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MMD > Archives > August 2000 > 2000.08.26 > 13Prev  Next

Cabinet Maker Hates Hot Glue
By Dan Wilson, London

Craig Brougher wrote in 000825 MMD:

> Nor do I see any editorial advocacy either.  Every single
> conscientious professional rebuilder who has written here has
> proven -- beyond a shadow of a doubt, both from the angles of
> ease of use, strength, versatility, expense, practicality, and
> finally, just plain best of all -- that hot hide glue has no equals.
> But actually only one in 20 rebuilders use it.  Why?  They really
> don't give a darn, that's why.  They do what's convenient, what
> doesn't require any skill to learn.  It's hard to have to think,
> and that's the last thing they want to have to do when rebuilding
> something.

I have desisted from contributing on this so far as I am ham-fisted
when it comes to rebuilding things, so I don't do it; but I've known
an expert cabinet-maker for over fifty years, and I knew the renowned
collector Benet Meakin who did all his own rebuilding, and they both
said that hide glue only became a really safe thing to use when the
thermostatically-controlled electric water jacket pots came in at the
end of the 1930s.  Before that, users just had a gas flame turned up
just so high with the pot on top and that was how the heat was
controlled.  Also glue tended to be left in the pot too long and go

They both used modern glues for quick repairs - patching in a bit of
veneer or repairing something which was never meant to be parted in the
first place like a broken leg.  But the cabinet-maker had a prejudice
against modern glue for big long joints like the dovetails on big
drawers; he thought it was too rigid and if the drawer was strained
by dropping or being overloaded, the dovetails would break instead of
the glue.  With big pieces, he used to use a couple of electric fires
to warm them up before applying the glue.

Benet liked Croid, which is a cold hide glue with some plasticiser in
it, in a tube.  It sets on exposure to air, is not impossibly strong,
weakens with heating and is compatible with hot glue when having to
part something for a repair.  But again he used it only for repairs.

Maybe the truth is that furniture makers aren't paid to think about
future restoration, so modern glue will serve.  Piano repairers have
a duty to those who will follow them, and should honour it.

Dan Wilson, London

(Message sent Sat 26 Aug 2000, 19:19:00 GMT, from time zone GMT+0100.)

Key Words in Subject:  Cabinet, Glue, Hates, Hot, Maker

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