I guess if you are using hot hide glue all day in your shop it might be worth investing in a hot hide glue pot. These are pretty sweet, but for $120 I can’t justify the expense. I have seen many people’s homemade glue pots and would like to show you mine. Nothing new here.
First, a little hide glue theory. After the glue has been prepared (preparing hot hide glue), it will be in a gelatin state, much like Jello. The glue is only useable when in it’s liquid state, which happens by heating it up. As the glue is heated, it melts and flows like warm honey. The ideal temp. for the glue is around 140 degrees. As the glue cools off, it becomes thick and sticky. You don’t have much time to apply the glue before it starts to gel so you must work quickly. If you use a heat gun to warm the contact surfaces before you apply the glue, it greatly helps to keep the glue in it’s liquid state. If you don’t, the glue contacts the room temperature wood surface and gels almost immediately. Clamp your workpiece before the glue gels up and you will have a super strong creep free glue joint that will literally pull the pieces of wood together as it dries! You don’t need a lot of clamping force, just enough to close any gaps in the joint. I like to let it sit in the clamps overnight to be extra “luthier voodoo” safe, but realistically it can be unclamped as soon as the glue completely cools. The joint takes a while to completely dry out and crystalize though, so if you unclamp early you still have to wait to use it. Otherwise it won’t be fully cured and could delaminate.
Ok, so here is my pot. Nothing more than a hot water kettle, a glass jar, a meat thermometer and brush. This cost me about $12. The drawback of this cheapie setup is the temperature control on the pot is useless. Even on the lowest setting, it will heat the glue to 170 or 180. My simple solution is to plug the pot in when you are ready to glue, let it heat up to about 160 degrees and unplug it. The cold glue won’t reach 140 for a bit after the water bath has reached that temp. The water will cool off and the glue will be perfect in a couple minutes. And will remain at the correct temp. for about 5 minutes. Just repeat this cycle every time you are ready to glue something and you’re good to go!