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OctCoverAs I was building the Shaker blanket chest that’s in our upcoming October 2013 issue (which just went off to the printer), I chose my usual glue: liquid hide.

Five years ago, I took a veneered demilune table class with Phil Lowe at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking (where, by the by, I’m teaching a class, “Making a Simple Shaker Side Table,” on Sept 21-22, in which there’s still a few seats left), during which I fell in love with hot hide glue. But unless (until?) I have a dedicated shop space that’s not right next to my bedroom, I’d rather avoid the redolence of the glue pot. Plus, I’d have to remember to order flakes/pearls/granules before I needed them, or drive 25 miles to a part of town I dislike to get them. For liquid hide glue, I just head to my local Ace Hardware and pick up a bottle (the nice fellow who owns the franchise stocks it at my request).

But there’s one thing liquid hide doesn’t do that the stinky stuff does – and that’s form a strong tack quickly (of course, that short open time can also be a bear at times). I was in the office on a Saturday, in a rush to meet a photo deadline (as usual) on the blanket chest. I wanted to add the corner blocks before putting on the first coat of finish, because I needed to wrestle the piece around by myself, and didn’t want to risk marring the plinth bottom if I set it down (or dropped it) on the floor.

So I tried a rub joint (a classic application of hot hide glue) to attach the blocks, then went and checked my e-mail and got a Diet Coke. I came back about 45 minutes later, set the chest on the floor, and…clunk. One of the blocks fell out of its corner. Sigh.

I reglued it, and went home. So on Sunday morning, I was back in the shop before the birds were chirping to apply the first coat of finish, and back late that night for the second. The third coat was applied on Monday; the photo shoot was Tuesday.

I’ve since remembered the liquid hide glue article Glen Huey wrote for Woodworking Magazine (which you can read free online), in which Don Williams tells us how to make liquid hide glue out of hot hide glue. But it doesn’t say anything about the added ingredients’ effect on the tack. (Also in rereading that article, I realized that – barring hot hide – I should have used Old Brown Glue rather than the more easily found Titebond Liquid Hide Glue, because in our test, we found the Old Brown Glue had better tacking qualities – though still not as good as hot hide. But I can’t get Old Brown Glue at my local Ace Hardware….)

So now, I’m going to make up a batch of hot hide glue, turn it into liquid hide glue, and see what happens in a few rub joints. But I’m doing it in the shop at work – miles away from my bedroom.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

p.s. Don Williams will be dispensing his vast knowledge (well, perhaps not all of it) at Woodworking in America 2013, including a long session on period finishes. (Early Bird registration ends August 2 – sign up now and save!)

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Showing 6 comments
  • Steve_OH

    I buy the small bottles of Old Brown Glue and keep them in the fridge. When the bottle gets below about 1/3 full, I order a new one, which arrives in two days. It’s not that hard…

    Regarding the formula published in _Woodworking_, you may want to confirm the recipe with Don. There has been some discussion, where people claim that the proportion of salt as published is much too high.


  • Bill Lattanzio

    I’ve never used hot hide glue; I want to stay married.

  • AlanWS

    If you make up a batch of hot hide glue, you can freeze it in ice cube trays. A ziplock bag of glue cubes will last a long time, and a small batch can be quickly activated. I microwave an insulated coffee cup full of water, then float a small container with the glue cube in the hot water. The hot water in the insulated cup keeps the small amount glue liquid long enough to use it.

  • jminster

    I thought dry (flakes/pearls/granules ) hide glue had a long shelf life if kept cool dry and sealed? Couldn’t you just keep some on hand? I keep a couple of pounds on the shelf for when I need glue. Great chest, I’ve always been partial to Shaker blanket chests.

    Off subject but I hope your current house sells and you get the A&C house.



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