Best Wood Glue – Selecting the Strongest Adhesives for Wood
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Whether you’re into woodwork or paper crafting, the chances are that you use glue to piece together or decorate your workpieces. Crafters of all disciplines can agree that some crafts would be virtually impossible without at least some kind of adhesive, so it comes as no surprise that loads of companies have joined the craft glue game to make some sweet, sweet cash. However, in the midst of this cash grab, some manufacturers have cut corners to focus on quantity rather than quantity, so let’s have a look at what the best wood glue is, what types of wood glue are out there, and what the best wood glue is for each application.
Table of Contents
- 1 Different Types of Wood Glue
- 1.1 Polyvinyl Acetate Glue (PVA)
- 1.2 Cyanoacrylate Glue (CA)
- 1.3 Epoxy Wood Glue
- 1.4 Hide Wood Glue
- 1.5 Polyurethane Wood Glue
- 2 How to Use Wood Glue Effectively
- 3 Frequently Asked Questions
Different Types of Wood Glue
There are loads of wood glues out there that vary in strength, resistance to certain forces, application, and ease of use. Keep in mind that these are only the types of wood glue that are readily available for purchase, there are many types of custom-made adhesives that are only permitted for industrial applications and are custom made. So, without further ado, here are some of the wood glue types you’ll come across in your wood crafting process.
|Type Of Wood Glue||Characteristics|
|Epoxy-Based Wood Glue|
|Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA)|
|Hide Wood Glue|
|Polyurethane (PU) Wood Glue|
Polyvinyl Acetate Glue (PVA)
Polyvinyl Acetate is one of the most common types of glue not just inside the US but all over the world. This type of glue is commonly referred to as white glue and is typically seen in classrooms all over the world as the weapon of choice for crafting lessons. Its use extends far beyond the walls of classrooms though, as many professional crafters use this as a quick and easy solution to decorating their workpieces or simply as a means to get paper aspects of their workpieces to stick together.
PVA glue is one of the most effective types of glue on the market even though it has quite a poor adhesion strength. Why? Because it’s readily available, easy to use, is completely non-toxic, and can be cleaned up with just some soap and water! It just goes to show that strength isn’t everything when it comes to wood glue, and in some cases having a product that is versatile, cheap, and abundantly sold can be better in certain applications.
Best PVA Glue: LINECO Neutral pH Adhesive
If you’re looking for a great PVA glue for your next woodworking project we think that the neutral PH adhesive from the Lineco team. This glue is great for crafting and woodwork applications, and the best part is that it’s completely safe for use by kids too! PVA glues might not have the strongest adhesive strength compared to other wood glues, but they are readily available and perfect for smaller woodworking applications.
This glue is available in both four-ounce and eight-ounce variations, so you never need to worry about not having enough to finish up your projects. It is also a clear wood glue when dry which means that you won’t have to cover up any nasty stains or blotches after you’ve used it to join part of your workpiece.
This being said, it’s not exactly suitable for heavy-duty applications so we recommend assessing your workpiece and the forces that will be acting on it before using this particular Lineco product. On the other hand, this product is water-soluble, so in the event of a spill, you won’t have too much trouble cleaning it up.
- Ph neutral, non-toxic, acid-free archival grade formula
- Ideal for wood-based products and crafts such as bookbinding
- Dries quickly to a clear and flexible bond
- Easy to use
- Readily available
- Can be cleaned with soap and water
- Completely non-toxic
- Can be used both indoors and outdoors
- Can be used by kids
- Some variations can be waterproof
- Poor adhesion strength
- Bonds dissolve when in contact with water
- Requires clamping while curing
- Not ideal for vertical surfaces (runny)
Cyanoacrylate Glue (CA)
While this might sound like a complicated chemical composition made by scientists in a secret lab somewhere deep underground, you might know it by another name, superglue! Cyanoacrylate is one of the strongest wood glue types on the market and has become extremely popular in recent years as glues of this type have become stronger, more versatile, and readily available.
