Tip on thicknessing by hand accurately

Many people have difficulty planing to a precise measurement. They struggle because they lack the proper tool for the job. That is to say, the proper marking gauge. Veritas created a marking gauge with two blades. One has the bevel on the inside, while the other has it on the exterior. I won’t waste time describing what they’re for because we all know what they’re for.

Veritas Marking gauge

Use the flat surface of the circular blade against the material while gauging your stock for thicknessing. Why? Because using the bevel side, which is what most people do (including myself), will indent or undercut the line. You’ll notice a few thou difference when you plane to that line if you planed successfully. The thickness difference throughout the board would be roughly 1/128.

Except for a few spots near the centre where it is high 1/128, this piece is perfect on 3/4. That is incredible accuracy by hand and something to be proud of.

Here’s a rundown of how I prepare my boards for thickness. I don’t just plane aimlessly. Whether or not I need a scrub plane depends on how much material I need to remove. I lessen the cut as I get closer to the gauge line in order to creep up on it. The key is to maintain patience; if you don’t, you will almost certainly cross over the gauge line.

Not everything needs to be flawless, but when it does, it’s nice to know that you don’t have to rely on machinery. You are capable of relying on your own two hands.

Here is some thing off the topic.

The wood on the right is American black walnut and the one on the left is Queensland walnut. They may appear to be same, but their qualities are vastly different. This makes me think of my twin boys. Even though they are identical twins, their personalities are very different.

Book Holder Episode 1

This will be a thirteen-episode build series on how to make a book holder using only hand tools. After many years of not recording, this is my first video project, and I am optimistic that there will be many more to come. If you haven’t already, please show your support by liking and subscribing to my channel.

Glue up correctly for a long lasting joint

For a long-lasting joint that won’t come apart one needs to know how to correctly apply glue.  Glue is strong, irrespective of whether it is hide glue, white, yellow or fish glue they’re all stronger than the wood itself.  While yellow is commonly known for its gap filling properties it’s actually not entirely true.  No glue is a gap filler, for a successful join each joint must be a friction fit with no gaps. 

Edge joint

The practice of edge gluing two or more boards to form a panel or a table top has been in practice for several thousand years.  Sprung joints aren’t new either and is still widely practiced.  The idea of a sprung joint is to form a slight hollow in the middle of the board’s edge so as to apply pressure on the ends to keep them tightly closed during seasonal changes.  That’s the idea and it works, but I’ve also edge glued without a sprung joint and as long as the two edges are perfectly straight making perfect gap free contact works just as well.  For the sake of time and efficiency sprung joints are a better alternative.

Sprung Joint
Friction Fit Dovetails
Clamping

Friction fit joinery

Mortise and tenons including dovetails should be a friction fit requiring only moderate hand pressure.  To ensure everything comes together perfectly prior glue up a quick rehearsal is recommended.  Some woodworkers like Rob Cosman are confident enough that he never does a test fit of his dovetails as he believes with each fit your loosening the joint which is true, but it is better to side with caution than to find out later you’re not so good after all.  No pun intended. 

Clamps should only be used to hold a joint together while the glue is drying.  If you find that you’re using a lot of clamping pressure to force the joints to close, then you need to reexamine your joinery as to why this is happening prior to glue up.  During glue up sometimes you get what is known as glue freeze and usually a light tap with a mallet will remedy this problem. 

Best glue up methods

The best form of glue up is bonding long grain to long grain, end grain absorbs too much glue starving the joints creating a weaker bond.  Many modern-day furniture and kitchens are made from MDF and Chipboard, applying glue to either end grain or its edges is like not applying any glue at all as the wood (lets humour the mass manufacturers and call it wood) absorbs all the glue so they rely on dowels to keep them together.   This too isn’t a good practice either as your relying on tiny little sticks stuck in tiny little holes to hold everything together.  For mitre joints you have to apply glue to end grain and there is a little trick that works very well.  You allow the end grain to absorb the glue, then you apply some more and allow it to dry enough to form a film then apply some more, clamp it and leave it to set over night.  I’ve done this using hide glue as a test and I gave up trying to break it apart so it works.

Don’t be overly concerned on what type of glue works the best, they all work equally well as they’re all stronger than the wood itself.  Usually, the company that spends the most on advertising gets the biggest exposure but that’s as far as it goes. 

