Wood glue isn’t exactly a new invention.
In fact, glue and adhesives have been used since ancient times to complete woodworking projects. Though the concept is very old, the technology has certainly changed. In modern times, there are actually a number of different adhesives that are designed and best used for specific projects and purposes.
Today, we’re going to recommend some of the best woodworking glue for your DIY projects.
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What is Hide Glue?
Maybe you’ve heard the old joke about a horse breaking his leg and getting “sent to the glue factory.” Well, that horse would have become “hide glue” which is a protein based glue that is often made up of various animal tissues that have been boiled.
Hide glue is actually still a viable option for certain projects, like things that you may need to disassemble and then put back together later. For instance, many who restore/rebuild pianos will use hide glue.
One limitation of hide glue is that it is water soluble, so things connected with hide glue can lose their bond when out in the elements and in high humidity.
On the plus side, hide glue takes a very long time to cure – so it can be helpful for projects that take a while to complete because you can reposition the piece (if needed) for quite a while.
Best Hide Glue For Woodworking
If hide glue is a fit for your project, check out the Behlen Ground Hide Glue. It has a reputation for being an excellent choice for hammer veneering. It’s a true hide glue, which means even if you really need to leave the finish unaffected, this will do the job.
Other types of glue like a bone glue may not work well with all finishes.
Be prepared that this will be mixed 50/50 with water, and will need to be applied hot. If you think hide glue might be called for on your next project.
White Glue vs. Yellow Glue
You may have heard of some woodworking glues that people often refer to as simply “white” or “yellow” glue.
What’s the difference between the two?
Both are polyvinyl acetate adhesives, but the purposes are generally different.
White glue is more of an all-purpose glue, used on porous materials. White glue is often perfect for crafts and small projects with indoor use. It bonds by water evaporation, which means it can be wiped up with water – making it simple to clean and generally safe to use around pets and children.
Typically white glue cures in 5 – 20 minutes.
Yellow glue is generally formulated to be used only on indoor projects and isn’t moisture resistant. In fact, neither white or yellow glue is ideal if you absolutely need a water-resistant bond.
For example, you wouldn’t want to work on an exterior door or assemble outdoor furniture with common white or yellow glue.
Yellow glue is made to cure a little quicker than white glue, and it also can be sanded down much easier. As a result, yellow glue is the standard “go-to” of many home hobbyist woodworkers.
If you’re using it, make sure that you are ready to clean up quickly. You can wipe it off with water, but only while it’s still wet. After that, yellow glue will dry yellow and may show through your finish and stain.
Best All-Around Woodworking Glue
If you want the best of both worlds, definitely check out Titebond’s Original Wood Glue.
It prides itself by offering “the fast set and handling ease of white glues and tack-toughness-durability of hide glue.”
We can’t really argue with that. In fact, you’ll find people of all experience levels really vouch for this product.
“Elmers” is another one of the big names in glue, but in this case – there is no comparison. They may look similar, but when you put them to the test as far as the strength of the bond – Titebond outperforms Elmers hands down.
Best Glue For Outdoor Projects
As mentioned, one of the limitations of most yellow and white glues are that they don’t do well when exposed to the elements – like rain and humidity.
When working on outdoor furniture projects, consider a polyurethane glue.
Considering how long hide glue has been around, polyurethane glue is kind of like the Justin Bieber on the glue scene – very young and new. It debuted in the US within the last 20 years, and has made quite a splash.
Polyurethane glue actually cures because of the water and moisture in the air (a spray of water actually increases the bond strength), and as it cures it will expand to 3 or 4 times its initial volume. According to Steve Jordan, “A light spray of water just prior to applying the glue improves the bond. Polyurethane glue dries to a light amber or tan, and can be painted, stained, and sanded. It cleans up with mineral spirits while wet, but must be scraped or sanded off the surface. Always wear gloves when working with polyurethane glue; once dry, it is difficult to remove.”
Mark Singer, the founder of Gorilla Glue said “Shear strength is not polyurethane glue’s strongest feature, in end grain-to-end grain the stuff is incredible. It far outperforms (yellow glues) in end grain. If you coat both surfaces with polyurethane glue, I’ve seen it (the glue) migrate 2″ into wood.”
So for water resistance and affixing wood to different materials (painted wood to non-painted) – polyurethane is an excellent choice.
Our top pick?
The original Gorilla Glue.
Here are the key points as to why we think Gorilla Glue is best in class:
- Versatility. Yes, it works on your wood applications, but it also bonds to stone, metal, ceramic, foam, glass, concrete, etc.
- Waterproof. It’s completely waterproof for outdoor applications, but isn’t super messy and hard to work with like epoxy.
- Climate Neutral. If you are in Canada or Miami, Gorilla Glue performs well in both hot and cold.
What About Epoxy Adhesive?
Epoxy adhesive is the real deal, and it’s pretty serious stuff to work with. In fact, check out this application guide if you are working with epoxy.
For the hobbyist and weekend woodworker, I don’t know that epoxy is completely necessary because it’s a bit of a hassle to work with.
For instance, you need gloves, good ventilation and should really wear a respirator when using it. It can also be quite messy compared to the other glues discussed earlier.
It is completely waterproof, which is a big benefit. However, for most jobs you should be able to use something like Gorilla Glue and be just fine.