After making a test joint with Haribo Gummy Bears, I let it sit overnight then subjected the joint to all sorts of abuse with a nail hammer. The joint held as well as any joint I’ve made. And the red squeeze-out had turned from a jelly to rock hard.
So Megan Fitzpatrick agreed to a real-world test: Gluing up a Dutch tool chest with Gummy Glue. I bought some less expensive gummy worms (59 cents) at the gas station up the block (I also got some lovely Indian food there). I melted the worms into the goo left from the bears and added a bit of water until the mixture was like good hot hide glue.
Together, Megan and I glued up the carcase. I was a little worried we would run out of glue because Roy Underhill and the other students kept sampling it.
Bam, bam, bam. And the case went together. We put clamps on it and let it sit.
Some observations: the stuff sets up slower than traditional hot hide. It took an hour for the gummy squeeze-out to gel to the same point where the hot hide gets in 30 minutes.
But after sitting overnight, the gummy stuff was hard as glass.
After posting our original experiment here and on Instagram, we got a lot of comments saying things like: The glue won’t hold. It will only last a couple seasons of moisture exchange. You’ll get ants. Bugs will eat the glue.
To all this I say: Shut up. You don’t know. You just love to hear your tongue rattle in your cake hole.
The finished tool chest is now owned by Roy. He’s going to fill it with his favorite tools and leave it to his daughters. If you really want to know how the glue fared, ask them in 50 years.
— Christopher Schwarz
90 thoughts on “Early Results of the Gummy Bear Glue”
Agree, we have no idea. Maybe bugs will try to eat it, but hide glue is also edible and that doesn’t seem to be a major issue. And if it’s got a high enough sugar content it’ll be self-preserving. Like marmalade.
My guess is it’ll probably be just fine. Did you paint it?
I guess the big question is whether gummy bear glue is cheaper than hide glue. Although it’s hard to argue with the convenience of being able to pick some up at the corner gas station.
In the comment section of the last post is a list. Cheapest is food grade gelatine. From the top of my head, gummy bears follow next. Hide glue is quite expensive.
I’ll give gelatine a try. My staked table is assembled dry and will stay this way. But I have a bunch of drawers to build and glue up next, alas my arms hurt, dislocated a joint.
Keeping with the edible products oeuvre, I assume you will finish the project with walnut oil.
Or linseed oil. It is tasty on salad, really like it.
Sorry, Chris, you’re behind the times. There’s already a rack of Gummy Worms next to the TiteBond Liquid Hide Glue at Highland Woodworking. 🙁
Science science science ! A glue for Mars !
Did you have to increase the temperature of the glue pot( if you have such a setting) or is it the same as normal hide glue?
Lol. Wonderful observation and commentary! You made my morning
Puppies will love this. They can even better enjoy chewing up cherished furniture, especially chairs.
“Johnny Bench called”. Ha ha ha ha! I love that show.
Can Swedish Fish be used in place of commercial fish glue?
Swedish fish can be bought from an old Swedish salty sea dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pN7nmzuvNc
and this is why I come to LAP
That was the best thing I’ve read anywhere in awhile!
“You just love to hear your tongue rattle in your cake hole.” Classic Chris, I may have to use this at some point.
Agreed! and I laughed out loud!!
Thank you for doing this in the scientific method and ignoring the voices that speak in ignorance. Time will be the test.
One must be selective about the voices one obeys. At least, that’s what the voices tell me.
You can soak the gummies in cold water until they swell to remove the cornstarch coating. Squeeze them through a potato ricer and put them in cheesecloth, wash them in cold water until the color no longer comes out. This will extract most of the sugar and some if not all of the coloring agent, the glue should dry faster and be somewhat more flexible.
This a perfect commentary on the core audience of LAP. Also pretty useful.
Agree. I read that and said: No, but also yes.
I love little discoveries like this. Thanks for making my day. Favorite part?…the cake hole comment!
Oh I 100% want this to work out! This is so cool.
i wonder if it can be disassembled like hide glue.
Is gas station indian food better on your gut than gas station sushi? Also, can gummy glue be used on japanese gumi wood? Or does that call out the homophonic wood gods?
Now I want to know how you plan to find uhhhh… a replacement for the urea content.