I’m a big advocate for hide glue and have recently become equally enthusiastic about fish glue.  I’m a traditionalist in one respect I like to practice ancient methods but I also have a slightly different outlook on these matters to other people.  I build by hand while others use machinery, I am of the opinion due to the current rise of automation that in 50 years time there will only be a handful of people building anything by hand, and in 100 years time there will be nothing built by hand.  So, my work will be far more valuable after I’m long gone than a piece made by anyone using machinery.  If for any reason my work needs to be repaired, I know that the glue I used which is hide glue or fish glue can be reversed, repaired and re glued, while others cannot and most probably no one will ever bother.  So, I feel it’s an obligation upon me to owe it to conservationists to continue with this practice of using animal protein glues in all my builds.

Glue is readily available in all stores and is inexpensive other than hide glue.  PVA glue has a shelf life of up to 12 months while liquid hide is two years, the granules if keep out of direct sunlight are indefinite and fish glue is advertised as a two-year shelf life but if kept out of direct sunlight in a cool dark spot can run into a number of years.  No matter what type of glue you use make sure it’s fresh, there’s no point in using glue that’s gone off and ruining your hard work.  I always make a fresh batch of hide glue if I’m going to use it that day and if there’s anything left over, I throw it away.  This may sound like wastage but comparing to the price of timber it’s a small price to pay.

Irrespective of what type of glue you use the work needs to be warm, yes you read that right, even if you’re using PVA.    In the past their labels read room temperature above 32f and others have read above 65F for a strong bond.  I haven’t seen this labeled for a long time on bottles but none the less whether or not they choose to label or omit it nothing has changed.  Glues usually takes 12 hours to set but in colder conditions you need to allow 24 hours to pass before you do any work with it.  With hide glue I will always allow 24 hours to pass and the same applies to Fish glue.  I guess the only real issue I have with fish glue is that the glue line reactivates immediately if your hands are damp.  I’ve noticed this the other day after using my waterstones.   As my hands were damp from being in contact with water, I felt immediate tackiness on the glue line.  This isn’t a problem as the water didn’t penetrate to break the bond, but I wouldn’t glue up a tabletop with it.  Spills and general cleaning will leave a tacky surface and that isn’t a good thing.

When applying glue to joinery apply a thin amount and spread it over both surfaces. On edge gluing apply an even thinner coat and use either your finger to spread it, roller or brush even a stick will do the job.  Don’t apply so little to where you will starve the join but enough to end up with a small bead of squeeze out when you clamp it.  If you apply too much glue not only, will it be messy and drip all over your clamps and bench top but it will be too slippery and you will have alignment issues.  Allow an hour to pass before cleaning up, some manufacturers state 30 mins minimum but I always allow an hour.  Use a chisel if you’re using PVA and a damp cloth if using hide glue, with hide glue you can wait the full 24 hrs.  Unlike PVA glue if left will not affect your finishes but water will clean it all off not so with PVA.

Spread even thin amount
Too much glue
A good bead line

The Filling of Hard and Soft Woods

BY A. Kelly (1911)

The following woods are called “open-grained” woods and require a paste filler to make a good foundation for a varnish finish: Ash, beech, butternut, baywood, black walnut, chestnut, elm, mahogany, oak, and rosewood.

The following woods are called “close-grained” woods, or softwoods, and should be treated with a liquid filler to fit them for varnish finish: Basswood, cedar, California redwood, gumwood, Oregon pine, poplar, spruce, tamarack, white pine, Washington fir, whitewood, and yellow pine.

The following woods are called “close-grained hardwoods,” and are sometimes filled with paste filler, but this is not generally done, it not being absolutely necessary: Birch, cherry, Circassian walnut, and maple. Fill with liquid filler.

The filler must be coloured to match the wood; it is best to make it rather darker than the wood. It is important to get the right colour for a filler, so that it will be as near the colour of the wood as possible, only a trifle deeper in shade. Again, the colour of the finish may be determined by the filler; that is, the filler will be stain and filler both. Some of the finest colour effects with woods are obtained in this manner.

The purpose of paste filling is to make a solid surface for the varnish coats. The paste enters and seals the pores of the wood and all the open parts. This can only be done on wood having an open grain. But while the cellular structure is thus filled, the fibre is left more or less unfilled, and hence it is customary in many cases to apply a coating of liquid over the paste filling, when dry and rubbed down.

