Finding The Best Wood Glue

By Scott Sidler June 22, 2015

What’s the best wood glue? That depends. Maybe you’re building mortise and tenon joints. Maybe you’re repairing a small chipped piece of wood or gluing-up a table top. I’ll help you find the best wood glue for your project in this post by showing you 4 of my favorites and when to use them.

So, how do you know which glue to use? There are dozens of brands and formulas. All have their time and place and the important thing to know is when and how you should use each.

 

Titebond Glue
Titebond Glue

1. Titebond

This is my #1 go-to glue for almost every project. It’s inexpensive, non-toxic, cleans up with water and has a long enough open time that you can get your pieces assembled without freaking out that the glue is drying too fast.

Titebond has an extraordinarily strong bond (between 3,600 and 4,000 psi) which means that unless you are using a tropical hardwood of some kind the wood is likely to break before the glue joint does. That’s my kind of glue!

There are several different brands but my favorite is Titebond of which there are 3 grades you need to be aware of.

 

Titebond I – This is the original wood glue. The same yellow stuff we’ve all seen since we were kids. It works great for indoor projects and creates a strong bond. Don’t use this for anything that will be outdoors or exposed to water or high humidity.

Titebond II – A little stronger bond and bit more money than Titebond I this glue will work for outdoor projects though I rarely use it. It’s kind of like 89 octane gas to me. You either need the cheaper Titebond I for interior or you need high octane Titebond III for outdoors.

Titebond III(My favorite!) A little more expensive than the other two options this waterproof version can withstand the rigors of outdoor projects. It also has a stronger bond than the other two and a slower curing time to allow you more leeway with complex glue-ups. If you’re building for outdoor projects or worried about getting everything set properly before the glue dries this is definitely the glue you want.

gorilla-glue
Gorilla Glue

 

2. Gorilla Glue

This glues has some extraordinary holding power just like Titebond. It needs moisture in the wood to work properly though so be aware of that before you glue up two dry items. I will caution you that this glue is not easy water clean up and can be messy.

The great thing about Gorilla Glue is that it is completely waterproof and not affected by hot or cold temperatures which makes it very versatile in extreme weather. I like Gorilla glue because it will bond to almost anything like stone, metal, ceramic, foam, glass, concrete and much more. It also expands into open areas of the joint to fill in empty space so the items don’t have as perfect of a fit as with Titebond.

 

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3. Loctite PL Adhesive

loctite-pl
Loctite PL Adhesive

Though I rarely use it at the shop this adhesive is invaluable to me in the field. For keeping subfloors from squeaking or attaching panelling this is the way to go.

One of the big benefits is that it is almost totally impervious to weather. It holds strong no matter what mother nature throws at you, rain, snow, hot or cold. Also, if two surfaces are slightly irregular or have gaps, wood glue won’t always work properly. PL has a thicker consistency and can fill these spaces while still holding tight. It dries more slowly, which gives you a little more working time.

 

hide-glue
Hide Glue

4. Hide Glue

This is a total specialty item that I rarely use, but it is the only item that will work when I am repairing antique furniture or making a glue joint that may need to be reversed in the future.

Hide glue is easily sanded and won’t affect the wood finish is there is some squeeze out. It is slow drying so detailed work doesn’t have to be hurried, but its biggest benefit to me is that unlike every other glue it is reversible. By adding heat and moisture (a steam iron or similar) the glue will loosen up and the joint can be reworked if necessary. Now that’s a handy feature.

And this brand is the only hide glue that doesn’t have to be mixed yourself. It is premixed and ready for use right out of the bottle which means I might actually use it.

 

I hope this helps you find some good glues and adhesives for your next project. And remember the more you use these glues the more familiar you’ll become with them and the easier your glue-ups will become.

 

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7 thoughts on “Finding The Best Wood Glue”

  1. Help! I need to remove a desk from a room and it will not fit through the door. I remember gluing the top of the desk to the legs years ago. I do not recall the glue I used. Do you have any suggestion on how to “unglue”. I think my only option may involve a sledgehammer.

    1. If you used Hide Glue then it’s possible to break the glue bond with heat, but that is fairly specialized and I doubt you used it if you are asking now. If physics doesn’t allow it a saw may be the only answer. 🙁

      1. Thank you for your response. I need to replace the flooring in that room and the company installing the new flooring can simply move the desk while they work on one side of the room and move it to the other side. Problem temporarily solved!

  2. Love your site, Scott:
    I’m a long-time woodworker, and I was glad to see your first-choice glues were the Titebond trio.

    I ONLY Use Gorilla glue if I need gap-filling, I don’t care what my work looks like, and its going to be outside in lousy weather. It stains fingers horribly and expands – foaming out of the joints as it dries leaving tough crud to scrape or chisel off. Titebond Ultimate is the only glue I use.

    Yes, hide glue has its place. interestingly, it is used by luthiers often, for example to attach a fingerboard to a violin or guitar where there might be a future need to replace it without destroying the instrument.

    It’s fun to mention, as I’m sure you know, the original “hide” glue came from stock-yard remnants, mainly horse and cow hoofs, ground and heated in a “glue pot” and its work-time was as long as it took to cool.

    Thank you.

  3. You never fail to read my mind! I’m about to build a screen door for one of the outbuildings on the farm with limited woodworking skills. Am planning to just pocket screw & glue things together. And I have some antique cast iron corner braces to add additional support. I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks and keep up the good work.

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