Not all commercial hide glues are equal.
We want to make sure you are using the good stuff,
even for a temporary repair you may want to make on your own furniture.
Also, a furniture repair person may say they use hide glue. Be savvy enough to ask them what type of hide glue… then decide whether you’ll take grandmother’s table for repairs!
Years ago we made our
hide glue in the pot, right, now retired into service
as a wax-making pot. Cooking, decanting, warming for use in
syringes or onto Kate’s kitchen plates, keeping
it warm was a messy and smelly part of our conservation business.
(Mitchell says it is the
smell of success!)
We didn’t use Titebond Liquid Hide Glue because despite its name, it contains other ingredients (see below) and has qualities unsuitable for conservation.
Now the only time we make our own glue is if has to be
fish glue or rabbit hide glue, which is rarely. A colleague, Patrick Edwards,
makes Old Brown Glue. At first he only sold to fellow conservators, but now,
Old Brown Glue can be bought from their website and several woodworking supply stores.
The beauty of Old Brown Glue is the ingredients: hydrolyzed collagen and urea —
that’s all! No more “i-wonder-what-that-is” chemical additives.
Now Mitchell warms a bowl of water in the microwave, decants Old Brown Glue into syringes or 5oz bottles, and drops them into the warm water to warm.
The only smelly part is when he is slathering it on to affix parts!
Hide glue is non-toxic, organic, safe for the environment,
has no cautions other than common sense (don’t pour it in your eyes),
is reversible (very important for conservation) with warm water or vinegar,
but has kept antique furniture together for centuries!
You don’t waste money using hide glues, because you can always harden leftovers
and store it to melt another day! (Video below)
Coming soon, gap-filling, the employment of adhesives,
and strategies toward structural viability of bruised and damaged joinery.
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Notes from Wikipedia and the MSDS for Titebond Liquid Hide Glue, which contains the following: ammonium thiocyanate; dicyandiamide 461-58-5 (Cyanoguanidine, used in the adhesive industry as a curing agent for epoxies.), and polyalkene glycol (PAGs).