Hot Hide Glue Tip & Tricks - created 09-19-2007

Dara, Henry - 09/19/2007.09:36:10
Sounds great, don't it?

I wanted to start this discussion to provide an opportunity for the masters of hot hide glue to help spread their wealth of knowledge to those of us who might need it, as well as those seasoned pro’s who don’t mind learning new tricks. I got this idea reading the discussion on the whys “No one has ever regretted the choice of hide glue - comments?” of HHG, which was very informative in its own right. But now I felt it time for a pure discussion on the how’s. My thanks up front to all who contribute.

Bacon, Stephen - 09/19/2007.10:36:16

Professional trick #1. Sizing. The act of prepping surfaces to be glued or finished with a watered down thin layer of fresh glue and then letting the layer thoroughly dry. This is useful prep for any glue joint. It is essential when gluing on large surfaces solo. Sizing under finish prevents discoloration of stain on end grain.

Proulx, Mario - 09/19/2007.10:38:12
Hear the colors....

I've never sized a joint yet....

just get some glue, make a batch, hide any and all brushes, and just use a small bottle.

thank me later...

Gramann, Bob - 09/19/2007.10:49:22

Warm the shop or the work area to 85F or more to give more working time. At least, warm the pieces to be glued. I think I've already thanked Mario for the small bottle, but every now and then, I use a brush for a larger surface area and for doing bindings.

Proulx, Mario - 09/19/2007.11:21:51
Hear the colors....

For larger areas, use the bottle's tip to spread the glue...

My shop is rarely warmer than 68°f, but the hair dryer is always there to warm parts.

Dara, Henry - 09/19/2007.11:50:34
Sounds great, don't it?

How about glue storage when not in use. I had a batch get moldy on top when it sat for a while.

Dara, Henry - 09/19/2007.11:52:40
Sounds great, don't it?

Mario, can you elaborate on the bottle. All I can picture is a bottle with a bunch hard glue in it.

Proulx, Mario - 09/19/2007.11:57:53
Hear the colors....

A small bottle(I use cleaned-out Miss Clairol hair color bottles; perfect size, perfect tip) with 4-5 stainless steel bolts in it. Place the bottle, with glue, in a 140° water bath. For a few clams, you can get a Rival "Hot Pot", or better yet, a small crock pot, called "The Little Dipper" whic will hold 140 all day....

Store in the fridge between daily uses. If not using for more than a week, toss it, or freeze it.

This stuff is all in the library here, for sure.

Leirer, Bill - 09/19/2007.12:01:09

Keep an old soft toothbrush in the hotpot for quick clean ups.

Tweedy, Chuck - 09/19/2007.12:03:01
Midnight Lutherie ... because that's when I work

I use 1 1/4 oz Elmer's glue bottles. They were designed to be glue bottles and they do a fine job. Glass beads in the bottle keep it from floating too high in the pot.

The only other tricks I know are that you need to know how thick to make the glue, and you need to clamp things together fast. Other than that, it is just glue like any other glue. Consistency and open time are something you need to get a feel for, so I agree that you need to jump in with both feet - into a test pool that is.

Bacon, Stephen - 09/19/2007.12:23:10

My favorite tools of application are syringes. I have a variety. I keep the syringe full of glue in a pot of hot water. But I also use brushes and palette knifes.

Sizing is a very useful tool, trust me.

Senseney, Steve - 09/19/2007.12:47:43

I bought some dropper bottles with red tap caps from scientific supply. These are about 8 oz bottles. I never fill more than 2/3 full. I never had much luck brushing on hot hide glue.

I also keep a couple of used (empty) eye drop bottles around. I use these when I am working inside a completed guitar. It is the only way I could figure to get hot hide glue down next to a loose rib during repairs.

Bacon, Stephen - 09/19/2007.13:34:28

A note on Mario's bottles , sounds like a good system, be sure if you add the bolts that they are stainless as he recommends. Iron (steel) will discolor the glue.

Gramann, Bob - 09/19/2007.13:52:16

I never had problems with the iron discoloring the glue until one day I did. Since then, I've been using marbles for weights.

Tweedy, Chuck - 09/19/2007.14:29:23
Midnight Lutherie ... because that's when I work

I had been using 316 stainless steel (surgical stainless) screws in the bottles, and I thought they would be fine. Unfortunately they leached enough iron into the glue to discolor some sapele. Now it's glass beads.

Proulx, Mario - 09/19/2007.14:41:58
Hear the colors....

I've had the same 316 SS bolts in my bottle since 2000. No stains yet.... Your water source may have had some iron in it?

Breen, Paul - 09/19/2007.15:54:03
Sucker for hard luck cases

I own a Herdim glue pot that will keep glue at a steady temp between 140 and 145 and I use a pipette like the kind that Stew Mac sells with the tiny tip cut off to pick up the hide glue. I get good control with the pipette and can reach tight places with it. It holds enough volume to sustain the temperature. A restaurant style red hot light is my main pre-heat source to warm parts before glue but the hot gun is always at the ready.