If you want good fun, read the reviews of Haribo Sugar Free Gummy Bears on Amazon or pretty much any place that has reviews.
Looks like they discontinued them. Just google it instead
How does it finish over? Hide glue is supposed to be transparent-ish to most finishes. Do gummy bears perform similarly?
Look to your laurels Mr Gorilla Glue and Mrs Titebond Adhesive.
I can only imagine what this does to my grandchildren’s stomachs.
Wow. This is pretty extraordinary. Aside from contemplating what it does in my stomach after eating a handful of these, do you intend to go further with the experiment? What I mean is, can someone break it down chemically to determine WHAT is allowing it to work this way? I guess looking at the ingredients of the candy can give an idea but who would have thought eh? Fascinating.
Hide glue is hydrolyzed collagen. Which is mostly gelatin, with a handful of other protein elements, and some remaining collagen bonding. True gummi candy is mostly gelatin, basically made the same way, just with maybe a bit more purification, and some added sugar.
Swedish fish, on the other hand, will not work, as they are essentially sugar and cornstarch. I’m not sure about the adhesive properties of various other gelling agents such as agar-agar.
“bugs will eat it” HA HA HA! sounds like more people need to read Campaign Furniture.
Obviously propaganda by “Big Glue”
Oh! Perfect Answer!
This is exactly the king of thing that keeps me, obviously among others, coming back. Take that, excessively serious fancy wood person. I can hear Nancy in the back of my head. This is the kind of thing she’d have loved, and jumped into with great abandon.
Yeah, how dare someone question the long term viability of a process that has possibly indicated successful results after the first few days of evaluation…with a sample size of one.
Nice cake hole you got there.
I’m somewhat confused, I’d always heard the expression as ‘shut your pie hole’ and not ‘your cake hole’ Is this a Canada vs US thing? 🙂
I like neogolosims
Let them eat pie
Exactly. Also, never forget to avoid cliches like the plague!
You mean to tell us that “one” is not a representative sample, and that a “few days” is insufficient time to evaluate the long-term viability of New Fashioned Gummi Glue™?!?!?
the appropriate sample size is equal to the biproduct of the interwebs cake eating contest. furthermore, given the sedentary nature of the contestants, fortune favors the bold makers, supplying the never ending demand for stool samples.
I think this is one of the coolest things!
Why do I find myself thinking of
Loved the ant video.
One question that we could start testing now: How does the gummy glue fare on the reversibility front, compared to traditional hide glue?
I’m also curious about cost per unit volume after preparation. I don’t think we’ve seen that number yet, and I can’t guess which way the balance would tip.
I’m curious. Why does Gummi glue get rock hard when used as glue, but the Gummi themselves are . . . gummy. Is the chemical composition altered by a relatively brief period of being heated? Will Gummis left on the dashboard turn rock hard?
If I had to guess, the added waxes and oils probably separate out during the melting, so you’re basically left with purer gelatin, plus some sugar which also crystalizes. If you mixed it all while cooling, it would probably come back out gummy.
Oh. And I love cake.
“Shut up. You don’t know. You just love to hear your tongue rattle in your cake hole.” I want to have this tattooed on my forearm so I can remember the wording exactly. It would come in handy in so many situations.
Remember the Chris Schwarz syndrome: Look for gummy worms and bears to become very difficult to find and at a much higher price than before.
Given how much I hate (yes, hate) their inane commercials, I can at least content myself with the thought that, while I’d much rather munch on a cockroach for a treat, they might serve some actual use worthy of the expenditure of two quarters and a dime.
The Anarchist’s Glue.
Oh it will hold the Japanese’s have been making glue out of rice for 1000’s of years. This is likely stronger
That’s for paper, isn’t it?
Paper is just very thin wood, in a sense, so…
Thanks for the update. Rather recently, I gave a talk (science of wood) at my daughters school to 5,6,7, and 8th graders (not all at once). I did a bunch of demos: does wood float (Texas ebony doesn’t as I had a bought a piece for this), splitting with the grain vs. perpendicular to the grain, blowing bubbles through a red oak dowel in a cup of water, etc. Next time I do this talk, I will have to include gummy bear glue. Don’t know what I will call this talk but something along the lines of clever uses of material science across the millennia; now just need another two or three “ancient technology” demos.
