Hi all, I'm a newcomer round here, though I've been lurking around for a while.

I recently bought some Titebond Liquid Hide from eBay. However, when I unpacked it I noticed the expiry date was 2013. I got a refund, but am wondering if there's anything I can do with it? Would you fellas trust it for any jobs? Seems a shame to bin it.

-- Keith

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I look at the big bottle of Old Brown Glue every time I am in Rocklers.  It seems to me everyone else must just LOOK too because I think the same bottle as been there for five years!  It is in a big bottle and would be a lifetime supply for me.  If they had a small bottle of it I might have tried it already.

On fish glue, I'd guess Roger Siminoff knows as much about it as anybody.  Knowing how dead fish smell you might think it would stink -- but it doesn't.  It has a pleasant organic smell to it -- in fact it smells like it might taste pretty good.  Never tried it though. 

If you are my age you might recall the white paper paste that was used by the kids in the early grades (I'm talking the '50's).  It was made of horse hoof but had a white gelatinous appearance and smelled great.  We used to eat fingers full of it when the teacher was not looking!  Especially around lunch time! LOL.

Someday I plan to go out to California and build an H-5 in one of Siminoff's classes.  I guess you start with a kit and end up 5 days later with an instrument in white.  Sounds like fun to me and I'll sure get a chance to ask about fish glue!.


My painting professor in college would sarcastically try to allay the concerns of vegan students by insisting that they didn't hurt the bunnies, but in fact merely give them a gentle squeeze over a jar and let them go. ;-)

I read another way to test it is to put a drop on something and let it set up overnight.  If it dries hard, then it is good.  I tried that test on some out of date stuff and sure enough, it did not completely harden.  I think the tip came from Stewmac video tips.

Bernie I'm not here to argue either... far from it but I disagree with the conclusions of the glue test and read it some years ago because it's been around a while and has been the topic of other forum discussions that I can recall.

What's wrong with the testing methodology is Lutherie is not general woodworking and instead has some very specific requirements that are not prevalent for woodworkers where over building is not always a bad thing.

The biggest and most glaring issue with this study is this.  Guitars in how they are assembled, acoustic instruments break a number of woodworking rules.  We have to deal with very thin plates and a desire to build on the edge or have a dead instrument.

Dimensional instability is a very common issue for acoustic guitars in general.  Our thin plates shrink, expand, shrink, and don't always expand back to the same dimensions as they once were.  Because acoustic guitars are built on the edge so-to-speak what often results is cracking.... hence the discussions regarding proper humidity, etc.  We also do cross grain gluing and also suffer from what can result....

How a glue does with dimensional instability is absolutely a make or break issue when determining a glues suitability for Lutherie.

Additionally serviceability is also huge for Lutherie glues and that's why HHG has not only been the staple of the industry for a very long time HHG continues to be a favorite these days too for the same qualities.

Personally I had some advantages when I started building guitars in so much as I was not a woodworker and prior to building guitars the only thing that I had ever made were reservations....

Something that plagues new builders is the tendency to over build...  Looking at bracing patterns alone is often very telling in so much as some of these early instruments might be better suited to be ottomans.  I'm not excluding myself from the over building thing either, I also did it.

Most of all though something that seem to be fine from a woodworking point of view may not be suitable for Lutherie.  One example is just how many folks do woodworking in a non-environmentally controlled shop, garage, etc....  Build guitars with a disregard for humidity and you will be building instruments that are time bombs....

A word about fish glue too.  We loved it initially and used with great initial results.  We were religious about purchasing fresh fish glue annually from Norland and pitching stuff that was only a year old....

In our work we reglued a decent amount of bridges since we repair hundreds of guitars annually.  About a year later bridges glued with fish started failing.   Of course we fixed all of these instruments at no charge and used HHG this time.  Long story short we had a bunch of fish failures and always because of high, but normal seasonal humidity...

We stopped using it and even last year, now seven years later, yet another fish reglued bridge came back to be removed, cleaned up, and reglued with HHG.  

Granted some folks take better care of instruments than others AND some builders do not live in our climate, Michigan.  But we live here, our clients do too and as such any glue that fails in short order because it's raining outside is not suitable for our use.

Lastly HHG has been around for over 100 years now and it is very well understood.  Egyptian furniture that is over a thousand years old in museums is still holding together fine.  That says something to me.

I understand when interest is peeked there is a tendency to want to reinvent the wheel or be the first kid on our block to try something new.  That was me some years back as well...

In my experience though very little is actually really... new and I'll add I am finding that the more I learn the more I tend to understand that those who came before us even a century ago got a lot of this right....

And really, really lastly I'm a bit fiscally conservative, very socially liberal and when it comes to my own Lutherie creations or the repairs that I do every week day I am more and more becoming the most conservative guy on earth with glue choices and/or what I would consider a best practice.

