How to Make Our Glue – Lost Art Press

Buy ours or make your own using the same recipe.

Recently we started making our own animal-based glue called “Piggly No Wiggly.” It’s made from three ingredients: food-grade gelatin, uniodized table salt and tap water.

The glue is great for furniture. It has an open time of about 18-20 minutes (depending on the temperature and humidity in your shop). That extra time is nice for complex assemblies. The glue is reversible, like hide glue. It dries clear, which is great when using light-colored woods. It has little smell. And if you store it correctly it will last indefinitely. (Complete instructions can be downloaded at the bottom of the product description.)

Megan and I make several batches a week now as we are gearing up this project. You can buy a bottle of ours for $16. Or you can easily make your own using ingredients from your grocery store and a slow cooker (such as a Crock Pot).

The whole process takes about 15 minutes of active time during two days.

When experimenting, we measure by weight. Eventually we convert that to volume for speed.

Piggly No Wiggly

4 parts gelatin, such as Knox

4 parts hot water from the tap

1 part uniodized table salt (the regular fine-ground stuff)

We make the glue in pretty big batches in vats. But a great way to make it at home is to mix it and cook it in a squeeze bottle for ketchup or mustard.

Start by pouring hot tap water into your bottle. Then add the gelatin and salt. Stir it up. Then close the lid and shake the mixture vigorously. Let it sit for 30 minutes, which is plenty of time for the finely ground gelatin to absorb the water.

The glue after mixing and shaking.

Now heat the bottle in a slow cooker, glue pot or a double boiler. The heat should be about 140° to 150° F. Don’t let it get much hotter or the glue will lose its strength. Cook the glue for two hours. Shake the bottle a couple times during the process. 

At the end of two hours, put the glue in your fridge overnight.

The next day, heat the glue the same way as detailed above for two hours. Your glue is done.

The glue being cooked in our glue pot.

At room temperature, it will be a bit like Jell-O. Heat it in a warm water bath (or in your glue pot or slow cooker) before using it. If it’s too thick for your liking, add a little water. If it’s too thin, cook it a little longer.

Store the glue in the fridge, and it will last and last and last.

I know you have questions. Here are some answers. Gelatin has been used to make glue for many years and is basically a form of refined collagen (aka hide glue). It is plenty strong – a good joint will demonstrate wood failure and not glue failure. The gelatin we use is 250 bloom strength, which is the same as most general-use hide glues.

This glue is the result of about a 100 different batches of glue that used different ingredients – everything from vinegar to glycerin to urea.

Will iodized salt work? Yes, we haven’t noticed any difference. Can you use distilled water? Sure. How long should I clamp my joints? Read the instructions here for a complete discussion.

Why the funny name? Well, it’s funny. And the glue is made from pigs.

Oh, one more thing: Your pets will love to eat the squeeze out (Wally!!!!). 

— Christopher Schwarz

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