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It seems that as the years roll on, we’re always finding new and exciting ways to join things together. In recent years, epoxy resin adhesives have developed to the point where their adhesion rivals things like old metal stitching and welding, something we never thought possible. Wood glues have also come a long way since the questionable white paste people were accustomed to in the old days. You need wood glue as a temporary joining mechanism in construction. When crafting furniture, it can be used as a semi-permanent means to join your wooden parts together. Knowing this, not all wood glues are created equal, so let’s have a look at what wood glues are, what a good one should look like, and how to use them effectively.
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What Types of Glue Work for Furniture Repair?
There are various types of wood glue out there, they can range considerably in adhesive strength, color, price, and quality. Most wood glues you’ll come across should either be yellow, white, or clear depending on the type of base they use, and they all have their individual strengths and weaknesses depending on their application. Let’s have a look at the different types of wood glue you’ll come across and what distinguishes them from one another.
Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) Adhesives
This is a fairly common glue type, something you could probably find in any middle school art supply box, but it’s common for a reason. PVA is water-resistant, easy to clean, readily available, and can be used on virtually any wooden surface which makes it handy to have around.
Other glue types incorporate an element of PVA for enhanced water resistance, and considering how affordable this glue is, its popularity is pretty understandable. PVA glue is also food safe making it suitable for repairing wooden implements used in food preparation and serving.
Cyanoacrylate (CA) Wood Adhesives
If you’re the kind of person that has a lot of time-sensitive projects, the chances are that you already have this type of glue lying around without even knowing it. Why? Cyanoacrylate is one of the fastest drying adhesive types out there, forging a bond with wooden surfaces in seconds and curing in a few minutes.
Pretty neat right? It’s ideal for bonding stiff boards or materials which otherwise would be impossible to join with things like nails or screws. It’s also classified as an industrial strength adhesive so you know the bond will last. It’s pretty runny though, so ensure that you wear the appropriate personal protective gear when handling this type of wood glue.
Epoxy Resin Adhesives
We mentioned previously that this type of glue has risen in popularity in recent years and considering how impressive it is this should come as no surprise. Epoxy resin adhesives are two-part adhesives that consist of the resin and the hardener.
Once mixed, they can be applied to the surfaces you would like to join and allowed to cure for the manufacturer’s recommended time period. These glues take a while to set and cure completely, so secure your workpiece and ensure it doesn’t move throughout the drying process. Most epoxies are water-resistant and food-safe once completely cured.
When most people think about glues that are environmentally friendly, they usually aren’t picturing repurposed animal carcasses. Hide glue is typically sold in liquid form and is used by most high-end antique restorers for authenticity. Hide glue is not waterproof, has a unique smell, and tends to cure into a rigid, fragile substance that could either be yellow or opaque in color.
Although it is environmentally friendly, hide glue isn’t very useful outside of furniture repair, but it is pretty interesting, especially when you consider that it’s one of the few adhesives in the world which can be found in a solid and liquid form. This adhesive can also get pretty pricey, so you won’t usually find it being used outside of its primary application or in other industries.
Polyurethane (PU) Adhesives
One of the most used glues all around the world these days is polyurethane. These adhesives have incredible adhesive strengths, can be used on anything from wood, to metal, to plastic, to brick, and are pretty affordable too.
As a material, polyurethane has been used to make everything from smartphones to hairbrushes, and its glues can be found everywhere from the crafting industry to automotive engineering workshops. These glues need to be applied to a moist surface, so keep this in mind if you ever decide to use one. PU is heat and water-resistant, and often lasts the lifetime of a workpiece it’s been applied to.
|Type Of Wood Glue
Makes other glues waterproof
Industrial strength adhesive
Food safe when cured completely
Most are water-resistant
Long set and cure time
|Made of animal carcass
Difficult to cure in high humidity
|High adhesive strength
High heat tolerance
What Is the Best Glue for Furniture?
Finding the best glue for furniture can be tough, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Everyone wants a glue that simply does it all, and although there are a few that do a lot you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that does absolutely everything. To make things slightly easier for you, we’ve selected a few types of glue that seem to tick all the boxes, just keep in mind that certain glues are best for their intended application. This being said, the best glue for furniture will be the one that suits your project (and what you’ll be putting your workpiece through) best.
Best Overall: ELMER’S Carpenter’s Wood Glue
For a company that’s been around for nearly 100 years, Elmer’s team has gone to great lengths not only to remain relevant but to improve their products and remain competitive in a market that has become saturated with high-quality wood adhesives.
