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It might be a bit of a surprise to you to hear this, depending on how long you’ve been woodworking, but often times the strongest method for joining two pieces of wood together is wood glue. The best glue for wood to wood bonding is Titebond III.
About Glue for Wood Bonding
Beginner woodworkers would probably be surprised to hear that wood glue can hold better than screws or nails, and, in most cases, the glue is actually stronger than the wood it holds together. Usually, the area where the glue is applied will remain intact, but the wood might split along the grain.
There’s lots of different kinds of adhesives, each with their own benefit. Special situations could call for hot glue, super glue, spray adhesive, silicon, etc, and some of those could work incredibly well given the right circumstances. However, I want to stick (no pun intended) to what works best for bonding wood to wood.
Applying the glue
Using the glue on the face grain or the edge grain of your wooden workpiece will create an incredibly tight bond. However, gluing on the end grain can be problematic, which I will discuss more in a minute.
Before applying your two wood pieces together, it’s important to cover every part of the joined surface in glue before bonding them together. Spreading around the glue evenly can be done with something like a disposable brush, but I like to use a silicon basting brush that you can typically find at the dollar store. Once the glue dries you’re able to peal it off the brush and use it again.
End grain gluing isn’t as strong, but, if done right, it can be acceptable. Since the end grain is hollow, on a microscopic level, it absorbs a lot of the glue, so not much is left for bonding. This can be pretty problematic for projects that could be subjected to stress or movement, but not an issue for small, decorative ones.
One thing you can do about this is to create a mixture of diluted glue in water (half part water & half part glue) and brush it on, making sure to completely soak the surface of the end grain, then let it dry. Once it’s done drying, you can apply the full strength glue normally.
Another option, probably faster, is to apply full strength glue and mush it into the grain with your finger all along the end grain surface. Let it dry for a few minutes then glue it normally.
Clamping the wood together while it is drying ensures a strong bond. You’ll need to apply even pressure all around, so the more clamps you use, the better the bond will be. It’s not necessary to make them really tight, just tight enough until you see glue squeezing out. Once it is secured in place, remove all the excess glue that is oozing out, then just let it sit!
Using clamps isn’t always necessary. Small, decorative type projects are fine for gluing pieces together then setting them in place to dry. This is especially true for anything small that is less than practical for clamping.
“Clamping” with nails is an additional technique that is really good when applied to things like cabinets or casework. It is essentially done the same way by gluing the two pieces together then secure them into place with a pin nailer. Even though the nails aren’t strong enough to hold the two workpieces together, but it works well as a clamp.
It’s a lot faster to just nail the pieces together real quick, then move on with assembling the project rather than waiting an hour. The visible holes that the nails create is the only drawback, which really isn’t much of an issue to begin with if the joint is on the side of a joint that won’t show once the project is finished. However, if it IS a fine piece you have aspirations to stain or finish, you will have a really difficult time filling the holes, and matching the wood perfectly.
Dry time is dependent on the glue itself, but a general rule of them is to give it 24 hours of dry time before fiddling with it. Give the clamps an hour before removing those though.
Don’t worry about getting all of the excess glue, so in order to completely get rid of it you’ll need to sand it off once it’s dry. Make sure to remove it from areas that are going to be visible as a finishing product. You can highlight any areas that you’ve missed by wiping some mineral spirits on it.
Gluing wood to other material
Wood glue works great when you’re using it to join another wood piece together, but not so much with other material. At times, depending on the project, you’ll need to join other materials like metal, plastic, glass, or even some kind of fabric.
Epoxy would work well in most scenarios, but using epoxy in substitute for gluing wood together instead of using glue isn’t exactly ideal. It’s more expensive, a bit messier to use (clean up & doesn’t sand down well), isn’t as strong as wood glue (when joining wood together), and, because it isn’t water-based, clean-up is rather tedious.
Safety Precautions for Handling Glue
Many of the glues used for carpentry are made of chemicals like formaldehyde that may cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation. These chemicals are toxic, and prolonged exposure to them might result in breathing problems, headaches, and in extreme cases, cancer. Thus, caution must be taken when working with them. Some of the precautions you should take when using glue for your woodwork include:
- Refer to user instruction on the container and adhere to it. The instruction provides you with safety tips on how to use safely.
- Wear gloves, respiratory masks, and safety googles.
- Ensure that your workshop is well ventilated.
- Apply glue to woods with proper tools and avoid using your bare hands. This protects you from irritation, burns, and redness.
- Wood glue may be lethal when ingested. Thus, they should be kept out of reach of children.
- If the glue drops on your skin, wipe it off immediately and cleanse the affected area with acetone-based nail polish.
- Tightly close the container immediately after use. An opened container allows the remaining glue evaporate quickly and, in some cases, may release fumes. A wood glue with a loose cap can also attract kids, and that should be avoided.
- Prolonged inhalation or ingestion of strong adhesives can result in complicated medical conditions; hence, in cases like that, seek medical attention immediately. If the affected person is feeling nauseous, take them out to breathe fresh air. If the condition doesn’t improve, don’t opt for self-medication, consult a medical professional.
