Guide to Choosing the Right Wood Glue

Apart from your usual wood carving and turning tools, woodworking glue is also an essential item that you definitely need for your kit. Unfortunately, choosing any glue isn’t the right approach because the market is full of numerous options, each varying in composition and purpose. 

So, how should you know which one is the right wood glue? The answer depends on what wood you are joining, in what conditions you are joining, and for what purpose will the end product be used? With this in mind, we will be touring you through each of the popular types of wood glue available these days to make the process of choosing the right wood glue easier. 

Types of Wood Glue

PVA Wood Glue (White Glue)

PVA Glue is that white glue, also called craft glue, that instantly comes to everyone’s mind whenever we hear the word “glue.” The poly-vinyl acetate (PVA) glue works perfectly for all basic woodworking tasks. It’s inexpensive, readily available, non-toxic, and cleanable with water while wet.

PVA also doesn’t solidify too early, allowing you to spread or remove it to alter your project, but once dried, it is pretty strong and thus doesn’t let the glue join in detaching for repair. Another drawback of PVA glue is that its patches show up clearly from under light wood joineries. 

The PVA family of glue includes the yellow aliphatic resin glue or more commonly known as the carpenter glue. This tried-and-true staple of the woodworks realm is also called the Tite-Bond Glue. The vital thing to know is that even other types of glue originate from the Tite-Bond PVA glue. 

Let’s take a look at how the Simple White PVA and the yellow Tite-Bond line of wood glues differ:

Simple Poly-Vinyl Acetate

Tite-Bond I

Tite-Bond II

Tite-Bond III

Clamp Time

Longer Settling Time (10 Minutes)

Sets Quick (5 Minutes) 

Sets Quick (5 Minutes) 

Longer Settling Time (10 Minutes)

Water Resistance

Low Water Resistance, Has a Strong Initial Grab 

Low Water Resistance, Has a Strong Initial Grab

Very Good

Excellent

Shelf Life

2 Years

2 Years

2 Years

2 Years

Best For: 

Working with crafts and light joining but not severe woodworking. Vulnerability to water and heat makes it ideal for projects that demand reversing

All kinds of wood joinery and casework on interiors

Dealing with projects likely to face exposure to bad weather or moisture 

Large/complex glue-ups 

Polyurethane Wood Glue

The very durable Polyurethane wood glue, also retailed by the name “Gorilla Glue,” is as strong as the TiteBond Yellow PVA III and is also curable in the presence of water. In fact, it best cures when the two mating surfaces are moistened before applying the glue. 

It bonds well with light and dark wood and many other materials, including fabric, metal, plastic, etc. The number one reason you should use polyurethane Gorilla wood glue is when you are involved in outdoor woodworking projects that require a massively strong bond. 

This is mainly because Polyurethane tends to expand just as Instantly as it is applied, becoming unremovable no matter what technique you try. Thus, be careful with unintentional spill-outs or immediately wipe the surfaces where you didn’t mean spilling.  

Epoxy Wood Glue

Epoxy Wood Glue is retailed in two liquid parts: a resin and its dedicated hardener. Upon mixing the two, a chemical reaction produces Epoxy in a thick, hardened form. Epoxy is considered over other types of glue due to its excellent water resistance and also that it’s the best gluing compound that also fills up gaps in the wood. 

While other wood glues won’t bond well with surfaces with major irregularities, Epoxy will not let them become a hurdle and hold pretty well. Some epoxy compounds will take up a little extra time to cure; others will hardly take five to ten minutes. In general, the longer the curing time, the more powerful the gluing up between surfaces will be. 

Cyanoacrylate (CA) or Superglue

Also referred to as Super Glue or Crazy Glue, the Cyanoacrylate (CA) formula adhesive is the most popular buy after PVA, mostly consumed for small repairing purposes, especially woodturning and carving. This glue settles quickly and forms a complex, plastic-like bond. 

