Whether it’s building a piece of furniture or creating intricate designs, woodworking requires joining pieces together in a way that is both strong and aesthetically appealing. That’s where woodworking glues come in – they are the glue that holds everything together! Woodworking glues are essential because they provide the necessary strength for different types of wood joints.
Before embarking on any project that requires adhesive, it is essential to understand the unique characteristics of various types of glue for wood. Different tasks necessitate various adhesives, so familiarizing yourself with the characteristics of each can ensure a successful outcome. In woodworking, there are 8 main types of woodworking glues you need to know:
- PVA glue
- Hide glue
- Polyurethane Glue
- Epoxy glue
- Cyanoacrylate Glue (Super Glue)
- Resorcinol Glue
- Contact cement
- Hot glue
This ultimate wood glue guide will explore the diverse properties and characteristics of each type of woodworking glue, determining when they should be utilized in your projects. Delve into the depths of this material to discover its unique attributes and the optimal applications for each type. So grab your safety glasses and let’s get started!
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PVA Glue (Polyvinyl Acetate)
Description of PVA glue and its properties
Popular among woodworkers for its simple operation and budget-friendly cost, PVA Glue, also known as White Glue, is a water-based adhesive composed of polyvinyl acetate and water.
When applied to wood, this carpenter’s wood glue penetrates the pores and grain of the wood, creating a strong bond. One of the key properties of PVA glue is its ability to dry clear.
This makes it ideal for use on projects where aesthetics are important. Additionally, it has a relatively long working time before it begins to set, which gives woodworkers more flexibility when it comes to positioning pieces before gluing them together.
Advantages and disadvantages of using PVA glue
The use of PVA glue in woodworking projects offers an exceptional advantage for creating a sturdy bond between pieces, which can sometimes be even stronger than the wood itself.
Another advantage is that PVA glue dries clear, which means that any excess or drips can be sanded away without leaving a noticeable residue. Despite its many benefits, using PVA glue does come with certain drawbacks.
One major disadvantage is that it can weaken over time if exposed to moisture or heat. If you’re tackling an exterior task or something that will be exposed to intense heat, it may be beneficial to look into a different type of adhesive.
Another disadvantage of PVA glue is that it can create a mess if not applied properly. Because it’s a liquid adhesive, there’s always the risk of excess dripping onto surrounding surfaces or getting on your hands or clothing.
Best uses for PVA glue in woodworking projects
PVA wood glue is an invaluable tool for many different woodworking projects. With its user-friendly utility and versatility, it has proven to be an ideal choice for a variety of applications, such as:
- Joining pieces of wood together to create larger structures or furniture
- Attaching veneers or other thin sheets of wood to a surface
- Gluing down dowels or other types of reinforcements
- Creating intricate designs by layering multiple pieces of wood together
For woodworkers seeking a cost-effective and accessible adhesive, PVA glue is a perfect choice. Boasting versatility, this material is perfect for a vast array of woodworking projects and deserves serious consideration. Although not the best option in all circumstances, it is undoubtedly an ideal solution for many.
For more important information about wood glue, like how to use it, dry time, and its shelf life you should read my main article Understanding wood glue + 8 awesome tricks you should know. In that article, you will find links to other articles that will guide you deeper into this topic so you can learn all about it.
Hide Glue: The Old-School Adhesive
Astonishingly, liquid hide glue is among the oldest glue for woodworking still in use today. It’s been used for centuries and was even the preferred choice of ancient Egyptians who used it to construct their furniture.
This natural wood glue is made from animal collagen, usually from animal hides or bones, which is heated up and mixed with water. The resulting mixture is then spread onto the wood surfaces and clamped together to dry.
Advantages of Using Hide Glue
One major benefit of using this glue is its reversibility – it can be reactivated by applying heat and moisture, making repairs much easier. It also bonds extremely well with wood fibers, creating a strong bond that won’t come apart easily.
Unlike PVA glue, hide wood glues doesn’t require perfect conditions to set properly – in fact, it’s often used in restoration work on old furniture precisely because it sets in damp or humid conditions where other adhesives would fail.
Disadvantages of Using Hide Glue
One big downside of using hide wood glues is its sensitivity to temperature changes. Once dry, this glue can become brittle if exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations. Moreover, though modern glue formulations have improved shelf-life compared to their earlier counterparts, they still fall short of staples like PVA and epoxy.
Best Uses for Hide wood Glue
Hide wood glue is not as multipurpose as some of its counterparts, yet it shines in certain scenarios that require its specialized use. Traditional furniture makers swear by this glue for its ability to create invisible joints that don’t need filler or sanding afterward.
