The only time I feel like I’m a Deep South Bible salesman is when I try to convince people of the merits of hide glue. I’ve spent years honing my case for this glue, which is perfectly designed for furniture makers.
Among younger woodworkers, it’s an easy sell. But for people who have been using yellow or white glue for a decade or two, it’s typically hopeless.
And so I present to you these four photos that show one of the glue’s many merits.
Today I’m tidying up the carcase of a tool chest that is bound for a customer in two weeks. And I found an ugly film of glue that has squeezed out under the top skirt. I’d missed it because it had been obscured by the bar of a clamp.
No worries. I get a small bucket filled with the hottest tap water and fetch a toothbrush and a blue surgical rag.
I apply some of the hot water to the glue and rub it in with the rag. These surgical rags (available via mail order or from friends in the medical profession) don’t leave lint behind and have a very slight abrasive quality. But they don’t scratch the wood.
After about 30 seconds of rubbing, I switch to the toothbrush to make sure I get all the glue out of the corner. Then I dip the rag in the hot water anew, scrub the affected area and hit it again with the toothbrush. After a couple cycles the glue softens, then dissolves into the rag and the water. I dry off the area and I’m done.
There might still be a little bit of dissolved glue in the grain (which I cannot see), but as hide glue is transparent to most finishes, I’ve never had a problem.
This fix took about two minutes and there was zero chance of my gashing the wood with a scraper, chisel or shoulder plane.
By the way, this fix works on hide glue that is way older than I am.
— Christopher Schwarz