For this purpose, we may use shellac varnish, or a light-bodied liquid filler.

Liquid fillers are used where the wood is not open enough to take in a paste. Its purpose is to saturate the fibre of the wood and thus prevent it from taking up the liquid of the varnish coats, thus robbing the varnish of its oil and turpentine, causing it to be too brittle. Shellac varnish is a liquid filler and is often so used.

Application of Fillers

Liquid filler may be made from paste filler by the addition of the proper thinners. Usually liquid thinner is simply a cheap varnish, with the addition of cornstarch, or clay, or another suitable base. Before the advent of commercial liquid fillers, the surfacing or filling of close-grained woods was done with varnish, applied in several successive coats, each coat being rubbed down and into the pores of the wood by means of a piece of soft white pine, made chisel-shape, and upon this foundation the varnish finish was laid.

Various woods and their adaptability to the different fillers, substances in use, formulas for fillers

The use of a liquid containing some pigment or starch makes it possible to filler surface the wood with one coat. This may be sandpapered down, and a coat or two of varnish will give a finish. We call them surfacers because these liquid fillers are not rubbed into the wood, but laid on the surface, the same as varnish.

The filler or surfacer simply saves us the costlier varnish.

Shellac and Other Substances

Shellac is preferred where cost is not taken into account, because it sandpapers easier than varnish filler, but it is less desirable under varnish than even cheap varnish, because of its hard, inelastic nature, causing cracking of the varnish placed on it, particularly when the shellac is placed between two coats of varnish.

Liquid filler does better over paste filling than varnish, as it seals the open pores better. Liquid filler should be applied much the same as varnish, flowing it on even and smooth. It is best not to colour liquid filler if it is made with silica, because the silica, owing to its weight, will sink and allow the colour to float, giving the surface a painted effect.

Such substances as terra alba, talc, whiting, corn starch and barytes have the fault of whitening or fading out in the wood, a serious defect where any colour is used.

Carbonate of magnesia is very good for holding up the filler, and the same may be said of a few others of this class, but all in all nothing equals finely pulverized silica, whether for paste or liquid filling.

Starch makes a transparent filling, but it is impossible to make a dry starch and varnish filler that will keep long before using. Cooked starch makes the transparent filling, but raw starch will show white in the pores, perhaps worse even than whiting, which also is bad. Even silica is not free from the fault, but is less objectionable than any other mineral filler. Silica does not absorb the liquids of the filler, and, being thus non-absorbent, it is not affected by moisture as is corn starch. It unites mechanically with the fluids of the filler, fills the pores of the wood well, and adheres to the surface perfectly so that finishing over it is easily accomplished. It has been well said by an expert finisher that “a good finish cannot be obtained when starch, earth, and similar substances are used in the filling. “Starch is soft and easily applied, and work can be rushed by using it, and that is the most we can say for it as a filler.

Starch will not hold up the varnish, nor will the application of three or four coats help matters much. Silica can be pushed into the grain of the wood, making a solid foundation on which two coats of varnish will give a splendid finish. Silver-white and pulverized silica look much alike, having much the same atomic or molecular formation. Silver-white is a white siliceous earth found in Indiana. It is much used for making fillers.

One other fault of silica, and it is not a very serious one, consists in the fact that it will settle or not hold up in solutions. Also, it dries out rapidly, but this may be modified by adding a little oil to ‘ it, and in some cases the thinning may be done with oil alone, of which I shall speak presently. However, the fact of its setting so quickly is an evidence that it will be durable.

It should be said here that where large quantities of filler are used, as in the finishing room of a large furniture concern, the barrel of filler should be kept covered, to prevent the evaporation of the liquids, and to keep out dirt and all foreign substances. No one would think of leaving a barrel of varnish with the head out and uncovered, yet filler is composed largely of the same volatile liquids and will oxidize and become hard in like manner.

Referring again to corn starch filler, when it is applied it seems to fill perfectly because it is very absorbent of the liquids and seems to fill the pores of the wood perfectly. In a measure this is true, but in course of time, in the process of drying and hardening, it shrinks and a close examination of the filled wood with a microscope, or even with the naked eye, will disclose a surface full of unfilled pores and this may still be seen after the varnishing has been done. Furthermore, the filler will require much more time for hardening than is ever given it, and the result is seen in the chilling and cracking of the varnish.

