Hide Glue, A Heat Gun and A Hot Time!

Hide glue has a relatively short open time compared to modern woodworking glues. I consider this an advantage most of the time but there are times when I find it to be problematic.

I have read about several methods of extending the open time of hide glue. Adding a small amount of urea to hide glue will extend the open time. I haven’t tried this yet but plan to experiment with it soon.

heat gunAnother trick is to warm the pieces being glued before applying the glue. I have tried this by using a heat gun to warm the wood and it does help in some situations.  Unfortunately there were still situations where the glue would gel before I had everything assembled.

Then I had an idea , gave it a try and it worked! I imagine someone else may have thought of this already.

Keep in mind that I am working with thin wood and exposed joinery.

  • Keep the shop relatively warm
  • Warm the surfaces to be glued with a heat gun
  • Quickly apply glue, assemble and clamp the joint
  • Brush hot water from the glue pot along and into the joint (both sides if possible)
  • Warm the joint once again while clamped up with the heat gun

I can’t take pictures of this process in action because I am moving fast. I plan my assembly, have all the clamps ready and get moving

The hot water and heat soften and moisten the glue and effectively extends the time it takes to set up.

This is similar to the technique I use when disassembling a joint made with hide glue.

Hide glue is great stuff!