What wood glue should you use, and when?

Furnitology - Picture of Titebond Wood Glue

By Cody Lamens

Let’s have some sticky fun today and talk about adhesives used in woodworking. We all use some type of adhesive in each of our builds, but have you ever stopped to understand the characteristics of the most common woodworking adhesives? Today, we’ll take a look at the most common adhesives used in woodworking. From the trusty PVA glue to the versatile polyurethane, traditional hide glue, modern epoxy, and lightning-fast CA glue, we’ll dive into the characteristics, applications, and uses in today’s woodworking shops. Once equipped with this information, you can make the right adhesive decision for your next project. Let’s get glued in!

Polyvinyl Acetate, aka PVA glue, yellow glue, or wood glue

PVA glue stands out as the best wood glue, renowned for its reliability and strength in bonding wood. Here are the key characteristics you should know about PVA glue. 

Reliable Bonding for Wood:

PVA glue, commonly called wood glue, is specifically formulated for woodworking applications, offering a reliable and strong bond for wood joints. It stands as the best wood glue, ensuring a tight and secure connection between wood pieces, making it an ideal choice for carpenters, hobbyists, and professionals alike.

Quick Drying and Easy to Use:

One of the standout features of PVA glue is its quick drying time. Woodworkers appreciate the efficiency of PVA glue, allowing them to proceed with their projects without long waiting periods. Its user-friendly nature simplifies the bonding process, making it accessible for woodworkers of all skill levels. Not to oversimplify a glue up, we all know they can be stressful, but here’s how to use wood glue: simply apply it to the surfaces to be bonded, press the pieces together, and let it dry.

Water-Based and Non-Toxic:

PVA glue is water-based and non-toxic, ensuring safety for both the environment and the users. Its water-based composition means easy clean up with water, reducing the hassle associated with adhesive application. Woodworkers can focus on their craft without worrying about harmful fumes or complicated cleanup procedures.

Gap-Filling Capabilities:

PVA glue has moderate gap-filling properties, allowing it to adapt to slight irregularity in wood surfaces. While not as expansive as polyurethane glue, wood glue can still fill minor gaps and imperfections, ensuring a snug fit between joints.

Sandable and Paintable Finish:

Once dried, wood glue forms a transparent layer that seamlessly blends with the wood. This feature is invaluable for woodworking projects where aesthetics are paramount. The dried glue is also sandable and paintable (but not stainable), enabling woodworkers to achieve a smooth finish that meets their desired specifications.

Variety of Formulations and Wood Glue Brands:

PVA glue is available in various formulations tailored to specific woodworking needs. Whether it’s standard wood glue for general applications, the strongest wood glue for heavy-duty projects, or waterproof wood glue for outdoor use, woodworkers can choose the right type of PVA glue to match their requirements. Top wood glue brands offer a wide range of options, ensuring optimal results for every project.

PVA glue stands as a cornerstone in the world of woodworking glues. Its reliable bonding, quick drying time, environmental friendliness, and adaptability make it an indispensable tool for woodworkers. 

The Titebond series of PVA glues is very popular among today’s woodworkers.

VIDEO: A wood glue experiment you have to see

Polyurethane Glue

Polyurethane glue, a versatile and powerful adhesive, has become a staple in the toolkit of woodworking enthusiasts and professionals alike. Here’s why polyurethane glue is a game-changer in the world of woodworking:

Versatility at its Best:

Polyurethane glue, often known as PU glue, is renowned for its ability to bond various materials, including wood, metal, plastic, and even glass. This versatility makes it a favorite among woodworkers who often need to join different types of materials in their projects.

Versatility at its Best:

One of the standout features of polyurethane glue is its exceptional bonding strength. When applied properly, it forms a robust bond that can withstand heavy loads and resist impacts, making it ideal for woodworking projects that require a sturdy connection.

Water and Heat Resistance:

Polyurethane glue possesses excellent resistance to water and heat. Unlike some other adhesives, it doesn’t weaken when exposed to moisture, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications. Additionally, it can withstand high temperatures, ensuring the integrity of your woodworking projects even in challenging environments.

Expands to Fill Gaps:

Polyurethane glue expands as it cures, allowing it to fill gaps and irregularities in the bonded surfaces. This expansion property is particularly useful when working with rough or uneven wood, ensuring a tight and secure fit between joints.

