The Society of American Period Furniture Makers

Tools and Techniques => Period design and construction => Topic started by: Justin D on March 09, 2011, 01:07:55 PM

Title: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: Justin D on March 09, 2011, 01:07:55 PM
Thats my question guys,  I want to start using hide glue.  I have no experience with it at all.  All I know about it is you need to heat it up and they have different blends for different strengths.

Do I need a glue pot, or can I use a hot plate with a pot on top?
Bush, Does it mater what kind?
Do I get different strength's, or can I just dilute it more more or less with water to change strength's?
Do I only have to rough up the surface for veneering? 

As you can see I really don't know much about, but everything I read and hear about hide glue paints a picture of a great product.  The only down fall is its messy.

Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: Mickey Callahan on March 09, 2011, 02:11:38 PM
Hi Justin,

Rather than reinvent the wheel, do an internet serach by going to Lee Valley Tools - Woodworking Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 6, July 2010. It pretty much sums up with answers to your questions on hide glue. You'll probably find other good info during your search. Also see the APF Journal, Vol. 2. Good article on hide glue by Pat Edwards. Hope this helps. By the way, all glues are messy!

Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: John Cashman on March 09, 2011, 04:35:12 PM
I use a hotplate with a pan of water on top, and a mason jar with the hide glue in it. I don't think I'd use a container of glue without the water jacket. Early glue pots were heavy cast iron affairs with water in them, and an interior pot holding the glue. The cast iron holds the heat nicely so you can move around with the pot.

You can also use liquid hide glue. No heat, no mixing, less mess. Pat Edwards makes the best of the liquid form. It won't do everything that hot hide glue will (rub joints, for instance), but it's close, and will give you a good start.
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: Antiquity Period Designs, Ltd. on March 09, 2011, 05:19:32 PM

For many years I did just what John is doing, the double boiler method.  With this method you will need tro keep the glue at 150?F.  Buy a cheap kitchen thermometer.  Because I use hot hide glue all the time I bought an electric hot hide glue pot, about $125.  This electric pot heats the glue to the correct temperature.  Both methods work great.

Dennis Bork
Antiquity Period Designs, Ltd.
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: msiemsen on March 09, 2011, 06:06:46 PM
You can't beat hide glue. Here is a link to a Patrick Edwards video on woodtreks about the stuff, very informative. (  There is also a great video on You tube of a guy using it in conjunction with a steam iron to lay down veneer, BazCabinetMaker (
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: rac50 on March 10, 2011, 01:02:50 AM
Bess Jarell Naylor, another member you should look at, wrote a very good article on the use of and comparrisons of the different hide glues in APF volume 6. Bess also sells a number of different versions through her long established school, Olde Mill Cabinet Shoppe.
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: Jack Plane on March 10, 2011, 02:58:36 AM
I have had several of the commercial electric glue pots and they all gave trouble. They cost a lot of money too. The 'glue pot' I use now is a wax heater and costs about a quarter to a third the price of the real thing. The wax pots are convenient, adjustable, have a handle on the side, a wiping bar and a tight fitting lid. You can but them cheaply on ebay.

My take on animal glue... (
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: Antiquity Period Designs, Ltd. on March 10, 2011, 08:13:23 AM

You may have had all lemons for your glue pots.  I bought two electric hot hide glue pots 7 years ago and neither one has given me any trouble.  This is the brand I use: ( but I bought it from a Rockler Woodworking store nearby.

Dennis Bork
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: ttalma on March 10, 2011, 08:26:47 AM
I have the Hold Heet pot as well. I bought it from the Olde Mill ( Bess also has agood selection of glues in different strengths. I don't get to caught up in the strengths though, since all of the glue is stronger than the wood.

When I built my shop I wired in an outlet connected to my light switch. So when I walk in The pot goes on, when I leave for the night it goes off. In my previous shop I had an extension cord connected to a light outlet adaptor. No worrying about shutting it off, and rembering to plug it in.

A cheap way to try it out is a tiny crockpot from Target, they have a 1 cup model, put water in, and use a glass jar in the water for the glue.
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: Jefferson on March 10, 2011, 04:42:32 PM
I too have a Hold-Heet glue pot with a copper pot. I've had mine for a couple years now and it's worked great for me. I'm somewhat surprised that more people don't use hot hide glue, I think the stuff is great and find it superior to other glues in about every way.

I also use liquid hide glue if I need more open time than the hot hide allows. I'm still buying the Titebond stuff, but intend to soon start mixing my own as soon as I find a good source for urea.
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: John Cashman on March 10, 2011, 05:19:31 PM
That's where I find liquid hide glue superior to everything else, unless you need a waterproof adhesive. Liquid hide glue has a long working time, which is perfect for complicated glue-ups when you need that third hand. And if something does need taking apart, which has absolutely never happened to me, it is still reversible.
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: JB on March 10, 2011, 07:10:57 PM
I started working w/ Hide glue last year to make a kneehole desk w/ lots of veneer/banding challenges, and here?s what I learned:

Hide glue can be very messy. I was infuriated at times when it was sticking to everything and my hands were all gooey. Yet I would use it again in a heartbeat. It?s great stuff!

