:1 to 1:2 again no data on strength. To me the more water means a longer the open time but also weaker glue. There again it seems to be a personal preference and perhaps the application. Comments?

Several recommend distilled water. I can see that it would have been easy for the Egyptians to distill water to make purer glue. So for my use, Im thinking the distilled water makes sense.

I also read that one can increase the open time by adding urea or salt. But I would think that would damage the glue. Im guessing it is best to avoid this, maybe some experienced hide gluers can give insight to this.

Here are a few of the more enlightening links I read with short reviews.

Good overview with suggestions on hide glue applications.
Woodworking with Hide Glue

A PDF instruction on hide glue; presumably the hide glue is manufactured by the Pianotek Supply Company
http://www.pianoteksupply.com/assets/pdf/instructions/Hide Glue Technical.pdf

Instructions on hide glue, it has an interesting section on how to use hide glue for molds. Presumably this is instructions for Natural Animal Hide Glue (brand name?).
ANIMAL HIDE GLUE

Short instructions for Behlen Hide Glue
Buy Behlen Ground Hide Glue 1 Pound at Woodcraft

Technical data on the Amstel Hide Glue.
Amstelproducts

Scroll way down to the “Customer Reviews.” Its somewhat technical with glue strength terms and how to use. It is quite detailed and one of the more helpful reads.
Ground Hide Glue, 1 Pound - Amazon.com

I even found out how to make hide glue
How to Make Hide Glue | eHow.com
 

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Hi Steve, powdered hide glue was the only glue we used for furniture in high school shop class in the late 1950's. We mixed it with sink water in paper cups and threw them away at the end of the day. That is all we had except for contact cement. I have a table I built with all mortice and tenon joints, that is just as tight as the day it was finished. That was 54 years ago.
 

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My grandad used hide glue on occasion, I often helped him with his woodworking, from probably about 7 yo, and I'm 72 now. For furniture stuff only. He only mixed up as much as he figured on using, and used tap water. It was used on furniture and musical instruments, often still is, because it made it easy to take apart if they needed later repairing, that and the fact that was probably the only glue they had way back. Fish glue is similar, and used about the same way. Then there is milk glue - no matter how many times I've tried making milk glue, it has never, ever, worked for me. I know it is sold, but what's the fun in buying? I've also never found any ehow instructions worth following. If you want to make some hide glue, try the method here, they also have a link to using hide glue. FRETS.COM

If you want something to keep glue warm at a constant temperature, try a milk bottle warmer, a lot cheaper than a hide glue warmer. As far as specific temperatures, do you think the Egyptians had thermometers? Distilled water? That one was probably started by sellers of distilled water.

Look at it this way, the Egyptians used it, and who knows who all else, or when it started being used; so, using it ain't what you'd call rocket science. I would say about 99% of what you read (no, I didn't bother looking at any of it) is basically horse hockey. You heat it up, you add water if needed, you use it. That's basically it. I wouldn't ever use any except for indoor use only furniture, or wood musical instruments.

Would I use hide glue? Yes. IF I was making high grade furniture, and/or custom wooden musical instruments, for sale. For now, any furniture or musical instruments I make will get Titebond II (my glue of choice) - except for my puzzle chairs, and even they will if I decide to double layer any parts. Which reminds me, I've still got to dig my banjo parts out and finish that thing.

So, my advice, try some, and if you like it use it, if you don't like it don't use it. And don't worry about being very technical about it.
 
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Hide Glue is great for the 'Crackle' finish.

Can't find any here in South Africa so may have to import some to try.
 

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An eon ago I turned a couple of bowls that started out as 3-4 layers of 1x pine glued together using the teacher's favorite, hide glue. My recollection was that he mixed up a batch every so often and kept it warm with some sort of heater. Those bowls. made over 50 years ago are still nice and strong and still used during holidays. Would I use it now? Nope. I just don't have that kind of patience to let something set clamped for 24-48 hours to dry thoroughly (or at least that's what he made us kids wait )
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If you want something to keep glue warm at a constant temperature, try a milk bottle warmer, a lot cheaper than a hide glue warmer. As far as specific temperatures, do you think the Egyptians had thermometers? Distilled water? That one was probably started by sellers of distilled water.

So, my advice, try some, and if you like it use it, if you don't like it don't use it. And don't worry about being very technical about it.
Thanks for the tip on the water. My shop class was back in the 60’s, to fer back to remember. I know we didn’t mix and heat the glue, so I would guess we used white carpenters glue. I would use the Titebond if I could find it here in Japan. The hide glue I brought it back with me.

I wouldn’t put it past the Egyptians to have some type of thermometer, especially if temperature was critical. They were on the cutting edge of technology back then.

If I don’t have to be so worried about temps then my idea of using my old coffee drip maker should work. I will just put a can in the pot. I may have to turn the pot on and off though as the temp is hitting 180 degrees.

I like the pot bobj3 made but I haven’t seen that type of pot in ages. I wonder what kind of temps his runs. http://www.routerforums.com/woodworking-classifieds/4323-looking-glue-pot.html

I like your last piece of advice, if you like it use it if you don’t, don’t.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
An eon ago I turned a couple of bowls that started out as 3-4 layers of 1x pine glued together using the teacher's favorite, hide glue. My recollection was that he mixed up a batch every so often and kept it warm with some sort of heater. Those bowls. made over 50 years ago are still nice and strong and still used during holidays. Would I use it now? Nope. I just don't have that kind of patience to let something set clamped for 24-48 hours to dry thoroughly (or at least that's what he made us kids wait )
Everything Ive made here (Japan) requires clamping for 24 hours anyway. There no specialty wood glues that I have found, other than epoxies and white wood glue. They have a fast set white wood glue but it dosent hold well. Ive tried to find yellow but no success. So Im game to try the hide glue long enough to learn so I can glue up my next major project, a roll-top desk.
 

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Theo
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Just ran across this thread again, looking for something else, as usual. Here's a recipe for making homemade hide glue. I've not tried it, but heard it works as well as regular hide glue. You decide.
Urban Resources for Your Primitive Technology and Modern Projects
3. For making an excellent substitute for home-made hide glue or commercial hide glue, use Knox Unflavored Gelatine and a small amount of water. Hide glue is basically a protein called collagen, which forms connective tissues in animals. Collagen holds tissues together in animals, including people. Knox Unflavored Gelatine is made from cattle bone chips and pork skin.
 

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I talked to a friend recently that told me that when he was younger he worked for an exterminator and he had been it apartments that had so badly infested dwith cock roaches that the roaches had eaten the hide glue out of furniture to the extent that the furniture had come apart.

Jerry
 
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