When making a woodworking project, you need good joinery and good glue to hold your project together. But when it comes types of wood glue, there are many options out there.
Today we’ll learn about the different types of glue woodworkers use, how to choose a glue that works well for your project, and my overall favorite glue to use, which may be a bit of an unconventional choice. Check our free woodworking classes, which teach you things like project finishing tips.
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1. PVA glue
Polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue is the most common type of glue out there. It’s so common that if you have a bottle of glue in your house, it’s likely to be PVA glue. White glue, yellow glue, and bottles of “wood glue” are all likely to be PVA glue. Some special formulations of PVA glue such as Titebond III are waterproof. The advantage of PVA glue is that it is readily available at your local store. But after you glue up your project, bits of dried PVA glue can interfere with your finish if you’re not careful to get rid of all of it.
2. Hide glue
Hide glue has been around for centuries, and yes, it comes from animal hides. Hot hide glue is made by heating granules of hide glue in a pot with water. As it heats, the glue liquifies, and as it cools, it becomes solid. Hot hide glue can be applied by dipping a brush in the glue pot and brushing it onto the workpiece.
There is another version of hide glue called liquid hide glue that comes in a bottle, as seen above. You can use it just like PVA glue, and it has the advantage of not interfering with finishes if you don’t get the very last bit of dried hide glue off the wood. As a matter of fact, liquid hide glue is my favorite to use, unless I need a project to be waterproof.
Epoxy comes in two parts: a resin and a hardener. Both are liquid, but when mixed together a chemical reaction occurs that causes the epoxy to harden. Epoxy has the advantage of being waterproof and does a good job filling gaps in wood. Most other glues will not hold well if there is a gap between the pieces of wood that you are gluing together. Some epoxy formulas take a while to cure, others will cure in as little as five minutes. In general, the longer it takes for the epoxy to cure, the stronger the bond will be, so patience will be rewarded.
4. Cyanoacrylate glue
CA glue, or super glue, is well known as a glue to use to join hard pieces together. It can also be used in woodworking. The advantage of CA glue is that it cures in a very short period of time, and if you’re really in a hurry, you can apply an accelerant (seen in the back of the bottle of CA glue in the photo) to make the CA glue set even faster. But the glue joint that is made is very hard, and can fracture under impact.
CA glue can be used as a temporary way of joining two pieces of wood together as a temporary step in making a project. For example, if you are joining two curved pieces of wood together, a glue block can be temporarily attached to the pieces to give your clamps a place to hold onto. CA glue is perfect for this purpose, as it can be used to attach the glue blocks, and once the pieces are glued together, a tap with a hammer or mallet will knock the glue blocks right off.
5. Polyurethane glue
Polyurethane glue is activated by moisture, and swells as it is activated and dries. It dries very hard and quickly, and is waterproof, but dealing with dried polyurethane glue can be problematic for finishes.
In terms of choosing a glue for your project, all of the above options will provide a bond that is strong enough for most purposes, especially for furniture projects. The things to consider when making a choice between glues is whether you need the glue to be waterproof, how long you have to work with the glue before it starts to set up, and whether you need to fill a gap.
As I mentioned above, I’ll use liquid hide glue for just about all woodworking projects. It’s a bit harder to find than PVA glue, but it can be ordered over the internet fairly easily, and the fact that I don’t have to worry about small bits of dried hide glue interfering with finishes gives liquid hide glue an advantage that no other glue can touch. If I’m out of liquid hide glue, and need glue quickly, I’ll get a bottle of PVA glue at the local home center. If I need a waterproof glue joint, I’ll use either epoxy or a waterproof PVA glue.
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