How to Use Wood Glue? a Clear & Simple 5-Step Guide

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Wood glue is, most of the time, a white glue used to bond wood together, and is used in a variety of applications such as furniture repair, cabinetry, carpentry, DIY, and many more. Although wood glue has been in use for decades, many DIYers don’t know how to use wood glue correctly. Therefore, this article aims to give you step-by-step instructions on how to use wood glue properly.

  • Step 1 – Make sure you have the right type of wood glue.
  • Step 2 – Make sure to apply wood glue correctly, taking into account preparation, the thickness of glue, and spreading correctly.
  • Step 3 – Ensure good contact between the parts to be bonded, possibly by using clamps.
  • Step 4 – Let the glue cure.
  • Step 5 – Remove squeeze out.

In this article, I will go into all these points in more detail so that you know exactly how to use wood glue the right way. In addition to the main steps on how to glue wood, there are some basic concepts to keep in mind before we go into the details. All this information will give you the professional knowledge that is essential for a good and long-lasting connection between the wooden parts in your builds.

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What is wood glue?

Wood glue is a liquid glue that is used in combination with wood products. In addition, of the different substances that are used to make glues that can be used to bond wood products, wood glue or PVA (Polyvinyl acetate) is the best glue for wood to wood and is white in color.
Check out the other types of glues used in woodworking in my article 8 Different Types Of Woodworking Glues – A Clear View On Wood Glues

When to use wood glue?

For durable bonding of wooden joints that consist of only wooden parts with a medium to large bonding surface, and where a strong bond is required, use wood glue. If one of the parts is not made of wood, other types of glue can be used.
Related article: Is Wood Glue Stronger than Screws? An Unbelievable Showdown!

Pro Tip

You can use wood glue to make your own wood filler by mixing wood dust with this glue. However, next to the advantage of matching filler, Making it yourself can have some disadvantages, you can read more about it in my article, 5 Common DIY Filler Problems When Using It (The Truth)

How does wood glue work?

If you want to know how to use wood glue, it is best that you know how wood glue works.

Briefly, after you apply wood glue, this glue will penetrate two to six cells deep into healthy wood. After a few minutes, the moisture present in the glue will evaporate through the wood fibers or through the air to which it is exposed, and the glue will cure.

This penetration ensures that a super-strong connection will be created between the glued wooden parts.

How strong is wood glue?

Wood glues have a strength range of 3600 to 4000 psi (pounds per square inch), which means they can sustain pressures ranging from 3600 to 4000 pounds per square inch. This is represented in kilograms per square centimeter (kg/cm2) in countries that use the metric system. When converted to kilograms per square meter, this is between 250 kg/cm2 and 280 kg/cm2.

Wood glue’s strength stems from both its adherence to the substance and its own strength. The wood connection to be glued will be stronger than the wood itself with a proper glue connection.

What materials does wood glue bond well with?

Wood glue, a type of PVA (polyvinyl acetate) adhesive, is mostly used to bond two pieces of wood but can also be used on other porous surfaces like fabric and paper. Its powerful bonding results in a solid connection between the materials even when exposed to tough conditions.

It can be used for both indoor and outdoor purposes; however, it should not be applied to non-porous surfaces such as metal or plastic as this could weaken the bond. Although wood glue is strong and resilient, it is less durable than other glues in extreme weathers. For a more permanent solution that would remain unaffected in wet or cold environments, it is best to opt for an alternative adhesive.

Ebook part 1 woodworking basics

What are the different types of wood glue?

There are different types of glue offered by different brands like Titebond , Gorilla wood glue, and many others that can be used to glue wood. I will describe them briefly, so you can decide what type of glue will work well for you. The basic wood glues are:

Polyvinyl acetate (PVA)

PVA glue (polyvinyl acetate) is best known to most woodworkers. This is the well-known white wood glue that dries colorless and is about the most commonly offered glue in the store.

PVA wood glue is not suitable for filling cracks or bonding uneven surfaces.

PVA glue has different variants for both interior and exterior use. So be careful which one you buy. Here in Europe, this is a bit simpler and this type of glue is split into classes denoted by the letter “D” followed by a number. In the table below, you can find which class you need for your job.

D1This class should only be used in interior environments where the temperature does not exceed 50°C for more than a few minutes at a time and the wood moisture content is less than 15%.
D2D2 is intended for indoor use with brief exposure to flowing or condensed water, or high humidity on occasion, as long as the wood’s moisture content does not exceed 18%.
D3This is the most often used class, and it may be employed in scenarios involving a lot of short-term exposure to flowing or condensed water, as well as a lot of high humidity. It can also be employed in areas that aren’t exposed to the environment outside.
D4Use this class in indoor and outdoor situations were flowing or condensed water is present for long periods of time.
How to use wood gluePolyvinyl acetate (PVA) classes and their uses


Polyurethane adhesives have a usage equivalent to a D4 rating. It is a waterproof construction adhesive suitable for wet applications. In addition, polyurethane glue is widely used for gluing wood to other materials.

When used, this glue foams and becomes hard. By expanding the foam, holes, cracks, and irregularities will be filled.