Why is superglue so good at what it does? Well, it’s one of the strongest wood glue types out there as we mentioned previously, but it’s also really sought after because it dries almost instantly and rarely requires things like clamping or you having to hold your workpiece together. It’s also ideal for use on vertical surfaces because it does not run easily, and it dries clear which means crafting is made that much easier.
Best CA Glue: STARBOND Medium, Premium CA – Cyanoacrylate Adhesive Super Glue
As we mentioned CA glue is just a fancy word for superglue, and what better tool forhold things together than the glue that literally has super in its name? If you’re looking for great CA glue, we recommend the premium Cyanoacrylate Adhesive from the Starbond team. They offer a wide range of high-quality adhesives for all applications, and their CA glue is no different.
What makes this CA so special? Well, for starters it’s one of the most versatile superglues for wood products on the market, being graded or use on wood, metal, plastic, and even ceramic surfaces, which comes as a surprise considering shear surfaces are pretty hard for anything to stick to. Starbond claims that their formula has been lab-formulated for maximum industrial-grade applications, so it’s pretty safe to say that you’ll be getting high-quality glue.
The Starbond team seems to have focused on precision and adhesion quality when creating their CA glue, and considering that these are the exact characteristics that you want out of your superglue for wood, we think they did a good job. Every purchase gets two applicator caps and one clog remover, along with an assortment of micro tips for things like model building and intricate joint work.
Its consistency is impressive too, the Starbond team claims that it has about the same consistency as motor oil, and if that isn’t an example you can follow, it has around the same consistency as a freshly made cappuccino. This glue also has an impeccable shelf life when stored under the right conditions, and the Starbond team offers free replacements for any defective products.
- High performance, industrial grade, general purpose adhesive
- Includes applicator caps, clog-free stopper, and precision micro-tips
- Viscosity of150 cPs and penetrating abilities of up to 0.006" in size
- Readily available
- Can be used on vertical surfaces
- Clear wood glue when dried
- Clamps are not typically needed
- Adheres to wood’s fibers
- Can be used on a variety of materials
- Can yellow over time
- Not conducive for long term suspension
- Sold in small quantities
- Can be challenging to clean up if spilled
Epoxy Wood Glue
Epoxy is not the type of adhesive that one would typically associate with wood joining, but it is by far one of the most effective means of joining not only wood workpieces but anything from metal to ceramic, to plastic, and even brick or mortar surfaces. Epoxy adhesives generally come in two parts, the epoxy, and the hardener, and when joined together they form a molecular bond with the surfaces they’re applied to.
It should come as no surprise then that epoxy adhesives are by far the most popular choice among professional crafters and even contractors for heavy-duty adhesive applications. These types of adhesives are great for load-bearing or suspension applications and will often last for the lifetime of the workpiece they’re applied to. This means that epoxies very rarely need to be maintained or re-applied to a surface.
One of the best things about using epoxy glue for wood is that epoxy itself is completely fireproof once it’s had a chance to cure completely. It’s one of the reasons that many kitchen countertops are covered with epoxy resin, and why it’s a great adhesive for wooden workpieces. Besides being fireproof, epoxy adhesives are resistant to impact abrasion, heat, cold, and even vibration!
The Best Epoxy Wood Glue: GORILLA Two-Part Epoxy
If you need an epoxy glue for wood that you can rely on to get the job done and get it done well, we think that the Gorilla two-part epoxy would be the best choice for the job. Gorilla has become something of a household brand in recent years thanks to its reliability and ease of use, not to mention its adhesion strength and durability. Gorilla pretty much makes a glue for every occasion, and they don’t seem to compromise on quality with any of their products.
Besides being good for sticking things to wood and being nearly indestructible, this Gorilla wood glue is also extremely versatile. It is graded for use on various surfaces, including but not limited to wood, glass, ceramic, metal, and even plastic! This means that when you’re done with your woodworking project you can use what’s left of your Gorilla wood glue to fill in gaps, repair light fixtures and even repair old gutters if the mood takes you.