The Elmer’s team seems to be putting their knowledge and experience to good use, offering a glue that is virtually odorless while having the added benefit of being paintable and sandpaper friendly!
Elmer’s carpenter’s wood glue really has been made wood crafters in mind, offering a high adhesive strength coupled with a dry time rivaled only by two-part epoxy glues, and while you could go for an epoxy variant, nothing quite beats the simplicity and ease of use that this white glue offers.
The benefits of this glue don’t stop there though, it offers protection from excessive heat and moisture which means you can rest easy if you plan on keeping your workpiece outdoors.
Elmer’s carpenter’s glue is also exceedingly easy to use, simply pop the cap off and use the ergonomically friendly dispenser to apply your glue directly to your workpiece, which leaves you with little to no chance of making a mess in your work area.
Elmer’s offers you all of this at a ridiculously low price, making it not only an attractive wood glue for furniture repair but handy to have around the house in case it’s needed for any odd repairs. If you’re looking for wood glue for furniture repair that you can trust, why not go with this household brand? They’ve delivered quality adhesive solutions for over 75 years and don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.
Best Adhesion Strength: TITEBOND III Ultimate Wood Glue
If you’re looking to do a professional job for a reasonable price, then look no further than the Titebond team’s ultimate wood glue for all of your furniture glue needs. Titebond is yet another reputable company that’s been in the adhesive game for a really long time since 1935 to be exact, and they don’t seem to be slowing down on their quest to provide the best adhesives money can buy.
Their ultimate wood glue is what the pros use to get the best out of their woodworking endeavors and considering that this particular product has passed several US approval tests for resistance to heat and moisture, it comes as no surprise that this glue is one of the number one choices for professional crafters.
Although its longer dry and set time might be something you think should be reserved for beginners, professionals prefer this because you’re able to adjust your workpiece as the glue cures. Unlike the products we have covered so far, this glue is safe to use on surfaces that might come into contact with food or little hands, as Titebond’s ultimate wood glue is completely food safe once it has had a chance to cure completely.
The price you pay for all of these benefits is the full cure time, which takes around 24 hours, but you do gain a furniture glue that is not only heat resistant, moisture repellent, and FDA approved but is graded for both interior and exterior use. It does have a slight odor to it though, so we wouldn’t recommend applying this glue indoors without some airflow in your work area, but besides that, Titebond’s ultimate wood glue seems to be a complete package.
Best Value: GORILLA Ultimate Waterproof Wood Glue
Best value doesn’t always mean the best price, sometimes it just means getting lots of bang for your buck. We think that the ultimate waterproof wood glue from the gorilla team offers just that, a metric ton of useful characteristics that make it not only a pleasure to use but a handy tool to keep around your home.
As you could probably tell by the name, Gorilla’s ultimate waterproof glue is completely watertight once it’s had the chance to cure completely, which is great for any of your workpiece that could be seeing a lot of the outdoors come those winter months.
This glue is far from a one-trick pony though, it adds to its outdoor-grade credentials by being UV-resistant and drying completely clear, so you don’t have to worry about having to paint over the joints you’ve used it on.
You don’t have to use this glue outdoors though, if you have any projects that run the risk of getting wet over the course of their lives, we seriously recommend giving this glue a try.
Although it might have a long cure time (24 hours to be exact), it does set in just 15 to 20 minutes depending on the level of humidity you’re working with, so we’d recommend picking a nice day to use it on or firing up your dehumidifier beforehand.
Gorilla’s ultimate waterproof glue makes furniture gluing easy, and considering what you get for the price, we’d recommend stocking up for all your furniture gluing and general crafting needs.
What Should You Look for in a Glue for Wood Furniture Repair?
We mentioned previously that not all wood glues are created equal, so you should probably know what to look out for the next time you need to choose a good glue for your woodwork project. Below are a few things you should consider the next time you find yourself staring at a shelf (or Amazon basket) full of wood glue products that claim to be the best in the industry.
It’s a bit upsetting when you buy a product that has all the extra bells and whistles you could ever hope for, but it sucks at doing the one thing it is built for. The same goes for buying a glue that appears to be versatile according to the manufacturer’s description but ends up being mediocre glue when you apply it to your workpiece.
Always check the adhesive strength of the glue you have chosen, nowadays it is very easy to check customer reviews online to ensure that the adhesive is all it’s cracked up to be.