The color of this glue is brown and can leave stains on your wood. When gluing, it is recommended to clamp the parts firmly so that everything stays in place when the foam expands.

Animal or hide glue

Hide glue is the predecessor of all other adhsives. However, this type of glue is becoming less popular.

Skin glue is a food-safe glue that can be used to make products that come into direct or indirect contact with food.

Cyanoacrylate (CA glue)

Ca glue cures quickly and produces a vivid hue after curing. If you’re searching for pure strength, this isn’t the glue for you.

CA glue is what I use to swiftly attach pieces that need to be put together or to connect tiny parts together.


Epoxy glue is a two-component adhesive that may also be used as a filler. Epoxy dries rapidly and is ideal for applications where the load on the component is considerable, and a strong bond is required. Are you interested in learning more about epoxy adhesives? To see more, check out my article, How And When To Use Epoxy? | The N°1 Clear Guide .

How Long Does Wood Glue Last?

Wood glue has a claimed shelf life of one to two years. On the other hand, many types of glue can last longer, and under perfect conditions, wood glue can last up to ten years. Therefore, preserve the wood glue in its original packing in a dry, cold location. To know when wood glue has gone bad, check my article How To Tell If Wood Glue Is Bad? 4 Tips To Avoid Disastrous Joints.

When wood glue has become thick overtime, you can easily thin this adhesive. Learn all about it in my article, How to Thin Wood Glue – 4 Quick & Easy Fixes

How to use wood glue

With all the previous info, you can get started using wood glue to make connections between two or more wooden parts.You will discover how to use wood glue in the steps below.

wood glue Preparations

Before you start gluing, it is important to make some preparations. Every situation is different, so think about this for a moment. To guide you in this, I will already share with you a few of the most common preparations that can inspire you when you get started with wood glue.

Clean the surface you want to glue. The dirt present on the wood can ensure that the wood glue cannot work into the wood or that the parts do not fit together perfectly.

Sand the surface. By sanding the surface with 120 grit sandpaper, you not only make it free of impurities, but also slightly flatter for better contact. The wood glue will also be able to absorb better into a roughened surface. Always use a sanding block when doing this.

It is recommended that before you apply even a drop of glue, you have all the materials you need ready for gluing. That way, you can put the parts in the right position as quickly as possible once you have applied the glue.

If you are going to use woodworking clamps, have them ready. When you are going to protect these clamps with foil or wax paper to prevent squeezing out glue from sticking to the clamps, prepare this first.

How to use wood glue step#1: How to apply wood glue

You can apply wood glue in different ways. One way will be faster than the other, but this is a personal thing. I’ll list a few, and then you can decide what suits you best.

Regardless of which method you use, to get a good and fast bond, you will need to apply the adhesive in a thin layer, spread over the entire surface. Some will say you have to apply wood glue on both sides. However, I have always applied wood glue on one side in the past and never had any trouble with this method.

You can apply wood glue directly from the bottle to the wood. This will probably be one of the most common ways people do this. After application, you will have to spread the glue over the entire surface.

I myself use an old gift card to do this, but any plastic card can be used for this. This type of card will distribute the glue evenly over the surface.

After gluing, you can simply let the glue fully dry on the card, after which you can simply peel it off and throw it away in the appropriate waste bin.

A second way is with a specially designed Wood Glue Roller Applicator Bottle. The roller will immediately spread the glue. The manufacturer claims that this roller cleans up very quickly, but I must admit that I have not yet tested this system myself.

Wood glue – DCT Wood Glue Spreading Woodworking Kit – 8 oz ounce Bottle, Roller Applicator, Dowel Hole Nozzle, Biscuit Slot Tip

Check out more details and prices of this product by clicking the link below.

A third way to spread wood glue is with a paintbrush. This allows you to apply the glue in a very thin layer, which reduces the chance of squeezing out. The disadvantage, however, is that you have to clean the paintbrush almost immediately after gluing, which entails some extra work.

Pro Tip

Pro-tip: If you like this way of spreading wood glue, you can use a custom brush such as this Titebond Titebrush. Due to the material used, it can be cleaned very quickly.

How much wood glue to use

If there is too little glue, the connection will be too weak. Too much glue will waste glue and slow the curing time. With a little practice, you’ll know exactly how much to apply. When you press the planks together, you should see a continuous line of small glue beads squeezed from between the planks.

How To Use Wood Glue A Clear Step-By-Step Guide
How To Use Wood Glue: A Clear Step-By-Step Guide – How Much Wood Glue to Use?

How to use wood glue step#2: Rub the joint

After applying the glue, it is time to bring the parts together. The benefit of using wood glue is that you still have time to make corrections.

The rub approach is a fantastic way to achieve a strong adhesive connection. Before clamping, apply glue to the edges of one of the planks and rub them together to uniformly spread the adhesive over the whole area.

How to use wood glue step#3: Clamping wood glue

For a good effect of wood glue, maximum contact between the parts to be glued must be ensured.

Many people still think that the tighter the wood is clamped, the better the wood glue will bond. This is incorrect! Wood glue will always penetrate the wood in the same way, no matter how high the pressure.

