In Praise of Hide Glue...

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Blog entry by RogerBean posted 01-14-2016 06:14 PM 886 reads 1 time favorited 9 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)

9 comments so far

View gbear's profile


492 posts in 3517 days

#1 posted 01-14-2016 07:53 PM

Nice safe Roger and good info.

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View dclark1943's profile


245 posts in 1605 days

#2 posted 01-14-2016 09:53 PM

There is something to be said for “Ye olde Browne Glue”

-- Dave, Kansas City

View Wood Studios's profile

Wood Studios

115 posts in 1749 days

#3 posted 01-14-2016 11:07 PM

Roger I make a lot of mistakes in my woodworking so about 5 years ago I switched to hot hide glue and haven’t returned to the other glues unless I am building something that will be exposed to moisture. The hide glue has saved my hide [pun intended] many times.

-- I read it but I wasn't listening!!

View SteveGaskins's profile


621 posts in 2005 days

#4 posted 01-14-2016 11:30 PM

I have never used it. Maybe I should give it a try….

-- Steve, South Carolina,

View shipwright's profile


7080 posts in 2216 days

#5 posted 01-15-2016 01:37 AM

Good to hear Roger.

Since I discovered HHG a about five years ago or so I’m like a reformed smoker. I just won’t shut up about it and I’m always after people to switch or at least try it. I still use pva occasionally where the job is large and the “special” qualities of hide glue aren’t required but only because it’s cheaper.

If anything counts it will get hide glue.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Reaperwoodworks's profile


94 posts in 352 days

#6 posted 01-15-2016 04:36 AM

As a guy who used to repair furniture for a living, I’ll never use the stuff. It gets insanely brittle and flaky. Then makes repairs extremely difficult. They will probably be saying the same thing about titebond in 100+ years too! Ha!

-- Website:, Youtube:

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2390 posts in 2340 days

#7 posted 01-18-2016 03:15 PM

I have used Titebond hide glue. Not the kind that needs to be heated. What I like best about using it is, when making delicate items (Like wooden flowers) squeeze out is impossible to clean up while wet. This glue will take a clear spray on finish very well. IT virtually disappears under clear finish.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

View madburg's profile


140 posts in 260 days

#8 posted 02-17-2016 01:53 PM

I am concerned about using hide glue here in Western Australia due to the high summer temperatures. Fine if you know you want to move adjust things but I worry about its stability in normal summer heat down here. I made a veneered box for my niece, glued with glue film, not quite hide glue but reversible just the same with heat And that bubbled in normal UK summer heat when it was left on a window sill!

So with 3 days last week over 40C I would worry. Antique furniture (glued with hide glue) is usually displayed in a temperature and humidity controlled environment, often with curtains closed to keep out the sun light as well. That’s not how I want to live and I don’t want to worry about where I place a piece in case its going to be affected by heat etc.

So has any one other than the converts had any issues with projects particularly veneered ones bubbling if exposed to the sun or heat?

-- Madburg WA

View GeneralDisorder's profile


45 posts in 758 days

#9 posted 02-17-2016 02:24 PM

Hide glue is pretty much useless unless the fit is perfect. It wont fill in voids and have strenght. But a perfect jont like in the center of a violin top or back will be around for hundreds of years. It also gives the most invisible glue line in a perfect fit. Leave your violin in a humid attic or damp basement and you will find it in pieces.

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