Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Another Milestone for Old Brown Glue

Old Brown Glue Hard at Work
Brian Boggs is an amazing chairmaker.  His chairs are not only beautiful but I am sure they will last a lifetime of hard use.  To say Brian is obsessive about details is an understatement.  I remember in particular one long phone conversation with him about what dimension is best for a "tight" fit.  In my analog world, the proper "tight" fit is determined by how much force is required to push the spindle into the socket.  In Brian's mind, there needs to be an exact dimension, specific to each wood species and application.  We went back and forth, and I was never able to provide him with a number.

At some point, Brian discovered the liquid animal glue I was using every day, and told me he wanted to try it for his chairs.  He found out it worked great and insisted that I start putting it into a bottle so I could sell it.  Thanks to Brian, I decided to begin selling glue and came up with the basic name, Old Brown Glue.  I reasoned that woodworkers were used to calling their synthetic glue either yellow or white, so I went with brown.

I remember when I was asked by Joel at Tools For Working Wood to supply him with the liquid hide glue as a commercial distributor.  Before that, simple word of mouth about the glue meant that we would get a phone call from time to time asking if we could sell a bottle.  I guess we were selling about 3 or 4 bottles a week, on average.  Joel suggested that we make two sizes available, a 20 oz (net weight) and a 5 ounce.  I resisted putting the glue in smaller bottles, since I used it all the time and the larger bottles were fine.

In any event, for several years, Tools For Working Wood was the only place where you could buy the glue, outside of direct sales from my business.

Then the internet took over, and people who used it wrote nice things about it.  Cabinet makers, chair makers, luthiers, and even museum conservators all commented positively and the phone calls increased dramatically.

The next phase was when Lee Valley called and placed a large order, forcing us to design labels in both French and English, as well as convincing the Canadian government that our glue was not toxic or dangerous.  As soon as we finished with the paperwork, our glue was placed in stores across Canada.

Soon after, Rockler contacted us and began stocking our glue in their stores.  Between Rockler and Lee Valley, I was cooking glue every week, filling bottles and shipping out large boxes of product.

That meant I needed a cooking space in the business, as well as a bottling place, a labeling place, and a shipping department.  At that point, there was a fairly continuous flow of glue from one end of the business to the other.

We joked about contacting Home Depot and visualized seeing our product sitting on the end isles next to the infamous Gorilla.  Yeah, right...

However, last month we were contacted by Woodcraft Supply, and they placed a very large order!  In fact, they followed up that order with two more, even larger.  Now I am cooking glue every day, going through 50 pound bags of Milligan and Higgins glue as fast as I can open them.  We are needing to order bottles and labels all the time, and the glue is everywhere.

The other day, I searched on Google for "Old Brown Glue" and found the first ad for this was on Amazon!  Woodcraft is selling our glue on Amazon!!  Check it out.

Move over Gorilla, who needs Home Depot?
Got Glue?


Billy's Little Bench said...

Great to here things are going so well.

I just ordered two more 20oz bottles the other day from Woodcraft when I noticed it was available.

Keep up the great work, you may have to hire some help soon.


Steven Davis said...

Congratulations! '

Steven Davis said...

...and how do we order from you directly?

W. Patrick Edwards said...

If you want a direct shipment, just call the business and we will take your order. The number is on this blog.

Most people just buy OBG on our website: OldBrownGlue.com

We appreciate your support.

Renewable Community Power said...

I'm not sure which is better - the glue or the t-shirt?

It's a little known fact that Joseph Heller's original version of Catch 22 contained the following quote: "Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this glue and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some glue, that Old Brown Glue," he observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

W. Patrick Edwards said...

I appreciate the fact that readers of this blog are highly literate. However, if some "younger" readers are not up to date with the famous novel, I quote the original version from Wickipedia:

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. (p. 56, ch. 5)

Along with the 10 years I watched M*A*S*H I always thought Catch 22 was one of the best anti-war statements of my generation.

Thank you for the comment.

Chris Bame said...

Love your blog. Found it a few months ago. Fantastic work. Now that I know you are the one behind OBG I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing your knowledge of marquetry with the rest of us.
Cheers Chris

Martin said...

Apologies for posting on such an old entry, but I've just been reading through lately...

When Christopher Schwarz was here doing the SDFWA fall seminar, he sung the praises of hide glue and, in particular, yours. He noted that the viscosity was not always the same for every batch and the amount you had to warm it up was varied from batch to batch. He said, "It depends on what kind of mood Patrick was in the day he mixed that batch." That left a strong visual image of you slaving away over a pot of glue. This reinforced that except now I'm imagining a vat.

Greetings from another San Diegan :)

W. Patrick Edwards said...

In fact, I make every effort to cook each batch exactly the same...within reason.

The different viscosity which Chris mentions may in fact be just a question of the temperature that day and the way it is stored.

At normal room temperature (in San Diego the majority of the time that is in the low 70's) it should be a gel in the bottle. That makes it easy to ship.

However, the viscosity is a direct function of the temperature, so at any temperature between 100 and 150 degrees it changes and can be used for specific purposes.

Cooking a batch of glue takes me two days.