Top 7 Best Woodworking Glues (Beginners Guide 2021)

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

Every woodworker needs to use glue, and there are many different types. Each adhesive has a specific application that its best designed for. Here, I will be sharing with you the types of glue I use in my woodshop including the tips on their applications.




7 Types of Woodworking Glues


  1. PVA (Yellow Glue)

  2. Hide Glue (Restoration Glue)

  3. Cyanoacrylic (Super Glue)

  4. Spray Adhesive (Paper Glue)

  5. Epoxy (Strongest Glue)

  6. Epoxy Putty (Filler Glue)

  7. Polyurethane (Lamination Glue)

 

1. Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA)


Let’s start with PVAs aka yellow glue. These are the old-school wood glues and are the most common. Most glues of this type are also water-soluble. In fact, you’ve probably used one in your childhood, Elmer’s glue is a PVA.


This type of adhesive has a strong bond on wood-to-wood but it won’t work well with other materials like metal and plastic. PVA's are water-soluble and bond as they air dry. This takes a long time to dry, but they are more forgiving than other glue. Because it's water-based the bond is more flexible and moves well with the woods seasonal movement.


Titebond has 3 variations of its product with varying strength and use. Titebond Original Wood Glue is for wood and and can be used with leather. The set time is roughly 15-30min. Fully cured after 8hrs. They all take 24 hours to fully dry.




Titebond Original Wood Glue, 16-Ounce, 2 Pack

$8.87





Titebond II is a faster setting glue, its open time is about 10-15 mins.




Titebond II Premium Wood Glue, 32-Ounce Bottle

$5.97





Titebond III is waterproof, good for your outdoor projects, and is the strongest of the three.




Titebond 1414 16 Oz Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue

$7.98








If you're going to be using a lot of glue, then go by the gallon. I buy the 16-ounce bottle first, then the 32-ounce bottles and just refill the 16oz bottles over and over again.




Titebond 5066F Original Wood Glue - Gallon

$28.95





Titebond II Glue, Gallon

$28.98





Titebond 1416 III Wood Glue, 1-Gallon

$42.99






Pro Tip

When doing a glue up with multiple components, for example, a frame and panel, apply the glue to all pieces separately then assemble and clamp together. The glue bond won't activate until the two wet surfaces touch each other. This gives you a little more open time for assembly.

 

2. Hide Glue

Titebond Liquid Hide Glue, 8-Ounces

$12.68


The oldest type of glue that I know of is hide glue. The use of hide adhesives dates back to ancient times when it was made out of fish guts. However, it is mostly synthetic these days. Many instruments and antique furniture are made with hide glue. Why you might ask? What’s so unique about hide glue? Because the bond is reversible when heated.


Traditional hide glue can be adjusted to have different degrees of tack using heating and mixing for the right consistency. You have the capability of making it have a longer setting time to facilitate enough time to assemble joints before the drying of the first joints. You can also adjust it to act the opposite way, a faster setting pace.


Another great advantage of hide glue is that it’s possible to reactivate it. For furniture restoration, great woodworkers are able to reactivate hide adhesive using heating and moisture. When I worked for a furniture restoration we had heated bucket that kept the glue soft and liquid while applying it.


Pro Tip

Stick to yellow, these days there's no real need for Hyde glue unless you're doing restoration project or building an instrument.

 

3. Cyanoacrylate aka Super Glue




There are two main reasons why you should use

CA Glue. It bonds to any surface and it works instantly. Cyanoacrylates or CA glues are strong fast-acting adhesives. These have widespread use including household, woodworking, industrial, and even and medical purposes. These are fast-acting, ranging from 10 seconds to 1 minute of curing time. The fast adhesive action also means cyanoacrylates don’t require clamping. The consistency of super glue also varies widely from as runny as water to gel form. CA also sticks with other glue since it doesn’t require porous substances to work. For woodworking, it’s perfect for filling a crack or instant repair. Sawdust can be added in holes when filling it with CA to match the wood’s grain color.




Often I use CA Accelerators. Why would I do this? Easy. It reduces the risk of displacing or misalignment. Basically, it's so quick that it instantly cures. Accelerators also boost the super glue’s bond on wood by helping it creep into its pores.



Bob Smith 151 Insta-Set 2oz Accelerator


I only work with one type of accelerator. I’ve used most of the other alternatives but the liquid spray Accelerator is the best. The aerosol ones set quickly but oftentimes fail the integrity of the glue, peeling off in a clump. If you’ve never used accelerators in your life, you will never look back, they are a game-changer.





Bob’s Glues have multiple thicknesses and consistency. The thin glue has the consistency of water. The others are slightly thicker and take a few seconds longer to cure. The thinner the CA, the easier for it to dry. It makes it easier for it to creep into porous objects. The thicker ones are stronger but all are great for filling cracks. I tend to use the medium: Thick the most but my advice is to get all these 3, they're inexpensive and you never know


I always have these 3 stocked in my workshop.






Bob's Glue: Thin









Bob's Glue: Thick











Bob's Glue Extra Thick







Pro Tip: CA Glue


When filling small cracks in wood, use the Medium: Thick CA and add sawdust making a slurry. Repeat the process until completely filled. For larger cracks use epoxy.

 



4. Spray Adhesive


Spray adhesive is mainly used for adhering paper down to a substrate. For example, bonding technical drawings down to plywood to make a template. I find 3M Hi strength to have the best bond. Other generic sprays can be ok but make sure you're using hi-strength. There's nothing more frustrating than cutting into a form and having the paper slip off or have it get sucked into the machine.


3M Hi-Strength Spray Adhesive 90 Low VOC, 14.6 oz.

$18.61


3M High Strength 90 Contact Spray Adhesive, 17.6-Ounces.

$25.98