Tweedy, Chuck - 09/19/2007.17:17:47
Midnight Lutherie ... because that's when I work

Your water source may have had some iron in it?

Heck I don't know! I'm just keeping all iron out of there now. Glass is safe.

Daniels, Barry - 09/19/2007.21:36:15
MIMForum Staff

I suppose that if you lived in an area with really hard water, it might be a good idea to use distilled.

Tweedy, Chuck - 09/20/2007.00:07:12
Midnight Lutherie ... because that's when I work

San Diego water is a saturated solution of limestone (concrete) from the long journey here. I use distilled (DI).

Menzel, Bob - 09/20/2007.14:19:26

"...just get some glue, make a batch, hide any and all brushes, and just use a small bottle. thank me later..."

Mario: I'll thank you now. If I read between the lines a bit, a 'bead' of HHG retains it's heat better than if you were to apply it with a brush? Do you modify the tip of your (your's or your wife's?:) Clairol bottle to apply a thicker bead or use it as is? Knowing that one must work expeditiously with HHG, I would suspect that with this technique, the bead needs to be generous, and that you need to see squeeze out all along your joints to be certain that your glue coverage was good?

Dara, Henry - 09/20/2007.16:48:20
Sounds great, don't it?

Ok, Here's one...What about consistancy. Like honey, or like water. I mixed mine 1:1, using 192g high clarity. By the way Mario, I didnt get a barrel, just a big paper feed sack thing.

Proulx, Mario - 09/20/2007.16:51:20
Hear the colors....

I dn't do anything to the tip(not my bottles ). they're perfect as-is.

yes, a bead holds heat better than a smearing of glue. Basic thermodynamics at work....

Just work with it, and you'll find you can adjust the bead size f the job simply by how quickly or slowly you apply the glue. And lose all the mixing instructions you've read of, and just mix it up until it flows from the bottle like room temp Titebond does from its bottle, only perhaps a little thinner.

I try for nearly zero squeeze out....

Menzel, Bob - 09/20/2007.17:39:10

Great advice, BIG thanks. I've got an ultd supply of bottles: my wife's a hairdresser.

Stock, Todd - 09/20/2007.20:46:00

When hide glue starts getting old, add some dye and some flavoring for a nice family Jello treat...

Roberts, Randy - 09/20/2007.22:22:34
May your life's music always come from your heart.

I usually do up a batch, put it in a dozen or so 1oz dispenser bottles (check with your pharmacist or Veterinarian as a source) toss them in a ziplock freezer bag and keep in the freezer. Just grab one when you need to glue, and warm it up. Toss back in freezer when done. Check for freezer burn if they've been stored for a while.

Keep a rag by the warmer pot, and give the bottle a quick wipe before using so the water on the outside of the bottle doesn't run down onto your wood as you tip the bottle to dispense the glue

Wife tried some for a facial treatment of some sort for a while. Promised I wouldn't tell anyone so I won't

Anders, Leif - 09/21/2007.06:43:16

Very interesting subject.

I have never used hot hide glue, and I wonder how you go about it if you want to glue a maple top to a solid body guitar. Must the wood be pre heated, how do you manage to glue the top before the glue cools down and gets thick, what timespan do you have to work on?

Any input appreciated.

Dara, Henry - 09/21/2007.08:29:21
Sounds great, don't it?


Bacon, Stephen - 09/21/2007.12:43:41

Leif ,warming the area to be glued is often practiced. I use a hair drier. I didn't realize gluing and hair dressing were so interrelated. I know a buch of folks who use lady Clairol hair dye for musical instrument dye ,but that's another thread.

Tweedy, Chuck - 09/21/2007.13:21:04
Midnight Lutherie ... because that's when I work

I wonder how you go about it if you want to glue a maple top to a solid body guitar

Leif, I'm not a solid body guy, but I don't think many solid body guitars are built with hot hide glue (HHG). The two primary advantages of HHG are: one, it does not creep; and two it is reversible.

Creep is not an issue because it is proportional to "stress" (the concentration of force) on a joint. With a huge gluing area like a maple cap, this is not a problem

Reveribility is not needed with solid body laminations - at least no that I know.

So, for that job, HHG is really not worth the hassle.

Senseney, Steve - 09/21/2007.14:37:25

There are some advantages to using Hot hide glue. It leaves a nearly invisible glue line. It sands away easily. The glue line does not swell or shrink after the finish is on the instrument. It requires some fast gluing, but can be accomplished.

All of the furniture was veneered with hot hide glue before PVA glue was invented.

Swanson, Mark - 09/21/2007.15:30:53
MIMForum Staff, Michigan

As Steve points out, furniture was built with hide glue for many years and a lot of the joints were as large as a guitar top might be. If I were going to do a solidbody top, I'd have a big jar of glue and a real big brush, and heat the wood a bit, brush it on quickly and clamp.