So if there is good contact between the parts, you do not need clamps in principle.

Clamps are recommended for wood that is under tension and/or does not make good contact.

If you have no idea which are the most important clamps for your jobs, be sure to read my article, What clamps do I need? 3 Essential clamps & helpful tips. In that article, I help you know which clamps you really need without wasting money on unnecessary material.

When you start using clamps to glue multiple planks together, it can be quite difficult to coat all the top surfaces with wood glue in time and get them perfectly aligned. You can solve this by adding one or two planks at a time instead of gluing and clamping all the planks at once. After a drying time of about 20 to 30 minutes, you can loosen the clamps and add planks. Admittedly, this is a method that takes a little longer, but it will significantly lower your stress level.

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How to use wood glue step#4: Let the wood glue dry

Once all the planks are in the right place, and when you use clamps they are tightened, you can let the wood glue cure.

Bonding will take place within approximately 30 minutes and will be fully cured after 24 hours. Drying time can be influenced by different circumstances. You can read more details on this subject in my article, how long does wood glue take to dry.

How to use wood glue step#5: Remove Excess Glue

The glue that exceeds the wood can be removed in 2 ways. Either you remove the glue while it is still liquid, i.e. just after gluing, or you wait to remove the glue until the glue has hardened.

Immediately after gluing, glue can be wiped away using a towel. However, by rubbing the glue into the board with the cloth, you risk removing the visible glue and massaging the glue into the wood. This might result in ugly stains throughout the finishing process.

As a result, a wet synthetic scouring pad is advised for removing the glue from the surface.

Unlike a fabric, which is difficult to remove adhesive from, the pad features a loose synthetic weave that quickly releases glue. Make sure the sponge is moist enough but not too wet to remove the glue off the surface as well as the wood’s open pores. When you’re finished, wipe the surface down with a clean towel.

The other day, I made a #shorts video on how to remove squeeze out. Maybe one of these tips will help you. Check out this video below.

A second way to remove the glue is to wait until the glue has dried. In most cases, you can remove the glue after waiting about 30 to 60 minutes. When the glue has acquired a darker color, you can then remove it with a sharp chisel. This way of removing glue ensures that almost all glue can be removed without making a mess. This way makes for a lot less work than cleaning up wet glue.

Once the squeezed-out glue has been removed, there is a chance that there is still some wood glue hidden in the top layer of the wood. It may not be visible immediately, but only later when you apply stain or finish, and then it’s too late to do anything about it, of course.

That is why I recommend that you do a short check before applying a stain or a finish.

You can easily do this by spraying some warm water near adhesive joints. The warm water will make hidden glue more visible. At the same time, the water will soften the dried glue, making it easier to remove.
Related article on this website: How to Remove Wood Glue (6 Situations with Easy Solutions)

A few tricks to maximize your time while gluing

Wood glue takes time to set, which amounts to about 30 minutes. This might be annoying if you are in a hurry or simply don’t want to wait 30 minutes.

I have a few techniques that might help you get through this waiting time that I’d like to share with you.

My nail gun is my first trick. Immediately after gluing, I drive a few brad nails into the wood. These hold the pieces in place and keep them close enough together for the glue to cure. I can go back to work right away after using only a few brad nails.

There is one disadvantage, however: the little holes of the brad nails are visible. In some circumstances, this isn’t a problem; in others, there’s a finish that hides it; but in certain cases, it’s a no-no!

The second trick is one where the problem of the holes because of the brad nails are solved by using CA glue.

When gluing with wood glue, make sure that small parts of the surface are not covered with wood glue. Apply a drop of CA glue to these places and join the parts together. The CA glue will bond within a few moments, fixing the parts and allowing the wood glue to dry out further.
To see more glues used in woodworking, check out my article 8 Different Types Of Woodworking Glues – A Clear View On Wood Glues.

How to store wood glue?

Wood glue has a shelf life of about two years max when stored properly. In short, To store wood glue so you always have fresh glue you can follow the next tips:

  • Store wood glue in a shaded, chill location to ensure its long-term durability.
  • Keep the lid tightly closed to prevent air from entering
  • Avoid storing wood glue in extreme temperatures, such as freezing or high heat
  • Check the expiration date on the bottle and use it before it expires
  • Don’t shake the bottle vigorously, as it may cause air bubbles to form and affect the glue’s effectiveness

In my article How To Store Wood Glue For Optimal Performance? 3 Quick Tips I go mere in depth to this. Be sure you read that article to ensure successful glue-ups.

What wood glue should you buy?

The wood glue you choose will depend on where you are gluing.

In Europe, you can check the class by looking for the “D” code and the following number. Where there is no classification by code, you need to pick the glue that is right for the job you are working on.

As an example, I take the wood glue from Titebond, because they have a clear distinction and on top of that, in my opinion, the strongest glue for wood.

  • The Titebond original wood glue (red) can be used for all interior bonding.
  • The Titebond premium wood glue (blue) has a fast drying time and can be used for bonding in damp areas.
  • The Titebond iii ultimate wood glue (green) is good for bonding outdoors, and can also be used for items that come in contact with food.

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