Additionally, buying the most versatile product isn’t always the best option, choosing an adhesive that’s been designed for a particular application or material will typically have a stronger bond than ones that present themselves as a blanket solution to all your gluing needs.
Shelf life is a major concern, not only for professional crafters but DIY enthusiasts as well. The last thing you want when working on a long-term project is to find that all of your glue has turned into something resembling cement after only three days on your shelf. This being said, look for a glue that comes in an airtight container.
How do you identify these? Well, most glues that have a decent shelf life usually have a preserving agent added to them, and an O-ring seal on the bottle cap to ensure that no air enters the bottle once it’s been sealed shut.
Smaller brands typically don’t have the resources to spend on this type of high-quality packaging, so if you’re looking for a glue that has the ability to go the distance, your best bet is to go with a reputable brand.
If you really want to go the extra mile and extend the shelf life of your glue, ensure that it’s always stored in a cool, dry place and that you seal the rim of the container with some silicon to act as a sort of airtight gasket.
Dry and Cure Time
Dry and cure times for wood glue can vary considerably, not only from brand to brand but between adhesive types too. If you have a time-sensitive project you should consider choosing a glue with a fast dry time, this ensures that you get your workpiece together as soon as possible, and lets you rest assured that you can carry on painting, staining, and/or sealing your workpiece that is secure.
Fast-drying adhesives do have a drawback though. If your glue dries in a matter of minutes, it leaves a minimal margin for error, which means that you will have to be surgically accurate when gluing your pieces together.
This can be a bit nerve-wracking for beginners, which is why fast-drying adhesives are primarily targeted towards veteran crafters who are used to working quickly and precisely. Cure time is also something you should take into account when choosing a good wood glue.
What is cure time? When an adhesive (particularly two-part adhesives) needs time to complete a chemical reaction that removes all moisture and ensures a strong adhesive bond with the surface of your workpiece. Even if the glue you have chosen has a fast dry time, most glues take around 24 hours to cure, which means you won’t have optimum adhesion before this time has elapsed.
Check the dry and cure times of adhesives, because this will ultimately determine your timeline and when your workpiece will be ready for use. These times are stipulated on the product’s packaging, but you could get more accurate results from online reviews if you’re still a bit skeptical.
Color might not be the first thing that you think of when choosing a good wood glue, but it can be just as important as adhesive strength in the long run. Most industrial-strength adhesives come in some pretty strange colors and aren’t always the best when working with something that needs aesthetic appeal.
This being said, some glues might come out of their containers one color and look completely different once they have been cured. This is why choosing a glue the dries clear can be super important when considering glue for wood furniture repair.
Chances are that if you’re repairing wooden furnishing, you’ve probably gone through the trouble of filling, sanding, and resurfacing the entire workpiece, and you’d probably hate for all of your hard work to be ruined by a glue that starts off clear but dries yellow.
Besides choosing a glue that dries clear, consider choosing one that’s relatively pliable and easy to work with. Why? Some glues cure into really tough substances which can be challenging to sand or drill, so always check the sheer strength of the glue you have chosen to avoid ruining your sanding pads and/or drill in the future.
How to Use Wood Glue Effectively
Having the right glue would be pretty useless if you didn’t know how to use it, thankfully we’ve put together a short tutorial showing you how to use your wood glue for effective furniture repair. Remember to cater to the environment your workpiece will be situated in and wear the appropriate personal protective gear when working with glues that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Clean Your Workpiece
Before you get your hands dirty with some glue, ensure that your workpiece has been cleaned adequately. Use a clean cloth and some soapy water to clean off any existing glue, dirt, or grime from the surface you will be applying the glue to. If the existing glue is stubborn, use a scraper to remove it and use some steel wool to scrub off any residual glue. Allow the wood to dry for around an hour or two before moving on to the next step in the process.
Apply the Glue to Your Workpiece
Once you’re sure your workpiece has been cleaned, it’s time for you to apply some glue to your workpiece. Different surfaces require different approaches to the application of glue, that’s why we’ve decided to give you a few application tutorials for different surfaces of different sizes and orientations to ensure you’re able to optimally apply your glue.
This is typically what most people encounter when working with wood glue, and it’s also the easiest type of board to glue together. You’ll need a brush, the glue you have chosen, and a clean cloth to wipe off any excess. You can either apply a moderate amount of glue directly to your workpiece or dip a third of your brush into the glue itself (depending on the container) and spread the glue evenly across the surface of your workpiece.
