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I would like to glue together the mitred ends of some beechwood, using hide glue. My concerns are ...

  1. Is hide glue strong enough?
  2. Does hide glue last? Are there any known instances the glue starts to weaken after some time?
  3. Does the hide glue cause any discolourisation in the wood?
  4. Is hide glue natural and free of any toxic chemicals?
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  • Can I ask why hide glue is your choice? There are a lot of modern glues out there... Apr 11 '20 at 16:20
  • I am looking for an environmentally friendly product that would decompose, naturally, should the need arise.
    – Craig
    Apr 12 '20 at 8:53
  • Given that some of the oldest music instruments in the world have joints under tension that are held with hide glue, you are probably ok using it for plain joinery. You should limit yourself to a single question. Or at most a set of closely related questions. 1 & 2 are related, but for me 3 and 4 are separate questions best suited in a different Q&A. (In fact, 4 is a bit of a trick question, and depending on interpretation will never be answerable.)
    – jdv
    Apr 13 '20 at 15:05
  • Also, your main two questions imply another: which animal do you asking to sacrifice to your joinery? Not all hide glues are appropriate for permanent joinery.
    – jdv
    Apr 13 '20 at 15:06
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    And finally, finally: water-based PVA meets or exceeds government levels of food safety (once cured, naturally) and actually decomposes quite effectively -- there are plenty of case studies and scientific studies on this, because the food industry needs to glue stuff a lot, it turns out.
    – jdv
    Apr 13 '20 at 15:22
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Hide glue intended for permanent construction (i.e., probably not something like fish or rabbit glue) is strong enough for many applications. It bridges gaps quite well, and rarely discolours the surrounding wood.

For a low strength application like mitred picture frames, it'll be more than strong enough. Not as strong as modern PVA glues, certainly, but for indoor low-strength stuff like this it'll be fine. Certainly, you don't need the gap-filling abilities of hide glue in this application: you should be aiming for nice thin mitred joints.

Most typical glues used in woodworking are "non-toxic" by any scientific measurement once cured, and that includes most of the PVA glues on the market. By the same measurements, few things in life are completely "natural", though I suppose traditional hide glues will biodegrade completely (but who knows about the convenience "hide" glues you can buy pre-bottled and ready to go these days). I assume PVA will degrade to tiny particles of "PV", adding to the cloud of micro-plastics we are currently swimming in.

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  • Another Q&A resurrected from the unanswered cemetery using details from the comments.
    – jdv
    May 13 at 18:15
  • Nice one. But I feel that clearly abandoned Questions should be tidied up by being locked (and I flag them that way regularly.... to no avail in most cases) since even a good (to community eyes) Answer is likely to never become accepted.
    – Graphus
    May 14 at 5:47
  • I thought about whether to resurrect this one, but then decided there was something actually answerable here. It's a balance of being sticklers for the SE way, or letting people ask they way they want. Either way, I guess I don't expect too many check marks here. I'm ok with that.
    – jdv
    May 14 at 12:06
  • An answer with upvotes will not, at lest, get community bumped...
    – FreeMan
    May 14 at 15:04
  • In the spirit of woodworking.meta.stackexchange.com/a/115/5572 I suppose any decently complete Q&A still has value, even if the OP isn't going to give it a check mark.
    – jdv
    May 19 at 16:10

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