I bought a container of hide glue in 1997.I put it away in a cabinet,unopened and kept dry.My question is there a shelf life for hide glue?I have never used it before,always used aliphetic resin.Would appreciate any help you could give me on mixing,etc.

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Look up Frank Ford's tretise on Hide Glue.

Dry hide glue lasts indefinitely. I read about a repair that was done maybe 10 years ago to a piano of Mozart's. Inside they found an old puddle of dry, hard hide glue that had spilled so the repairer used that glue for the new repair.

What a cheapskate - you'd think he'd spring for a bit of new glue for a venerable instrument such as that. . .

Ah but Frank, you're not taking the "Mozart" factor into consideration. I'm sure that old puddle of hardened glue was MUCH better than anything today simply because it had a chance to vibrate to the tickle of the master, possibly storing up the essence of Mozart!

Either that or he figured that he wasn't going to make anything on the repair anyway so why mix up a new batch of glue on his nickle.

Thanks fellas;especially you Frank.I read your treatise on hide glue.It was very informative.I understand that I should practice a little before I actually dig in.Since you're in this discussion anyway I have a question.The reason I got the hide glue in the first place is I was told you have a longer working time before set up.If I follow your guidelines is there an answer you can give me as to how long I would have before the glue set up?Or is it different for each individual case.According to room temperature,etc?Hope I'm not being a pain.Regards Lonnie

Hi Lonnie,

 I'm not Frank ( by a long shot) but I wonder who told you that hide glue has a longer working time.

Hot hide glue, which is what we are usually talking about, starts to set up as it cools which, of course, it starts to do immediately. Those of us that work with it usually make sure we have all our ducks (and clamps) in a row before we start applying HHG then clamp up as quickly as we can and still maintain accuracy. It's great because it draws tighter as it dries and it's easily reversed if you need to take something apart. It also dries to a hard crystalline form so it's better at transmitting vibrations than a lot of ( most ) modern glues but short working time is one of the draw backs of working with it. Room temp and, in my opinion even more importantly, temperature of the gluing surfaces as well as the humidity all come into play but the bottom line is that it starts to gel almost immediately and there is not a lot of time to mess with it.

How long? I can't say because there are too many variables. Minutes at most and for the small repairs I tend to do, seconds is more like it. It's not like CA  which can set in a moment and leave your piece stuck out of place. It's more an issue of making sure that the bond is strong. HHG will let you move the part around as it gels because it's slick until it dries but the joint can easily end up being dried glue stuck to dried glue rather than wood to wood so it's important to get it clamped up fairly quickly to allow the glue to work properly. 

It's not really hard to use it but it takes preparation. It's not like the standard cabinet glues that allow you to wipe on some glue then hold it in your hand until you dig out that clamp you forgot to have ready. It just requires you to have the process of clamping in mind and everything you need to do it ready. Trial runs (dry) are recommended for anything beyond the simplest glue ups. Once everything is ready just wipe on the glue, position the pieces and clamp it up. One word of warning; as I said, HHG is slick so make sure you take this into consideration when you glue up so you don't end up with things misaligned when you pull the clamps, 

Thank you Thomas;for your input.Wow my head is totally in a quandry now.I was told about HHG by a maker of double basses,(those really big fiddles).He made very nice ones too.I always make trial runs before I glue up,have all the clamps ready,etc.This dude made his own Varnish etc.We would sit and talk for hours  about the mysterys of Varnish.A beer or two would take place at the same time.Hes the one who told me about the long set up time of HHG(.I always thought he was full of it).Anyway,my project is a little ways off.Due to a physical setback I am a while away from much of anything.(I sprained my foot and ankle very badly last sunday,Dr.says stay of it for 4 to 6 weeks).So I guess you just gotta get your feet wet and try to retain  what you've learned.If anybody else wants to join in that would be appreciated also.

Thanks Thomas,

The description and pics of the home made glue pot were worth the look.

Lonnie, Ned is spot on.  I got a fair amount of experience with HHG.  Use a hair dryer to heat up all parts.  Be sure the glue is 145-150 degrees.  You have about 1-1.5 minutes.  Definitely practice, but it's not difficult if you're prepared.

Re-reading what I wrote, I'm concerned that I gave the impression that it's hard to work with. It's not. It's actually fairly forgiving. If you have problem, hot water will clean it fairly quickly and give you a chance to start again. In practice it usually doesn't take all that long to glue up most things and a few seconds of work time is often enough unless it's very complicated/large.  For things like guitar backs you can use a slotted blade to apply HHG as you work and do sections at a time. What this glue requires is forethought and preparation. Once I've done that, I've found that the actually process of gluing is usually fairly simple. 

I want to thank you fellows for all your input.At least I know that if I screw up I can take it back apart and re-do it all  over.Man I was way out in left field as far HHG was concerned.I truly was under the impression that after you applied the glue you had like 8 hrs to finish clamping it up.I really dont know where I could have gotten this info.My Bass making friend couldn't have been that far off the rail.These conversations took place thirty yrs ago but I do remember asking the question why wouldn't you use elmers glue instead of this hide glue?The answer I was given was because you might have take it back apart,and the increase in the time you have to clamp up etc.Meaning Elmers sets up too quickly.I dont see Elmers setting up too much quicker then HHG.I do thank you for your help.Regards Lonnie


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