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Wood Glue Types & Uses

Wood Glue Types & Uses

Wood Glue Types & Uses






With so many wood glues available today, it can be confusing to know which wood glue is best for woodworking glue-ups. Whether you are assembling a new project or making repairs to wooden furniture you need to understand your options. In woodworking, there are several types of glues that are commonly used and each of these have their own particular uses as well as overlapping properties for set and drying times, strength, viscosity and water resistance. We have made a comparison of the most popular wood glues used in woodworking to point you in the right direction.

Tips about the 5 most popular types of wood glue in woodworking:
  1. For centuries Hide Glue (animal skin) has been used in furniture making, musical instruments and the decorative arts. Hide glue possesses a variety of properties such as reversibility, color absorption, fast tack, super strength and it will not "creep". Traditionally, hide glue is mixed in hot water from dry flakes or pellets - this is the strongest type of hide glue because it is mixed fresh with no additives. Hide glue can also be purchased in a ready made liquid as Old Brown Glue and Titebond Liquid Hide Glue, both excellent choices if you prefer less fuss and odor. Liquid Hide Glue may not perform as well as hot hide glue for joints under tension such as in instrument making, so Luthiers best stick with traditional hot hide glue. In general, hide glue has long been the glue of choice when it comes to furniture restoration and conservation since it was the only glue used before modern alternatives became available.

  2. Polyvinyl acetate (white glue) and Aliphatic Resin Emulsion (yellow glue) are very similar in strength. Their difference being white glues have less initial tack while yellow glues have a faster tack. Unlike hide glue, PVA will not adhere to itself so repairs are harder to achieve since the joints have to be completely cleaned of any residual glue before re-gluing. PVAs are not reversible, will not take color and squeeze out should be cleaned off the surface with warm water or just left to dry and scrape off later. Titebond is the leading Aliphatic Wood Glue on the market, offering Types I (original - non-waterproof), II, and III. Titebond's type 2 and type 3 are waterproof, with type 3 offering more heat resistance, more water resistance, lower working temperature and longer open time than Titebond 2.

  3. Two part Wood Epoxies are very strong glues that have great gap filling capabilities and can be used without clamping. Epoxy is also waterproof and can be mixed with dry powders for color matching. Although epoxy is very strong, very tight fitting joints glued with epoxies are not. Consider using epoxies for situations where degradation is of concern.

  4. Superglue or Cyanoacrylate Glues can be used around the shop for gluing small pieces of wood together like small veneer repairs or chips. CA glue is best used for joining dissimilar materials like metal and wood. While flexible CA glues can accommodate some degree of movement or flexing across a joint, standard Superglues are brittle with virtually no tensile strength so their use in a woodworking shop is limited. Good for temporary wood to wood bonding like mounting glue blocks during clamp-ups. Woodturners love CA Glue as a super resilient finish for small turned objects - the finish can be buffed and polished to achieve a range of shiny to matte looks.

  5. Gorilla glue or Polyurethane Glue can be used to glue all most anything together - it bonds ceramics, fabric, glass, metal, stone and wood. Polyurethane glues also expand a great deal and can be a bit messy so we rarely use this type of glue for any type of final assembly projects unless waterproof is a must. Polyurethane glues can also be an option for oily or waxy exotics without solvent pre-wash, and on wood with moisture content from 8% to 25%, but there will be squeeze-out foam as it cures; once dry, it can be sanded, scraped or planed. Polyurethane glues are extremely strong and have a short clamp time so they can be handy for making woodworking jigs and fixtures too.

In general, for most wood to wood gluing, when it comes to shear strength and versatility, hide glue is by far the best choice with yellow glue a close second. In certain glue-up situations there can be specific extenuating circumstances, like the need for shorter or longer open times, better pore filing properties, waterproofing etc.. so consider the options. With so many different types of wood glues, a little experimentation and testing can go a long way in helping you to make the right decision for your particular woodworking needs.


Using wood glue tips:
  1. Buy the right type and right amount of glue for each project - though more expensive, consider smaller containers.

  2. Date your glue bottles once your crack the seal.

  3. Some wood glues, like CA glue and hide glue last longer when refrigerated so read your labels, which will also say "Keep From Freezing".

  4. If the glue will be on a stained surface consider mixing sawdust in the glue for a smoother finish.

  5. To keep a glue bottle's tip from clogging, "burp" the bottle so the tip is clear before you put the cap back on.

  6. Consider replacing your old standard glue bottles with Glu-Bot Glue Bottles, available in 4 oz. and 16 oz. sizes with exchangeable tip options.

Find the glue you need for your next project in Highland Woodworking's Glue Department.



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