Picture of Make your own glue
There are literally hundreds of recipes out there for making your own glues, many left over from the days, not so long ago, when people had no choice but to make their own. Some recipes can be for very specific uses, such as collagen glue for marquetterie (*), or a special formula designed for attaching paper labels to skeletons. Some glues are made with flour, some are milk based, others work thanks to natural or synthetic gums. I've seen one recipe which called for mistletoe, another for fresh blood, but you'll have to read to the end of this instructable to discover my favorite secret ingredient....

I have included here a small sample of these recipes -- but I'd like to reassure the folks at Gorilla glue: although really fun to make, these glues won't cut into your market share. Commercial glue still beats the homemade variety for convenience, strength and even cost -- with the possible exception of step #1, paper paste for large scale collage projects.

(*) boil deer hooves and antlers with some lime in rain water for a couple days, apply hot.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Traditional paper paste

Picture of Traditional paper paste

If you've got a big paper pasting project going on (large group collage project, science fair display poster, etc) it is much easier and cheaper to cook this up rather than use white glue or rubber cement.

1/3 cup flour (all purpose white flour or bread making flour are best)
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp alum powder (optional preservative -- not necessary if the glue is for immediate use)

Mix flour and sugar. Gradually add water while stirring vigorously to prevent lumps.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, till the paste is clear. Remove from heat and stir in the optional alum.

Spread over paper or cardboard with a paintbrush. Press and smooth paper to be glued before the paste dries.

Store in a covered glass jar. This will keep for several weeks without refrigeration.

1-40 of 50Next »
JodieW129 days ago

I've tried this and it works really really well

lime3D made it!1 month ago

I just finished making the wheat paste (flour and water) version. After mixing, the batch is VERY runny, but while cooking, it quickly thickened to the consistency of cake frosting. It never turned clear, but it is slightly translucent. It is cooling in a jar right now, I'll try a couple gluing experiments after its cool.

belsey (author)  lime3D1 month ago

Intuitively I doubt this will be any good at gluing wood, but I'm looking forward to hearing about the results... Thanks for testing and sharing!

lime3D belsey1 month ago

Okay, glued to blocks of wood together, and let it sit overnight. It is amazingly strong. My guess is because one of the pieces of wood is about 3 square inches on the side I glued, and I glued the entire surface.

So the tests confirmed that both the milk glue and flour glue will work well for a backup to mechanical joining techniques.

lime3D1 month ago

I just made your milk glue recipe. The 1-1/2 Tbsp of water was literally a drop in a bucket. I had to add a LOT of water, just to get it to the consistency of pancake batter. I'm afraid if I add enough to make it as thin as commercially available white glue, it will make it too thin to work. I just tested it on two sheets of paper. I'll report back tomorrow.

lime3D lime3D1 month ago

The paper test seemed to work well. Just a little 'wavy' since the paper got soaked pretty good. Moving on to two pieces of wood (which is why I wanted to make this). Stay tuned.

lime3D lime3D1 month ago

I am pleasantly surprised by how well it glued two pieces of wood together. The bond seems pretty strong, although I did not try to test it to failure.

And again, the mixture can out more like paste than white glue. I have the batch in a zip-lock bag, and it tends to firm up into a stiff gel. After a few minutes of kneading it while in the bag, it becomes more pliable.

To apply it, I just dipped my finger in the bag o' glue, and smeared some on the work piece.

My reason for trying this recipe was to create a 100% natural wood glue for biodegradable caskets, coffins and urns, and I pretty happy with it. I think I'll leave it in gel form, and not try to thin it out any more.

belsey (author)  lime3D1 month ago

Wow! For that use, frankly, I'd be careful (and I definitely would not thin it out any more)... you wouldn't want it to fail at the wrong moment... But as long as you have very good woodworking skills, and you clamp the pieces really well when gluing, and you add pegs or those little wooden wafers to reinforce and hold the joints then it should be good. If the glue is just sealing and steadying a joint which would otherwise hold together mechanically then there's be no reason to worry. You should check out Henley's book though, the recipes here are just the tip of the iceberg, there are LOTS of other glue recipes, some of which might be better for woodworking.

lime3D belsey1 month ago

Glue is definitely just the suspenders for a 'belt and suspenders' design. I am actually writing a book on do-it-yourself caskets and coffins. For traditional (modern) caskets, the design calls for modern glue with fancy metal ornaments, hinges, catches, etc. I am also including a design for the new trend in 'green' burials. According to the Green Burial Council, all adhesives must be 100% natural. Because the guidelines for green burials are very similar to Jewish burials, the coffin design is the same for both. The HUGH difference is in the glue. Green says 100% natural, Jewish says no metal (nails and screws) and animal products, so now its time to experiment with wheat paste recipes.

JenniferL82 months ago

Can this be made with white flour?

belsey (author)  JenniferL81 month ago

Yes! All purpose white flour, or, if you happen to have it, bread making flour is even better.