I’d wonder whether the sugar might not make the glue more hygroscopic and this more prone to weakening with cycling humidity. It will be interesting to watch. It would also be interesting to compare the strength of the joint with those done with other forms of hide glue such as rabbit and sturgeon bladder or pearl vs granular.
Hmmm. This has me wondering about Swedish Fish.
I was just looking at starting the trail up hide glue lane when these words came across my desk…..
What strength do you think this Bear Glue is? 196? more or less?
Yes, I am going to try this myself…. It is a one shot use of fresh glue. Sure beats having to buy a glue pot, glue,, and listening to my wife bellow at me for putting some “other stuff” in the fridge……
Sounds like there must have been many trips to the back to see the clock. Someone was definitely bored. That’s woodworking slang for ploughed. Worst yet, i may have to try it, you evil bastard.
Are you going to test taking apart a joint?
Yes – we brought the test joint back to Covington. Sometime between Christmas and New Year’s, I’ll take it apart.
I hope Roy includes a hand-written note, explaining this long-timescale experiment, to be stored with the tools. His great-grandchildren, working wood in the 2070’s, will appreciate his foresight and thoughtfulness. And generations of woodworkers will be waiting for the eventual publication of the results. (“Yep – the glue still holds!”)
This is awesome. Reminds me of my friends who make leathergoods for historical reenactment and buy their glue in the grocery store aisle as “unflavored gelatin”.
I’ve read your magazine articles, and books, and blog posts for years, and this was, in all ways, informative, interesting, caustic, and confident.
I think it’s awesome!
Keep it up!
PS: I’m greatly enjoying “The American Peasant” as well.
The wife just said “why not just buy gelatin!” My reply – but it is for science.
And to all those who made fun of me as a young kid when I would eat glue I say, see what you missed out on!
Someone should reach out to Patrick Edwards and see if he can do some simple measurements on it. I think he might even find it fun.
I’ve been meaning to try out homemade hide glue. I guess I can just raid the old Halloween candy reserve.
Thank you for taking the time to experiment and keeping us informed!
Next you’ll be making a filler out of animal crackers!
Are there certain flavors or colors that work better?
The squeeze-out was tasty.
I threw all the worms in there. Red green and yellow. They just came out as red.
First a disclaimer: this comment has approximately zero relevancy to the topic at hand – but I just watched this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4_a-3FO8Fw Nova documentary on rebuilding / restoration of Notre Dame & thought people here would find it interesting. Apparently Haribo Gummy Bears didn’t exist when the cathedral was originally constructed or it surely when have been used (might have even added some fire-retardant properties, who knows?). Second observation – note the oak beam destined for the new spire: Is it just me, or does it appear that, if this beam were scaled down to stick chair leg-size (or the hammer scaled up to beam-size) this would NOT pass the “whack it good & hard with a hammer” strength test for sticks? At any rate, sorry for the digression from the subject of the original post, but enjoy the linked video – it is really interesting stuff.
Thanks for the link. That is what French oak looks like. I have made workbenches from the stuff while teaching in Germany. Dictum (the school) had obtained some that had been set aside for repairs of bell spires and the like. So very similar to this stuff for Notre Dame. It looked like crap. But it was strong. Tough. Respect the French oak.
Thanks for the link to the Notre Dame documentary. My wife and I watched it a couple days ago. It was very interesting. It’s so weird when historic buildings go through periods of neglect and decay. The same thing happened to the Ahwahnee hotel at Yosemite. They’re still trying to restore the original art that was painted over when it was taken over by the army to use as a hospital.
I’m also trying to figure out if that giant band saw really goes 140 feet/second. That’s about 95 miles/hour. Does that sound right?
By “neglect and decay” I don’t mean the fire. I’m talking about after the French Revolution when they used it as a warehouse.
It’ll never work in my workshop. I would eat all the gummy bears before they melted. My Canadian cakehole enjoys them too much. Chris, keep up the good experimental work!
Oh oh, I sense a whole new addiction coming up. On top of people sniffing glue there will now be people addicted to eating glue….
I went shopping today. I had to visit the candy aisle to assess the adhesive qualities of various offerings. Cannot wait to experiment.
Of course had it turned the other way and set like glue it could have been an entirely different problem.
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