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  1. #1
    Registered User Douglas Ballard's Avatar
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    Default Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You?

    I vaguely remember reading a thread that stated the poster used hide glue to fill cracks in clock cases. I have a wall clock where the backboard is split from top to bottom. When I'm done gluing the rest of it back together I need to tackle this split. Once it is closed up there will still be a small groove running the length of the split. I'm wondering if I can use hide glue to fill this?
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    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: Douglas Ballard)

    Quote Originally Posted by Douglas Ballard View Post
    I vaguely remember reading a thread that stated the poster used hide glue to fill cracks in clock cases. I have a wall clock where the backboard is split from top to bottom. When I'm done gluing the rest of it back together I need to tackle this split. Once it is closed up there will still be a small groove running the length of the split. I'm wondering if I can use hide glue to fill this?
    You can fill a crack with almost anything, including hide glue. But that doesn't necessarily mean it would be the best material for the task.

  3. #3
    Forums Administrator harold bain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: Douglas Ballard)

    Douglas, I would use a proper wood filler to fill the crack. Elmers has a product called "Carpenter's Wood Filler" that comes in different colors, and is stainable if it doesn't quite match.
    First thing to do is clamp it to see how tight it closes. I would use carpenters glue on this. I only use hide glue on case joints, not broken wood. But, with carpenters glue, you will only have one chance to get it right.
    harold bain, Member ch 33
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: harold bain)

    Hide glue was used extensively in the 19thC to fill cracks, holes & knots. Mixed with sawdust from the same species, it forms an almost invisible patch. For example, it was routinely used in house finish carpentry to fill the countersunk nail holes left when the door & window casings were applied. Just try to find them! This is one reason that salvagers always remove the nails by pulling them out the back side, head & all, rather than trying to drive them back out the way they came in. If the latter is attempted, the hide glue plug will tear out splinters on the face. (The other reason is that it's actually easier, because when the nail is driven in, the broken wood fibers are bent in the direction of nail travel; reversing the nail bends them back, and there isn't room for that in the hole- this often results in bent nails, a large split, or even broken trim.)
    You can also use modern carpentry glue, or even mucilage, mixed with sawdust, but nothing sticks like hide glue.
    I don't like the plastic fillers (like Plastic Wood) because they are hard to tint correctly, they shrink excessively (thus forming a poor bond), they sand very differently from wood because they are harder (and make it difficult to get a flat surface), and worst of all, they have very different expansion/contraction characteristics from wood, which also causes long-term adhesion problems.
    But a completely split backboard is a big problem, because, in many clocks, the backboard holds the whole case together. Just edge-gluing it together isn't likely to be structurally strong enough. I'd advise a few dutchmen or butterfly patches, or even cleats (but not across the whole width, because of expansion/contraction differences between cross-grain and long-grain.) I'd fix this BEFORE case assembly. There was a reason it split, and you're not likely to be able to permanently draw it back together without some modifications, like planing some edges (presuming it wasn't tossed out the window!) You can also make a new backboard from an old drawer bottom.
    Another potential problem is a change in the chime sound.

  5. #5
    Registered User Douglas Ballard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: Bill Ward)

    Thank you for the advice. I had planned on doing the repair while the case is still apart. Most of the glue joints have come lose and I'm fixing those with hide glue. I will fix the backboard before putting the case back together. I think when the old fella was shipped it was hard on the already dried out glue joints and it just came apart.
    Doug
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    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: Douglas Ballard)

    Quote Originally Posted by Douglas Ballard View Post
    Thank you for the advice. I had planned on doing the repair while the case is still apart. Most of the glue joints have come lose and I'm fixing those with hide glue. I will fix the backboard before putting the case back together. I think when the old fella was shipped it was hard on the already dried out glue joints and it just came apart.
    Doug
    Over time, given temperature and humidity changes, joints glued with hide glue often fall apart. Hide glue is a relatively weak bond and a brittle one. Over a century ago it was the only glue available. If you want to be a purist, use hide glue. But if you don't want it to fall apart again, there are other, more permanent choices available.