It’s not all about getting the job done either, after all, if you just wanted a glue that would stick you could simply get your hands on a custom industrial-grade adhesive. Gorilla is made with crafters in mind, that’s why their formula is not only strong but dries completely clear ensuring that there’s nothing to distract potential audiences from the beauty of your workpiece.
While it might not be the fastest setting glue on the market, we think that it’s a worthwhile trade-off for a glue of this strength. Gorilla’s two-part epoxy sets in roughly six minutes and will cure completely within 24 hours or less. This means that you will need to use some clamps to secure your workpiece, but if you’ve chosen this adhesive the chances are that the size of your workpiece probably requires clamping of some kind anyway.
- Strong, permanent, fast, and gap-filling; great for multiple surfaces
- For tough repairs needing a durable bond and solvent resistance
- Dries clear and sets within 6 minutes, allowing for repositioning
- Highly durable
- Resistant to impact, abrasion, and vibration
- Can be used on virtually any surface including concrete
- Bonds with wood fibers
- Can be used on vertical surfaces
- Can be used to suspend objects
- Can be challenging to apply without a dual syringe
- Needs to be clamped
- Long cure time
- Contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Not ideal for beginner crafters
Hide Wood Glue
While it might not be one of the most widely used wood glues on the market today, hide glue is by far the best glue for furniture, particularly if you’re in the business of restoring antique furniture. Hide glue is what most old furnishings were originally constructed with, therefore, one of the best ways to execute an authentic restoration is to use this type of wood glue.
Hide glue might sound cool, but unlike some of the other glues we’ve mentioned so far, the way it’s made is not particularly pleasant. You see, hide glue is made from muscle tendons, sinews, and skins of animals. Gnarly stuff, right? Fortunately, the production of hide glue is environmentally friendly, since every part of the animal is used, meaning nothing goes to waste.
Another reason that it’s the best glue for furniture is the fact that it doesn’t eat away or corrode wood, this means that finishes won’t be blemished or degraded over time. How does it manage this? Other glues contain acids that can have a negative impact on wood, but thanks to its natural formulation this glue is completely safe.
Hide glue isn’t without its drawbacks though, while this might be one of the more environmentally friendly adhesives, we’ve had it look at thus far it’s by far one of the weakest when it comes to adhesive strength. Hide glue also tends to yellow and crack over time, this is why it’s best used on indoor furniture and static objects in general.
Best Hide Glue for Wood: TITEBOND Liquid Hide Glue
If you’re looking for a great hide glue that you can trust, why not go with the liquid hide glue from the Titebond team? Titebond is a reputable brand that has been producing high-quality adhesives for years and seems to have perfected their formula along the way. They actually make a wide variety of adhesives for a number of applications and industries, but Titebond’s liquid hide glue is particularly impressive.
As we mentioned previously, hide glue isn’t one of the strongest types of adhesives on the market, but it is a good carpenter’s glue, especially for those who restore antique furniture. Titebonds liquid formula is extremely effective when it comes to allowing joints to be set and correctly aligned thanks to its slow setting characteristic, but on the other hand, you will need to clamp your workpiece if you’re using this glue.
Another reason this makes a great carpenter’s glue is because of its great crackling effect which leaves your workpiece with a unique and historically accurate effect on all of your restored furniture. It does seem to have quite a smell to it though, so even though it’s perfectly safe to use indoors you might want to ensure that you have adequate airflow when you’re working with it.
On the other hand, this is one of the best glues to work with if you intend on doing some sanding after your workpiece has been glued together as it does not interfere with sanding paper or power sanders. This being said, you should allow this glue to dry completely before attempting to sand or cut your workpiece.
