Rely on yourself and stop relying on others

This post is ongoing from my previous post on glue failure. I mentioned to you that Titebond’s liquid hide glue has failed on a long grain to long grain joint. The glue never cured. As a test I placed a dab of glue on a piece of wood several days ago and it’s still very soft and sticky. This is enough evidence for me that this glue is old, despite what’s written on the bottle. Whether someone has done this unintentionally (human error) or to save on costs I don’t know and neither do I care. All I know is that they need to get their act together. I‘m still awaiting their reply and have accepted that it may never happen. The irony in it all is that if you speak to the salespeople at Carba Tec which is our local woodworking store, they try to steer you into using other Titebond products and pass off hide glue as an outdated weak glue that need not be used anymore. That’s the same thing the “tech” guy at Titebond on the phone said to me. It’s laughable and sad that we live in a day and age of total ignorance. This has been a wake up call for me to make an effort to pursue making my own version of liquid hide glue. Because in the end, making your own fresh batch is better than relying on the word of others

The same deal is with shellac, why people still buy Zinsser Shellac products bewilders me. They neither know how old the can is, nor how long it’s been sitting on their shelves. Products despite who sells it can sit on a shelf for many years and I know this to be a fact as I’ve seen it. A reputable paint store purchased one time only a batch of 100% Pure Tung Oil and Citrus solvents. I bought 5 years ago several bottles of Tung Oil and a couple of 4 litre cans of the Citrus solvents from this store. Recently I returned to the shop to get some more, and he looked it up on his computer and said this is the last batch we have, we will not be placing anymore orders as the last sale we had, was 5 years ago. I laughed, and said yeah that was me, so I bought what was left except for the one can I left on the shelf. I left it because I couldn’t afford it, as it is very expensive and not because I’m a prick. So the point being products can sit on shelves for many years and you’re none the wiser. The seller was honest about it and I have no qualms in buying this old stock as I know that this can never expire, but you cannot say the same about shellac and nor about hide glue.

If you have granules of hide glue and you keep them out of direct sunlight preferably in a cabinet, should and will last indefinitely, but as soon as you immerse it in water the breakdown process has begun.

You have up to three weeks max to use the glue before it goes off, unless you add preservatives in it after cooking the glue to keep it from going off a little while longer. Think about how they kept meat back in the day when refrigeration didn’t exist. They either ate it all within two days or they salted it and preserved it. So this is what I’m going to do from now on with my own liquid hide glue and I wish to share this ingredients with you. You too can make your own room temperature liquid hide glue that you know when it’s been made and when it will expire. Be warned though as experimentation is key to a successful outcome. It may take several weeks or months before you come up with the right dosage that you need for your everyday woodworking. Remember you’re not making large amounts to roll out for sale, you’re just making enough for yourself which is why you need to experiment and not rely on the measures left by others on the net. They worked out what will suit them and if your size needs are different then theirs, then you will need to work out what will suit you.

Canning/Pickling Salt

This is the same thing, just worded differently. Here In Australia they call it Pickling Salt. In the US, it’s Canning Salt. It’s also known as canned salt, rock salt, sodium chloride.

What is Canning Salt?

Canned salt is made from pure granulated salt. What sets it apart from other salts is that it does not contain any anti-caking ingredients or additives like iodine. These additional ingredients, which are found in common table salt, can make pickle brine cloudy or the colour of pickled vegetables black. Another standout feature of canned salt is its composition.

Where can I buy it?

If you live in the US, you can buy it in any supermarket. If you live in Australia, you must order it online. Here is where I’ve ordered mine from. Herbs and Spices Australia. The salt is made in Tasmania, which is where most of our timber comes from.

Can I make my own?

Yes you can, but it’s not worth it as it isn’t expensive to buy. However, if you still wish to make it, read below.

First, though, consider if you can correctly store this type of salt, as it shouldn’t be near any moisture when settling. Store the salt in a waterproof container that is airtight so that the ingredients don’t react with oxygen and change from a light colour to a darker shade.

Canning & pickling salt can be made by whirring kosher salt in a blender or spice grinder (or a handy-dandy coffee grinder used for grinding every kind of seed, bean, and grain that ISN’T coffee).

Take about a cup of kosher salt and run it through the grinder. Get it pretty fine, to make sure that it could dissolve adequately in the canning process. Then store it in a mason jar next to the boxes of kosher salt and bags of sea salt. In the end, you’ll get perfect canning and pickling salt.

How do I make my own Liquid Hide Glue?

As I said earlier in the post, experimentation is the key. It all boils down to how much you want to make. The steps below will be for the same size large bottle of Old Brown Glue 20fl.oz or 590ml. The trick is that most of us will not need that sized bottle, but instead will want that smaller version of 5fl.oz or 148ml.

This is what I’m looking at, which is why I said you need to experiment with the amount of salt needed for that small amount of glue. One way you could do it, is use the amount I will write below and pour it in several small bottles and give them away or possibly even sell them. But I’m looked at as a freak for working with hand tools and using hide glue, so I have no one to give it too and selling it may or may not work. One can never know without trying.

The methods below I will give you from three sources and it’s up to you which method you choose to follow:

Don Williams written by Christopher Schwarz:

To make a batch of liquid hide glue takes about three minutes of active work, according to Williams,but it’s three minutes spread over a 48-hour period. And you don’t need anything special in addition to the hide glue – except table salt.

To begin, you have to make hot hide glue. I’m sure if you have yet to purchase a glue pot (a special pot for making and reheating hot hide glue), you’re not of the mind to do so for this single purpose. You don’t have to. You can use an electric hot plate, a saucepan, a small glass jar and a small amount of hide glue flakes or pearls, along with salt.

