How to Prepare and Use Animal Hide Glue

wax melter glue pot

The glue used for this guide is JOINERS GLUE – PROTEIN GLUE, STRONG HOLD ANIMAL GLUE but is accurate for most fine powder animal glues

Firstly, cleanliness is essential before, during & after use of all protein glues. Wash out all utensils and brushes in hot water. If in doubt clean it again. I use only glass or stainless steel in preparation disciplines.

Step 1/ Assess the project you tackling to get an idea of how much glue you will need. Will you be constructing joints, making small repairs, or applying veneer? The quantity required varies upon application. Take a volume of cold water approximating the quantity you predict, there is no sure way to estimate the correct quantity so it is better to make too much rather than too little ,remember, the glue can be re-heated/re-melted for other projects.

rquired amount of water for hide glue

Step 2/ Add the powder in small amounts at a time, agitating/stirring briskly. Follow up with another small amount and another. As the powder absorbs water you will feel resistance to stir.

Step 3/ Transfer this blend to the glue pot, turn the heat to a medium and put the lid on to minimise evaporation.

The time required to liquefy the mixture will vary depending on the quantity. Once the mixture is heated correctly you will have a beautiful clear light honey colour with nil odour and a joy to use. Too much water will make tacking difficult, you may add more glue if you feel the mixture is too watery.

Step 4/ You will have correct consistency when, upon lifting the brush from the glue, raise up about 50 mm; the flow from the brush should be a steady stream. By experience the user will get used to the preferred requirement.

If the user does not have a temperature-controlled pot so that it can be left on (overnight say), put the excess into a clean vessel and refrigerate. The glue can be stored in this condition for some days and then reheated. If left too long it will lose water or rot. Again, experience is the best teacher.

Using this simple step by step guide, you can enjoy animal hide glue in all its glory. Smooth , strong, traditional, and easy to use, no other glue can compete with the satisfaction of brush applied animal glue.

For a traditional timber finish on your project, check out our range of Shellac (French Polish), available in flake and liquid form or Furniture Polish/protection. If you need to strip old varnish or lacquer, check out our Paint/Varnish Strippers.

This step by step guide is courtesy of Paul Gregson – The Australian Wood Worker Magazine

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