Animal protein glues (often referred to as “hide glues” or HHG for hot hide glue) have been used for thousands of years. In fact, these glues were the original “super glues,” offering historic people a valuable way of bonding materials. Today, these glues have mostly been replaced by synthetic glues, but for all of the world’s modern advances, there still remain many valuable uses for animal glues including antique restorations, furniture construction, marquetry, and luthierie (guitar, violin & other instrument making). Unlike many newer glues, protein glues are reversible, a characteristic that allows artisans to disassemble and repair parts more easily. Because it tacks fast as it cools, it is useful in clamp-less processes like hammer veneering. And there are other benefits too.

Some modern day artisans favor protein glues for virtually all their work. One of these devotees is California-based furniture conservator Patrick Edwards, an accomplished furniture maker, woodworking historian, and hand-tool expert. Patrick almost exclusively uses animal glues in his colorful urban shop, where a rusty old hot glue-pot is always at the ready. In this video, Patrick shares his 40-some years of experience working wood with animal glues. We learn why he uses animal glues; how he selects from the many types of hide, bone, fish, and rabbit skin glues currently available; and how he mixes and heats the product. Patrick explains the meaning of gram strength, why it matters, and how to purchase the right gram strength glue for your application (He says that for general woodworking, you should use a hide glue with a 192 gram strength). Frankly, it’s not hard to be amazed by the refined characteristics of this non- toxic glue. It’s all here in this lively tutorial. One of the most insightful discussions on selecting and cooking natural glues I’ve ever heard. (9.5 Minute Woodworking Video)

Patrick Edwards is President of Antique Refinishers, Inc. which offers restoration, conservation and reproduction of pre-industrial American and European furniture for dealers, private collectors, and institutions. Mr. Edward also owns and instructs at the American School of French Marquetry, Inc. Both business are based on San Diego, California. Mr. Edwards has also formulated a slow-set, ready-to-use liquid hide glue. which he produces and sells under the brand name “Old Brown Glue”.

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For centuries, decorative string and banded inlays have been highly valued embellishments that were applied to the finest furniture. Among the many techniques and styles of inlay, string inlay is perhaps the most common and useful method. Even today, some designers and craftspeople use simple string inlays to define, highlight, or bring focus to elements of an object — be it furniture or other decorative art.

In this comprehensive video tutorial Jeff Williams, inlay specialist for the Irion Company, demonstrates his period correct method of cutting the recessed groove, making traditional holly string, and applying this string into your workpiece. Mr. Williams is a master artisan and as an Irion Company employee, Jeff has crafted some of the finest antique reproductions of Federal Style furniture being built today. In filming Jeff, I had the opportunity to meet him and get to know him. His modest, easy-going nature makes him the perfect guide as he patiently shows us the ropes. Making and applying string inlay never seemed so accessible. You can do this too. — Keith (9 Minute Woodworking Video)

The Irion Company specializes in the restoration, conservation, and hand-made reproduction of American antique furniture from the 18th and 19th century. Jeff Williams specializes in period correct Federal style furniture with an emphasis on veneering, inlaying, and marquetry.

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Some might call this type of hand plane exotic, eccentric — even antiquated, but Japanese planes are attracting increasing notice and attention, even in today’s world where modern tools and machines offer instant ease and results. The Japanese plane, known as Kanna to the native speaker, appears to be simplicity itself. Historically, this plane was comprised of only two parts, the Dai or body, and the blade. But this apparent simplicity is deceptive because the designing and crafting of each part is a complex and exacting process steeped in history.

Fortunately, using a Japanese plane, at least at a basic level, is far easier than making one. In this video, Japanese tool expert Craig Vandall Stevens introduces us to this interesting, useful, even powerful hand tool. He’ll break down the basic construction of the plane and take a closer look at the uniqueness of the Japanese forge welded iron & hardened steel blade. Craig also demonstrates the correct methods — the hand & body positions and the unique pulling motions for enabling maximum success. (6 Minute Woodworking Video)

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