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I was looking at an ad for "Old Brown Glue", a brand name for a liquid hide glue, no glue pot required.

I was curious to hear if anyone had experience with this or any other liquid hide glue.




Edited by rtropp
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Hide glue is used in hand made saddles, by older saddle makers, in the seat and forks, slow drying so stretching and fitting can be done, drys hard but water soluble. Think it was the main stay in cabinet and furniture making in the past. Usually purchased in a powder form and mixed with water as needed. Being water soluble it works well in saddle making because if the saddle gets wet, so will the glue which allows the leather to expand and then move back into place as it dries.


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I use liquid hide glue.  The brand that I use is Franklin's - the company that makes Titebond.

Hide glue is used in furniture restoration by museums.  In the same vein as Oddball's reverse speed,  they want to get out of trouble faster than they got into it.  In their situation, a PVA bond that is stronger than the wood being bonded and difficult to reverse is not what they want.

I believe that the 17th and 18th Century models were assembled using the glue pot version.

I looked for a glue that I can use with Titebond II for long term but reversible bonding of temporary spacer timbers, but not affect the PVA bond.

I tried Scotch Double Sided Permanent tape - does not stand up to sheer force. 

I tried Duco Cement - absolutely awful.

Weldwood Contact Cement can be reversed, but is messy and requires too much heat.

Nothing about CA glue appeals to me.

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I have NEVER understood Duco Cement. What is it good for? But back to Hide glue: I was always curious about it. I have a fine art background and the classic way to prepare a canvas was to paint it first with Rabbit Skin Glue, which one purchased in dry flake form. It looks like thin brownish chips and requires cooking on a stove- I guess with water?- in order to apply. Then later I became curious about Fish Glue for ship model building because Donald McNarry mentions it often in his books under the brand name Secotine. Which I was able to determine was Fish Glue and not available in the United States under that brand name.I was able to get my hands on some anyway and when I tried it I did not see a significant improvement over PVA glue. The chief benefit as mentioned above is that it has a longer set time and allows for adjustment of the glued parts prior to it setting up. But for me this is not a plus, I would rather the PVA itself set up faster! I had read that TightBond or Weldbond ( I forget which) have a Hide Glue that remains stable on the shelf like PVA and I am curious about it and will buy a container when the day comes I see it on the shelf at the hardware store, but I will not seek it out with any urgency. But on the off chance it will appeal I certainly want to try it.

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I have used Hide glue off and on for years dissolving the flakes and warming it in a cheap baby bottle warmer.  I, like Jaager, discovered the Franklin brand a few years ago and the shelf life is incredible.  Great product.  I have heard of the "Old Brown Glue" and I think it was discussed on the Fine Woodworking podcast in one of their episodes recently.  As I remember they had high regard for the product. 

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I've built several guitars with traditional hot hide glue (HHG) from ground granules/flakes.  I believe that it is superior for building stringed instruments, because it dries very stiff and tight (there is no creeping under mechanical loading), it is reversible and repairable (there is no need to completely scrape/sand off the previously applied HHG), and it is compatible with clear finishes (Hallelujah! no glue stains such as from synthetic glues).  However, these qualities are not necessarily useful for modeling.


The parts to be joined must be fitted carefully because HHG will not fill gaps.  HHG must be applied at ~140F, and it does not bind when it cools to ~100-120F unless additives such as urea or salt are added. I use no additives to extend the open time (about 20-30sec), and so when it comes time to glue up, I practice every step and have every clamp at hand and preset.  I sometimes pre-warm parts to be joined.


I would >never ever< use Franklin Liquid Hide glue for a musical instrument, but it may be okay for modeling.  It takes days for it cure, and if it's after it expiration date (stamped on the bottle), it may never cure completely.  Old Brown Glue is similar to the Franklin glue, but I have not used it, and I would not use it for a musical instrument.  Both of these glues are engineered to provide extended open time, and so that might be useful for complex furniture assemblies.


I hope that's useful info for you.

Edited by Bob Blarney
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Oh, I forgot to mention an experiment that I did, but didn't fully explore.


Since hide glue works by evaporation of the water (and thus shrinks and grips tighter), then I put some test pieces in the microwave.  It cured the glue in a jiffy.  But I decided to drop the idea, since I couldn't fit a large assembly in the microwave, and also I was uncertain about warpage.  But if you want to try it, give it go.  

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I have recently started using Old Brown and must say I like it very much. You need to warm the bottle in hot tap water and it works like most other wood glues. I was interested in the property of not interfering with absorbtion of stains and shellacs. It has no major odor , which has been a shot on some hide glues. It does need 24 hrs to fully cure but it tacks up quickly and is handy for difficult glue ups. I will use titebond 3 in places that will be covered but old brow on planks and other areas where the wood will show and only have a shellac finish.

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1.  .... the property of not interfering with absorbtion of stains and shellacs.


2.   ,,, It has no major odor , which has been a shot on some hide glues...


1.  Hide glue does not penetrate deep into the surfaces of wood, but I find that it is still necessary to remove excesses glue by light chipping or sanding.  That said, it's far better than any synthetic glue.


2.  Hide glue should not have a strong odor.  If it does, that may indicate fungal/bacterial contamination and it should be thrown away.


When I prepare I hide glue, usually Behlen's or a glue from a luthier supply, I make it in 50ml batches in polypropylene orange-top tissue culture tubes.  After initial preparation according to the instructions, I heat it for 4-8hrs at 140F and then tightly screw down the caps.  In these tubes the glue will keep for months on the shelf.  Other luthiers put their mixed glue in ice cube trays and keep them frozen until needed.


And finally, here's information on hide glue (esp Old Brown glue), including methods of a Smithsonian Conservator:  



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