Use bottled hide glue if you wish and it was never my intent to approach anyone with the idea that I am telling them what to do.  It is my intent however to share what I have learned, sometimes not always easily either...., and after it's put out there if the information is heeded or not I have no control over nor would I wish to.

We do the best that we can, share all that we can, try to be uber responsible in vetting our replies for 1) safety, 2) truthfulness, and 3) caring deeply that what we convey to others will help them be successful with what's important to them.

Beyond that - the rest is up to you my friend.  You may find as I do in time that sometimes what's been done forever was continued because it simply works...

Forgot to add - who's one of the most prolific advertisers in the publication rating glues - Franklin... makers of that awful bottled hide glue.... ;)

Your comments in the first post were interesting -- I know folks in luthiery who would disagree with them.  Enough said no arguing!

However, the attempt to diminish or dismiss the study results by making an apparently unsupported innuendo of bias or misrepresentation in the second post is considerably less laudable. 

Do you have any evidence of cheating in the study?  Are you saying the test protocols were not consistent or were altered or the scores were changed to make Franklin happy?  That seems rather illogical because the LHG used in the test was made by a market place competitor?

Also curious as to how you know Franklin is "one of the most prolific advertisers in the publication ranking the glues"?  Evidence?

As to Franklin LHG being "awful"?  Define awful, that is not a scientific term is it?  

In 1972 when I was working on my Ph. D. at Ohio State my wife bought home a huge extendable antique oak table and set of 8 matching chairs -- they were over 60 years old at that time.  Many of the chair rungs were loose on the legs and the backs and the grand pedestal of table was falling apart, i.e., all the glue was failing.  More than likely this was HHG?  

Not knowing too much special about glues at the time I took the advice at the hardware store manager and bought a brown bottle of Franklin LHG -- I glued the whole thing up and 43 years later the set is in our basement with relative humidity of at least 40% year around (and much much higher if we get 3" of rain in a few hours and water gets under the foundation -- try 90%) and the table and chairs are doing just fine. Thank you.

Oh and I have this to add too.  A couple of years later maybe 1974 or so lucked on to a beautiful old Gibson A-2 mandolin (circa 1916) -- the back was coming off around the tail piece and up the treble side. I glued that up with the same Franklin LHG and when I gave it to my brother in around 1980 it was doing fine. I played  the mandolin again at Dad's funneral in 2014 and my glue job was holding up just great.

I think the biggest problem with the methodology of that study was the use of brindle joints and eccentric loading.

You end up with a joint which favours gap filling, high viscosity glues which resist wiping off when assembling the joint. Glues which work well in a tight fitting well clamped situation are disadvantaged.

Whilst the eccentric loading may simulate racking forces in a chair, it is hardly a pure measurement of glue strength.

Whilst there are undoubtedly many success stories with LHG, these are offset by stories of failure.

I'd rather use Titebond original for situations requiring more open time than HHG, than use LHG for the sake of using hide glue

I know a lot of people feel that way. In the past I have used Titebond I also for fret boards etc. simply because I know it will work.

There is, by the way, another scientifically conducted study on glue strength that does incorporates the idea you brought up in the evaluations, i.e., loose fitting versus tight joints and how that factor impacts the strength of the bond with different glues. 

I do not remember where that study was published and I am not certain if they included HHG and LHG in the test either. 

If I had the equipment I would spend some time testing different glue bond strengths just because I think it is interesting.

Maybe what you are suggesting is a test that measures the force needed to pull two glued  pieces of wood apart?

I used to run a materials testing lab many years ago, so I am aware that specimin preparation is critical and you need to have a consistent method

In this situation I would probably have used 3 pieces of wood with a straight lap joint each side of the central piece and then tested it under a straight axial load. this would have allowed proper surface preparation and clamping of the glue joint and then given a measurement of the shear strength of the glue.

Or I would design a sample which allowed tensile strength to be measured  whilst still using axial loading.

Probably both


Bernie if you know folks who would disagree with my comments welcome to the wonderful world of Lutherie.

You wrote that I am using unsupported innuendo or bias or misrepresentation which are pretty strong words....

I believe I am speaking from another point of view - experience, personal, direct, repeated, and considerable experience.  We repair over 1,000 instruments annually, use many of these glues daily, provide a 100% guarantee for all that we do, and will stand behind our work even years out.

I understand that it's difficult to gauge a "tone" of a conversation from the written word on a forum so please know that I am not mad or irritated or anything that speaks of negative here but I am wondering why I don't just stop sharing with you now and perhaps you would be better off for it as well and I most certainly might be as well too.