RobertD132 months ago

I used to have a book from the same era called "Fortunes in Formulas" I have no idea where it went but, it was as the title said. It had similar things in it as this book. what a great find.

yurigoul3 months ago

There is a copy of the book you mentioned on - scans of the original edition from the start of the 20th century in all kinds of ebook formats and as a pdf.

belsey (author)  yurigoul3 months ago

Yes, in fact in my description above I give a link. Text from step 5 copied here: "Henley's is now in the public domain and a PDF file is available for free here, but after trying to read off the screen for a couple hours I decided I wanted a hard copy."

yurigoul belsey3 months ago

Autsch, my bad

belsey (author)  yurigoul3 months ago

No worries!

SNEHALCHEVLI3 months ago
In india we make it on Uttarayan (Kite flying Festival) to stick kites we call it lahe I make it myself in small vesal almost 1 cup for me & my friends in my childhood thanks to remember me to those Golden age.
kaley.roush3 months ago

do u have to use the alum powder and can u use regular flower

belsey (author)  kaley.roush3 months ago

The alum powder is optional, you can just leave it out if you don't have any.

kaley.roush3 months ago

do u have to use the alum powder and can u use regular flower

NotAPot2PN1 year ago

Belsey, this was amusing and helpful. And I love old books of formulae, too - leather conditioners, waterproofing for canvas, solutions to clean up fossil and mineral specimans, inks for pens made of feather shafts or bamboo, plaster for sculpting, determining the number of gallons of water required to fill the fish pond one has just dug and so on, so thank you for the Henley book. Now, if only you could give me a magic recipe for instant. delicious, Swiss RACLETTE,(w/potatoes & cornichon), I could die a happy old woman. Chubbier than pre-raclette, but happier by far.

belsey (author)  NotAPot2PN4 months ago

Just saw this now... and I can definitely help you with the raclette... because all you need is a big hunk of cheese and an open fire with a few rocks to prop up the cheese. Although I must say the little electric heater I have, though less "authentic" is much more convenient... Thanks for reminding me of this! Now I know what I'm having for dinner tonight...

Machine7 months ago

Nice instructable. Good job of showing it all to us with very good photography (are you a professional photographer?). I've been looking for some complete glue recipes and this is it. Thanks.

belsey (author)  Machine4 months ago

Sorry for the reply delay -- didn't see you comment till now. Thanks, and hope you enjoyed making the glue! I'm not a professional photographer (in fact all these photos are just taken with my cell phone!) but I am a professional designer. You can see some of my work here:

Hi, Would this glue be good for putting wallpaper on a cardboard house??

belsey (author)  michelle.zapien.564 months ago

Yes, the paste would work very well for that application. The water resistant one would work too.

cutie1521 year ago
14, 2:08 AM.jpg
cutie1521 year ago
It is cool
cribey4 years ago
Great info and find ~ thank you!!

I have some questions about this snail glue:

1. is it biodegradable?
2. can I put it in my compost?
3. does it glue wood?
4. is it poisonous to humans once set?
5. if i constantly run water over it will it degrade?
6. if it degrades from water and agitation, is it poisonous?

Thanks you for your replies to my questions
belsey (author)  cribey2 years ago
So sorry, I didn't see your questions till now... Not sure which recipe you're asking about, but here you go:
3. water resistant one might, but it's not super strong and depending on the stress the bond might not too durable. I did use it to glue tiles to cork a few years ago, and my coaster is still in great shape -- but I wouldn't use it for construction.
4. no
5. yes. It is somewhat water resistant but not completely and durably waterproof
6. not poisonous, ever, unless you make a whole jar, let it sit for months and then drink it when it's moldy and smelly.

OK, just saw you were asking about the snail glue, the only one I did not test. I think all my replies are still correct though I can't be 100% positive about the poison questions. I have eaten snails many times and I'm fine, though my sister once threw up on me after eating about a dozen of them (she was 8 at the time). I think it's the absurd amount of butter in the sauce which made her sick though, not the stuff in the snail's bladder.
Let me know if you ever try this!
Thanks a ton for the link. That's a great resource!
SUDHA212 years ago
HEY i want to ask that whether the glue which u made frm gelatin is biodegradable or not.
belsey (author)  SUDHA212 years ago
Yes it is.
badart3 years ago
Very Cool, as a sustainable artist will refer to this often. My favorite ingredient is GLUE!!!
thanks friend .... it s really nice . i made and used it for glueing papers . i lie it :)
i ll try it ... i think it s not water proof.. no problem... because i ll use it for gluing papers :)
You could use it for cake decorating.

How often do those carefully planned smarties fall out?
enisdogru4 years ago
It's not waterproof.I tried.
belsey (author)  enisdogru4 years ago
I tried it too, but for an item which required water resistance -- I didn't soak it in water for any length of time, so I believe you if you say it isn't water PROOF. I'll revise the heading and call is water RESISTANT instead. Thanks for the feedback!
I don't know why you would put milk in it, but gelatin works with the same principle as hide glue. It isn't waterproof, but it is heat resistant. Hot water is likely your problem.

Hide glue works by dehydration. As the water in it evaporates it pulls whatever it's sticking to together. If you rehydrate it, obviously it will fall apart again. Of course in most cases it will need to soak a while, or be steamed, which is likely what happened to the coffee mug if it wasn't the milk.
1-40 of 50Next »