It’s hardly a glamorous subject, but knowing which types of wood glue are suitable for which types of wood is crucial knowledge for any woodworker. If you need to stick two pieces of wood together and have found yourself in a sticky situation, this is the page for you.
We outline the most popular types of wood glue below to help you choose the right one.
Types of Wood Glue
The longform name of this type of wood glue is polyvinyl acetate (PVA). PVA glue is so common that you’ve likely heard of it before. It’s ubiquitous and therefore very easy to source when you need it. In fact, many people already have a bottle lying around in their house.
PVA glue is a newer alternative to hide glue that has non-toxic fumes and no irritants. Some types of polyvinyl acetate can change color as the adhesive dries, so watch out for excess PVA glue on your project.
When gluing pieces of wood together, make sure you’re choosing the right brand. The following are examples of great yellow wood glue PVAs:
- Titebond i (less water resistant)
- Titebond ii
- Titebond iii (water resistant)
- Elmer’s PVA Glue
- Gorilla PVA Glue
The Titebond PVA glue products above increase in strength and water resistance as you increase the number. Elmer’s glue is easy to clean up and creates a strong bond between wooden pieces. Gorilla Glue is another strong brand.
Another reason to keep an eye on your amount of excess glue PVA is that this adhesive absorbs stains less readily than wood. This means that too much excess glue will still be visible after you’ve stained your furniture.
Epoxy glue is a two-part adhesive product made of a resin and a hardener. These two elements are combined to create a strong adhesive for filling holes in wood and furniture damage. Epoxy glues are best used to cover up damage to projects. They’re strong, but aren’t the best for small joints.
A common trick is to mix sawdust in with the epoxy to mimic the texture of wood.
Epoxy products generally take a longer time to cure and create a bond. This usually results in a stronger end result. One thing to note is that acidic wood doesn’t work very well with epoxy glue. If you’re working with oak, for example, glue epoxy might not work.
It’s pretty easy to pick up epoxy wholesale with trader’s rates. It’s still worthwhile to learn the top-rated names:
- Craft Resin
- JB Weld
Super glue is probably the most well-known adhesive that exists. Its technical name is CA glue, or cyanoacrylate. CA glue dries very quickly on all different types of wood, but it’s best reserved for small repairs.
Use either the liquid or gel version to replace small chips or cracks in furniture. Despite the powerful marketing behind it, this glue isn’t the strongest out there. One advantage of super glue is that it dries clear. This makes it a great option for lightweight trim or molding projects.
CA Glue Brands
The type of work you’re doing will call for different degrees of glue thickness. Luckily, there are plenty of CA glue brands with different viscosities.
- Krazy Glue
- Gorilla Super Glue
- Starbond Thin Glue
Polyurethane glue is a low-moisture adhesive that creates a particularly powerful bond. There’s a learning curve associated with using this glue, but it’s used by professionals every day.
One advantage of polyurethane glue is that it expands as it dries to comfortably fill in your wood joints. This is a great option for more oily, high-moisture woods as glue polyurethane cures when it makes contact with moisture. This is considered a multi-purpose adhesive that’s suitable for a wide range of materials including wood, ceramics, foam, concrete and glass.
It’s worth leaving your joint clamped for at least 24 hours when working with polyurethane glue; the cure time is quite high.
Polyurethane Glue Brands
Here’s a list of the biggest polyurethane brands:
- General Finishes
- Gorilla Glue
This is an old-school adhesive that’s still surprisingly common. As you may have guessed, this traditional glue is made from animal hide. Hide glue is particularly good for furniture woodworking projects as the parts can be taken apart more easily for repairs at a later date.
Heating up the hide glue in a joint will loosen the bond and make it easier to pry wood apart. Another advantage of hide glue is that it’s easier to maneuver wooden pieces together than, say, PVA glues. This glue is used most commonly for veneering projects and builds where some adjustment of the wooden pieces is needed.
Modern liquid hide glue is ready to go right out of the tin, which is far more convenient than older types that use flakes or pellets that have to be heated up first.
Hide Glue Brands
There aren’t quite as many available brands for this form of adhesive.
- Titebond (liquid glue)
- Liberon (pearl glue)
Which wood glue is best?
Most glues that advertise themselves as “wood glues” are PVAs. If you want the quick-and-dirty answer, PVA glue is probably the best jack of all trades, but this doesn’t mean you should rush out and buy some. It will all depend on the type of work you’re doing. There are a number of factors to consider.
As a general rule, the longer an adhesive takes to dry, the stronger it will be once cured. Use this knowledge to find an adhesive that fits your needs. A quick repair job will probably be best tackled with a wood adhesive like CA glue for its quick-drying properties.
Wood with more heavy-duty demands might call for the strength of a slow-drying polyurethane adhesive.
The color of your adhesive is another important thing to consider. You’ll need to think about whether you need a white glue, yellow glue or clear-drying glue. The color of your work and the size of the joint will also be a factor. Some wood glue absorbs stains more readily than others.
The type of wood you’re gluing together will affect the type of wood glue you use. Woods with high acidity don’t play nicely with wood products like epoxy adhesive. The moisture content of your material will also be a factor. Polyurethane adhesive cures quickly when it comes into contact with water, for example.
The thickness of your adhesive is yet another factor. The size of the joint or project you’re working on will determine the thickness of wood glue you need. Check the product info before purchasing to avoid disappointment.
Ultimately, the type of glue you use will depend on the work you’re doing. Your material, drying time, desired finish and myriad other factors can change the type of glue that’s best.
It’s worth double-checking your requirements and the specific brand you’re using, but we’ve got some final thoughts to help narrow down your search.
For speedy repair jobs that don’t need a super-strong hold, use a CA adhesive that dries clear. For an adhesive that will serve as a versatile wood glue in a variety of situations, opt for a PVA that’s specifically designed for woodworking. For a super firm hold, consider polyurethane or epoxy glues. For furniture repair, glue hide might be best.
Use the guides and reviews on the rest of our site to become a better woodworker.