CA Superglue is traded in two forms: liquefied and gel form. The liquid form of this glue can often run, resulting in a mess due to frequent spill-outs. To avoid such hassles, we recommend going with the gel form of CA wood glue that stays in place better. 

Hide Glue

As the name suggests, Hide wood glue comes from animal hides and is one of the most ancient adhesives used for gluing wood surfaces. Traditionally, hide glue comes in small granules that are melted into “hot” hide glue. 

This heated liquid is then applied in the form of fine layers over surfaces intended to be glued. As the hot adhesive cools down, it becomes solid to make up for a powerful gluing bond. The biggest plus of the hide wood glue is its reversibility. If you apply heat to the joint wood surfaces, the adhesive will loosen, allowing you to change your task.  

Hot Melt Glue

Hot glue or Hot melt adhesive (HMA) is what you might have commonly seen in DIY hacks, the cylindrical stick that is fixed to a heating gun and then propelled out on cardboard sheets for producing neatly worked out crafts. The glue is an excellent solution for temporary jigs and fixtures.

HMA is melted by the electric heating element within the “glue gun.” As you push the trigger on the gun, glue is dispensed. This thermoplastic glue solidifies quickly and can be removed by popping it off with any edged tool or heating it with a heat source.

Which Goes Wear?

The topmost important factor that should be considered before choosing the right wood glue is what project you are working on. Buying the wood glue that best suits your task needs is advised. In the table below, we’ve rounded up some everyday sticky situations and their glue solutions, so you don’t have to get into the hassle of finding the perfect match. 

Gluing Task

Cracked Drawer

Glue from the Yellow polyvinyl acetate (PVA) line. A little mightier in strength from the simple white craft PVA adhesive, this water-based glue makes a wood-to-wood solid bond.

Wood Rack or Shelf

Tite-Bond line of PVAs except for Tite-Bond I. This glue is similar to the simple PVA but resists water, performing well for minimal heated repairs.

Joints on Stain-Grade Molding

PVA with Wood fibers. This adhesive has the same formula as yellow Tite-Bond II and III PVA with the addition of wood fibers. The outcome is a beige paste that deals with stains a bit more readily.

Fixing a Chair

Polyurethane. This glue tends to stick to wood, metal, and even old glue stains. Upon exposure to water, Polyurethane will expand as it cures, minimizing the room for wiggle in a loose chair or table joints.

Splintered Fence Picket

A two-part epoxy formula that is made after mixing resin and hardeners a while before application. The mixture then accounts for making ultra-tough glue that sets in about 5 minutes, resists waters, and fills ragged gaps

Right Wood Glue Choosing Considerations 

Under particular conditions, all types of wood glues are potent enough to make strong bonds with wood. Choosing the best wood glue depends on several aspects, including weather resistance, working time, and temperature. Here’s a quick guide on selecting the suitable woodworking glue for old work or new, outdoors or inside, and the variety of wood used in different projects. 

Toxicity

Good ventilation in your workroom, full respirators, sweat-free gloves, and similar safety equipment for woodworking projects provides decent defense against toxic glue formulas. However, if you are chemically sensitive or are conscious about the impacts of long-term exposure, steer clear of options that carry harmful ingredients. 

Epoxies and Polyurethane carry sensitizers that may trigger specific allergic reactions. Cyanoacrylate fumes irritate the nose, eyes, and lungs. As far as toxicity is concerned, PVAs are the safest glue type. We recommend getting a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) from your preferred glue manufacturer to make things more precise. 

Curing Time 

Curing time, available time, or working time all relate to the amount of time for maximum bonding. Depending on your particular work requirements, curing speed can either make or break any woodworking project. Hot hide glue is the fastest in terms of tacking, whereas the runner-up is Cyanoacrylate glue but with the aid of an accelerator. 

If you can compromise a bit more on your minutes, epoxies are the third on this list but offer far more massive strengths than CA and Hide glue. Polyurethane and Titebond III allow a considerable open time for complicated joineries. 