My evidence is my/our direct experience in providing excellent service to clients who range from a little girl with a learning disability to a fairly famous actor and musician that you could have watched on HBO last evening.  I'll add that my business partner did lots of glue research in our shop and presented the findings at the prestigious North Woods Seminar over the last two years.  I mention this because some of our conclusions are based on testing, some on real life experience, a nice blend if you will since neither can ever claim to be all encompassing.

My remark about who's paying the bills at publications with advertising dollars needs no scientific study to verify.  Thumbing though the publication where the study was published will give you the information that you seek, how much advertising does Franklin do with this publication - it's considerable and Franklin is likely one of the very largest advertisers that they have or have ever had.  Pretty easy to see this.... 

Anyway Bernie please believe as you wish and no worries either, disagreements over glue are standard fare on Lutherie forums.  There are many things that I normally would wish to comment on, your chair etc. but at this point I am convinced that further comment on my part in this thread is a waste of my time, effort, and likely poor judgement on my part as well.

Lastly too sorry to hear about your Dad passing last year - all the best to you and yours.

Thanks for the comments.  Actually Hersh as I implied before I have no concerns or objections about what glue you choose use.  Likewise, I have no worries because I made no comments on your expertise in glues or woodworking. We are fine on that!  (<:

My only issue with your comments was that I thought it was unseemly to take cheap shot a popular and useful magazine like Fine Woodworking and imply that they cook the results of their scientific testing as a quid pro quo for advertizing support. That is not a trivial charge.  If you have proof present it it - if you don't have proof you should not imply it because statements like that are harmful to the publication. And, in this case, it does not even really follow because as I pointed out the liquid hide glue used in the test was not a Franklin product.  So pointing out how much Franklin might advertise in the publication proves nothing and is a non sequitur, in my opinion.

Others pointed out that the tests performed in the Fine Woodworking a piece might not be directly applicable to luthiery.  That may well be the case or at least it is a valid critique. I think everyone will have their own views on that.  But that is not questioning the integrity of the journal or the investigators just the relevance of the study.

If you have some data on glue bond strength resulting from scientific testing that you conducted why not publish it?  Sounds like it would certainly be of interest.

Thanks for the thoughts -- much appreciated and all the best to you as well -- BD

I was trying to remember something that I read some years back that helped to form my opinion about bottled hide glue and it finally came to me.

Here is a thread from the mandolin cafe with some very credible posters relating their direct and personal experience with bottled hide glue.

Pay particular attention to Mario P.'s posts.  He's earned a very solid reputation for credibility as well as a great ability to reason things through.  I'll add that I got to try one of his superb guitars in Ann Arbor... at an event that we held some years back and wow, what a guitar!

In a nut shell Mario is no fan of bottled hide glue although he was and is creative enough to have found something that it can be used for beyond taking space in the dumpster...  He uses it as a lubricant for inserting frets....  A lubricant.... (need an emotion rolling it's eyes...).

Mario also believes that the FWW study is/was flawed and says why with other reasons than I gave.

Interestingly too Mario shares the opinion that those who ignore the direct, personal, and considerable experience of others with bottled hide glue should also do as they please, as I said..., but he adds, as I didn't that they will be in the minority.

Also in this thread if you read the entire thing as I just did Franklin is on record here too warning against using liquid hide glue in high humidity applications.

And lastly that date code seems to matter much more with liquid hide glue and Mario even relates personal experience where his liquid hide glue failed prior to the indicated date code.

With all of this said, experienced directly by others it's not difficult to understand, unless someone values manufacturer input more so than folks who actually not only talk the talk but who in fact walk the walk... why some such as I won't touch the stuff.

I also found it interesting that this thread also addresses the concept and reality that woodworking and Lutherie are not at all the same thing when it comes to glue choices...  Imagine that...

It's true that awful is indeed a strong word but after reviewing this thread now six years later I may have been too kind....

Mando Cafe Link re: bottled hide glue

Additionally I do want to add something to this post about that table and chairs.  HHG has very specific parameters and requirements for proper use.  It's very unforgiving if some of these criteria are not rigidly adhered to in all respects.

It's not a gap filler and requires near to perfect glue joints with clean wood-to-wood contact.  It also can jell in only 15 seconds time requiring Luthiers to have all clamps in place and/or use creative ways such as preheating or messing with viscosity to extend open time.

It does get old and it does get moldy at times too.

I don't want to leave the impression that HHG is difficult to use correctly because it is not.  But it is like many things in life where there are limitations and if the limitations are not considered, all of them, expecting excellent performance is an unreasonable expectation.

If you search for same there are other examples of folks with direct personal experience who have learned to not use bottled hide glue for Lutherie (beyond perhaps lubricating a fret slot...) and they say so.

So Bernie my posts and points seem to be not unique in the annals of glue threads and what results when folks share.  I'll add that we share because we don't want the bad things to to happen to others.

But you know what they say about leading that horse to water...


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