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PLAYER-CARE HIDE GLUE CRYSTALS


This glue recipe is prepared for Player-Care by Craig Brougher of Brougher Restorations for use in player piano work and is sold exclusively by Player-Care. It is what we believe to be the very best available at any price. The additives are blended so that the glue has more temperature latitude while maintaining its full strength. Cold shops may require preheating of the parts joined, however.


Pot life is inversely proportional to temperature, exposure time to air, and the number of times the pot is reheated. If you have a Hold Heet brand glue pot, it is strongly recommended that you only put water in the aluminum bucket, as it is not suitable for most hot hide glue uses. Many formulations of glue including this one will gradually affect the aluminum bucket, chemically. While this is convenient once in awhile for large jobs requiring a 3" brush on warm surfaces, most of your work is going to be with small parts and the glue should be contained in a glass jar with a plastic lid when not in use. Stir the glue at the beginning of each day.


Vlassic sells a large jar of classic dill pickles that just happens to fit well inside the aluminum bucket of the Hold Heet pot. It has a smaller lid, which can be discarded, and the top of an 8-oz. plastic yogurt cup, like A&E, is substituted. It makes a perfect glue pot. The rim of the jar is great for wiping off the brushes, and because it's smaller, it holds the moisture from evaporating better. The plastic lids also prevent almost 100% of the moisture from leaving the glue, so if you are not using the glue, just turn off the pot until you are ready to use the glue again. (See new attachment: “Using This Type of Hide Glue”)


To measure the temperature of the Hold Heet glue pot, fill your jar 3/4ths full of water, place a cut-down plastic coffee can lid or something in the bottom to set the jar on, and let it get fully up to temperature. Drop in a thermometer and check it. The pot should not get hotter than 150 degrees, Fahrenheit (145 is ideal).


To set the temperature of the Hold Heet glue pot, remove the two small screws that attach the liner to the bucket. Spring out the handle if you need to and lift up the liner. There is a nickel-plated heat-adjusting thermostat nut with a little sealant on one side to prevent it from turning. Turn the nut clockwise to increase the temperature, counterclockwise to decrease it. Do not replace the screws until you can be sure that the pot is reliable at about 145 degrees. This is the temperature that your glue will last longest at, and still work well. 


To make the glue, pour the crystals into the jar and add water to about 3/4" above the crystals. Add water later to get the right consistency. By placing styrofoam ‘peanuts’ of the non-biodegradable type into the pot jar, you will be able to leave the lid off, float your brushes, and work all day without adding hardly any water.


Consistency is everything, when working with hide glue. Some workmen use 3 plastic squeeze bottles of different consistencies in the heating jacket. Bottles are more convenient, but brushes are neater. If you will buy white bristle (hog) brushes, like the long stemmed ones sold by Van Dykes of Woonsocket, SD, they won't collapse, sitting on the bottom of a glue pot. But you will need 3 artist brush sizes: #2, #4, #7. You also need a touch-up type natural white bristle brush of the 1" variety (for pneumatics).


When working in a cool environment, the glue should be used with a thinner consistency. If you then need the “a death grip” effect of heavier glue, just apply a sizing coat on one of the parts and let it set up first. When covering pneumatics, use thinner glue and a wide brush to keep the glue warm. Put the cover around it before the glue can start to gel. If you doubt your ability to use this glue in the time window allowed, just iron them down before completely dry. Double glue all large bellows and always iron their covers after they are well-set but not completely dry. When you see tiny beads of reheated glue oozing out, you know that you have the right temperature and time with the iron. Hot hide glue is just like solder. A cold joint will not show up, sometimes for months, but it will always eventually fail. When in doubt, reheat.


GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS: The normal ratio of water to glue crystals is 1:1.


Contents may be poured into a glass jar. Add water to barely cover glue crystals. Place jar into a pot of very hot water (145-160 degrees). Glue will melt down in about 10-15 minutes, and about right for use. Add more water when evaporation requires it. Glue will keep almost indefinitely in the jar; when refrigerated. Just add a little more water when reheating (if necessary). It is extremely important that you DO NOT overheat the glue as this breaks down the proteins that give the glue its strength.