- Slow-setting hide glue allows for precise assembly
- Ideal for fine furniture repair and is unaffected by finishes
- Can be sanded with ease and is great for the "crackling" effect
- Easy to use
- Works well on antique furniture
- Made of all-natural materials
- Does not have any corrosive properties
- Contains little to no VOC’s
- Comes in solid and liquid forms
- Has a unique aesthetic finish
- Can be applied indoors
- Can have an intense smell
- Poor adhesive strength
- Not very versatile
- Can yellow over time
- Can only be applied with a brush
Polyurethane Wood Glue
Polyurethane is a lot like epoxy resin in the way that it’s extremely versatile and used in a wide range of industries all over the world. As a substance, polyurethane is used in bushings for automobiles, wheels for skateboards, and even the inside of computers and keyboards. It’s also one of the main ingredients in many adhesives.
This is a great glue to use if you’re joining wooden boards together and is especially great when connecting joint work as the glue is flexible enough to absorb any of the stress exerted on the members. One of the key characteristics of polyurethane-based adhesives is that they are activated by contact with moisture, which means that they don’t work as well in dry conditions.
It’s for this reason that many professional crafters dampen their wooden workpieces before applying their polyurethane adhesives to the surface. This method ensures that the glue with be able to catalyze regardless of whether the environment has sufficient humidity, and it helps with the viscosity of the glue too.
This glue works well on really slippery surfaces and can even be stained over which makes it the go-to choice for large-scale furniture manufacturing. It also isn’t water-soluble (well, not entirely) which means it won’t come off if your workpiece gets a little wet. This being said, you will need to get your hands on some mineral spirits if you spill this type of glue accidentally or need to remove it from a workpiece.
The Best Polyurethane Glue: GORILLA Original Gorilla Glue, Waterproof Polyurethane Glue
If you’re looking for a glue that is simple to use, doesn’t require you to mix anything together, but still has the strength and flexibility to handle pretty much any woodworking problem that you can throw at it, then we think Gorillas original waterproof polyurethane glue is exactly what you’re looking for. Gorilla is a reputable brand that has been making high-quality adhesives for the better part of 118 years.
It’s pretty safe to say then that they know what they’re doing, and they don’t seem to be slowing down in the research and development of their products. This fast-drying wood glue only needs a little bit of moisture to activate, so all you need to do is dampen your workpiece before applying some glue to the surface you’ll be joining.
The best part about polyurethane glues is that they are completely water-resistant once they’ve had the time to cure fully. This means that you can use this glue on both interior and exterior furnishings without having to worry about them falling apart at the first sign of rain. This particular product also expands into the fibers of your wood to ensure that the bond is as strong as possible.
Not only is this a fast-drying wood glue with incredible adhesion strength, but it’s also highly resistant to cold temperatures which are great when fixing things outdoors for those cold winter months. It doesn’t just have to be wooden workpieces either, this glue is graded for use on stone, ceramic, metal, foam, concrete, and even glass!
- Incredibly strong and versatile glue that can bond to many surfaces
- Best for tough repairs on dissimilar surfaces, both indoors and out
- 100% waterproof and won't break down when exposed to elements
- Easy to use
- Can be used on wood, plastic, ceramic, metal glass, and even foam
- Impressive adhesive strengths
- Highly resistant to hot and cold temperatures
- Requires no clamping
- Extremely durable and flexible
- Not ideal for beginners
- Can be challenging to clean up
- Can have a strong odor depending on the brand
- Must be used outdoors or in a well-ventilated area
How to Use Wood Glue Effectively
Wood glue is one of the most commonly used items in the crafting and furniture industry, but it won’t do you much good unless you know how to use it effectively. That’s why we’ve prepared a short tutorial detailing how to use wood glue, and how to prepare your workpiece for use with wood glue.
Prepare Your Workpiece
It doesn’t really matter which discipline you’re in, if you’re using an adhesive to join things you need to prepare your workpiece. Why? Failing to prepare your workpiece could result in the adhesive failing, or adhering poorly, in which case it might stick for a while but eventually you’re going to wake up to a nasty surprise. How do you prepare a wooden workpiece for use with an adhesive though?
It’s actually quite simple. The first thing that you need to do is ensure that the surface that will be receiving the adhesive is clean and free of any dust or debris that might interfere with the bonding process. You can do so by using a cloth and some soapy water to wash the surface of your workpiece, focusing on the specific area that the glue will be placed on.