While veneering the banding that edges the desk everywhere there were a number of times I awoke the next day and decided to redo a portion. This fact allowed me to create a project that turned out far better than it would have if I had used regular white/yellow glue. I cannot overestimate the importance of this quality for someone still learning the craft. When people talked about the reversibility of hide glue, I always understood it to be something that would be important for some future restorer of the piece. It took a while for me to come to the realization that the biggest user of the reversibility would be myself! It was like I had spent my entire woodworking life working with a typewriter where the only way to fix a mistake was to use whiteout. And then suddenly, someone sits me down behind a word processor and introduces me to the Undo key. WOW!!!!!

I bought a cheapo hot-pot at the drugstore - the types meant for college students. I paid about $10 for it.  I turned it?s thermostat down and filled it with water and then measured the temperature. I noticed that at its lowest setting it was still too hot for hide glue. So I took it apart and bent the metal thermocouple a little, and presto - it now maintains a perfect 140 degree temperature at its lowest setting. I stick the glue in an old soup can, and immerse that in a water bath in the hot pot. This keeps the hot pot clean. It?s seen lots of use, and it?s still working well.

I used an old latex paint brush and one of those cheapie flux brushes. I suppose there are better brushes out there, but I found these old brushes to be perfectly adequate.

I used an old clothes iron for the hammer veneering. I found that the hide glue would always bleed through the end grain on the figured burl veneer I was using, no matter how much I sized it before hand. So I had to clean it after every use w/ a vinegar solution. That was a real yuch.

Robert Millard has an excellent DVD  that not only gave me the courage to try hammer veneering, but more importantly, gave me the knowledge I needed to recover when things went wrong. Can?t say enough good things about it:

For the hammer veneering I tried using 192g and 315g strength glues, as well as mixtures of both. The woodworking catalogs claim that the lower gram strength stuff is better for veneering since it sets slower. I agree w/ Robert Millard, and found the opposite to be true. The higher gram strength seemed to tack faster, w/ I believe was helpful. But don?t put too much weight on this, the 192g strength works fine for everything, so I wouldn?t feel compelled to have lots of different grades on hand. I keep the 192g around as my ?general purpose? glue.

I used liquid hide glue while gluing up the case. It?s incredibly long open time allowed me to work in a calm and measured fashion, despite the fact I had scores of dovetails coming together for the first time. The thought of being rushed by glue seems like something I don?t worry about anymore.

When you buy liquid hide glue you have to make sure its very fresh. I made this mistake when I discovered a bottle I bought locally would not set. Now I buy a small bottle directly from Old Brown Glue just before I need it. The dry glue flakes have a very long shelf life btw.

I learned to really like the quick tack time of the hot hide glue ? it allowed me to really speed up the construction process. I literally squeaked with joy the first time I did a rub joint.

I believe it?s an old wives tail that scoring the veneer gives the glue a better bond. I tried it both ways, and could detect no difference in how the glue bonded. I do believe that a toothing plane is useful for evening out the surface of sawn veneer if you don?t have a thicknessing sander, and I also noticed that toothing the ground surface before applying the veneer kept the veneer from slipping about when you hammer it down. This could be very valuable under some circumstances. I did the whole desk project without toothing anything, so I don?t think it?s necessary.

One of the things that I struggled with was why the hammer veneering would work sometimes, and fail others. I came to realize that if I understood why the veneer stays put, I could perhaps gain some insight into this. Patrick Kennedy provided the hint  in one of the Woodtreks video where he states the veneer is held down by the vacuum that?s formed when you press it down and the glue congeals. I realized that the veneer sheets that weren?t staying down were highly figured portions of burl that consisted mostly of end grain. I would try to clog up the pores by sizing the veneer before application, but this didn?t work. The glue in the pores would melt during the process of hammer veneering thereby releasing the vacuum and allowing the veneer to buckle. I learned that the best way to handle these ornery bits was to heat up a ?caul? made from foil lined MDF in the oven for a ? hour or so, and use it to clamp down the unruly veneer. I would lightly clamp the caul w/ a few fast acting clamps, nothing elaborate. If the surface to veneer was larger than my oven, I would make several smaller cauls and use them sort of like ?tiles? to fill up the space.  I would remove the caul(s) after they cooled (about 45 minutes), and the veneer would always stay put at that point. This turned out to be so much faster and more reliable, that I started doing it for all the large portions of the desk. Towards the end, I was only using hammer veneering for the banding.

After finishing the desk I read a book by Charles Hayward on veneering that was written some decades ago. In the book he claims that most woodworkers who veneer with hide glue eventually learn to use a hot caul to press the large sheets of a veneer and reserve the hammer veneering for the banding. Funny, I came to exactly the same conclusion! When you read other references about using hot cauls, they make it sound difficult, or like it requires lots of specialized equipment. I?m not sure I understand what they are talking about?