After I make up a batch of glue, I put it into six-ounce plastic squeeze bottles (each filled up about 2/3). That way I have a ‘handy-to-use’ container that I can put into hot water (145-150 degrees) for ten minutes and I’m ready to work. Also, keeping the glue in the squeeze bottles reduces evaporation to almost zero.


USING THIS TYPE OF HOT HIDE GLUE

 

This glue is not the usual glue purchased from wood shops. It has additives in it to make it more adhesive to a wider variety of substances and to resist crazing when shrinking on external surfaces. One additive also gives it a slightly wider latitude of working time without affecting it’s strength.

 

It’s recommended that other additives are not used with this glue, as they can react with the present chemistry and seriously weaken it.

 

The hides used in this glue are no longer chrome-tanned. Therefore it is far better not to leave your pot on overnight and over weekends. Reheat the glue each time before using it. It must be reheated slowly to prevent breaking down the long protein chains that make strong glue. A microwave can be used if set less than 40% duty-cycle and as long as the glue never gets over 150 degrees.

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Working time and glue consistency are the two most important things in using hot hide glue. In normal temperatures, when the work is not preheated, the glue must be spread (flowed on) evenly, thinly, and quickly and the parts placed smartly together. This requires thinning the glue for your type of brush and the surface to be glued. Beginners usually use too thick a glue.

 

If covering pneumatics, make sure that all end grain is pre-coated. If covering large bellows, always double glue, and then iron down the covers. When gluing down pneumatics, make sure the shelves have been sized with thin hot hide glue, first. Do not clamp pneumatics or anything on flat surfaces that might slide. Spring or C-Clamps cannot exert all their force at right angles to the bond plane and force some flat joints to creep, making a cold joint and an out-of-alignment part. Weights are the proper way to use force on flat bond surfaces.

 

Hot hide glue actually does not need a clamp. It grips by gelling. However, water in the glue will cause wood to sometimes warp a little. If you suspect that thin boards may bow a little as they get wet, size that board first and allow to air dry. Use only fresh glue for wood to wood joints.

 

Preheating wood parts to be glued is a good way to assure good joinery and pneumatic covers, by lengthening the active time that glue can be spread and contact can be changed or compressed. However it may not be possible to preheat the parts. In which case, even cold glue joints can be reheated, as long as they are fresh, and they will be restored. Adding water to glue slows setting.

 

In making wood to wood joints, leaving excess glue around a fresh joint makes it much more effective to reheat the joint for surety, since excess glue conducts heat rapidly into the joint. Usually a hair dryer is all that’s required. You can sometimes dampen the edges of the joint to aid this process. Remove excess glue then, after it has re-gelled and become semi-solid. Then use a wet rag or sponge and remove all traces of the glue. This is done so easily that the wood will stain exactly like the rest of the piece and there will be no telltale trace of glue on the surface.

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John Tuttle's Preparation Method

The glue crystals I sell are far superior to the old type that most rebuilders are accustom to using. I never weigh the glue or the water. Whatever size container I'm using, I put in an amount of crystals, then add enough hot water to cover the crystals, and then I add another 20% water by eye. In other words, if the total depth of the glue and water in the container is two inches, I'll add another ½" of water. (Total depth [100%] = 2-1/2". So, 20% is 1/2")

 

Then I start cooking the glue. It normally takes 20-30 minutes for all the crystals to dissolve. Once they are dissolved and the glue is at 145 degrees, it's ready to use.. The longer the glue cooks, the weaker it gets. I generally prepare the glue in small 8 oz. squeeze bottles. This allows me to squeeze the glue directly onto the wood in whatever size bead I feel is necessary, and it prevents the water from evaporating -which causes the glue to get thicker over time.

 

As always, the rule of thumb is, "Test, test, test". So before you actually start working on a project, test the bond of the glue on scraps of wood and cloth until you find the combination that gives you a quick set-up time and a great seal. Remember, regardless of how thin or thick you make the glue initially, you can always add a little more water or glue crystals to get it just right. For more detailed information about this glue, see: http://player-care.com/brougher_gluing.html

Squeeze Bottle for Glue

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This page was last revised on March 11, 2014

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