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Fish Glue


Frederick Dale
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Just got a bottle from IV ...interesting stuff , very sticky /high tack , So far I've only used it on some small parts like saddles and nuts,as well as some general wood working .. cleans up nicely w/ water compatible with hide , very thick , but apparently can be thinned same as hide. interesting smell. It seems to take longer to reach a full bond , I think the gelling action of hide binds quicker VS the drying action of the fish. 

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Just be careful when diluting it, it's easy to get a weak bond. Otherwise it's a very strong glue, as I found out when I had to reverse a couple of glue joints. I used the stuff for about 3 years gluing up a number of test joints in that time. I found it harder to reverse than HHG but of course it does give way to heat and moisture.

There were some reports that it releases in high humidity. Must be extremely high because I placed a little glued strip into a sealed container with one of the humidity salts (could have been 80%+ RH - one of the high salts) and after a week it was still perfectly fine. Even the glue excess was still glass like. The only other factor was the temperature, which I had at normal room 20 C. Perhaps if had placed it into a 30 C. or higher environment I may have seen a different result.

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Frederick,

 

I have some of Kremer's liquid fish glue, but I've not yet tested it for jointing or assembly. I understand that fish glue has some unique qualities in its favor, but, like other glues, also has some disadvantages, However, as a result of my quite extensive adhesive research I am now strongly inclined only to buy fish glue in solid form and make it myself. I think sturgeon glue (isinglass) is probably the best material if you're after some degree of historical accuracy as well as excellent adhesive qualities (but, again, no glue is perfect).

 

If you're in the U.S., attached is a link to Talas (in Brooklyn, NY; similar to Kremer), the only source I know of selling sturgeon glue in the U.S.: http://talasonline.com/Sturgeon-Glue

 

I'm also planning to revisit Dr. Raymond White's findings (as mentioned in Roger Hargrave's casein article) on the possibility of the old glue being a mix of different glues, e.g., animal glue and casein. Fish glue looks very interesting (as well as porcine hide glue) for testing. I think this may be a promising approach. The interpretation of a mixed glue result being the remains of the original glue plus subsequent restoration glue is a bit too neat and tidy for me, particularly as this possibility (of a mixture) seems to be excluded due to the strong preference for one particular type of glue— which may, or may not— communicate with the methods of Baroque craftsmen.

 

 

Dave

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I've had a little experience with fish glue. From what I've seen, it's a very strong glue, and it does work much like hide glue in application and cleanup. However, I found that it was a bit more challenging to remove tops that had been put on with fish glue because it seemed to be less brittle and resisted the opening knife more. It does have a unique odor, so it's easy to recognize it if it gets rehydrated. I'm not against it, but I do approach with some caution.

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This excerpt refers to ready-made glues...From Ed Pinto's 1948 book "Wood Adhesives"...

Obviously there would be the disadvantages of stench and of low humidity/moisture resistance if you are cooking it yourself. If you want a similar working time but with hide glue buy space heaters and crank your shop temperature to 90 degrees F (30-32C). Not new information-- but it is also mentioned in this book that you supposedly get over 15 minutes (!!) working time with hide glue if the wood and room is that hot. post-59554-0-98386100-1477107544_thumb.jpg

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Any Chinese apothecary will have a pretty wide variety of fish swim bladders if you want to experiment. I made some from scratch a couple of years ago. A little stinky to cook, but certainly strong. I don't know what kind of fish it was from. The shopkeeper's English was far superior to my Chinese, but things like names of fish are tough to translate.

 

Isinglass is used by British style ale breweries. A brewing supply store should have ~4 oz packages for a few $

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So, why the interest in alternate glues for violin work? After all, good hide glue works well in all applications, is cheap, and is easy to use ...once you learn to deal with the relatively short open time.

I do use fish glue, but it is in a special application of gluing leather to metal.

Cheers, Mat

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These questions about glues other than hide glue always seem to bring responses suggesting that hide glue is the only adhesive ever to be considered.

 

The overwhelming preference for hide glue among modern makers does not preclude the use of other glues in the past, and does not necessarily validate the use of hide glue during the Golden Period as the exclusive adhesive.

 

Furthermore, if later generations abandoned the varnish of Cremona in favor of more convenient and inexpensive materials, why wouldn't they have been just as likely to abandon the glue of Cremona for the same reasons?

 

 

Dave

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The nice thing about hot hide glue is that we have rather extensive experience with it, both for sticking things together, and taking things apart again. There probably won't be much in the way of surprises, either in the short term, or down the road.

Listen to the master.......he has probably seen more glue crimes than CSI  :-)

 

DLB

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