I've been following Greg Merritt's weblog, Hillbilly Daiku, as long as I have been writing about my woodworking ventures in the PRC. I vaguely recall first finding his postings about knots and making a fid. And more recently he wrote about his hide glue pots. Certainly one of the impediments to any woodworker adopting hide glue is coming up with a method of keeping the hide glue at proper temperature with a controllable heat source. The days in which an apprentice lad would put the glue pot on the potbelly stove, which he began tending before the tradesmen arrived, are in the realm of nostalgic lore, pace George Sturt.
With my first attempt to work with hide glue, along with a passel of other secondhand tools, I had bought an aluminum double boiler from Ray Iles. I had to run upstairs to fetch the the pot from the gas stovetop. There was no lid and the chilly basement workspace gave me about 30 minutes of working time before the heat had dissipated and the glue pot needed to be returned to the stove. It was the best that I could manage at the time. Hide glue was something that I had only read about and while there were (and are) some purpose built appliances for crafts that require hide glue, notably making stringed instruments, in the incipient Internet era, they were harder to find and out of my price range.
Merritt, after buying a hide glue pot and warmer set offered by Lee Valley, decided he needed to go to the trouble of converting a wax warmer into a hide glue warmer. After confessing to Amazon's subliminal marketing scheme to impoverish us all, he read about the setup on on yet another woodworking weblog!
I think I could have saved Merritt a bit of cash. I'll explain the setup that I have been using for a few years now. It's interesting that a wax warmer might be so much cheaper than a warmer specific to warming hide glue. I believe that this speaks to manufacturing concerns pursuing the latest aesthetic depilatory craze. An electric appliance that maintains a constant temperature for liquefying wax or reheating hide glue ought to cost about the same price when brought to market. Instead, the former is $29.99 and the latter is $134.99.
While I'm very much in favor of personal beautification, I chose to adapt my needs to an appliance that is manufactured on a large scale and more broadly used than even wax warmers.
|Standard Office Appliance|
|Suitable for tea cups or coffee mugs|
|The lowcost setup minus hide glue|
There are few demonstrable benefits to this method. Putting the brush into hot water keeps from chilling the hide glue down from repeated dippings. The hot water makes adjusting the viscosity part of the application process. If I need to repair a crack or let some hide glue trickle under a poorly clamped bit of veneer, I first let a thin stream of hot water invade the seams. The moistened and warmed surfaces better ensure that the glue flows inwards more deeply. Lastly, the hot water on hand makes any stray glue drips or misapplication simple to clean up.
Lastly I never rest my brush in the hide glue and I rinse it clean with hot water after every use.
|Where the original was cast iron, this one doesn't cost $47.50.|
Lastly, happy and prosperous new year to all.