Friday, May 27, 2011

Homemade Hide Glue Pot

One of the primary reasons I think most contemporary woodworkers are a bit leery of animal hide glue is that it requires a bit more attention than other glues. The glue is applied hot (around 140 degrees). This requires a double boiling. There are specialty hot hide glue pots one could purchase for up over $100.00. They work well and some people use them. Many however, see that the need for a constant 140 degree water really isn't that hard to supply. People have used everything from crockpots, to "hot pot expresses", and even baby bottle warmers. (Can you believe there is such a thing!?) When a small glass jar is placed inside, you have an instant double-boiler. Simple and effective! (This is a perfect size for the furniture restorer anyway.)

My journey began at the thrift store. I picked up a small $5.00 Rival Crock Pot. When I got home, I did some experimenting to see whether the "high" or "low" heat setting would give me my desired temperature. (A range from 120 - 150 is acceptable.) I found when the lid is on, it maintains about 140 on "high". Perfect.

Because I need the lid on to keep heat in, to slow evaporation of water, and to prevent glue from dripping into the water, I cut a hole in lid the diameter of the jar. Using the lid from my glass jar I traced out the shape.

I drilled a starter hole for my coping saw blade to slip through and then proceeded to cut it out.

I use the lid inverted so that the top of the jar sits up a bit proud for easy access. When heating, the jar lid rests on top.

To mix up the glue, mix equal proportions by volume hide glue granules and water. I ordered my glue from Jeff Jewitt at Homestead Finishing.

After about an hour or so, the granules should have soaked up most of the water and should look gelatinous.

It is at this point that you can place the jar in the crock pot with just enough water to match the level of glue and begin heating. (Make sure you don't put the jar directly on the bottom of the crockpot as it may crack the glass. I use a retired dish cloth for insulation.)

Once up to temperature, the glue should be the consistency of thick maple syrup. (Not the generic brand, I mean the real stuff.)

Plan out your glue-up and work quickly because you only have a few minutes of working time. Have fun!


  1. Thanks for the tutorial Joshua. I've been wanting to experiment with hide glue for a while but haven't felt confident enough to try it. I'm in the process of building a tool chest now and the extra open time that hide glue allows would've been nice for putting together the dovetailed carcass. I'll have to search out my area thrift stores and give your method a try.

  2. Yes, open time is an issue here when dealing with elaborate assembly. I have a really great recipe to make your own room temperature liquid hide glue as well if you are interested. I plan to post something about it in the not-so-distant future but if you want it earlier, just shoot me an email at

    1. Hello Joshua, Thank you for the information about hyde glue. I work on musical instruments and have been using titebond but I want to start using hyde glue. The crock pot that I have has a glass lid. Of course I won't be able to cut a hole in this. Any suggestions??

      Best regards, Herb

  3. Hmmm... I would probably not want to mess with a glass lid. I would recommend dropping by a Goodwill and picking one up for a few dollars. That's probably the easiest. Otherwise, you can make a new lid for the one you got. You could use anything. Get creative: tin foil, milk jug plastic, who knows. It doesn't have to be fancy. It's just helping to keep the heat in a bit.

    In fact, I sometimes just go without a lid. It's really not picky.

    Thanks for dropping by, Herb.

  4. Thanks for the info. I make game boards and other veneer work and have had it with leaking vacuum bags, and other such nonsense. I already have a double hot plate that I use for sand shading the veneer so now I can just put a double boiler on the other side, make a veneer hammer and off to the races!

  5. You're welcome, Stephen! I'm glad it was helpful to you.

  6. Thanks for your post. I have learnt a great deal from it. Thanks for your time and effort.