  7. #7
    Forums Administrator harold bain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: Thyme)

    Over the years I've seen lots of clocks that fell off the wall. Those glued with hide glue invariably came apart at the joints making for a relatively easy repair. The ones using modern glues, the joints didn't fail, but the wood broke, making a much more difficult repair.
    Last edited by harold bain; 09-21-2012 at 09:55 PM.
    harold bain, Member ch 33
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  8. #8
    Registered User Douglas Ballard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: harold bain)

    After much pondering I decided to go with wood glue as opposed to hide glue. The repair is still clamped but looks pretty darned good at this point. I am repairing the joints with hide glue though. This clock just literally fell apart in shipping. All the joints are in tact, just the backboard that split.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: Douglas Ballard)

    One of the problems of modern glue on antiques is that it won't stick to old hide glue, so the surfaces have to be scraped or sanded completely clean, right down through the pores. On a fitted joint like a mortise & tenon, this means that the wood pieces are now loose (and modern glues, except for epoxy, don't usually fill voids) or on something like a mitered door frame, that the glass or panel might no longer fit. It's also a lot of work. It's usually impossible to get thin veneer clean enough without sanding through or breaking it, and often hard to clean it off in a limited area without damaging the adjacent finish; these are the reasons conservators & professional restorers go to the trouble of using hide glue. Conservators also like it because it's reversible.
    On the other hand, for new work, or if the piece has been dipped & stripped, modern glue is a lot easier. Still, I'm not sure that, after a couple of centuries, it'll be any stronger than hide glue.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: Bill Ward)

    While the liquid hide glue that’s sold off the shelf is relatively easy to use the end result is not truly indicative of hide glue that you make as required by dissolving it in hot water and applying hot. I think that the only disadvantage hide glue has is that it must be mixed and heated for use. That being said, once you invest in a small system to automatically bring it to 140 F. It becomes much easier to use.

    Hide glue is still produced here in the USA. You can purchase it in 3 different strengths.

    The 195 gram strength is considered the all round grade. It has the lowest strength but the longest set time making it best for veneer work.

    The 251 gram strength is favored by furniture makers. The bond is much stronger than the 195 gram strength glue and the set time is shorter. This is actually an advantage because you can “rub” a joint to accelerate the setting of the glue and the joint will set hard and strong without the need to clamp it up.

    The 315 gram glue is amazing stuff. Today it is still used by luthiers. During WWII the de Havillian Mosquito was constructed using hide glue.

    I wouldn’t be without it in my shop.
    Regards,
    Jeff

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    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: the 3rd dwarve)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Monti View Post
    While the liquid hide glue thats sold off the shelf is relatively easy to use the end result is not truly indicative of hide glue that you make as required by dissolving it in hot water and applying hot. I think that the only disadvantage hide glue has is that it must be mixed and heated for use. That being said, once you invest in a small system to automatically bring it to 140 F. It becomes much easier to use.

    Hide glue is still produced here in the USA. You can purchase it in 3 different strengths.

    The 195 gram strength is considered the all round grade. It has the lowest strength but the longest set time making it best for veneer work.

    The 251 gram strength is favored by furniture makers. The bond is much stronger than the 195 gram strength glue and the set time is shorter. This is actually an advantage because you can rub a joint to accelerate the setting of the glue and the joint will set hard and strong without the need to clamp it up.

    The 315 gram glue is amazing stuff. Today it is still used by luthiers. During WWII the de Havillian Mosquito was constructed using hide glue.

    I wouldnt be without it in my shop.
    Regards,
    Jeff
    What is the strength (expressed in grams) of the original dissolve and brew type? That is what was used centuries ago, and that was all that was available then. I'll take your word that modern luthiers may have a stronger formulation of it available today, but until relatively recently there was no gradation of strength of granular hide glue. (E.G. I have some on my shelf from decades ago, but since I'm not a purist and I'm not currently repairing a violin, I see no compelling reason to think it superior or absolutely essential for use in gluing a clock case.) And, as I said previously, hide glue is a relatively weak bond since it needs be reversible, with that attribute being a primary consideration.

    The downside is that the bond may come apart prematurely or unintentionally, due to environmental conditions and will need to be re-glued. I've seen many violins that needed to be re-glued as periodic, repeated maintenance. I well understand the need to be able to disassemble a stringed musical instrument if internal repair becomes necessary. But I see no similar compelling need to disassemble a clock case. (Therefore, I might add, I don't find Harold's point about the remote possibility of a clock falling off a wall to be a convincing rationale for the exclusive use of hide glue.)

  12. #12
    Registered User gmorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: Thyme)

    Well, if it could handle two 1000hp Merlins, it must be strong stuff!

  13. #13

    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: gmorse)

    Thyme,

    Ill answer you questions to the best of my abilities. I am far from an expert on adhesives.