Hardwood filler should set in from IS to 20 minutes, and to do this it should not contain an excess of oil, which would retard the drying. Thin, it with turpentine.

Filler Formulae — Liquid Fillers

Shellac varnish is a very satisfactory liquid filler or surfacer, in that it dries quickly and can be sandpapered easily. But it is usually too costly for general practice, besides which it is thought to act more or less badly under oil varnish. When used for surfacing close-grained woods, it should be applied thin. Two coats are better than one. It should be sandpapered down well.

 Imitation shellac may be made. A finisher says he makes one that is not only cheaper than shellac but is better in other ways. He takes equal parts of raw oil.

 Turpentine, brown japan and rubbing varnish, to which he adds enough corn-starch to thicken the mixture, making it rather heavier than ordinary paint, or so it can be applied with a brush. After it has been on the wood long enough to set, he rubs it off with a coarse cloth, rubbing the stuff into the wood at the same time. He applies two coats.

Here is another formula: Take four pounds of either finely pulverized and floated silica or China clay, the former preferred, and stir it into one quart of Japan driers, and beat the mass until perfect admixture takes place. Then add, while stirring the mass, six quarts of the best light hard-oil finish, or other equally good varnish, after which let the mixture stand an hour or so; then strain through a fine sieve. When desired for application, thin up to the proper consistency with turpentine, making it quite thin for liquid filling. It may be used also as a paste filler without thinning.

Oil may be used in place of varnish fora liquid filler for some purposes. Many of the best yachts and steamships have all exposed woodwork filled with an oil-thinned filling, over which is applied a number of coats of elastic varnish, like spar or carriage finishing varnish, with ample time for each coat to dry, and each coat is sandpapered. The process involves time and expense, but it gives a very durable finish when exposed to the weather.

Kaolin, Silica and Other Fillers

Kaolin filler may be made thus: Mix together a gallon of pale body hard-drying carriage varnish, one pint of turpentine, and one pint of pale-drying Japan. Take two and one-half pounds of kaolin and add enough of the mixed liquids to form a paste, which run through closely set hand paint mill, grinding it once, then add the rest of the thinners by brisk stirring, until perfect admixtures secured. Then the filler is fit for use, though it may be further thinned or made stiffer as desired.

Silica paste filler may be thinned down with varnish and turpentine to form a liquid filler. To four pounds of the paste filler add a gallon of coach varnish which may then be thinned with turpentine to a liquid filler consistency.

Liquid filler should be given at least24 hours to dry; 48 hours is better still.

Silver-white filler may be made with equal parts of raw oil, gold size japans and turpentine, with silver-white enough to form a paste, which must be worked smooth. Then it may be thinned with turpentine to the proper consistency.

White liquid filler is made after various formulas, and the following one is as good as any: In a gallon of raw linseed oil put two pounds of pale rosin, powdered, and place on the fire, stirring the mass until the rosin is melted. Take from the fire and add a pint of white japan and two quarts of turpentine; stir all together, and when the mass is cold, add eight ounces of cornstarch. After mixing the starch into the liquid, make it very thin with turpentine, and pass it through a paint mill or strainer.

Some woods require a transparent liquid filler, but such a filler should be made to match the wood in colour, which is of course very light. Mix together eight ounces of cornstarch, eight ounces of finest pumice stone powder and a quarter-gill of white shellac varnish and a quarter-pint of boiled oil. Mix thoroughly together, and thin for use.

Update on Liquid Hide Glue Production

In the meantime, I’ve been cooking more glue and have made enough to last me a while. Since I’ve added the canning salt, the date on the bottles should have no relevance. The smaller sized bottle is easier to manage than the larger size. They still need to be heated to 140°F (60°C) before use and don’t forget to clamp your stock and not rely on rubbed joints. This doesn’t work with LH glue.

As experimentation in the making of liquid hide glue is an ongoing process, I haven’t yet figured out which is more effective; to apply the salt prior, during or after the cooking process. So far, I have done all three and haven’t yet experienced any change other than visual. Adding the salt after it has been cooked twice makes the glue appear grainy. However, after a week it’ll turn clear. Either way I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter which way you do it. Also, the glue in its cold state cannot be used without heating it as it turns jelly like. My next batch I will use half a teaspoon and will see if I can lessen the assembly time and shorten the clamp time without affecting the glue’s life span.

