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 Today, these glues have mostly been replaced by synthetic glues, but for all of the world’s modern advances, there still remain many valuable uses for animal glues including antique restorations, furniture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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