Full Chisel Blog

October 25, 2011

If you make or repair furniture, Please don’t use modern glues.

Because sometime in the future someone will be repairing what you make or what you repaired with modern glues and they will have nothing good to say about you.  I said something here.  I do a lot of repairs to furniture both old and new and when one comes in glued together with white or yellow or poxy or primate or instant or hot glue gun glue, I have to charge more for the work.

EDIT Fish Glue from Lee Valley is also excellent.

Get some ground hide glue from Joel at Tools for Working Wood or some liquid Old Brown Glue in a bottle and use that for gluing your furniture together or if you are repairing furniture both new and old and everyone will be happy, including the next person that has to deal with broken furniture.

I know I have gone on and on about this, but it is a very important point.  If you have used modern glues for repairs or new construction in the past and you change your ways there is redemption.  If however you continue to use modern glue to repair old furniture [and some day the furniture you make will be old] then as someone suggested, there is a special place in hell.



  1. Stephen, what’s the name of that song about spitting in the wind, for every one of us telling people to use hide glue there are five idi*** telling them to use epoxy. Keep up the rant.

    Comment by Tom McMahon — October 25, 2011 @ 11:25 am

  2. Tom,

    Thanks for the encouragement.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — October 25, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

  3. Isn’t liquid hide glue sorta on the “modern” end of things? (I loves me that stuff.)

    Comment by Brian — October 25, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

  4. Brian,

    I have a recipe for liquid hide glue that dates from 1857. There are earlier ones as well.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — October 25, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  5. Hear, Hear!

    Comment by Leif — October 25, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

  6. Stephen, have you seen this 1771 translation on glue?


    Comment by Peter Evans — October 25, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

  7. Yes but, I have binned much old furniture, after it fell apart in adverse conditions. And much recent fiberboard too.

    Comment by Damien — October 25, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

  8. Soooo say somebody DID use modern glue on your early 19th c antique and now have need to get it apart again?

    What would you use to dissolve it?

    I bought a flax wheel (all parts present and accounted for!) but the moron who had it before me GLUED. IT. SOLID. The thing does not have a single moving part on it right now.


    Comment by Riha — October 25, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

  9. Vinegar will soften modern white and yellow glue.

    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — October 25, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

  10. Have you tried Titebond’s liquid hide glue? Does it have the same repairability?

    Comment by Jeremiah — October 25, 2011 @ 11:16 pm

  11. Jeremiah,

    Yes Titebond/Franklin liquid hide glue is good and if stored at low temperatures it will last several years. It also stands freezing and it can be reversed.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — October 26, 2011 @ 6:51 am

  12. About the flax wheel (or other modern glue removal cases) you need to submerse the piece in paint stripper (paint peeler)wich could be a quite difficult operation. In the UK there are shops that do only that- paint peel large pieces by submersion. Usualy they use a methylene chloride based chemical wich is the best. It will disolve anything but hide glue or other protein glues. If you don’t have such shops in your area, buy yourself some methylene chloride based paint peeler. If you can find it in gel form apply repeatedly on the glued areas untill succes. If you get it in liquid form, mix it with sawdust and apply. You need to create a compress to hold the product as much on the surface as possible. The peeler WILL remove ANY kind of finishin that may exist on the piece so if you want to keep the finishing you can’t use it. Other substances- acetone, DMF…but you shoud best adress a proper wood restorer because there are catches to all the substances I’ve mentioned.

    Comment by Tiberiu — October 26, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

  13. Here! Here! I agree and applaud your stance! And I despise loctite used on chair rungs.

    Comment by Gary Roberts — October 27, 2011 @ 9:19 am

  14. Tiberiu,
    A rather drastic method of removing modern glues but it works. Commercial strippers have no effect on animal glues but will dissolve any modern glue.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — October 28, 2011 @ 9:18 am

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