- When you’re finished, dispose the container appropriately.
Best Glue for Wood to Wood
There are tons of options that could be considered the best glue for wood to wood bonding, but there’s only a few that are widely recognized to be the best. All of which you can find here in our review section.
Two of the biggest players in the wood glue game (real serious stuff here) are Titebond II and Titebond III. Both of which work well for things that live outside, but the main difference that sets Titebond III apart is that it is waterproof.
First, consider if you need to do an interior project, and you want to use Titebond III, it will work perfectly. If you’re trying to decide which one to use for exterior projects, once again Titebond III is waterproof, the best indicator to use Titebond III is if you’re doing a project that will be in an area that is damp all the time. Something like a planter box where the soil is constantly moist, then a waterproof glue is most compatible.
Second, in comparison, III has a slower set time. So if you’re doing furniture and it’s not going to be damp all the time, but it is an outdoor project, having some work time leniency to manipulate the part before the glue starts to dry is going to be incredibly helpful. Additionally, it is FDA approved so it is safe for food proximity use like cutting boards.
- Great for projects that will be placed in constantly moist or high humidity areas (bathrooms, outdoors, etc.)
- Longer set time (compared to Titebond II) which provides enough time for
Unlike other wood glue brands, Titebond II Premium Wood Glue passes the ANSI Type II water-resistance specification. That means this glue is a great choice for both indoor and outdoor woodworking applications. Such outdoor applications include outdoor furniture, sheds, mailboxes, fencing, etc. You can also use Titebond for projects around the house, even in applications where there may be moisture involved, including kitchen and bathroom furniture, cutting boards, and knife blocks. Not to mention, this glue is food safe and FDA approved. So if it comes in contact with your project, it won’t pose any health risk to you. It’s also a versatile glue that can be used for softwood, medium woods, and hardwoods.
Another great feature of TItebond is its fast-drying properties. When applied to surfaces, the glue starts to bond almost instantly. But at the same time, it has a relatively long working time, so if you need more time to work after gluing, TItebond is a viable option.
- High water resistance
- FDA approved for culinary hardware applications
- Long storage life (24 months)
- Superior strength
- Works well on any finish
- Can be used on indoor and outdoor applications
- Easy to clean
- Not great for low temperatures, under 55°F
- Dries a translucent yellow
Gorilla Wood Glue has a water-activated polyurethane formula that expands into materials, which helps it to form a very strong bond to virtually any surface. The formula allows the glue to penetrate into the wood grain at least two inches deep, allowing the glue to create a super strong bond. Like Titebond, Gorilla Glue is waterproof, which makes it safe for indoor and outdoor use, meaning it’s strong enough to withstand the elements. Gorilla Glue’s strong bond also makes it suitable for many woodworking applications.
Gorilla Wood Glue is a water-resistant formula that complies with ANSI/HPVA Type II water-resistance levels. This glue is incredibly versatile as it can be used on different woods and also other materials, such as stone, glass, ceramic, metal, and more. You can also use it in both hot and cold climates.
- Highly water-resistant
- Thick viscosity
- Ideal for a variety of woodworking projects
- Dries a natural color
- Dispenser nozzle is hard to clean
- Tends to foam
- Not the easiest to clean
Glue Masters is one of the most commonly used glues for both domestic and commercial purposes. It is specially made for shoe, wood, and general household repairs.
Its thin viscosity makes it a perfect match for a smooth repair of tiny breaks in objects where a highly viscous glue wouldn’t penetrate. It also allows even flow of the liquid, making application easier. Each container holds approximately 2.39 ounces of fluid and has a package dimension of 5 x 1.3 x 1.1 inches; 2.4 Ounces.
Glue master is better than many of the casual adhesives you find around. It offers high-quality industrial strength Cyanoacrylate Resin. With it, you are guaranteed the exceptional bond you desire for your object. It is a “must-have” material that should be found at home and shouldn’t be excluded from everyone’s toolboxes. If you require a product whose tip doesn’t get clogged and works like a charm, Glue Masters is your best bet.
- Fast cure and extended shelf life.
- Easy to use and settles in less than 15 seconds.
How it’s used:
- You don’t need a specialized skill to apply Glue Masters. The process includes:
- Clean the surface where you want to repair.
- Gently apply a little amount of the solution.
- Watch your broken object fixed again.
- Quick fixing.
- Suitable for small and large repairs.
- Easy to use.
- It is versatile, thus, suitable for both domestic and commercial purposes.
- It has a thin viscosity.
- Not suitable for fabrics and clothing.
If you’re looking for the best wood glue on the market, then you can’t go wrong with either Titebond or Gorilla Wood Glue. Both glue products provide a super strong bond and offer great versatility, but they do have their differences. While Gorilla Glue adheres to more surfaces, Titebond gives a better wood-to-wood bond. Titebond is also less viscous, which means it spreads more evenly and penetrates deep into the wood to create a lasting bond.