One size does not fit all when it comes to wood glue, and you'll need to know how to sift through the pile of options out there and choose the right one for your project. Here we''ll break down five popular choices, and when to use them.
1. PVA glue
Polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue is super common — in fact, if you have a bottle of glue in your house, it’s probably this. White glue, yellow glue and bottles of “wood glue” are usually all PVA glue. Some, like Titebond III, are even waterproof. PVA glue is well liked because it's so easy to come by, but it's not always the best choice. Dried bits of PVA glue can interfere with your finish if you’re not careful to get rid of it all.
2. Hide glue
Yes, this one comes from animal hides. This tried and true option has been around for centuries, and it's also what hot glue is made from. Hide glue is handy since it can be heated up and applied to the workpiece with a brush.
There's also a version of hide glue called liquid hide glue that comes in a bottle, ready to go. You can use it just like PVA glue, and it won't interfere with finishes if you fail to get every last bit of dried hide glue off the wood. This is a favorite of mine, and it's a champion all-around glue for most projects unless you need something waterproof. Order it online if you have trouble finding in store.
Epoxy comes in two parts: a resin and a hardener. Both are liquid, but when mixed together, a chemical reaction occurs that causes the epoxy to harden. Epoxy is waterproof and, unlike other options, it does a good job filling gaps in wood. Some epoxy formulas take a while to cure, while others will cure in as little as five minutes. Just remember that, generally, the longer it takes for the epoxy to cure, the stronger the bond will be, so don't just look for the fastest-drying.
4. Cyanoacrylate glue
CA glue, or super glue, isn't just for fixing random items around the house. It works for wood too, and it cures really quickly. If you're pressed for time, you can even apply an accelerant to make the CA glue set even faster.
Use CA glue as a temporary step, like if you're joining two curved pieces of wood together. A glue block can be attached to the pieces, and that'll give your clamps a place to hold onto. Then once the pieces are glued together, a tap with a hammer or mallet will knock the glue blocks right off.
5. Polyurethane glue
Polyurethane glue is activated by moisture, and naturally swells as it dries. It does dry very hard and quickly (plus it's waterproof!), but dealing with dried polyurethane glue can be rough for finishes.
When you're choosing your glue, all of these are great options that'll provide a strong bond for most purposes, especially for furniture projects. So make sure to ask yourself these questions before selecting:
- Do you need the glue to be waterproof?
- How long you have to work with the glue before it starts to set up?
- Do you need to fill a gap between pieces of wood?
Once you have a clear picture of what you need, choosing the right glue is simple. You've got this!