Once your workpiece has been cleaned, allow it to dry completely, either outdoors in some sunlight or by using something in the way of a hairdryer or heat gun. The next step is optional and only works to prime the workpiece for your glue. We recommend lightly sanding the surface you will be using the glue on with some fine-grit sandpaper to expose fresh wood fibers for the glue to latch on to.
Tip: Once your workpiece has been cleaned and sanded, cover it with a small tarp or cloth if you’re not ready to immediately use your glue. This ensures that the surface you have just prepared will not attract any dust while you’re preparing your glue and will protect against things like accidental spills.
Apply Your Wood Glue
While this might seem like a daunting task you need only pay attention and work slowly to ensure that you get the best application possible. Now that your surface has been prepared you should prepare your glue too. Remember that certain glues can only be applied if they have been prepared correctly.
So if you are working with epoxy ensure that you have mixed the epoxy and hardener before applying it to your workpiece (unless you have a dual syringe applicator).
If you are working with polyurethane glue, ensure that you have enough moisture present on the surface of your workpiece to create the ideal consistency for it to seep into the wood fibers. If you are using hide, CA, or PVA glue, ensure that you give the bottle a good shake before you get to applying your glue to your workpiece.
Once your glue has been prepared, it’s time for you to apply it to the area of your workpiece you intend to join. There isn’t one particular way to do this, but generally, you want to use the applicator provided to dispense come glue in the targeted area.
You then have the choice of spreading the glue out with an applicator stick to ensure an even spread or simply use the second part of your workpiece to squish the glue, which should do a good job of evening it out regardless.
Now for the part both professionals and beginners tend to forget. Once your glue has been applied and the second part of your workpiece has been joined, you should clamp both pieces together to ensure that they do not move and so that the glue has a chance to cure completely without a pulling force acting on it. There are many adhesives that claim they do not need to be clamped, but it’s a good precautionary measure to take in case anything goes wrong.
Remove Your Wood Clamps
Once you have your clamps secured to your workpiece, allow the glue to dry, set, and cure for the manufacturer’s recommended time period. While it’s drying, remove any excess glue that might have gotten squeezed out of the edges of your workpiece with a clean cloth. Once the excess has been removed, take a break, and allow the glue to cure.
Once your glue has had a chance to cure, it’s time to remove your clamps. Remember that even though it might look sturdy, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Screw your clamps loose slowly and monitor the join as you do so, if you see any movement or any glue becomes visibly at the join, it might need some more time to cure.
If you don’t notice anything like this after the first few turns it should be safe to remove the clamps from your workpiece. Always remember to wear the appropriate personal protective gear when working with any substance that contains volatile organic compounds, and always work in a well-ventilated area if not outdoors whenever possible.
Now that you know what types of glues work on wood, what some of their characteristics are as well as some of their pros and cons, not to mention some of the best products out there for each glue type, it’s time for you to get out there and put your newfound knowledge to the test. Remember to always use clamps wherever possible, and to choose a glue that best suits the application of your workpiece.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Strongest Glue for Wood?
What is the strongest glue for wood? If you’re looking for the glue with the strongest adhesive bond for use on wooden workpieces, it’s a bit of a toss-up between polyurethane glues and epoxy glues. In this instance epoxies are more robust as they aren’t susceptible to impact, abrasion, extreme heat, or freezing temperatures, and they form a molecular bond with the wood they are used on.
Which Wood Glue Dries Clear?
Back in the day, there were only a few types of wood glue that dried completely clear, but these days there are many types of glues for all applications that dry nearly completely transparently. Polyurethane glue, as well as cyanoacrylate glue, dry completely clear straight out of the bottle, but if you did some digging around, you could find practically any type of glue aside from hide glue that dries clear.
Is Wood Glue Stronger Than Epoxy?
While wood glue is pretty strong, it is by no means stronger than epoxy glue. Epoxy two-part adhesives bond with wood, and any other material they are used with, on a molecular level which means the bond fuses with the workpiece’s material.