It’s also popular among luthiers (makers of stringed instruments) due to its good bonding with wood and easy reversibility – both important features when building something as delicate as a guitar. Additionally, hide wood glue is often used in restoration work on antique furniture due to its historic accuracy and ease of reversibility.
Overall, this glue may not be the most convenient adhesive to work with – it can be finicky and requires some extra attention to temperature and humidity – but for those who want an authentic, old-school woodworking experience, it’s definitely worth considering.
It’s good bonding with wood fibers and easy reversibility makes it an ideal choice for certain applications like traditional furniture making or instrument building.
Polyurethane (PU) Glue
Description of Polyurethane Glue and its Properties
Polyurethane wood glue is an adhesive also know as yellow glue that forms powerful bonds through a chemical reaction between different materials. When the glue comes into contact with moisture, it expands and fills any gaps, creating a strong bond. It is often used in woodworking because it can glue woods that are difficult to join together with other types of glue.
PU glue is an excellent choice for outdoor projects or areas that will be exposed to extreme temperatures, as it offers robust waterproof protection and heat resistance. Its extended working time also offers great flexibility, allowing for ample opportunity to make adjustments before the adhesive sets.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Polyurethane Glue
One advantage of using PU glue is its adhesive strength. It creates a very strong bond that can withstand heavy loads and stresses.
Another advantage is its resistance to water and heat, which makes it useful for outdoor projects or projects exposed to extreme temperatures. However, one disadvantage of PU glue is its toxicity.
This substance consists of chemicals that may be detrimental if ingested or inhaled, thus necessitating the utilization of appropriate safeguards when handling it. Additionally, the expansion properties of PU glue can cause staining or warping if not used properly.
Best Uses for Polyurethane Glue
PU glue is the ideal adhesive for connecting materials that are challenging to bind using other adhesives. For example, it works well for bonding different types of wood together because it expands and fills any gaps between them.
It is also useful for outdoor projects due to its waterproof properties; this feature makes it the ideal waterproof wood glue for bonding items such as garden furniture or birdhouses where exposure to rainwater would be common. Polyurethane glue’s long working time makes it great for larger woodworking projects where multiple pieces need to be joined and aligned.
Description of Epoxy Glue and Its Properties
Epoxy glue is a two-part adhesive made up of resin and a hardener. The union of the two components forms an indomitable connection that can endure extreme temperatures, water exposure, and chemical exposure.
Epoxy glue is widely utilized in woodworking due to the strength of its secure bond, especially when enduring hefty loads. A unique advantage of epoxy glue is its prolonged curing time.
After being mixed together, epoxy glue can take anywhere from several hours to overnight to fully cure. Woodworking projects that involve epoxy may take longer to execute than those relying on alternative glues, implying additional time commitment.
Epoxy comes in various forms such as paste or liquid and clear or opaque. Clear epoxy can be useful when you need an invisible bond such as glass-to-glass or wood-to-wood bonding while opaque versions are best suited for filling gaps or cracks due to their thickness.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Epoxy Glue
The main advantage of using epoxy glue is the strength of the resulting bond it creates. It’s next to a waterproof glue also heat-resistant and chemical-resistant which makes it ideal for use on outdoor projects like decks or boats where exposure to harsh elements is common.
Epoxy is highly sought-after in woodworking projects for its incomparable versatility in bonding materials such as wood, metal, plastic, glass, masonry, and more.
However, one disadvantage to using epoxy glue is its longer curing time compared to other adhesives like PVA glues which dry faster. Additionally, cleaning up uncured resin would need solvents which are not only expensive but also harmful both for skin contact and environmental pollution.
Best Uses for Epoxy Glue in Woodworking Projects
Epoxy works well when you need an extra strong bond. It’s a popular choice for joining pieces of wood together where strength is crucial such as in laminated beams or for table tops that will be subject to stress. Epoxy is also great for filling gaps, cracks, and knots in wood.
It can be tinted with pigment to match the color of the surrounding wood grain and can even be mixed with sawdust from the project to create a custom filler. Another use of epoxy glue in woodworking is when bonding dissimilar materials, such as metal fasteners to wooden workpieces.
Due to its water resistance property, it’s an ideal choice for making boats or outdoor furniture where high humidity is a factor. Epoxy glue is a strong and versatile adhesive that has many advantages in woodworking projects.
However, its longer curing time and need for solvents may make it less convenient on some occasions. Before selecting an adhesive to suit the needs of your project, it is essential to assess the details first in order to make an educated decision and achieve the strongest possible bond.