Once you’re sure you have enough glue on the surface, join the two pieces together and apply pressure with wood clamps or anything heavy enough to substitute for them. Wipe off any excess from the edges of the board and allow the glue to set and cure for the manufacturer’s recommended time period.
Large Wood Panels
When working with larger wood panels you could get away with using a brush, but the size of the surface area means that you’ll likely find yourself cleaning up lots of excess. Why? Because more glue will likely be applied, when you combine and press the two halves of your workpiece it will cause far more glue to be squeezed out the edges of the board.
The solution to large area glue application is to use a roller to apply your glue to the surface of your workpiece, simply add a moderate amount of glue to the surface of your workpiece and use your roller to spread a thin, even layer of glue across the surface of the workpiece. The ideal approach would be to apply the glue from end to end, working in sections rather than spreading it out the way you would with a brush.
Once you’re satisfied with the application of your glue, press the two pieces together and remove the excess with a clean cloth. Allow the glue to set and cure for the manufacturer’s recommended time period and ensure that your workpiece has been clamped adequately during this period.
Although wood chair repairs are fairly common, it is surprising how often crafters forget the one rule of gluing joints; always glue the inside of the joint. This rule rings true whether you’re into wood chair repairs, restoring wooden tables, or even wooden cabinets. The interior of the joint is the part of the workpiece that will receive the other workpiece, usually characterized by being a recess of some sort.
This part of the workpiece will facilitate the glue and the other half of the workpiece, so it makes sense to apply your glue to this section as it minimizes the risk of spillage and it’s usually static during the joining process.
You will need clamps and some creativity when working with furniture joints to ensure that your joint sets as it should. Also remember to clean any dust or existing glue out of your joints before applying fresh glue.
Once you are sure your joint is ready, apply your glue to the interior and press the second half inside the receptacle. Clamp your workpiece to the best of your ability to ensure it does not move and that there is no play inside the joint. Wipe off any excess with a clean cloth and allow the glue to set and cure for the manufacturer’s recommended time period.
Chair and Table Rungs
If you’re wondering what a rung is, you’re not alone. Rungs are thin cylindrical wooden pieces used to strengthen a chair or table. They are situated between the legs of a chair or table and are most commonly found on really tall chairs such as bar or island stools.
Rungs are notorious for breaking due to people (mainly children though) applying excessive weight to them or standing on them. They are typically glued in place, but if neglected they tend to become loose and wear out the recess they’re housed in.
To repair a loose rung, you’ll need a syringe, some glue, a cloth, and a screwdriver. Start by loosening the legs of your chair or table slightly, this will allow you to remove the rung and expose the recess. Clean the recess of any dust or wood particles that may be present with the edge of a cloth or paper towel. Next, add some of your glue to the syringe we mentioned previously, but not completely as these recesses are typically pretty shallow, and overfilling them will result in a bit of a mess.
Next, apply re-insert your rung into the recess and wipe off any excess wood glue that comes out, then re-fasten the legs of your chair and apply your clamps if there is any play between the legs of the chair. All the glue to set and cure for the manufacturer’s recommended time period.
Now that you know what type of glue can be used for furniture repair, what types of glue are out there to get the job done, what some of the best wood glue on the market looks like, and how to apply wood glue in various furniture repair situations, it’s time for you to get out there and put your newfound knowledge to the test. Remember that now all glues are the same and some require special preparation of your workpiece to function effectively and to always wear the appropriate personal protective gear when working with any type of adhesive.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Wood Glue Toxic to Humans?
Although most wood glue is safe compared to other high-grade adhesives, they do contain chemicals that could potentially cause serious discomfort if they come into contact with your skin, eyes, or mouth. It’s for this reason that you should always wear the appropriate personal protective gear when working with any adhesive.
Is Gorilla Wood Glue Safe for Kids?
Although Gorilla glue is pretty powerful stuff, they do produce a kid’s version that is not only non-toxic, but its thick formula means that it’s easy to manage and also easier to clean up if things get a bit out of control.
Is Elmer’s Wood Glue Toxic?
Elmer’s wood glue consists of a water-based formula that is not only non-toxic but is easy to clean up and has incredible tensile strength. This wood is water-resistant and heat resistant which means you can use this amazing glue for both indoor and outdoor projects.