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Animal glues..

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Kittyhawk

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or gelatin, protein, bone glues etc... I remember this stuff from my youth - warming hands on the glue pot as a young boy on frosty mornings when Mr. Blackmore would let me come into cabinetmaker shop for a few moments on my way to school..
I note that this glue is still apparently in use today. Are there advantages to it, is it gap filling, how does it compare with all the modern stuff? I can still buy it online and I'm tempted.
 

MARK.B.

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Never used it myself but i believe that some furniture restorers use it as the piece can be unglued again by warming, i don't think that it has any gap filling capability.
 

Kittyhawk

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Never used it myself but i believe that some furniture restorers use it as the piece can be unglued again by warming, i don't think that it has any gap filling capability.
Yes, furniture restorers and from what I read online it is also the preferred glue for instruments, violins, guitars etc. It may be a bit over-hyped by its affictionados but it does seem to have some pretty desirable properties, especially for me as I'm a bit concerned about a possible developing epoxy allergy.
 

profchris

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I use it as my main glue for musical instruments. Hot hide glue or HHG as it is known has no gap filling properties and needs close fitting joints. But it can stay stuck for centuries.

Reasons to use it:

1. Reversible repairs. If a joint is knocked loose, some fresh glue reactivates the old.

2. Easy clean up with a damp rag.

3. Gels and grabs in a minute or so.

4. Heat reactivates fresh glue. So I can position a component by hand, let it grab,then 5 mins later apply clamps and heat. Or re-clamp a joint-if I see a tiny gap.

5. Unlikely to be allergenic, even edible (dogs steal it).

Reasons not to use it:

1. Joint has only tens of seconds to be made and clamped, though heat can solve this for some.

2. Brittle, can let go if knocked hard.

3. A bit smelly.

4. Doesn't like damp.
 

Just4Fun

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I recently used some for the first time, to re-glue failed joints on some antique chairs. It worked OK (or it did after I found it it needs some water added to it when you heat it up :oops:) and now that I have a lifetime's supply I might use it again for more "normal" projects. It is obviously not as convenient as using modern glues straight from the bottle though.
 

yetloh

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Agree with Profchris except that I rather like the smell.

I would add it's great for rub joints where, if you cock it up, you can make a quich strong repair in just a few minutes and then just get on with the job. When it comes to antiques, Youtube will show you loads of so-called "restorers" splashing PVA around but a proper conseravtor/restorer will always keep the piece as true to the original as possible and that normally means using animal glue.

Jim
 

Exluthier

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There is little to be gained in using anything but hide glue for work on accoustic instruments such as violins, viols, guitars, mandolins, etc., or (though I only have experience of working on my own furniture) pieces which were made originally using hide glue. Recent research has identified ways of distinguishing between the strength of differing grades, and there is good reason for using less strong versions of animal glue (rabbit-skin, and fish glues) for joints which may need to come apart again, such as violin finger boards and tables, but we often simply thinned out yesterday’s full-strength glue for those jobs, without having any idea of the relative strength of the glue. Rule 1 was ‘Never lick your fingers’, and Rule 2 was ‘On taking apart any old (i.e. antique) glue joint, cold, then wear a mask!’ This was because of Anthrax spores in old animal sources, which were/are known to resist decontamination.
 

Droogs

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Animal glues are still considered to be the best choice in any form of veneer and inlay work and that includes for use in cabinet structure for traditional jointing methods M/T, DT 1/2 Lap etc when using deal to make the carcass skeleton. It is still in use by NASA on parts of spaceships. The best advert for is is the fact that furniture made with it ~4000 years ago is still functional.
 

Fred Page

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For those of you who still have copies of British Woodworking there appeared an article on animal glue in 2012 entitled "Quick Bond for New Times", British Woodworking, no. 28, (2012), 56-61.
For anyone interested I can willingly offer an email copy of the text.
Fred
 
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