Temperature Sensitivity

Carrying entry-level to complicated glue-ups in sparsely heated rooms during cold seasons often results in glue failure. If the glue stock was not hot enough to start with or the working temperature drops below a certain point, some glues can’t stick as they should. PVA is very sensitive in terms of temperature. 

The PVA lineup more often requires temperatures above 50°F. However, the yellow PVA, Titebond III, can be employed at 45° F. Hide glue in liquid form begins to solidify at 50° F, but if you place its container in warm water, it can be used on chilly days. Epoxies are the best picks in such cases. These work best at temperatures as hot as 70° F, but some formulas can also cure at 35° F.

Gap Filling

If the surfaces you intend to glue up are slightly less than perfect (almost free from significant gaps),  you may not need to consider this factor. As long as half of the joint faces are in contact, most wood glue types will hold firm. However, if you are working on a more complicated task with visible gaps, you need a gap-filling pro. 

Avoid Polyurethane as its foam seems to be potent but doesn’t hold too much of the strength. The famous quick fix PVA might also look favorable but will not do much to fill the gaps. Epoxy is the best choice for gap-filling, structural builts. Users can create epoxy fillets around their woodwork joints to build up extra strength.

Recommended Products: Top 5 Right Wood Glues

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue
Loctite PL Premium Polyurethane Adhesive
Gorilla 2 Part Epoxy
Professional Grade Cyanoacrylate (CA) Super Glue
Professional Grade Cyanoacrylate(CA) Super Glue
Gorilla Dual Temp Mini Hot Glue Gun Kit with 30 Hot Glue Sticks


1. Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue


PVA Wood Glue features a stronger bond than what wood boasts itself. It is a minor toxic type of wood glue that produces no harmful fumes no matter where it is employed. Amongst all PVAs in today's market, Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue is the best of all.  The 16-ounce container carries a formula resistant to water, heat, mildew, and mold and can be used outdoors and indoors. Users can also stain, sand, and paint the glue once it has cured. However, due to its average 24 hour long curing time, you may have to wait for quite a while for the adhesive to dry. Otherwise, don't pass up on using this efficient wood glue.

PROS 

  • Forms a strong bond 
  • Decent clamping time
  • Easily sanded, stained, and painted once dry
  • Completely safe from toxic
  • Can be used indoors and outdoors
  • Easy to clean with water
  • Available in a variety of volumes
  • Produces no fumes

CONS

  • Long curing time


2. Loctite PL Premium Polyurethane Adhesive


Though Polyurethane isn't as safe as PVA glues, this best polyurethane option is entirely safe to use and repositionable. The Loctite PL Premium Adhesive's formulation is worth mentioning here, which employs 100% polyurethane only and no other chemical to make up for the added toxicity. Thanks to the same composition, Loctite PL is three times stronger than regular glue, as per the company's claims. It may be the best glue for woodworking, but it’s also ideal for use on other materials like rocks, concrete, brick, masonry, marble, and many other such surfaces. However, make sure you clean the surface that is to be joined before application. Also, ensure that all faces are moist-free. With all such hurdles wiped off from the way, the versatility of the glue is unquestionably commendable. 

PROS 

  • Safe
  • Easy to use tube
  • Polyurethane-based glue
  • Versatile use

CONS 

  • It gets hard faster if not kept in seal


3. Gorilla 2 Part Epoxy


Thanks to its clear and tidy finish and the versatility on offer, the Gorilla 2-Part Epoxy is by far the best Epoxy glue of 2021. This is a good option for wood but can also be used on plastic, ceramics, metal, tiles, glass, and other surfaces. The adhesive quickly sets in about 5 to 10 minutes, giving a permanent and tough bond. It is clear in color when solid, so you don't have to worry about its imprints showing from under the joineries. This 85-ounce massive syringe is an excellent water-resistant choice for wood and is also solvent-proof. You can use the formula to fill gaps and for all kinds of repairs. The product comes with a separate hardener