    While I use Hot Hide Glue for many applications I also use many other adhesives. If I need a PVA I favor Titebond III. PVAs are called carpenters glue for a reason, they have their applications but I dont find case making to be one of them.

    What is the strength (expressed in grams) of the original dissolve and brew type? That is what was used centuries ago, and that was all that was available then.

    Both animal and vegetable glues date back well past the building of the pyramids. Animal glues were made from casein (milk), blood albumen, and collagen (hide & fish). The process used to make the animal glues is pretty much unchanged for the past 300 years. I know that the glues produced today have additives that can make them more water proof and less brittle, as well as the ability to adjust set time and tack. HHG has been used for so many applications over the years. The grading of HHG strength has been around since the turn of the last century at least, I agree that until recently the casual user would not have the grading information available.

    I'll take your word that modern luthiers may have a stronger formulation of it available today, but until relatively recently there was no gradation of strength of granular hide glue. (E.G. I have some on my shelf from decades ago, but since I'm not a purist and I'm not currently repairing a violin, I see no compelling reason to think it superior or absolutely essential for use in gluing a clock case.

    It is my understanding that guitar and mandolin makers use the high strength glue while violin makers use a 135 to 165 gram glue to make disassembly easier.
    Why would you need to dissemble a violin? I have no idea. Is there anything inside the body that needs maintenance? I thought they were just hollow sound boxes.

    The biggest advantage of using HHG in an application where it was previously used in a failed joint is that you do not have to remove all of the existing HHG from the joint. If you use any other adhesive in that application it will not adhere to the old HHG. You would have to remove all of it or the joint would be doomed to premature failure.


    And, as I said previously, hide glue is a relatively weak bond since it needs be reversible, with that attribute being a primary consideration.

    You are incorrect here. HHG has very high bond strength and is a much better choice for wood to wood bonding. The strength of PVA bonds in wood to wood joints are affected by things like the porosity of the wood, the accuracy of the joint, and time/pressure of clamping. For a PVA to set it has to lose water through evaporation or adsorption. As it looses water it gets thinner and must be under pressure the entire curing time. This water loss results in voids in the bond that weakens the joint.
    By comparison HHG is a colloidal system which sets by gelling then sets further to a solid as the temperature drops. It just keeps getting tighter. Because it is void filling you can achieve a 100% perfectly airtight joint that will not creep. I understand that those two attributes make it preferred by luthiers.

    I certainly agree that being reversible is a big advantage that HHG has over most adhesives. It does take heat or moisture to reverse the bond. The other advantage HHG has over most other adhesives is that it forms a chemical bond as well as a mechanical one. This allows it to adhere to a wide variety of materials including itself.

    Thats my story and Im sticking to it.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: the 3rd dwarve)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Monti View Post
    Thyme,

    Ill answer you questions to the best of my abilities. I am far from an expert on adhesives.
    Before I begin I must say that your response is detailed enough to sound like that of quoted expertise, and your endorsement of HHG is supported by your well versed defense of it. Not to be snide, but for someone who is not an expert you do sound like one.

    While I use Hot Hide Glue for many applications I also use many other adhesives. If I need a PVA I favor Titebond III. PVAs are called carpenters glue for a reason, they have their applications but I dont find case making to be one of them.
    If I recall correctly, the initial issue raised in the thread was that of repair of a structural crack, not one of "case making".

    What is the strength (expressed in grams) of the original dissolve and brew type? That is what was used centuries ago, and that was all that was available then.

    Both animal and vegetable glues date back well past the building of the pyramids. Animal glues were made from casein (milk), blood albumen, and collagen (hide & fish). The process used to make the animal glues is pretty much unchanged for the past 300 years. I know that the glues produced today have additives that can make them more water proof and less brittle, as well as the ability to adjust set time and tack. HHG has been used for so many applications over the years. The grading of HHG strength has been around since the turn of the last century at least, I agree that until recently the casual user would not have the grading information available.
    In saying "the turn of the last century" I assume you mean that to be the year 2000? If so, that has nothing to do with being a "casual user" of HHG. In both decades and centuries earlier, there were no gradations. I'm not young and neither is the use of a centuries old glue that had no gradations until fairly recently.

    I'll take your word that modern luthiers may have a stronger formulation of it available today, but until relatively recently there was no gradation of strength of granular hide glue. (E.G. I have some on my shelf from decades ago, but since I'm not a purist and I'm not currently repairing a violin, I see no compelling reason to think it superior or absolutely essential for use in gluing a clock case.