Proulx, Mario - 09/21/2007.15:38:34
Hear the colors....

I forget who(perhaps PRS his own self)who, when trying to replicate the tone of the early Les Pauls, found that the hide glue used the glue the tops on the bodies was the missing "key".

Hey, I'm not making this up...

Leirer, Bill - 09/21/2007.15:39:27

I think they used hammered tops for veneer with HHG, probably the same idea.

Swanson, Mark - 09/21/2007.15:41:41
MIMForum Staff, Michigan

I know some guys who take perfectly good Gibson les pauls and have the fingerboards removed, replaced with a brazilian one that is hide glued. All at great expense, claiming that it makes a ton of difference.

Tweedy, Chuck - 09/21/2007.16:11:22
Midnight Lutherie ... because that's when I work

Interesting, I had


idea that HHG has a reputation for improving sound of solid body instruments. Sounds a bit


but, Hey, who am I to buck the system?

Senseney, Steve - 09/21/2007.16:47:58

One of the old Fine Wood Working magazines had an article on using veneer with hide glue.

This was thin material, with an experienced builder (probably some one like Tagge Frid). He had a "veneer hammer". This hammer had some weight to it, had a wide flat blade which was the working aspect of this tool. He poured hot hide glue on the finished side of the veneer, and quickly covered the surface and moved the glue with his hammer. He quickly turned the board over, covered the back side of the veneer with hot hide glue, placed it on the base wood. He used the hammer to press down, and push any excess glue out of the glue space. The article said the glue on the face was to facilitate sliding the hammer. I suspect it also kept the veneer from curling so much with the moisture from the hide glue.

I personally have never done this myself.

I did a quick search, and Constantines sells a veneer hammer.

Stock, Todd - 09/22/2007.08:21:00

OK - no one liked the Jello tip, so here's one for cheap, cheap HHG brushes...

Scrap cutoffs of basswood or lime(american linden/european linden) pounded out for the first inch or so make nice HHG issue with bacterial transfer...can be left in glue indefinitely...can be trimmed short for glue cleanup (shorter bristles are stiffer...Euler again) or retrimmed and re-flattened. Can be shaped with chisel for those really tough jobs.

Violin suppliers sell Euro-sourced lime or european linden bast brushes for quite a bit more than what a nice bristled glue brush goes for from Tools for Working Wood, but a 6" piece of straight grained domestic basswood scrap will have you in custom sized brushes for years. Try 7/16" x 3/16" x 6" to start for a good general duty sized brush.

Menzel, Bob - 09/29/2007.10:24:29

If at first you don't succeed, are there any tips for cleaning up a fudged glue up before trying again?

Senseney, Steve - 09/29/2007.10:56:54

If it just needs to be adjusted (closed while the glue is still moist) heat with a hair blower, or clothes iron.

If it needs pulled apart, apply water, warm the joint, use a warm spatula or knife, and work the joint apart. Wash the areas with a warm wash cloth, scrape with a piece of plastic to remove any excess glue.

Put it back together with fresh hot hide glue. You don't have to dry the joint or wait specifically. I usually wait until I am past the emotional issues of a screwed up complicated glue up. Sometimes a few minutes, sometimes a few days.

Leirer, Bill - 09/29/2007.13:27:00

That's one of the great things about HHG. With other glues you have to get everything totally free of the old cured glue before trying again. The HHG is reactivated with heat and moisture and you can put new on top of old.

Gruber, Gerry - 10/15/2007.08:25:10
"Whether you think you can or can't, you're right." - Henry Ford

I'm trying to locate the original thread Henry mentioned, "No one has ever regretted...". I missed it the first time around. I checked in the library and didn't find it. I assume it is in the queue?

sysop - 10/15/2007.11:00:49
Deb Suran

Yes, more or less forever....

Jackson, Brady - 10/15/2007.16:42:11

Why is that? Is there a huge backup for the library?

sysop - 10/15/2007.17:01:40
Deb Suran

Over 5,000 discussions and counting. We need a full-time Forum Librarian, there's no money to pay one.

Valente, Mattia - 10/19/2007.07:28:57

Deb, I sent you an email about volunteering re: Library staff, didn't get anything back (or the spam filter ate it). Did it get through?

sysop - 10/19/2007.08:14:58
Deb Suran

I don't know, I'll have to check my in-box!

King, David - 10/24/2007.13:02:33
often headless

I get the impression that storage should be vanishingly inexpensive in the future -what about leaving the library queue open to perusal and further editing by anyone who happens to be looking/ searching through it? Perhaps it could be wiki-fied??

sysop - 10/24/2007.13:30:16
Deb Suran

God, no. The potential for mischief is immense, and the time it would take to police such an endeavor would be unmanageable. The issue isn't storage, it's TIME.