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Wood Glues

wood finishing

by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher

I get questions from time to time about which glue is best for assembling a new project and which is best for making repairs to wooden furniture. 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. Here are six tips.

  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 reversability, color absorbtion, fast tack, super strength and it will not "creep". Hide glue can be purchased in a ready made liquid form (Titebond Liquid Hide Glue) or in dry flakes or pellets to be mixed in hot water. Hide glue is the glue of choice when in comes to furniture restoration and conservation since this was the only glue used before modern alternatives became available.
  2. Polyvinyl acetate or white glue and aliphatic resin emulsion or 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 regluing. 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. Also, Titebond's type 2 or type 3 are waterproof. Other than being waterproof, these glues are basically the same as Type 1.
  3. Two part 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. We use this type of glue only for certain situations where degradation is of concern.
  4. Superglue or cyanoacrylate glues are used around the shop for gluing very small pieces of wood together like small veneer repairs or chips. We do not use superglue for anything other than this because these types of glues are very brittle and have virtually no tensile strength.
  5. Polyurethane glue can be used to glue many things together including wood, but polyurethane glues also expand a great deal and can make a real mess of things so we rarely use this for any type of woodworking in the shop.
  6. When it comes to shear strength and versatility, hide glue is by far the best choice with yellow glue a close second. With so many different types of glues on the market and people using them, a little experimentation can go a long way in helping you to make the right decision for your particular needs.

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

Visiting Atlanta? Attend one of Alan's upcoming highly informative Highland Woodworking wood finishing seminars:

September 8   Secrets of the Scott Antique Show

September 19   French Polish Workshop

September 22   Spray Finishing

October 3   French Polish Workshop

October 13   Secrets of the Scott Antique Show

October 20 & 21   Antique Restoration

Visit Highland Woodworking's Online
Wood Finishing Supplies Department

Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at .

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Highland Woodworking | 1045 N. Highland Avenue, NE | Atlanta | GA | 30306 | 404.872.4466