To dive deeper into the knowledge of Epoxy glue, you can start with my main article How and when to use epoxy glue? | The N°1 clear guide. From there you can learn more about this great type of glue
Cyanoacrylate Glue (Super Glue)
Stick it together with Super Glue
Cyanoacrylate glue, commonly referred to as Super Glue, has become immensely popular in the woodworking world for its adhering power. It is a fast-drying adhesive that forms a strong and instant bond between surfaces. Since its invention in the 1940s, this adhesive has evolved exponentially and is now considered one of the most versatile glues for wood available today.
Properties of Cyanoacrylate Glue
Composed of cyanoacrylate monomers, super glue creates a strong and lasting bond between two surfaces when it comes into contact with moisture. The glue comes in different viscosities to suit different applications, ranging from thin liquid to thick gel-like consistency. It dries clear and hard and can be sanded or painted over once it dries.
Advantages of Using Cyanoacrylate Glue
One outstanding benefit of superglue is its rapid drying capabilities. It can bond surfaces within seconds which makes it perfect for small woodworking projects where time is crucial.
The glue also forms a strong, durable bond which makes it ideal for bonding wood and other materials together. An added bonus of cyanoacrylate glue is that it does not contract or expand when dry, eliminating the worry of any gaps forming between the two objects you are gluing together.
Disadvantages of Using Cyanoacrylate Glue
One disadvantage of using superglue is its lack of flexibility once it dries. This means that if the bonded surface experiences any movement or stress, the glue may crack or break.
Additionally, this adhesive has a sensitivity to moisture and should therefore not be used on any damp or wet material. Super glue also has low gap-filling properties, meaning that it cannot fill gaps between surfaces like other types of glue can.
Best Uses for Cyanoacrylate Glue in Woodworking Projects
Super glue is best used for small woodworking projects such as bonding small pieces of wood, fixing cracks in wood, and assembling furniture joints. It is also useful for repairing broken wooden objects such as picture frames or toys.
Nevertheless, it’s inflexibility and limited ability to fill gaps may make it an unsuitable choice for larger carpentry projects or repairs that necessitate a more pliable bond.
Cyanoacrylate glue (Super Glue) is a versatile adhesive that can be great to have on hand for small woodworking projects. However, its lack of flexibility and gap-filling properties make it less suitable for larger projects where a more durable bond is required.
Explore the word of CA glue, starting with my article This is why CA glue is a popular glue for woodworking | All about CA glue. From this article, you can click through to more detailed articles so you can learn all there is to know about CA glue.
Description of Resorcinol Glue and its Properties
Resorcinol glue, frequently referred to as resorcinol-formaldehyde adhesive is a powerful two-part bonding agent commonly used in boatbuilding and woodworking. Its efficacy in creating a watertight bond between the wood and other surfaces has earned it recognition for its exceptional strength and durability.
Resorcinol glue is made up of two parts: a liquid resin and a powdered hardener. Upon combining the components, a chemical reaction is set in motion, producing an exceptionally durable bond.
The adhesive boasts waterproof and heat-resistant properties, making it suitable for outdoor projects or endeavors subject to harsh conditions.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Resorcinol Glue
One advantage of using resorcinol glue is its strength. The wood adhesive forms a connection that is more robust than the wood itself, making it ideal for projects where exceptional strength and longevity are paramount. Moreover, its waterproof and heat-resistant qualities render resorcinol glue ideal for a broad range of outdoor uses.
However, one disadvantage of using resorcinol glue is its toxicity. This glue contains formaldehyde, a hazardous substance if inhaled or ingested. Therefore, it is critical to apply safety measures while handling this adhesive, including wearing gloves and a respirator. Additionally, resorcinol glue does not offer the same gap-filling properties as its epoxy counterpart.
Best Uses for Resorcinol Glue
Resorcinol glue is best used for projects that require a strong, waterproof bond. It is frequently relied upon in boatbuilding, where it connects wood to fiberglass or other materials. Additionally, it is invaluable for projects such as constructing decks and furnishings outside, as it is resistant to water and can endure extreme temperatures. When using this glue, it is better to clamp the pieces firmly together.
Description of Contact Cement and its Properties
Contact cement is an adhesive often utilized in woodworking and building projects. Rapidly drying to generate an enduring, tenacious bond between two surfaces, it is the perfect choice for efficient and durable results.
