Hide Glue Gives You Happy Endings


There are many reasons to use hide glue for furniture, and today I was reminded of one of them – hide glue sticks to itself.

This morning I assembled the uppercarriage of this wacky backstool and hit a serious snag. One of the spindles simply would not descend into its mortise enough. So I hit the assembly with a mallet. Then a heavier mallet. Then a hammer.

It would not budge. So I had to pull off the crest rail and remove the frozen spindle. It was locked in to the point that I had to saw it off and drill out the tenon. As always, I make extra spindles in case disaster strikes.

So while I prepped the new spindle, the hide glue on the other tenons and the mortises of the crest rail gelled and set up.

Had I used yellow glue, I would have been cornholed. I would have had to scrape the tenons clean and do something about the glue in the crest rail (I probably would have used a backup crest rail). Or switched to epoxy or any other number of more involved solutions.

But because it was hide glue, I relaxed as I did the repair.

Once the new spindle fit nicely, I reactivated the hide glue on the chair parts by painting on some slightly thinned hot hide glue. The spindle went in perfectly. The crest went on level. And then I finally exhaled.

Tomorrow I’m going to paint this backstool. It sits very nicely. Then I’m going to drink a bunch of beer and film me sitting in it to show you how stable it is.

The things I do for you readers.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. A couple weekends ago I did a two-day demonstration to the Alabama Woodworker’s Guild and, of course, I talked about hide glue. During a lull in my monologue I (jokingly) asked the club members if they wanted to hear my plan for dealing with ISIS.

Some wiseacre in the back piped up, “I’ll bet your plan involves hide glue.”

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33 Responses to Hide Glue Gives You Happy Endings

  1. What paint will you use?

  2. ejcampbell says:

    If a 3 legged stool is stable after 3-4 beers, it’s good to go.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. hgordon4 says:

    Thank you… I just snorted coffee out of my nose when I read the blog entry title. This is a family blog, right?
    Beautiful backstool, by the way.

  4. Brian says:

    If we could just get ISIS to sit still, and stop hiding, then we could stick with the plan.

  5. Brian says:

    like the look of this chair a lot, by the way. thanks for sharing the preview!

  6. jonathanszczepanski says:

    After you are done testing it, have some children under the age of ten give it a go. If it passes that test, I am all-in.

  7. Amen! And then when a conservator repairs it 150 years from now, they can actually take it apart and put it back together safely!

  8. Niels Cosman says:

    Happy endings? Hide your kids and your glue pots!

  9. smbarnha says:

    I really like the updated shape of the seat and how it works with the crest rail. Also like the octo-legs!

  10. nateharold says:

    Are the tiny pegs in the crest rail & spindle draw bored or just straight through?

  11. woodworkerme says:

    speaking of hide glue I have an old side board made in 1832. it is in real bad shape the veneer is falling off and a lot more problems cause it got wet from setting in a Leakey garage way to long and most of the glue is gone from the joints and the veneer . as far as I can see all the parts are there just need to be cleaned up and put back together all of which I can do but never had so much veneer to repair. any pointers from the readers?

  12. Joe Eberle says:

    You convinced me to you use hide glue over a year ago and I’ve never looked back.
    Love it
    Rumor is you can use it also as an aphrodisiac if you dab some behind your ear

  13. shopsweeper says:

    Rollie Boreham would have been proud.

  14. mrbuddha1950 says:

    Had to wonder where your post title was leading after seeing cornhole used as a verb….. I bite my tongue every time that game makes an appearance at a picnic.

  15. richardmertens says:

    Why paint the chair? I kind of like the way it looks as it is.

  16. Rumor has it the plan involves air dropping three-legged chairs in the region. While the insurgents are distracted by these seemingly unstable seating appliances, a tall, bearded man in a vest appears and preaches the gospel of Moxon, the advantages of hide glue, and the Wearing class system of saw cuts.

    It is at that moment that ISIS lays down its weapons, Israel and Palestine agree to disagree, the debate between tails first and pins first is settled once and for all (hint: the deciding vote is cast by a retired New Jersey man called Frank), power tool users and hand tool users embrace, and – the miracle of all miracles – Woodwork Joints is reprinted for use as a textbook in high school shop class.

  17. Thought this three-legged Dutch chair may interest you if you haven’t already seen it.
    From “Work” Feb. 1892 blogged here: https://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/store/blog/

  18. Amos Swogger says:

    I think I would actually buy glue made from ISIS hides.

  19. stradlad68 says:

    Your chair reminds me of one that a relative had when I was a kid in the enlightened days of Howdy Doody and Captain Kangaroo. The single leg extended through the seat and supported a C-shaped arm/back rest. The seat was designed so you could turn around and straddle the single leg, rest your elbows on the arm rest and rest your chin on your hands. There were several shallow, circular cut outs to hold your cup of Ovaltine and some snacks. Great chair! A distant relative built the chair in the 1950s(?) and called it a “TV chair”. It disappeared after he died. Have you or anyone ever seen plans for such a chair? I would love the opportunity to build my own some day.

    • jenohdit says:

      What you’re describing is often called a cock-fighting chair. Most have 4 legs, but no reason it couldn’t be built with 3.

      Plans? Really? Get a chair you like, measure it, and make a drawing. Figure out how the joinery would probably work and include that in your drawing. Change what you need to change on your drawing to get what you want in the end. Build. You could find an existing drawing and modify that. You could take a photo and draw over that.

      Fine if you want to buy a book of projects and build something you find in it, but this blog alone has given all the resources anyone should need to make a project without plans. It’s not magic that Chris uses to come up with his designs, it’s work.

      • stradlad68 says:

        Thank you for enlightening me…I never realized plan(s) was one of the classic Anglo-Saxon curse words. If George Carlin was still alive he might be interested in adding it to his list of words you cannot say on television.

  20. Chris Reck says:

    Very handsome little chair. incidently,there is a coworker of mine that rides a 3 wheeled motorcycle that is configured similarly (two in in the front one in the back that is). So if its good enough at highway speeds I would imagine sitting still it should be fine regardless of your blood alcohol level. If not consider adding handle bars to it.

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