Wood Projects — Why Use Glue and What Types to Use

For any project that uses wood (except the most basic ones) glue is an absolute essential. While nails and screws are fine for rickety stools or makeshift stands for temporary use, serious projects require glue — and the right ones at that.

Bonds Stronger Than Nails and Screws

woods sticking together

The right kind of glue will provide stronger bonds compared to metal fasteners. Glue maintains the wood’s structure — while nails and screws create fractures that make the wood less stable. Multiple stress tests have shown that glue is more effective in joining two pieces of wood — with the bonds sometimes appearing stronger than the wood itself.

Choosing the Right Kind of Glue

Glue comes in many types. Switching one for the other will still be effective — but using the right kind of glue for a specific project ensures an easier task and cleaner finish. Here are the different types of glue and when to use them.

1. Basic Wood Glue
Wood glue, carpenter’s glue, or PVA glue is probably the most used and easiest to find type of glue. Wood glue is easy to apply — but you’ll need to wipe excess glue afterward. It changes colour as it dries and could leave unsightly marks on the wood that would require another round of finishing. Not all brands are waterproof, so make sure to check the labels before making your purchase.

2. Epoxy
Epoxy is a little harder to use. It is composed of resin and hardeners — contained in two separate packs. Mixing the hardener with the resin will cause it to harden and create a very strong bond. Epoxy is ideal for joining two planes of uneven surfaces or for filling gaps in imperfect wood. It is waterproof to the extent that it is used to coat boats for waterproofing.

man fixing his wood garage

3. Gorilla Glue
Gorilla glue or polyurethane glue is another popular glue among craftsmen. It is activated by moisture — expanding along the wood as it activates and dries. Since it is an expanding wood glue, it creates tighter bonds and more firm connections. You can use gorilla glue to bond wood with almost any sort of material, including metal, plastic, fibreglass, and many others. However, it takes a bit of time to dry — often taking 24 hours for the glue to completely set.

4. Hot Hide Glue / Liquid Hide Glue
Hide glue is extracted from animal hides. Hot hide glue requires heating before application, becoming solid as it cools. Liquid hide glue can be applied directly without the need for heating. Hide glue is extremely sensitive to heat, allowing you to easily take set pieces apart. It is most often used in repairing antiques.

5. Cyanoacrylate glue
Cyanoacrylate glue is usually used for cosmetic purposes — usually for joining chipped pieces of plastic or porcelain. Although it can be used in wood, its brittle nature can cause the bonds to shatter if the wood is exposed to hard force or vibrations. It is more often used to create temporary bonds that can be severed with a light tap of a mallet or hammer.

Piece Things Together

Glue is essential for every one of your wood projects. Ensure the quality of your projects by piecing everything together correctly. Use the right type of glue and you wouldn’t need to hammer a nail or use a screw.

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