Dries Clear and Sands Easily:

When polyurethane glue dries, it becomes transparent, blending seamlessly with the wood. This feature is advantageous for woodworking projects where aesthetics are essential. Furthermore, cured polyurethane glue can be easily sanded, allowing woodworkers to achieve a smooth and polished finish.

Long Shelf Life:

Unlike some adhesives with a short shelf life once opened, polyurethane glue typically has a long shelf life, especially if stored correctly. This longevity ensures that woodworkers can rely on the adhesive even if they don’t use it frequently, reducing wastage and saving costs in the long run.

Polyurethane glue stands as a testament to innovation in woodworking adhesives. Its remarkable bonding strength, resistance to environmental factors, and ability to fill gaps make it a top choice for woodworkers aiming for precision and longevity in their creations.

Hide Glue

In the world of woodworking, tradition often meets innovation, and few types of glue embody this blend, like hide glue. Derived from animal collagen, hide glue has been a staple in woodworking for centuries, and its enduring popularity is a testament to its unique qualities and applications. Here’s how hide glue continues to find its place in the contemporary woodworking landscape:

The Art of Tradition:

Hide glue holds a special place in woodworking history, with its origins dating back to ancient civilizations. Woodworkers have long appreciated its natural and organic composition, making it an eco-friendly choice compared to synthetic adhesives. This traditional adhesive has stood the test of time, enduring through generations of craftsmen who value its unique properties.

Superior Wood-to-Wood Bonding:

Hide glue has exceptional wood-to-wood bonding capabilities. It forms a bond by penetrating the wood fibers, creating a connection that is often stronger than the wood itself. This characteristic makes it ideal for delicate woodworking tasks, intricate joinery, and restoration work where precision and strength are paramount.

Reversibility and Repair:

One of the standout features of hide glue is its reversibility. Unlike many modern adhesives, hide glue joints can be easily disassembled with heat and moisture, allowing for repairs and restoration work. Woodworkers appreciate this quality, especially when working on antique furniture or delicate pieces that may need future attention.

Compatibility with Finishes:

Hide glue is compatible with various finishes, including varnishes, lacquers, and shellacs. This compatibility ensures that woodworking projects glued with hide glue can be finished seamlessly, allowing woodworkers to achieve the desired aesthetic without concerns about adhesive compatibility.

Warmth of Aesthetics:

Hide glue has a warm, natural color that blends well with wood, making it ideal for projects where a seamless, inconspicuous bond is desired. Unlike some modern adhesives that dry clear, hide glue enhances the visual appeal of woodworking joints, contributing to the overall aesthetic charm of the finished piece.

Skill and Expertise:

Working with hide glue requires certain skills and expertise. Woodworkers must consider factors such as glue temperature, application techniques, and clamping methods to achieve optimal results. This aspect of hide glue adds an element of craftsmanship to woodworking, fostering a deeper connection between the artisan and their creation.

Hide glue remains a cherished choice in woodworking, especially for woodworkers who appreciate tradition, authenticity, and the unique qualities it brings to their projects. Its superior bonding, reversibility, compatibility with finishes, warm aesthetics, and the need for skillful application make it a choice that resonates with woodworking purists and enthusiasts alike. 


Epoxy adhesive, a versatile and powerful bonding agent, has carved a niche for itself in the woodworking world. Here’s how epoxy revolutionizes woodworking:

Unparalleled Strength:

Epoxy adhesive is celebrated for its exceptional bonding strength. It forms a bond that surpasses many other adhesives, giving woodworkers the confidence that their creations will endure the test of time. This unparalleled strength makes epoxy an excellent choice for woodworking projects that demand structural integrity and resilience.

Versatility in Applications:

Epoxy’s versatility knows no bounds. It can be used to bond wood to wood and attach wood to other materials like metal or glass. Woodworkers appreciate its adaptability, allowing them to explore various creative possibilities. Whether it’s crafting intricate inlays, stabilizing cracks, or laminating wood pieces, epoxy excels in various applications.

Water and Weather Resistance:

Epoxy adhesive exhibits remarkable resistance to water, making it ideal for both indoor and outdoor woodworking projects. Its ability to withstand changing weather conditions ensures that outdoor creations remain sturdy and intact over time. Woodworkers can confidently use epoxy for outdoor furniture, decking, and other exterior woodworking projects without worrying about degradation due to moisture exposure.

