Hide Glue vs. Wood Glue: The Best Glue for Woodworking

Deciding the best glue to use for your woodworking projects has become another step in the woodwork process. There are various types of glue out in the market. Be it hide glue, wood glue, epoxy, or super glue; you need to find what works best for your project. Although using wood glue can solve most of your woodworking needs, you may need to choose a different glue to have a clean finish, time to make intricate pieces, or reversibility.

Hide glue was used by woodworkers before the creation of wood glue. Woodworkers were able to assemble, disassemble and reassemble their works without fear of damage to the wood. It is easy for hide glue to bond well to old, dried hide glue, which makes repairs easier for woodworkers. When needed, heat and humidity can be used to loosen up the joints bonded with hide glue and separate the wood pieces.

With the little downsides of hide glue came the creation of wood glue, which has become the adhesive used predominantly for woodworking in modern years.

Compared to hide glue, wood glue is best for woodworking projects. Whether it is versatility or bond strength, wood glue is better and easier to use than hide glue.

Hide Glue vs Wood Glue

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INGREDIENTSNatural (contains animal hide, hooves,and fat).Synthetic (contains PVA).
REVERSIBILITYIt can soften and loosen up with heat and humidity.It is unable to soften or loosen up.
RESISTANCE TO WATERWater-soluble.Water-resistant and waterproof.
AVAILABILITYNot widely available.It is commercially sold and used.
FINISHNeat finishLeaves stains
ASSEMBLY TIMELittle assembly time.Enough time to assemble materials.

Properties of Hide Glue and Wood Glue


Hot hide and bottled hide glue are made from animal hide, hooves, and fat. This results in it having quite an unpleasant smell when used. Before wood glue and other adhesives were made, it was easier and cheaper to use animal products to make the glue.

Wood glue is made mainly of Polyvinyl acetate (PVA). It is water-based but contains other chemicals. It is a synthetic chemical that is non-toxic and very easy to use. It also biodegrades slowly.


Hide glue is strong and lasts a long time. It is also good for bonding antique furniture and musical instruments such as guitars and cellos. Instrument makers prefer using hide glue to wood glue due to the ability of hide glue to be easily heated and loosened to make repairs or reassembly of the musical instruments. Whether it be hot hide glue or bottled glue, both work very well for this.

Wood glue is stronger than hide glue as it was made for the specific purpose of bonding wood. Wood glue effectively fill the gaps in the wood and bonds the wood very tightly. This means that when the bonded wood is forced to separate, it causes splinters or breaks, which can make the woodwork messy. It also does not bond strongly with non-porous materials such as wood, glass, or plastic.

Resistance to Water

Hide glue dissolves in warm water. Both hot hide glue and bottled hide glue weaken in water and dissolve as they are made from animal products. Although this is not viewed as a weakness by some antique and instrument makers, it can be seen as a drawback to other woodworkers.

Wood glue is water-resistant and waterproof.

Once it dries and bonds the wood, it would take weeks of soaking in warm water before the bonded wood can be separated. Even then, it can cause splinters or breaks in the wood. The glue does not dissolve in water when it has hardened but can be cleaned up with water before it dries.

Availability and Cost

Due to the advent and popularity of other types of adhesives, such as wood glue, super glue, and epoxy, the demand for hide glue has depreciated. Only woodworkers that make and repair antique furniture and musical instruments use it these days. This means it would not be easy to find in large quantities. Bottled hide glue is easier to find than hot hide glue. The lack of availability does not necessarily mean that hide glue is costly.

Wood glue can be found and bought anywhere and everywhere. Due to the high demand for wood glue and adhesives similar to it, it is readily available in local stores and hardware stores. Brands compete to provide higher quality for lower prices. It is cost-effective and can be easily bought in large quantities. Owning that a larger percentage of woodworkers use wood glue, it is bought and sold commercially.


Hide glues are known for the clean and neat finish they have. They do not leave stains behind, and they can be dyed and stained without any issues. Any residual hide glue on parts of the wood that do not need bonding can easily be dissolved and removed. With this ability, hide glue helps give the woodwork a neater and cleaner finish.

Wood glue, however, does not have a clean finish. It leaves stains that would need to be scrubbed off. It is not easy to remove wood glue stains from the wood, unlike hide glue. Once wood glue dries up, it is impossible to clean up with water.

Working/Assembly Time

Hide glues have very limited assembly time. In either woodworking or DIYing, pieces of materials need to be set up in the right places so that the glue can bond together well. Hide glue is workable when it is hot, but once the temperature drops and it cools, it becomes adhesive and can hold wood together without the use of clamps. It takes about 24 hours for hide glue to dry and reach full strength.

Wood glue provides time for assembly and setup before the materials are bonded. Since there are different types of wood glue, the assembly tie depends on the type of wood glue used. This is highly fitting for woodwork as many pieces have to be assembled before bonding. Wood glue also takes about 24 hours to fully cure and reach full strength.


Both hide glue and wood glue are very good for wood bonding. Whether it is woodworking, DIY, or hobbies, wood glue is preferable. Depending on what you want it for, you can choose hide glue (antique and musical instrument making and repairs) or wood glue (other woodworks).

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