Above is an audio of the post below
You know my stance on hide glue; you know all the benefits of it; if not read my earlier posts on the topic.
I’ve been using Old brown glue or OBG as it’s known, it’s a liquid hide glue which again you all know what that is, it’s nothing in relation to Titebond’s liquid hide. I’ve used Titebond Liquid Hide once and never again due to glue failure, OBG is the real deal, its real animal hide glue of 192-gram strength and has never failed not once. Unfortunately, it’s only available from one seller in Australia and it isn’t cheap. It costs me about $60 including shipping for a 20-ounce bottle, and if I were to purchase it from the States, add another 15 to $20. Comparing to PVA which costs only 5 to $6 it’s not what you would call cheap as chips. However, that doesn’t deter me from using animal hide glue but, I have been looking for a cheaper alternative and that would be making my own.
I would go through a 20-ounce bottle within 3 to 4 months in the past, so the 18 months’ expiry date never bothered me. Now that I no longer woodwork as a business per say, a 5 ounce bottle would suffice 6 months probably longer. I have been looking for a cheaper alternative by mixing my own batch, plus the tack time will be quicker.
So I hunted on eBay for a glue pot. Knowing that antique glue pots if rusted on the inside are worthless, or if dropped can have a hair line crack that isn’t noticeable which, also renders them worthless, and knowing that some antique dealers on eBay are either clueless or just can’t be trusted, is a gamble I just wasn’t willing to take. Besides I really needed something small that I could mix a small batch and use it all then and there. No point in making a lot of glue that will end up going off and then throwing it away is just false economy.
By chance after almost giving up on the chase, I stumbled upon this beautiful brass glue pot by Hank Levin from www.musicaravan.com/. When I saw it I fell in love, literally my heart wanted it and it was the perfect size, much like what Lee Valley is selling however, 1000 times more beautiful and it’s entirely handmade from brass, which means no rust, ever.
Hank is a Luthier since the 1960’s from New York who specialises in building and repairing musical instruments. As a Luthier, he doesn’t need a lot of glue, prior to Hank developing this pot, Hank would end up throwing a lot of glue away after a few days of not using it, even though he kept it in the fridge, he couldn’t afford to take the risk of using it for the fear of glue failure.
When you make high class expensive precision instruments, you simply cannot afford the risk of glue failure which forced Hank, to come up with a design that would suit his purpose, hence; the birth of the Brass glue pot.
The inner sleeve is heavily tapered and for good reason, this you will not find in any other glue pot, it’s sheer brilliance!
When the glue dries out a shell is formed and when it does, it shrinks. Because of this heavy taper and its smooth surface bottom, this dried shell can be plucked out in tact as Hank calls it with your fingers or using some wooden stick, which means you can use it again if it hasn’t spoiled by crushing it up.
Patrick Edwards has on his website how to dry and store your glue, but since this is such a small amount, you really wouldn’t bother. Hank also suggest never to use abrasives like steel wool on polishing the brass. As an optional purchase Hank also offer a warmer, once you heat the pot on the stove to the right temperature you place the pot on the warmer and it will maintain that 140 degrees Fahrenheit for however long you need it too. A metal brush is also supplied but I like to use my own.
Having dealt with a lot of businesses I have never honestly dealt with a man with such high integrity, and I believe this integrity can only come from a high calibre craftsman. Craftsmen who take pride in their work reflects in their business dealings with people.
After a couple of weeks into my purchase, I wrote to Hank requesting for a tracking number. This man called me personally from the States worried because he couldn’t locate a tracking number for me and said, he will send me another pot. Knowing that it’s only been two weeks I wasn’t perturbed at all and rejected his offer. However, this touched me, the fact that he called which is something I have not experienced from any other business in the past, be that from the US or from Australia and believe me, Australian businesses have a lot to learn about customer service. The fact that he wanted to send me another pot just proved to me that this level of honesty and due care, can only come from a craftsman artisan. He didn’t say would you like me to send you one, or, if it doesn’t come in two weeks’ time, I’ll just send you one. He said I’m going to send you another pot. That is incredible service.!
I love my little glue pot, it’s not only a work of art, but an inspiration to me, because every time I look at it, it reminds me to take extra care in my work. All that’s left now is to buy the granules from Patrick Edwards, which is directly from Milligan and Higgins. Currently Patrick is offering 6 pounds on eBay or from http://www.oldbrownglue.com/index.php/store for $50, so you pay for 5 pounds and get 1 pound free. The shipping on eBay is more than double than it is directly from his website, I’m not sure why.