    It is my understanding that guitar and mandolin makers use the high strength glue while violin makers use a 135 to 165 gram glue to make disassembly easier.
    Why would you need to dissemble a violin? I have no idea. Is there anything inside the body that needs maintenance? I thought they were just hollow sound boxes.
    Violins (and the entire classical, bowed stringed instrument family of instruments) have a bass bar and sound post inside. Unlike guitars and mandolins they are not "just hollow sound boxes" at all. The bass bar is glued to the underside of the top of the instrument. As I mentioned previously, some instruments that are centuries old tend to become open along their seams or joints - simply due to environmental changes, meaning humidity and temperature. Over time HHG apparently is susceptible to this, moreso than more modern adhesives. If it happens the instrument needs to be re-glued. The same applies to furniture. It's not that the bond is weak, structurally speaking, it is that it is not long lasting, relatively speaking.

    The biggest advantage of using HHG in an application where it was previously used in a failed joint is that you do not have to remove all of the existing HHG from the joint. If you use any other adhesive in that application it will not adhere to the old HHG. You would have to remove all of it or the joint would be doomed to premature failure.
    No argument here. But I am reminded of the argument made for use of WD-40: the only cure for WD-40 is to apply more WD-40...


    And, as I said previously, hide glue is a relatively weak bond since it needs be reversible, with that attribute being a primary consideration.
    You are incorrect here. HHG has very high bond strength and is a much better choice for wood to wood bonding. The strength of PVA bonds in wood to wood joints are affected by things like the porosity of the wood, the accuracy of the joint, and time/pressure of clamping. For a PVA to set it has to lose water through evaporation or adsorption. As it looses water it gets thinner and must be under pressure the entire curing time. This water loss results in voids in the bond that weakens the joint.
    By comparison HHG is a colloidal system which sets by gelling then sets further to a solid as the temperature drops. It just keeps getting tighter. Because it is void filling you can achieve a 100% perfectly airtight joint that will not creep. I understand that those two attributes make it preferred by luthiers.
    I will assume that your quoted research is correct. However, it is preferred by luthiers because it is traditionally correct. To use anything else would be anathema. Also, as I mentioned, reversibility is paramount. That is more important than how long the joint will last before re-gluing becomes necessary.
    I certainly agree that being reversible is a big advantage that HHG has over most adhesives. It does take heat or moisture to reverse the bond. The other advantage HHG has over most other adhesives is that it forms a chemical bond as well as a mechanical one. This allows it to adhere to a wide variety of materials including itself.

    Thats my story and Im sticking to it.

    Jeff
    [/QUOTE]

    I'm not disputing your quoted research. My contention, based upon observation, is that if one chooses to use hide glue exclusively, one might need to reapply it in a matter of years or decades, due to impermanence.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Using Hide Glue to fill Cracks: Can You? (RE: Thyme)

    Thyme,

    Well after reading your post I was curious so I went on line and checked out some violin makers. Thats some fascinating wood working.
    The bass bar is a reinforcing strut which is fixed inside the front of the violin and lies under the line of the G string. It strengthens the front plate and helps transmit low frequency vibrations from the string to the body of the instrument. It is usually made from quarter sawn spruce (Derek Roberts violins).
    I looked at several different makers websites and was impressed by the attention to detail each one uses. I was especially intrigued buy the forming of the ribs. Have you ever made a violin?

    I couldnt find any information about the adhesives they use on any site.
    I have an acquaintance, Rich Young, out of Conn who makes classic guitars.
    He uses HHG.

    The initial issue raised was about the backboard being split but in one of the follow up responses he did say the case was in pieces and would need to be reassembled.

    When I said the turn of the last century I meant 1900 not 2000. At that time HHG was used for everything from automobile frames to cardboard boxes. If you were buying HHG flakes by the ton you could order specific grades. If you were buying a pound from the hardware store (casual user) not so.

    Anathema? I had to look that up. Its curious how certain traditions just get stubbornly carried on despite the march of technology.

    I know it has its applications and can seem difficult to use, especially for someone just starting out but I really like working with HHG. I was introduced to it years ago by a conservator and the more I used it the easier it got to use and the more I liked it. Once you have all the tools it makes it easy to use and there are techniques that can sometimes make a complicated job easier. Its not the only adhesive I have in the shop, I do use a variety of other adhesives depending on the application. On the other end of the spectrum, I have never had any luck with cyanoacrylates in any application other than glass to glass.

    Regards,
    Jeff

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