Whew! I didn?t mean to write so much, but I think you touched a nerve. I was exactly at the same point as yourself 2 years ago, so I thought I?d pass on some of the stuff that I found most important.

Good luck, and don?t get discouraged if things go wrong at first. I have come to consider Hide glue one of the best things in my shop!


Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: Jack Plane on March 11, 2011, 02:06:15 AM
Dennis, I had two of the Hold Heets too. Both inner aluminium glue pots developed pin holes. I was refused a refund/replacement on the assumption our local water supply contained something caustic which was eating the aluminium. It doesn't. Our aluminim saucepans are still doing fine.  I bought a second Hold Heet and used nothing but distilled water in it with the same result. They could both have been bad ones, but I wouldn't chance another one.

The pot I use now is one of these wax pots: (
Half litre pots are also available for $30 or less. The tight fitting lid and dialable heat are great bonuses.
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: albreed on March 11, 2011, 06:18:50 AM
JB- Nice batch of info. I've been using hide glue since I was taught by an Italian cabinetmaker in 74 at the MFA in Boston, so I just don't know any better......You hit all the main points, I think.
We also used heated cauls to keep ornery stuff flat and that's a great trick. Heating up surfaces with a heat gun will give a little more open time and a better job, too. An iron is good for heating up long joints like a table top or case side.
I use glass jars in a water bath for my glue pot and keep a rag in the water for cleanup.-Al
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: rac50 on March 11, 2011, 06:57:58 AM
I also use the hold heet glue pots and had to repair one of the pots 6 or 7 years ago because of the pin holes. I employed one of the "steel epoxys" and I've had no further problems. I use them the same as Al, as it makes for easier clean up.
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: msiemsen on March 11, 2011, 08:08:45 AM
I also had to repair my Hold Heet aluminum pot due to pin holes. I just drilled out the hole to the diameter of a small brass escutcheon pin, used the pin for a rivit, and riveted it shut. I believe if you check the pot that the pin holes line up with the rivets you can see in the bottom of the pot. I figured electrolytic reaction due to dissimilar metals. I used to fill the aluminum liner with glue but it is much easier to put water in it and use a jar for the glue. When you take the liner out when gluing the water holds the heat in your pot longer and you have warm water to dilute the glue. My pot is well over 20 years old and works fine. It is easier to put the jar in the fridge for storage as well. I believe the copper pots are superior to the aluminum ones but I have never actually used one with a copper liner so I have no actual experience to base it on. I have seen some great little copper pots on a warmer in use by some of the ORV chapter people. Maybe one of them can post a link as to where to get them.
You can slow the set up time  or make cold liquid glue by adding Urea from the garden center. If you heat up sand in a steel bucket and then put it in cloth flour sack or cotton pillow case (percale melts!) it makes a great flexible hot caul, good for curved surfaces. Put glue on the substrate and on the veneer, let it dry a bit, place the veneer and then the hot caul. Don't get the sand so hot it scorches the wood. There are so many different ways to do the same thing!
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: Justin D on March 11, 2011, 08:31:55 AM
Tons of great information, and everything I was looking for.  I ordered some glue, will soon be on my way to having hide glue on every thing in my shop.  

JB and everyone else thanks for all the help with getting me started with hide glue.

Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: rdare on March 11, 2011, 02:47:40 PM
Unly une thing to add. If you get hide glue on your clothes, it comes out in the wash. Just use hot water>
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: John Cashman on March 11, 2011, 03:11:45 PM
Coming out in the wash is a big plus. When Titebond 2 was introduced, my clothes got covered and it doesn't come out in the wash. Titebond 1 will. That might save some poor miscreant woodworker's life someday.
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: aurorawoodworks on March 11, 2011, 07:32:20 PM
I put my glue in a glass jar and heat it in a water bath on a hot plate.  The nice thing about using a glass jar is that you can see inside the jar.  I had some glue that got old and began to grow mildew where the glue shrank away from the glass.  If I had used a metal pot, I never could have seen that. 

I leave my glue brush and thermometer in the glue when I'm done and let it go solid.

Keep your glue away from your dog.  My dog is very interested in hide glue.  I guess it smells like her wet rawhide bone. 

Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: Chris J on March 11, 2011, 09:47:05 PM
I use a mason jar in a water bath sitting in a Rival Hot Pot Express.
Title: Re: Getting started with hide Glue
Post by: Jefferson on March 12, 2011, 09:51:57 AM
I think it's a good idea to store mixed glue in the fridge when not in use. Sure the next warm up time is a bit longer, but dealing with mold is something I can do without.

I recently gave my copper pot a good scrubbing, old darkened glue from the sides of the pot were sort of contaminating the fresh batch I had made and for some reason I really didn't like that. So after dumping as much as possible I stuck it in the sink in hot water and with some steel wool got the pot looking like new again. I'm sure it made no difference to the glue, but I feel better about it.

Oh yeah, the wife really loves the fact that I store the glue pot in the fridge too.