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Thread: Hide glue question

  1. #1
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Hide glue question

    I have used hide glue on instruments but never on other woodworking projects. So, this may be a bit of a different question for you guys. Have you used hide glue on any other projects besides instruments? I am receiving 300 board feet of 4/4 cherry and in another month 100 of 8/4. I will be making kitchen shelves and tables and workbenches and some backs and sides. I am curious how well it will hold up to these other than instrument applications. I have generally used just plain old yellow wood glue in the past but I have had good results with rubbed joints using hide glue and it has me wondering. Thanks, apologies if this is too far off base as questions go.
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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    I works fine for other projects (furniture etc.) when used in joints where it's characteristics are advantages, but it can be a poor choice for other joints.
    Fit of the joint is of paramount importance, so things like chair rungs are better glued with something that is a better gap filler. (Chair rungs are also subjected to sheer stresses and other stresses that hide glue is not particularly well suited for.)
    Hide glue has very good tensile strength but not very good sheer strength, so joints that are subject to high sheer loads are a not great applications for hide glue.
    Hide glue doesn't resist shock loads very well so if an item is to be hammered, bumped hard or otherwise subjected to shock hide glue is not the best.
    Hide glue does not resist moisture very well so joints that are likely to get wet are better for other glues.
    Hide glue has limited open time and limited working time so joints that take a long time to assemble and clamp are often more easily accomplished with some other glue.

    You might see a trend here. Some glues are better than others for particular joints. That means it is a good idea to do some research into glue characteristics and joint characteristics, and use appropriate glues and adhesives. Also take into consideration what the joint will be subjected to in terms of temperature, moisture, stress and so forth.
    There is no one glue or adhesive that is best for all joints.

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    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Unless you plan on taking apart your tables and workbenches, I’d use yellow (aliphatic) glue. That said, hide glue is probably plenty strong enough. Factories left hide glue behind when better alternatives became available.
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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    ...Factories left hide glue behind when better alternatives became available.
    Mostly they left hide glue behind when easier alternatives became available. When a glue or adhesive is easy to use workers will often make a better glue joint using it.
    Once again, we should choose glues according to the task at hand and how it matches up with the characteristics of our available glues. Factories often use a one-size-fits-all approach, so hide glue was often used in inappropriate joints and thus developed a reputation for not making strong joints.

    If I could work in a shop heated to 90 degrees or so I wouldn't hesitate to use hide glue to make tables and work benches, but I would sure hope I never had to take them apart. Unless we can get moist heat to the joint, a good hide glue joint is extremely difficult to separate.

    When it comes down to it, for work benches I would use yellow glue. For tables I might choose hide glue for it's higher clarity and invisibility in the joint, but if I remember correctly the last table top I made, I used Titebond. So much easier and good enough for the job.

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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Jerry Rosa, with 45+ years of experience with wood, glues, new instrument construction and world-class restoration, believes that if Stradivari were building instruments today, he would use Titebond Original
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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Quote Originally Posted by Fretbear View Post
    Jerry Rosa, with 45+ years of experience with wood, glues, new instrument construction and world-class restoration, believes that if Stradivari were building instruments today, he would use Titebond Original
    He can believe what he wants .

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  11. #7

    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    He can believe what he wants .
    Agreed! I've watched a few of Jerry Rosa's videos, and some of his repairs make me wince because he uses non-repairable techniques on valuable (especially old) instruments. I'd have thought that if an instrument has survived 50+ years then it deserves the kind of repair which will allow it to survive another 50 years at least.

    I've recently treated myself to a 1931 Gibson TG-0 which could do with a neck reset, and I'll definitely be using hot hide glue so that whoever needs to reset it in another 90 years will be able to do so.

    In answer to the original post, I don't think I'd use HHG in a kitchen. Anything which won't be knocked and pulled about will be exposed to damp, and as John Hamlett has a already explained neither is good for HHG. Titebond Original or some decent PVA if it might need to be repaired down the line, like a chair, something water-resistant for worktops.

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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    All of the above. Cherry is pretty stuff that I wouldn’t think to use for utilitarian or painted surfaces, although a showpiece workbench could be very nice. The last couple of decades in the hobby woodworking arena has seen workbench design flourish and expensive versions (as expensive as mandolins) sold. I’ll admit to being actually proud of my so far unused construct.
    Now I don’t make a living fixing string instruments, so just a punk in this area, but I have watched two or three Rosa videos that seemed, well, amateurish or just wrong.
    Certainly compared with the solid information on this here website.