All in all, I am very pleased with the results. It has superior holding power like any good glue on the market and I know it’s fresh.

Remember the post on Titebond and how their LH hide failed? Remember the promise that they will call me back? As I predicted, there was no call back.

You may wonder why I choose liquid hide glue over hot hide glue? There’s no doubt that hot hide glue is stronger than liquid hide and that’s only because it lacks the gel suppressant called “Urea” that’s added to the glue to make liquid hide glue. However, since I’ve replaced the urea with salt there either may be no difference in the holding power or may be as strong as hot hide. Just how much weaker LH is I cannot say, but I have noticed no difference other than you cannot do a rubbed joint without attaching clamps to it. It just does not have the strength to pull the two pieces of wood together to create a strong bond.  But who really cares because I don’t know anyone who’s really got the balls to do a rubbed joint without clamps. When it comes to reputation, who wants to take a risk of returns.

To get back to the initial question of why the preference of LH over HH and the answer is simply convenience.

Every morning that I walk into my shop I fire up the burner and pot to 145°F which I found preference to over the regular 140°F. Once it’s heated and settles to that temperature, I put the bottle into the pot and leave it alone until I need to use it. Whether or not I need to use it, I make the habit to turn the burner or mini stove on. That’s it. There’s no waiting for it to gel then cook for two hours before use, all that work was done before and I made several bottles just in case I run out in the middle of a project.

I don’t have to worry about the glue going off because HH only has a shelf life of up to 3 weeks maximum. My LH has an indefinite shelf life unlike the glue made with urea.

I have purchased a few small bottles from the $2 store, funny that it cost me $3 a bottle yet it’s called a two-dollar store and half a kilo of canning salt, a small saucepan and 6 pounds of hide glue and not to forget the glass jars. When I stick them in the fridge straight off the pan to rapidly cool, the jar tends to crack. Thankfully, it hasn’t shattered yet and not all jars cracks.

Sharpening in the “Bad Axe” Style

Anyone that truly works with hand tools knows the value in having sharp tools. Sharp tools minimises muscle fatigue and accidents that arise from frustration by unnecessarily over exerting yourself to get the work done. Handsaws are no different to planes, chisels, or any other hand tool. A mediocre sharpened saw works well, but super sharp saws like the ones from “Bad Axe” perform better than more modern manufactured saws. Admittedly, I have never tried a “Bad Axe” saw because I live in Australia, but I have read so many articles about its superiority and cutting speed that I have only imagined how fast it actually cuts until now. I have wished to pick Mark’s brain on what rake and fleam he uses that makes his saws so superior to the way other sawyers have sharpened their saws.

Today I found an old in FWW article on how to sharpen a saw on Mark’s website. I anxiously downloaded the article and read it slowly and carefully, making sure not to miss anything. When I finished, I was a little confused. I didn’t find any rake and fleam that he favours. In fact, it says to stick with the angle determined by the manufacturer. The only thing I got from the article was the stroke method he used. Medium, heavy, then a light finishing stroke he say’s. Making sure every tooth is of equal height and every gullet of equal depth. That’s it! That’s all he does. I pulled out my saw vice and a spare LN backsaw, which I intend to sell and sharpened it using Mark’s recommendation. Upon completion, I was surprised at how prickly the saw teeth felt. I put it to the test on some scrap pine and it just went through it like butter, then I tried some white oak which he recommended and it too sawed through effortlessly. I then pulled out my other backsaw sharpened by Lie Nielson and tried it sawing white oak with it, and it struggled. I had difficulties pushing it through the wood.. I nearly fell on my arse in awe of Mark’s expert sharpening technique. The rake and fleam I used was the manufacturer’s default of 15°. What I changed was the method of stroke as per Mark’s recommendation. Not only did it saw faster, but there was zero tear out on the back. Go figure that one out. I highly recommend you download this article, read it, and then give it a go. I guarantee you will never look, read or watch another saw sharpening video again.

One last note, use the recommended size files that Mark recommends. You can find other sized files on his website. Bad Axe Saw Sharpening Files by Friedrich Dick (badaxetoolworks.com) Take the time to read his articles, I’m sure you’ll agree them to be very informative.

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.