Hide Glue

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Forum topic by Absinthe posted 03-08-2012 11:45 AM 2968 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Absinthe's profile


90 posts in 2709 days

03-08-2012 11:45 AM

I am doing some restorations. I have read a few articles lately that seem to suggest there being a special place in hell reserved for people who use modern glues on antique furniture. Some even went on to suggest that since any furniture you make will someday be antique then that place in hell might be reserved for anyone who uses modern glues on any furniture project.

That being said, I am our general 80/20 wood worker leaving somewhere way between the Normite and the Neanderthal. The thoughts of a gluepot are so foreign to me that it is simply a tool I have never used nor thought to use before.

Deciding to give it a try, I am faced with many options and I am not sure why I really would want to use the hide glues (benefit-wise—other than avoiding hell :) ) Or exactly how to use them. In addition to that, there seems to be a few choices out there, so now I have to decide which one to use for which kind of application.

Here goes:
1. What does hide glue do that ‘modern’ glues do not?
2. What are the relative differences between a. rabbit hide b. hide flakes c. hide perls d. ground hide glue e. liquid hide glue f. 164 gram or 251 gram g. how about ‘fish’ glue
3. I read that one can make their own ‘liquid’ hide glue with regular hide glue with a recipe that adds table salt to the mix, is this a good idea
4. Do I need a $100+ glue pot?
5. Is there a brand to swear by, or swear at :D
6. Other than convenience is there a reason not to use hide glue for all projects?
7. How do the additives work (like for waterproofing and such)

-- Absinthe

10 replies so far

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2539 days

#1 posted 03-08-2012 12:29 PM

The only reason to use hide glue is that it can be unglued with steam or water in the event that the joint has to be taken apart. It offers no structural advantage over Titebond.

Unless the restoration is worth >$25,000, forget about it.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4305 days

#2 posted 03-08-2012 12:36 PM

I use a homemade liquid hide glue for restoring/repairing old chairs. I’ve been doing that for more than 40 years. My family is in the restaurant business.

Here’s a decent article on Animal Glues.

Here’s what I recommend to newbies:


-- 温故知新

View canadianchips's profile


2611 posts in 3175 days

#3 posted 03-08-2012 12:46 PM

The only argument to use it is from the “Antique Purists” stay true to the original when making reproductions.
As far as strength. the higher the “gram number” the stronger the glue. Also the higher the number the FASTER it dries, harder to work with. I was told a 200gram hide glue is ideal for furniture. People that build instruments try to use 250+.
Hide glue lets you do repairs easier ….......BUT will you be here 50 from now to repair it…doubt it, the person doing it will likely use whatever is popular on 2062.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Absinthe's profile


90 posts in 2709 days

#4 posted 03-08-2012 01:43 PM

When you say you use your own homemade liquid hide glue, do you mean you are boiling animals and such, or are you reconstituting flakes or pearls with salt?

-- Absinthe

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3658 days

#5 posted 03-08-2012 02:34 PM

I do some restorations too, but I always use Titebond. You likely have to redo the glue ups because of hide glue. I want to be sure the glue is permanent this time. I have been fortunate to be able to meet with a number of folks from the Stickley furniture plant over past couple of years when they were here in some conferences and demos. I just met with one of their head carpenters last week. They said one of the problems they had with early furniture was it eventually coming apart because of the use of hide glue. They now use Titebond on everything. They actually have it tinted pink so they can see it when they do the final sanding. I think its more important to keep it together than worry about originality when it comes to the glue.

I should say also that they mentioned they didnt do a real good job of managing wood expansion in the early years so the problem of pieces coming apart wasnt all the glue, but certainly a part of it.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View canadianchips's profile


2611 posts in 3175 days

#6 posted 03-08-2012 03:05 PM

Wood Magazine has a great article comparing the major brand
glues. The 6 page article tests for strength and water resistance.

In a water resistant test, glued joints were submerged in water for 24
hours. Surprisingly Titebond III scored worse than Titebond II. The TB II
joint held up to about 300 PSI. TB III failed at about 200 PSI. So I guess
you should save your money. TBIII is typically 60% more expensive than TB

There was a discussion a few weeks ago about the TB III compared to
Polyurethanes for water resistance. Polyurethanes win. In the same test as
mentioned above, the Elmer’s ProBond and Gorilla Glue Polyurethane joint
held up to almost 1000 PSI. TB III held up to 200 PSI.

Is this why I had a repaired hockey stick that DAD did (White Elmer for EVERYTHING) and the other players got new ones. Maybe there DAD’s only new about Titebond 3 ? lol

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Absinthe's profile


90 posts in 2709 days

#7 posted 03-08-2012 03:50 PM

Well, I ordered some Titebond Liquid Hide and also some Ground Hide Glue (192)

I will play with them both, and even try to cook up some liquid at room temp from the ground hide as well.

We’ll see, how hard can it be? Any recommendations to try?

-- Absinthe

View NJWiliam's profile


32 posts in 2745 days

#8 posted 03-08-2012 04:56 PM

Stephen Shepherd’s book “Hide Glue” addresses all of the questions posed, and has numerous reasons/arguments for using hide glue. A slow cooker works for heating glue, the electric glue pot, however, is set to the preferred temperature. Hide glue is reversible, is friendly to finishes, doesn’t require removal of old glue when reglueing, there are recipes to make it waterproof and extend its open time, you can make rub joints. Generally speaking the higher gram weight, the shorter the open time. Fish glue has high initial tack.

View Absinthe's profile


90 posts in 2709 days

#9 posted 03-08-2012 05:39 PM

Wow, that said, why would anyone want to use anything else?

-- Absinthe

View a1Jim's profile


117283 posts in 3755 days

#10 posted 03-08-2012 08:57 PM

I’ve had some experience with hide glues and have found like many folks have said it is easily reversible and is the glue used for centuries, thus the recommending of hide glue for restoration . I think one of the other assets that had glue offer is that it is slower to set (at least pre- mixed seams to be)and is more slippery than modern glues ,this makes it a good choice for joints like a sliding dove tail joint. In test that I have read modern glues are superior in strength and long term holding power,but not so much that it makes hide glue a poor choice unless your project is to be exposed to heat on a regular basis.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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