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    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Thanks to Sunburst for an excellent overall description. I am heating up some hide glue now to use on the only thing I use it for regularly on string instruments - gluing in the label. And I might switch to white glue for that. In short, due to past experiences I don't use hide glue for any joint that is working against any substantial stress. That is pretty much every joint on a mandolin. Mandolins aren't really designed to be taken apart, like violins are. I'd rather that mine stay together 100 years. To me, it is often easier to take apart a Titebond Original joint than a hide glue joint. I guess any possible sonic difference between the two doesn't apply to kitchen shelves and furniture. YMMV. I will say that hide glue requires practice, so any opportunity to practice with it is good.
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    I've been building cabinets and furniture, as a living, since 1974. Instruments since 1978. For your project, there would be no question: Titebond Original. Fair amount of open time and way less hassle than using hide glue. When gluing up your panels, make sure you flip every other board so any future warping is balanced, wavy, rather than a big arc.

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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    I agree with most above but I would add some thoughts.
    Violins are not designed to be disassembled. Most cheaper violins can be nastier to open than a "Titebonded" guitar with binding covering the joint. On violin the joint is visible and any chipping is there to be seen. Good violin makers use intentionally weaker hide glue to glue tops and backs just to allow disassembly. On the most valuable violins they strive to use as weak glue as possible without the instrument falling apart, really. Just to be safe when top needs to be removed it will go without cracking or other damage. On majority of violins assembled in workshops or factories where just one strength of glue is in the pot these joints will be pretty hard to disassemble without vast experience and very slow progress. Best violin restorers have vast experience opening fiddles (pretty much daily routine for them) so it may appear simple job and looks like they are designed to be opened but that is not so. In comparison mandolin or guitar restorers try to repair without opening whenever possible, opening is typically the last resort.
    Hide glue is more water resistant than many folks think. I pulled a wide spruce board from southern side of a woodshed at out weekend house that has been exposed to all kind of weather for nearly 80 years only to find that it was glued from two pieces, it had crack down the joint for lower half of its length and the upper half of joint that was sheltered by roof from direct rain was still intact (and invisible). The board came from old clothes chest from before WW2 (judging by the decorations and edges with dovetails) so it was certainly glued with HHG (I found HHG on all window frmes of the house as well). Standing water on a worktop would certainly kill any joint unless the wood is very well protected by good oil or such. It is mostly twisting wood that destroys joints, not direct exposure of glue to water.
    BTW, there are simple crosslinking additives that render HHG absoluely water resistant and even stronger than normal.
    Adrian

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  19. #12
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Quote Originally Posted by Dale Ludewig View Post
    I've been building cabinets and furniture, as a living, since 1974. Instruments since 1978. For your project, there would be no question: Titebond Original. Fair amount of open time and way less hassle than using hide glue. When gluing up your panels, make sure you flip every other board so any future warping is balanced, wavy, rather than a big arc.
    I always flip the boards, I was thinking of HHG only for the ease I found with glue-ups. I tend to clamp titebond more than HHG. I just don't have that many clamps but maybe I just need to buckle down and make a glueing table for this use. What I liked about HHG was how it seemed I could glue a nicely fitted joint with minimal clamping, it just seemed to draw the pieces together.

    Thanks, everyone. Like I mentioned I used to use only yellow wood glue, then got some titebond which seemed to work well also and use HHG as well I never really looked into what glue was better for which situation. Something I will rectify now.
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  20. #13

    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Not an answer to the question but “The Chemistry and Technology of Gelatin and Glue” by Robert Herman Bogue is a good read for those of us that work with old wooden things. It was published in 1922 as a technical reference for industry. I have an original copy I got while in college but it’s public domain now so you can search google books and read it electronically.

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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    The longer I work on instruments, the more I use hide glue, and the less I use Titebond.
    But- If I were to build a piece of furniture, I would probably choose Titebond.

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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Toole View Post
    ... It was published in 1922 as a technical reference for industry. I have an original copy I got while in college ...
    Congrats, Patrick on being the world's oldest living person!!!