Crystal-Clear Finish:

Epoxy adhesives dry to a crystal-clear finish, especially those formulated for woodworking. This transparency enhances the aesthetic appeal of woodworking projects, allowing the natural beauty of the wood to shine through. Woodworkers often use epoxy for creating stunning river tables, intricate inlays, and artistic resin designs, adding a touch of elegance to their creations.

Excellent Gap-Filling Properties:

Epoxy’s ability to fill gaps and voids is invaluable in woodworking. It can penetrate and fill even the tiniest imperfections in wood surfaces, creating a seamless bond. This property ensures that joints are strong and free from gaps, contributing to the overall structural integrity of the project.

Precision and Durability:

Epoxy adhesive gives woodworkers the precision they need to achieve intricate details in their projects. Its low viscosity allows for precise application, making it suitable for delicate woodworking tasks. Its durability ensures that woodworking creations maintain their form and beauty for years, making epoxy a favorite among craftsmen striving for perfection.

Epoxy adhesive has become an indispensable tool for woodworkers. Its unparalleled strength, versatility, water resistance, clear finish, excellent gap-filling properties, and precision make it a top choice for various woodworking applications. 

Photo Credit: Andy Rawls (@ar_txwoodcraft)

CA Glue

CA glue, or cyanoacrylate glue, has emerged as a modern marvel, revolutionizing how woodworkers approach their craft. Rapid, reliable, and remarkably versatile, CA glue has found a prominent place in woodworking workshops. Here’s how CA glue transforms woodworking projects with innovative applications:

Lightning-Fast Bonding:

One of the standout features of CA glue is its rapid curing time. Woodworkers appreciate its lightning-fast bonding, allowing them to secure joints and pieces within moments. This quick adhesion is invaluable for tasks that demand efficiency and precision, enabling woodworkers to proceed swiftly with their projects.

Exceptional Strength and Durability:

Despite its rapid bonding, CA glue doesn’t compromise on strength. It forms a robust bond that withstands stress and strain, providing a durable connection between wood pieces. This exceptional strength ensures that woodworking projects are assembled quickly and built to last, meeting the highest standards of quality and longevity. It should be noted that while CA glue has a strong bond with great tensile strength, it is brittle and has a very weak shear strength. It’s recommended to spend some time understanding these properties of CA glue to be sure you’re using it in the right applications. 

Versatility in Woodworking Applications:

CA glue’s versatility knows no bounds in woodworking. It excels in bonding various materials, including wood, plastic, metal, and even glass. Woodworkers leverage its adaptability for tasks such as intricate inlays, stabilization of cracks, and bonding delicate wooden components. Its ability to create seamless joints and repairs has made it a go-to choice for woodworking enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Precision in Application:

CA glue is available in various viscosities, ranging from thin to thick. This variety allows woodworkers to choose the perfect consistency for their specific task. Thin CA glue penetrates and bonds quickly, ideal for tight joints and small surfaces, while thicker versions fill gaps and provide structural reinforcement. This precision in application ensures that woodworkers have the right tool for the job.

Minimal Residue and Clean Finish:

CA glue leaves minimal residue once cured, resulting in a clean and polished finish. Woodworkers appreciate this feature, especially when working on projects where visible glue lines are undesirable. Its transparent nature allows the natural beauty of the wood to shine through, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal of woodworking creations.

Innovation in Woodworking Repairs:

CA glue has revolutionized woodworking repairs. Its ability to bond quickly and securely makes it indispensable for fixing minor damages, chips, or gaps in wood surfaces. Woodworkers can seamlessly repair imperfections, easily restoring their projects’ integrity and visual appeal.

CA glue stands as a testament to innovation in the woodworking world. Its rapid bonding, exceptional strength, versatility, precision, and clean finish have elevated woodworking to new heights. 

All right, there it is, everything you ever wanted to know about woodworking adhesives. May your next project be stress-free, stick in all the right places, and hold together for hundreds of years for many generations to enjoy. 

This blog post is brought to you by Furnitology, the #1 woodworking app. For more woodworking tips, inspiration, and high-quality woodworking content and community, visit furnitology.com. Download the Furnitology app for iPhone or Android.

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