Archive for June, 2015

Old Brown Glue – The liquid hide glue

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

This is a great video on Patrick Edwards explaining his liquid hide glue, Old Brown Glue. I used protein glues in my work exclusively as well.

What is Old Brown Glue? It’s Pat’s “boutique” version of hide glue, modified to give it better handling properties and a longer, yet variable, open time. It’s used by Brian Boggs, Kelly Mehler, and a host of antique repair people and chair makers who love the controlled open time, which can vary from 20 minutes to an hour merely by changing the temperature in the shop.

As is often the case, the glue was created to fill a need by its developer, who then concluded that others would also appreciate having it. To understand how it came about, we need to get a bit of background both on hide glue, and on the type of work it benefits. In Pat’s case, it’s marquetry and antique restoration.

A native of San Diego, Pat has owned and operated Antique Refinishers, Inc. in the same location for the past 35 years. After studying in Paris at Ecole Boulle under Pierre Ramon, he focused his business on restoring pre-industrial furniture, (18th and 19th century or earlier) and specializing in veneer and marquetry. Four years ago, he and Kristen started the American School of French Marquetry at the same location. It is the only school outside of Paris that teaches the French method of marquetry, which allows you to make multiple copies quickly and accurately using only hand tools . Veneers are cut on a curious device called a “chevalet,” or “marquetry donkey,” that looks like a cobbler’s bench on steroids. The school has been so successful that they are currently expanding the building.

“Originally, I started using a glue pot with hot hide glue. It did everything well. It was strong, transparent to stains, easy to clean up, reversible, economical, and the only adhesive which glues to itself both mechanically and chemically. That makes it ideal for repairing antique furniture, all of which, incidentally, was originally made with hide glue. If a joint breaks, you simply add more glue without having to clean off the old, and you get a perfectly strong joint.”
“One of the trends I see today is the use of non-reversible glues. Furniture that will last will eventually need to be repaired. In fact, sometimes, you need to repair during construction. In my restoration work, reversibility is essential. Hide glue is reversible, even after many decades.”

By manipulating heat and moisture, you can modify how hide glue behaves, affecting viscosity, open time, and cure time. This control is especially important with veneer work, chairs, and other complex assemblies. But hot hide glue requires almost constant attention, and sets too quickly for some veneer operations. “At times, you must overlap the veneer, because it can shrink and pull back from the joint while curing. Hence, you need a glue that takes a longer time to set, allowing the veneer to shrink before the seam is cut. Old Brown Glue does just that.”

visit to order your glue today!