PVA vs Hide glue

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  • #129772

    I was watching the jointer toolbox videos and wondered if hide glue would work better when gluing all those dovetails together. Dry time is longer but not sure about glue freeze. Mainly curious about using “Patrick Edward’s Old Brown Glue”, hide glue in a bottle. Would never try to reverse to joint after drying.

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  • #129792
    David Perrott


    I make my own hide glue. It is great. Many times you don’t need to use clamps with it. I had to take apart one of my tills for the tool box. I made 2 of the tills the same size. Unglued it, shortened it and then redid the dovetails.

    Brett aka Pheasantww


    I have been using Old Brown Glue (OBG) for most of my furniture and tricky glues ups for some time as it will not cease up in the middle of assembly because it has a long open time usually about 10-15 mins.. While it does have a shelf life, you can freeze it to keep it longer so the bigger bottles are very economical.

    It is easy to clean up and take a joint apart if needed.

    We have a lot of choices in glues with various attributes: yellow and white PVA, exterior PVA and even super glues for repairs. They all have there place in the workshop.

    Located in Honeoye Falls NY USA. The Finger Lakes region of Western NY.

    "If you give me 6 hours to fell a tree, I will take the first 4 to sharpen my axe" Abe Lincoln



    I have been making my own hide glue as well and wonder if I should make a switch to us mostly hide glue because of the above mentioned reasons. In fact, I wonder why Paul Sellers doesn’t use hide glue, because it seems to be in par of his mission of making generational furniture. I look at hide glue this way, It’s natural and renewable, it reversible if a glue up goes bad and makes for easier furniture repairs. I have also read that it creates a stronger bond when gluing up “rougher” hand cut joints, because of gap filling properties. (Rougher chiseled mortise vs smoother router cut mortise.)

    dave bardin


    For my self I am using period tools and making period style furniture. So it is a simple decision to use hide glue. It can be more trouble but the open time and the ability to reverse it is two of the big reasons I use it.
    A lot of what is do is furniture restoration and I wan to keep it original.
    Paul has his reasons and the may be reveled to us at a latter date.
    PVA has its uses, moisture is the biggest one. And honestly its easy to use and ready to go.

    No matter where you go, there you are!

    Scott V


    I have used PVA, White “Elmer’s” Glue, and Titebond’s “liquid” version of hide glue. The liquid hide glue is less viscous than PVA, so it runs a bit more when I get squeeze-out. Otherwise, I like working with it, especially how it cleans up and how it is a bit more forgiving. Heck, I even like how it smells.

    -Scott Los Angeles, California, USA

    Scott V


    [quote quote=129792]I make my own hide glue.[/quote]

    I first envisioned you boiling animal hides, bones and connective tissues to make your own glue, but I now suspect that you heat up pre-made (ground) hide glue in a pot before use. 😉

    -Scott Los Angeles, California, USA



    I also use both, and really like the hide glue for reasons mentioned.


    Steve Massie, I live in the great State of Florida, US



    I actually found a web page on making your own hide glue.. It actually consisted of boiling rawhide bones.. However, I simply mix and heat! lol


    • This reply was modified 3 years, 1 month ago by dborn.
    Mike Walsh


    The only problem I have with PVA glues is repair. If you ever need to repair a joint, you must get back to bare wood. I ran across a study in a boat building journal that the only glue that would adhere properly to cured PVA was CA (crazy glue). If you ever have to repair a joint, and reuse PVA without getting back to bare wood, the glue joint ends up weaker than the wood. So you end up with either a loose joint or a weak glue line.

    I only use PVA’s on unstressed laminations. I use hide glue, epoxy or urea powders on joints.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 1 month ago by Mike Walsh.


    One other plus of OBG (or hide glue) over PVA is that it does not interfere with stain/dye application. Glue splotches (especially on delicate or small items) used to plague me and using hide glue mitigates that to some degree. If you have a need to repair veneer of any kind, hide glue will be your best friend. Contact cement and PVA will work, but the open time just makes it easier to work with if you need to adjust a piece for a perfect fit.

    Structurally speaking, PVA would theoretically be more robust, but then again, you could always just switch up to PL700 if you prefer maximum shear strength for your joints.
    ( I do not advocate this practice, but have tried it out of curiosity….)

    Steve Giles


    I apologise if this is a little off-topic, but could someone explain to me why the PVA wood glue available in the USA is yellow in colour and that available in the UK (and Bulgaria) is white? This has puzzled me for about two decades!



    This has puzzled me too for a long time. 🙂



    I have wondered the same I am not sure what Paul Sellers use’s. Like mentione I either use Hide Glue or Titebound 11 or 111 which is yellow.


    Steve Massie, I live in the great State of Florida, US

    TaDa Man


    Here is another recipe for making your own liquid hide glue from the folks at Mortise & Tenon Magazine.


    I need to give it a try, I have been using OBG with good results.

    Because Everybody Deserves a Little Fanfare.

    Hugo Notti


    Hard to tell, which is better. Apparently, it is completely inappropriate to repair antique furniture with the wrong glue. Also the making of musical instruments (probably not church organ housings) requires the correct glue, which is often animal hide glue or even a specific type of it. On the other hand, animal hide glue is definitely not for vegetarians and vegans. But I am not sure, how “clean” white glue actually is.

    Hard Facts I found:

    Animal hide glue softens at around 60°C (perhaps not without moisture, but I think, moisture is only needed to convey the heat), white glue at around 90-120°C, depending on the brand and data-sheet.

    The hardened white glue is transparent and a bit flexible
    The hardened animal hide glue is brownish transparent, hard and brittle

    Both glue types are not water resistant and can be reactivated by heat. White glue needs more time and more heat.

    White glue takes longer to “grip”, so it leaves more time for final adjustments and clamping.

    I have recently bought 1 kg of granulated animal hide glue, because I need to restore an antique desk. Working with it is not difficult at all, it only requires some planning, because of the preparation. On a daily basis, this would be no problem at all, woodworkers used to have their glue-pot on the oven all the time, as readily available as a bottle of white glue nowadays. I also have 500 ml (a bit less than a pint) of white glue, that needs to be use before it decays. So I will use both as I please.


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