Hide Glue Crackle Tips

Advice on using hide glue as a base coat for a crackle finish. June 17, 2009

I would like some opinions on using dry ground hide glue to achieve a crackle finish. Has anyone tried this method and what can you suggest? I used plastic resin glue previously and the results were excellent! I wanted to try hide glue. Someone told me it would work. I'm trying to figure out if it works, or if the guy is trying to scramble my program!

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor B:
Hide glue works but I buy it ready to use.

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
Hide glue works well to produce a crackle finish. If you do a search at the top of the forum for “hide glue crackle” you can find a number of previous discussions about it. Also, Mac Simmons has an article on crackle at the link below.

A Little About Crackle Finishes

From contributor D:
I use the crackle medium from Real Milk Paint Company. It works well with almost any water based paint such as acrylic, latex, or casein. Thinning it makes for finer crackle or full concentration for heavy crackle. I think it is more cost effective than hide glue even though hide glue works very well. The formula is mainly industrial grade gelatin if I remember correctly.

From contributor S:
Industrial grade gelatin and hide glue are virtually the same thing, very close as far as chemical and protein composition. Hide glue purchased in dry form is very inexpensive. You can choose your gram strength to suit and make up a fresh batch when you need it.

From contributor P:
I'm in the middle of doing a crackle finish. I tried the hide glue method. It does crackle very well, but there were two problems that led me to abandon it. The dried glue is high gloss and the glue re-dissolves when it comes in contact with water. I do water-based finishes, so I was worried about what effect that might have when I put my clearcoat on top of the color. I ended up using Pratt and Lambert crackle medium instead. It works ok, but I'm a little concerned about the adhesion of the crackle medium to my clearcoated, stained finish beneath.

From contributor C:
Though I have done crackle in many various ways with a myriad of materials, I do not recommend the hide glue latex techniques, even though they can give very nice to stunning crackle results. They are not long term finishes (less than 30 years) even when they’re done correctly.

That said, yes they do work! Never apply the glue over other coatings though - only on the bare wood. I have seen whole panels of crackle/glue come loose when applied over sealer coats.

Liquid hide from Franklin is in my opinion the best to use. Spray the glue on, then let the surface dry and proceed with the acrylic overcoat. The thicker the glue the wider the cracks - as is also the same with the thickness of the latex paint. Franklin and other liquid hides have gel suppressants added to them to keep them in liquid form, and other additives also. Unless you want to develop your own and purchase everything you need to make a like product, stick with a good national brand.