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  26. #16
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    The Keystone company handbook on hide glue is very good resource for everything you want to know about old fashioned HHG and some things you don't ;-)
    Can be found online on several places...
    https://archive.org/details/GlueHandbook/mode/2up
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Just to say there seem to be the impression in a few of the posts that aliphatic resin glue joints are non-reversible - this is not the case. Most of those glues are both thermoplastic (can be released by heat) and susceptible to the acid in vinegar.
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    The Keystone company handbook on hide glue is very good resource for everything you want to know about old fashioned HHG and some things you don't ;-)
    Can be found online on several places...
    https://archive.org/details/GlueHandbook/mode/2up
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  30. #19
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Just to say there seem to be the impression in a few of the posts that aliphatic resin glue joints are non-reversible - this is not the case. Most of those glues are both thermoplastic (can be released by heat) and susceptible to the acid in vinegar.
    Anyone who has done lots of instrument repairs for years knows how easy it is to release Titebond (and similar glues). It is one of the things that reinforced my tendency to use hide glue for most instrument joints.
    Some of the most difficult joints I've had to release have been very old Martin guitar bridge to top joints and very old Gibson fingerboard joints. A well made and well preserved hide glue joint can be extremely difficult to release.

    When we squeeze Titebond from a bottle we get pretty much the same thing every time, unless we let the glue sit around in the shop so long that it deteriorates in the bottle. When we dissolve hide glue in water we don't necessarily have the same thing each time; maybe a little more water maybe a little less, maybe a little cleaner water, maybe not. Once that glue is hot in the glue pot, we may keep it longer or use it up faster, we may overheat it... there are things that can cause deterioration of the glue in the pot. Maybe we let it cool to much while assembling the joint, etc.. In short, there are lots of thing that we can do to make our hide glue less effective that don't apply to squeezing AR glue from a bottle. It's hard to know how often that happened in instrument factories in the days before plastic glues, but it certainly happened some times. Between that and the inevitable compromised joint from time to time there are plenty of examples of failure to fuel the critics of hide glue and proponents of plastic glues. When we gain experience with glue types we tend to learn what glue is good where and which suits our own situation best. Some of us just stick with what we're used to (see what I did there?).

    I have plenty of anecdotal stories of difficulties that I've had releasing hide glue, and of Titebond failures, and vise versa. None of that is particularly important. The bottom line is Hide glue is good for specific things, Titebond is good for specific things, other glues and adhesives are good for specific things, there is a lot of overlap, and different people use different things.

    If I had three projects to do:

    1. a mandolin
    2. a work bench
    3. a wooden canoe

    I would choose hide glue for one, Titebond for one, and epoxy for one. It shouldn't be too hard to figure our which is which.

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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    I agree that Titebond can be made to release fairly easily, cleanup to re-glue can be another matter. That is another attribute of hide glue; it glues well to itself.

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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Quote Originally Posted by Nevin View Post
    I agree that Titebond can be made to release fairly easily, cleanup to re-glue can be another matter. That is another attribute of hide glue; it glues well to itself.
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  36. #22

    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Just to say there seem to be the impression in a few of the posts that aliphatic resin glue joints are non-reversible - this is not the case. Most of those glues are both thermoplastic (can be released by heat) and susceptible to the acid in vinegar.

    Does vinegar (acetic acid) help clean it up, or re-activate it so it can stick to itself? And does it damage finishes?

  37. #23
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Acetic acid does, in fact dissolve dried AR (and hide glue). It is the active ingredient in De-Glue Goo, and simple vinegar can also clean up old glue. I do not trust it to "reactivate" old glue for joining.
    Larry McNeil (hope I spelled that correctly), the guy who developed De-Glue Goo, and former employer of mine, said he has seen it make FP/shellac finishes blush slightly, but gentle heat removed the blush easily. Other than that he has seen no finish damage from it.

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  39. #24
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    Does vinegar (acetic acid) help clean it up, or re-activate it so it can stick to itself? And does it damage finishes?
    Not real re-activation, but I once removed badly warped bridge from guitar using heat to soften the glue and decided to clamp it to flat board while it was still hot after removal and the bridge stuck surprisingly strong to the wood by just the leftover heated glue on the surface...
    Adrian

  40. #25
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hide glue question

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    ...decided to clamp it to flat board while it was still hot after removal and the bridge stuck surprisingly strong to the wood by just the leftover heated glue on the surface...
    I've done that with loose veneers and loose Titebond joints of various description. When heated it behaves similarly to hot melt glue. We can heat a joint to loosen it, re-position and clamp, and when cool we have adjusted the joint. I have my doubts that the strength approaches a well made undisturbed joint, but sometimes things need to be re-positioned so repairs can proceed.

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