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Using Hot Hide Glue for Veneering

A thorough description of using hot hide glue and pressure to apply veneer. February 22, 2011

Are any of you using hot hide glue for small veneer projects? I am looking at it for small stuff that I can do without getting out the vacuum bag. Where do you get it, and what gram strength is good for veneering? Any tricks to using this method? I have vacuum bags, etc., so this will not be my only method for laying up veneers.

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From contributor G:
I use it for musical instruments. Harpsichord keyboard plating and case veneer and structural joints, harp body and soundboard outer skin.

Call Jay Utzig at Milligan & Higgins/Hudson Industries. He knows all. M&H are the only manufacturers in the USA, but only sell 50 lb minimum. For smaller quantities Bjorn Industries breaks down M&H and resells.

If you have never used the stuff, it is sweet. Coat the substrate, coat both sides of the veneer, another coat on the substrate, squeegee the veneer down with a veneer hammer (the outside coating of the veneer stops curling and lubes the surface for the hammer) and squeeze out, and off, the excess glue. A wipe with a damp rag and you're done. The extra left on the outside acts as a stainable primer coat and raises the grain. Sand off the raised grain and off you go. I like the stuff a lot. You need to work hot (well, good and warm). You need a glue pot or something to keep the glue at the right temperature, and a heat lamp or a warm place helps to warm the substrate, because you need to be done before it gels.

From the original questioner:
Wow. I had not heard of it being used this way. I had tried it by putting the hot hide glue only on the substrate and then applying the veneer and pressing it into place with a wood block sanded to a dull point to apply pressure. The problem was that I seemed to get a lot of loose edges and some spots that didn't stick well (bubbles in the veneer). Also I had some of the veneer tear as I was pressing pretty hard to make it stay in place. Some of it I clamped afterward and it seemed to help a little, but still had some loose edges. What viscosity do you use it at, and what gram strength do you use? What I have on hand says it is #192.

From contributor G:

Jay recommended 192 high clarity as an all round for my sort of instrument building a while back when I emailed a list of questions to him. I have some experience doing this but still consider myself a novice. The external application really makes it slick and helps. Most is wiped off with the damp cloth, and as I said, the grain raising/sealer coat/pore filling (to a minor degree only)/stain evening (wood preconditioner) effects are all positive bonuses. Regarding consistency, think warm maple syrup or heavy cream.

From the original questioner:
Okay, I think I have my consistency right, but one problem I keep encountering is the edges not seeming to stay down when pressing them. They seem to curl up and then the center of the veneer stays down and the edges seem to get loose. Now I have only tried it with the glue on the substrate and will try it today with the glue on both sides of the veneer as you stated, and we will see what the results are. It seems like it would be really messy. What do you use for a veneer hammer?

From contributor G:
You can buy one from Veneer Systems.

Historically, take a hammer handle, attach a piece of say 1 x 2 about 4 or so inches long (by drilling the proper hole through the 2 x 4 face in the center). Before you do that, run a 1/8 inch slot down the 1 x 4 face (centered, running the long way) and stick a piece of 1/8 inch brass in the slot to make the blade. The brass needs to stick out of the slot say 3/8 or 1/2 inch and the long edges of the wood need to be cut back, rounded off or chamfered so that the hammer can put the brass on the veneer at any angle you're comfortable with, without running up onto the wooden head. Kill, in the sense of rounding off all the exposed edges of the brass.

I made mine because I wanted to overlay a soundboard one day, had a strip of brass and didn't want to wait. For a trial the edge of a block of wood rounded off a bit will work. It is just harder on your wrist without the handle to get both hands on it and a bit of body weight into the process. The proper tool just makes it more comfortable if you're doing more than just a bit.