PROS 

  • Inexpensive
  • Great water resistance
  • It can be used on a variety of materials
  • Forms a rigid bond

CONS 

  • May only be able to use as a single application


4. Professional Grade Cyanoacrylate (CA) Super Glue


If your project involves a bit more industrial level tasking than fixing something at home, the Professional Grade Cyanoacrylate (CA) Super Glue should be your top choice. This is the most powerful superglue you will come across in terms of gluing. Other than wood, it works well for glass, metal, shoes, and porcelain. This glue comes in two different thicknesses, thick viscosity, and thin viscosity. Both the versions are great glues for woodworking. The lighter version is suitable for tiny work like fixing cracks of your usual wood-made products like guitars. On the other hand, the thicker is for hardcore tasks.  Overall, the product houses a highly refined professional grade cyanoacrylate composition, that too, packed in a convenient bottle with a jam-resistant nozzle to account for easy application. 

PROS 

  • Jam-resistant precision nozzle aid in the application
  • Strong bonding even on slippery faces 
  • Bonds to fabric and leather too

CONS 

  • Doesn’t fill gaps as efficiently as other types of wood glues


5. Professional Grade Cyanoacrylate(CA) Super Glue


If your project involves a bit more industrial level tasking than fixing something at home, the Professional Grade Cyanoacrylate (CA) Super Glue should be your top choice. This is the most powerful superglue you will come across in terms of gluing. Other than wood, it works well for glass, metal, shoes, and porcelain. This glue comes in two different thicknesses, thick viscosity, and thin viscosity. Both the versions are great glues for woodworking. The lighter version is suitable for tiny work like fixing cracks of your usual wood-made products like guitars. On the other hand, the thicker is for hardcore tasks. Overall, the product houses a highly refined professional grade cyanoacrylate composition, that too, packed in a convenient bottle with a jam-resistant nozzle to account for easy application.

PROS 

  • Jam-resistant precision nozzle aid in the application
  • Strong bonding even on slippery faces
  • Bonds to fabric and leather too

CONS 

  • Doesn’t fill gaps as efficiently as other types of wood glues


6. Gorilla Dual Temp Mini Hot Glue Gun Kit with 30 Hot Glue Sticks


If you search for a hot glue option that offers good value in every way, a gorilla hot glue stick with a powerful gun is the best choice for you. It features a compact design that aids in easy handling. However, the biggest plus is the glue gun's dual-temperature configuration that provides a considerable level of versatility for multiple projects.  Besides heat configuration, this Gorilla Store's gun also offers a precision nozzle that ensures correct adhesive push, preventing the surface from overload that could spoil your project. For simple repairs on your shoe soles or day crafts with your children, the Gorilla Dual Temp Mini Hot Glue Gun Kit with 30 Hot Glue water-resistant Sticks is a perfect, lightweight, and easy to control option.

PROS

  • Durable Glue Gun with easy to control trigger button 
  • Robust gun mechanism 
  • It comes with 30 long-lasting waterproof hot glue stick 

CONS 

  • Not suitable for heavy woodworks


 

Final Word

There you have it – everything about choosing the suitable wood glue and some of the best purchasing options in the market right now. The best wood glues can take your woodworking projects and repairs to the next level, and thus knowing how to choose the right one out of a dozen different types of options is a challenging task. 

With our guide helping you through the process, we hope you have finally decided on what glue should add to your woodworking tools. However, if you still haven’t figured that out, we recommend narrowing down all your needs and what exactly your task requires. 

Suppose it’s a complicated one with many significant gaps in between that you think might be a little too difficult to be held firmly by just any regular glue. In that case, we advise you to go with the top epoxy choice: Gorilla 2 Part Epoxy. But if you can compromise on safety, the Loctite PL Premium Polyurethane Adhesive is a great runner-up wood glue.