Here are the steps:  The first day, mix two parts hide glue flakes with three parts water into the jar and let everything soak. The following morning, heat water in the saucepan to a temperature of 140º F (a thermometer helps with accuracy), add in one part salt to the jar then cook everything for about two hours. Next, immediately stick the cooked mixture into your refrigerator for the balance of the day (quick cooling is key).

On morning three, fire up the burner and cook the mixture for another two hours (Williams always cooks the glue twice). Once the batch cooks the second time, you have liquid hide glue.  Williams adds that he seldom makes more than a pint of glue at a time. He pours it into a plastic ketchup or mustard squeeze bottle for easy dispensing.

And here is the most interesting part of home-made liquid hide glue: The salt makes this product stay liquid at room temperature and salt preserves the glue so there is no spoil date – just as salt has done throughout time in salting meat.

Chris claims there’s no spoil date, I will shoot off an email to Don to confirm this.

Source two is someone I don’t know who has repeated Don’s idea and hasn’t added much to the subject. I still posted it for the sake of the pictures.

I used a 1/4 measure, so this means 1/4 salt, 2/4 hide glue granules, 3/4 water. This glue is 260# Bloom gram strength from Lee Valley Tools.

Mix the hide glue and water together. Leave out the salt, for now. Let the mix sit overnight. I put mine in a 1qt jar.

The next day, add the salt, then heat the jar of goop in the glue pot of your choice at 140°-150° for 2 hours. I use a $10 dollar Crock Pot that I bought at Walmart. The “warm” setting is perfect for hot hide glue.

After 2 hours, put the mix in the refrigerator overnight (Important!). Evidently the quick cooling is key, because up till now, this is what I had always done and it hadn’t made a big difference.

The next day my mix looked like meat jello, same as always. But hang in there. Heat the goop for another 2 hours at 140°-150°. This time is for real. Liquid hide glue! 

Room temp success. The salt will act as a preservative, too. I would normally make a much smaller batch, but I’ve got some bigger projects in the works and expect to use this reasonably quick.  Here is the link should you wish to see other stuff he wrote. My Peculiar Nature

Third and final one is from Mortise and Tenon

There you can see the link to their website.

So there you have it and my last word on how to mix the stuff, but not my last word on whether I have successfully made a no expiry date strong liquid hide glue. More on my findings soon. Good luck to those who will venture out on this journey with me.

Liberate yourselves from the dependency on large multi-million dollar companies, who regard you as insignificant whether or not you buy from them.

Last minute addition

To help those decipher the above US mix ratio from Mortise and tenon, I will convert it for us under the commonwealth and we all use the same measurements:

1/2 Cup hide glue granules=118.3g

1/2 Cup Water = 118.3ml

2 tsp pickling salt = 11.8g

140°F = 60°C

I would suggest following Don Williams method of first mixing the granules and water ratio provided but leaving the salt out. Once the granules soak up the water and turns into a gelatinous state, heat up the stove and water to 60°C. Add 11.8g of pickling salt and begin cooking the glue for 2 hours. Refrigerate it overnight, then the next morning cook the glue again for another 2 hours and you have liquid hide glue.

17 thoughts on “Rely on yourself and stop relying on others

  1. $0.02 from the peanut gallery. If you are in need of a heating device for glue, take a look at baby bottle warmers and/or cosmetic wax warmers. They are cheap and will heat things warm enough for hide glue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the advice. It couldn’t have been at a better time. I do have a small brass double boiler but it won’t be big enough if I wanted to heat a larger bottle.

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  2. If you have the date code information you can figure out the age of the can.

    Zinsser shellac only has ethanol in it. No Methanol. A quart of ethanol and a half pound of shellac flakes is much more expensive than Zinsser.

    That’s why someone would buy the Zinsser. Cheaper, healthier, works well if it’s fresh.

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    1. I’m sorry to say but that’s a bad idea. Whilst Titebond say that freezing their glue will not destroy it but only thicken it, that statement shouldn’t be taken literally for no Titebond hide glues. If you freeze liquid hide and I’m including regular hide glue in a liquid form you will destroy it rendering it useless. The reason being that freezing temperatures break down the proteins and the flexibility suffers a loss, as a result it loses it’s adhesion properties.

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    1. I believe that Neil puts something inside it that makes last longer. As for shellac on its own it cannot last longer than six months once made up.

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      1. Must do, it was kicking around for so long after the initial use I ended up having a go with anything which needed a finish. Never seemed to affect the usage given it was probably 18months. I have only dabbled a bit in French polishing but was pretty happy with the results and the build up. As far as I understand there are a few different types he makes with a couple of different characteristics. The convenience was a big plus. It was harder to get the denatured alcohol than anything else at the time. I have read somewhere that you can use isocol alcohol from the chemist- have you tried it?

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      2. Yes, you can use Isopropanol and you can buy it from https://restorerschoice.com.au/shop. This is where I buy my shellac from and denatured alcohol. I gather you live in Australia if not then buy it locally. I would recommend you sticking with denatured alcohol because the alcohol will dry much faster than Isopropanol. It’s great if you’re a beginner and you want to brush it on so, you want the shellac to dry slower. But if your French polishing that’s the last thing you want. I can only say this because I tried it. I couldn’t get the denatured stuff at the time and someone swore by Isopropanol so I bought 20L of it. What a waste of money that was.

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  3. There is a huge disparity in the amount of salt for these two recipes. The first one uses equal parts hide glue and salt vs 2 teaspoons for the second one. For reference, 1/4 cup of salt is 12 teaspoons, so 6 times more salt in the first recipe. I’ve read the posts about the Williams recipe before and always thought equal parts salt and hide glue had to be a typo.

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    1. I also agree with you Tony. I have made LH using this recipe and it works but I do feel that there is too much salt. When I make the next batch I will try with 1 teaspoon and see what what happens.

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