What is the best wood glue? Aren’t all glues okay and pretty much the same for wood? Most multipurpose adhesives, epoxy and wood glues are adequately strong for their intended purpose but not specifically for gluing timber products. (Note: Pictures of glue containers in this article indicate a type of glue only.)
You need the right wood glue for sticking timber material in a wooden cabinet and then choose the best wood glue. When it’s complete the job must look fantastic and be robust. Let’s consider the wood glue holding it all together: remember that no single adhesive works for everything.
Some glue (like polyurethane, cyanoacrylate and epoxy) have strong vapours and contact when using it can cause skin irritations and respiratory problems. Read and follow directions and the safety information on the adhesive label and package. The best wood glue might emit some strong vapours. Do not use volatile glue in enclosed places. e.g. a room with recirculating air conditioning. Work with glue outdoors and if you need some cover find a ventilated location (like a patio, veranda or balcony).
Wear rubber or vinyl gloves when you use any kind of glue. Some vicious glue like superglue can easily get onto fingers which will make them stick together. If this happens during use, immediately stop and put your sticky fingers in warm soapy water immediately. Keep them in the soapy solution for around 10 to 20 minutes and gently separate the fingers. The best wood glue isn’t meant to be used for joining your body parts!
If some skin remains stuck after being soaked in water, use acetone (nail polish remover) to dissolve the remaining glue. Note that skin contact with acetone may also irritate your skin so keep its use to a minimum.
Wearing a mask can reduce the amount of volatile glue fumes you are breathing to help safeguard your nose and throat from irritation. Protective eye wear can be a worthwhile precaution when using volatile glue.
Polyvinyl acetate (PVA), also known as “white glue”, “Wood Glue” or “hobby and craft glue”, is non-toxic and very easy to use. It is moderately strong and relatively cheap to purchase. When PVA glue has been used on a wood joint previously it is hard to repair again if it should fail since most glue types will not properly adhere to hardened PVA glue. PVA does a fine job filling gaps, makes sound strong joints, is safe to handle and it washes off with water while wet.
Select wood glue for wood projects ahead of multipurpose glue. Multipurpose glue manufacturers will advocate that their glue works well with wood but limit its use to gluing unlike materials together, for example, gluing wood and leather. Choose water-resistant glue if you’re gluing an item intended for outdoors.
You need multipurpose glue that is suitable for both materials to get satisfactory results. To confirm the glue is right for the materials and task check instructions on the glue’s container.
When gluing together broken ceramic or glass items make sure there is a clean break. When you’re using a contact type glue make sure the two parts fit together perfectly with no gaps before gluing. Contact type superglue should not be used as filler.
Most multipurpose glue is clear when wet and colourless when dried but some adhesives come with added colour or become coloured as they dry. If the glue may be visible after it has dried, such as when it has been used as filler material, choose an adhesive that is colour matched or remains colourless after drying.
Cyanoacrylate (Superglue) is essentially a plastic material suitable for small repairs. Bonds are difficult to redo after initial contact and a good fit is needed for the strongest bond. A weaker bond results if too much adhesive is applied or glue is used as a filler. Cured Cyanoacrylate is stiff but brittle so where used on wood, bending applications can break the bond. Some superglue on wood is not very water resistant.
A drop of Superglue can be used for gluing plastic, wood and ceramic. It is fast setting so it’s useful to align pieces with tape and to then apply the glue.
Polyurethane glue is becoming increasingly popular. You use this multipurpose glue on wood, plastic, ceramic and some metals. Polyurethane glue excels at filling gaps, resists water on wood, and dries in less than 24 hours. Polyurethane expands as it dries so the glued wood joint requires clamping. Polyurethane glue will bond to textile fibres, metals, plastics, glass, sand, ceramics, rubber and wood. Polyurethane glue can also cause skin and respiratory reactions.
Polyurethane wood adhesives contain isocyanate groups. Isocyanates react with moisture in the wood’s polymers, which cures the adhesive. Interactions between wood polymers and polyurethanes can therefore significantly influence bond performance in moisture-cure polyurethane adhesives. This glue for wood needs ventilation during application.
Resorcinol-formaldahyde is an adhesive combination of resin and hardener that withstands long-term water immersion and has high resistance to ultraviolet light. Resorcinol adhesive has been popular in aircraft construction and was one of the early common marine glues. Resorcinol is weak gap filler so wood joints need to be close fitting and clamped under pressure to achieve good results. The glue comes in two parts; a red syrup and a light brown powder that when mixed form glue. Resorcinol remains the most suitable adhesive for exterior and marine use. Over the last 30 years its use has declined due to the improved versatility of epoxy glues and fillers.
Epoxy comes in two parts and it needs them to mix to activate for use on wood and rigid materials like ceramics. Use of epoxy requires careful attention to the mixing ratio of the two parts. Epoxy therefore comes in a two-piece syringe. Squirt two-part epoxies onto a piece of aluminium foil and use a wood or plastic stirrer to mix and apply the glue. This glue is good at gaps filling and is water resistant. The drying time is 24 hours. Epoxy has poor UV resistance and modest heat resistance up to 177 °C, is resistant to salt water and some the formulations are shock resistant.
Some quickset epoxies irritate skin and emit vapours. Liquid epoxy resins in their uncured state may irritate the eyes and skin. The primary health risk associated with epoxy use is related to the hardener component rather than the epoxy resin itself. Amine hardeners in particular are generally corrosive, and classed as toxic. Aromatic amines are suspected carcinogens so cycloaliphatic amines are used instead.
Remember: do not load a glued joint for 24 hours to let the adhesive completely set.
The smallest amount of adhesive needed to get the job done is the right amount of glue you need to apply. Control the amount of glue you apply and immediately wipe away excess glue from the joint.
Most glue types are available from your local hardware store. A cost effective option if you are remote from a city centre may be to buy your supply online and plan to allow time for delivery. If you wish to buy wood glue online, click on the button below.