The glue that best suits your project depends on a few factors: desired strength, materials used, allotted time, and if you need the connection to be waterproof or not. Whether you’re building an advanced woodworking project or crafting a simple DIY, it’s important to know which type of wood glue will give you the best results.
When a project instructs you use wood glue, it most likely means polyvinyl acetate (PVA), unless otherwise specified. This glue is inexpensive, nontoxic, and very efficient—though you should still consult the manufacturer’s instructions for accurate uses, clamp duration, and recommended drying time. And while soap and water clean-up (while wet) may tempt you to “apply liberally”, take care where the glue touches, as it can inhibit stain from soaking into the wood once dry. This highly-effective bonding agent contains a cross-linking polyvinyl acetate which gives it water-resistant properties, thus it can be used on most outdoor projects. PVA has a modest tack, so you can make slight adjustments before it sets and should use clamps for 20-30 minutes to ensure a strong hold.
Common Uses: basic indoor woodworking, some outdoor woodworking, hobbies and crafts, cracked furniture.
Epoxy-based glue is a solid choice for a variety of projects and is made from two components: a resin and a hardener. Both of these agents are liquid but once mixed together, a chemical reaction takes place that allows for a strong hold. It takes a little longer for this glue to cure, so it’s recommended that you clamp down your work for the ultimate bond. Many epoxy wood glues are intended for indoor use, so be sure to double-check product labels for a water-resistant glue if you making something for outside. Be cautious when using with this material; work in a well-ventilated space and mix small batches.
Common Uses: filling in gaps, bonding pieces of wood together
One of the most durable wood glues is polyurethane. This strong, versatile glue is perfect for both indoor and outdoor projects due to its waterproof qualities. Polyurethane dries a natural-looking color, so it blends in seamlessly with wood. This substance cures in the presence of water, so you need to wet the surface of wood before applying the glue for the ultimate bond. Once the glue has dried, it can be sanded down and painted or stained.
Common Uses: indoor and outdoor applications, wood, plastic, stone, metal, ceramic, foam, glass, concrete, fabric
Often referred to as “super glue”, cyanoacrylate (CA) is generally used for small, quick repairs due to its speedy curing process. A hard, plastic-like bond occurs when this glue dries, but be careful because it can adhere to your skin in seconds. A gel-style CA is available which tends to stay in place better than the original formula.
Common Uses: small-scale fixes, hobbies and crafts
Hide glue derives from rendered animal collagen and is one of the oldest known bonding agents, having been used for centuries. It’s nontoxic, has a strong tack, can be stained, and comes in a variety of strengths and colors. If you’ve ever worked with a hot glue gun, you’ve used this substance, as it’s what the glue sticks are made from. Some hide glues need to be heated and brushed on, while others come in a bottle with an applicator. It’s a popular choice because once cooled, the glue can be heated up again and manipulated as needed; this makes it the ideal adherent for antique and fabric repairs because it is reversible. This glue comes in handy for most projects, unless you need a waterproof option.
Common Uses: antiques, creating attractive “crackling” effects, cloth, glass, and leather, ideal for furniture, musical instruments, and veneer work