Contact cement is applied to both surfaces that need to be bonded together and allowed to dry. Once the adhesive has set, the two surfaces are firmly clamped together and a secure bond is created. Contact cement is available in both solvent-based and water-based formulations.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Contact Cement
One advantage of using contact cement is its fast-drying properties. It creates a bond within minutes, which makes it ideal for projects that require a quick turnaround time. Additionally, contact cement creates a very strong bond that is resistant to water and heat.
However, one disadvantage of using contact cement is its lack of flexibility. Once the bond is formed, it is difficult to remove or adjust without damaging the surfaces being bonded. Additionally, contact cement can emit fumes that are harmful if inhaled, so proper ventilation is necessary when using this glue.
Best Uses for Contact Cement
Contact cement is best used for projects that require a strong, permanent bond between two surfaces. Woodworking professionals routinely rely on it to fasten laminates and veneers securely to wooden surfaces. It is also useful in construction projects, such as installing flooring or countertops, where a strong, waterproof bond is necessary.
Hot glue is a thermoplastic adhesive that is popular in various crafts, including woodworking. Made from thermoplastic polymers, this process involves applying the material in a molten state, solidifying upon cooling. Here is a guide on hot glue in woodworking.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Hot Glue
The quick-drying characteristics of hot glue render it an ideal choice for carpentry projects. It solidifies quickly, allowing woodworkers to work efficiently and save time. It is also easy to use, as it does not require mixing or other preparation before application.
Nevertheless, hot glue cannot match the lasting power of other adhesives such as epoxy or PVA glue. It may not be suitable for heavy-duty woodworking projects where strength is crucial.
Hot glue may also not be the best option for projects that will be exposed to heat or moisture, as it can soften or melt in high temperatures and weaken in wet conditions.
Best Uses for Hot Glue in Woodworking Projects
Hot glue is ideal for woodworking projects that require temporary holds or where aesthetics are not critical. For example, hot glue is suitable for holding pieces of wood together temporarily during clamping or when other adhesives are being used.
Hot glue can also be used to attach embellishments to wood projects or as a filler for small gaps and cracks. It is also suitable for attaching non-wood materials such as plastic or foam to wood surfaces.
Hot glue is a user-friendly adhesive that can be utilized for a multitude of woodworking projects. Despite not offering the same strength as other bonds, it can be beneficial in short-term repairs where appearance is not a crucial consideration.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Woodworking Glues
When seeking the most suitable glue for your woodworking project, several features must be taken into account. Assess these key points to discover the optimal adhesive for your specifications:
- Bond Strength: The intensity of the adhesive needed will depend on the project you are tackling. A cutting board, for instance, calls for a powerful bond, whilst a picture frame might not require such forceful adhesion.
- Open Time: Grasp the concept of open time: the duration you have to work with glue prior to its setting. Different glues for wood possess varying open times, which can be advantageous for intricate projects.
- Time to dry: The period in which glue becomes completely cured is referred to as its drying time. Depending on the type of adhesive, some glues for wood dry quicker than others; making them a more suitable choice for projects that need to be completed before a set deadline.
- Water Resistance: If your endeavor will be exposed to dampness or moisture, you’ll require an adhesive that is water-resistant.
- Temperature Resistance: For projects that will be exposed to elevated temperatures, an adhesive that is resistant to heat is imperative.
- Toxicity: Working in a confined or inadequately ventilated space can be hazardous due to some adhesives containing toxins.
- Ease of Use: Ease of application can provide a great advantage for the novice woodworker, and some glues for wood are simpler to use than others.
- Cost: The expense of the adhesive is also a factor to consider. Various types of glue differ in price, requiring one to weigh the cost against the advantages.
By factoring in these elements, you can determine the ideal woodworking glue for your endeavor. Bear in mind that each type of adhesive bears varying characteristics and is better suited to distinct tasks; thus, pick the adhesive best suited to your requirements.
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8 Different Types of Woodworking Glues – Conclusion
Finally, selecting the ideal woodworking glue can be key for any woodworking project. From instant-dry PVA glues to watertight polyurethane glues for wood, there are many adhesives tailored to specific projects and materials. When deciding on glue, take into account factors like time to dry, strength, and water resistance to guarantee your project is robust and aesthetically pleasing for years to come.
To strengthen woodwork joints, secure pieces together and even mask off areas for finishing, tapes are a handy tool for any woodworking project. If you’re curious about the different types of tape that can give your work an extra edge, read our helpful guide “7 types of tape for woodworking you should have + bonus.” Equip your workshop with the right tapes and glues for wood, and you’ll be prepared to take on any undertaking!
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