Whether you’re finally getting around to some DIY carpentry you’ve been putting off or you are a craft enthusiast, if you are working with wood, then a glue made for use with wood is going to be your best friend. Fortunately, there are a range of options available and even highly effective non-toxic varieties that mean suitable glues exist for most people’s needs and wants. However, finding the best wood glue can sometimes be difficult.
In this post, we will take you through the different types of wood glue available, tips on how to choose the right wood glue for your task, and some of our favorite wood glues for every budget and the classic DIY tasks involving wood glue.
What are the different types of wood glue?
If you are new to working with wood, then you might be surprised to know that as well as needing a specific glue for this material, there is also a range of different glue types that should be used with wood depending on the task you are doing and the specific type of wood you are using. Here, we will outline the 5 most important types of glue suitable for use with wood and when you should use them.
#1 Cyanoacrylate (CA) Wood Glue
Otherwise known as superglue (or sometimes even crazy glue!), CA is usually the glue of choice for quick repairs thanks to its quick drying time and ability to bond hard materials, including wood, together. Once dry, superglue forms into a plastic like substance, but when applied it is usually a bit runny or sticky. The bonds made with superglue are very hard and rigid and best used for temporary bonds.
Because of its runniness, combined with its super strength, you need to be careful when working with this type of glue as it’s easy to get it on your fingers and skin where it bonds very quickly and is difficult to remove. However, some CA glues come in the form of a gel which remains in place better. You should wear a mask when working with superglue and gloves if possible.
Top tip: If you do get superglue on your fingers, you can use a nail file to remove it or nail polish remover if you have any.
#2 Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) Glue
Whilst the well-known PVA glue is often associated with arts and crafts style projects, there are actually a range of PVA glues that are suitable for use with wood. Some of these are only suitable for indoor use but stronger variants are also available for outdoor projects. PVA makes permanent bonds that are flexible.
The major benefit of PVA is that is non-toxic and tends to have a modest initial level of tack enabling you to manoeuvre whatever it is you are sticking together at first to make sure it is perfectly positioned. Whilst still wet, PVA is also easy to clean. PVA does show up on wood as a glue patch, but can be easily sanded off.
Top tip: Don’t use PVA glue on joints that you may need to repair in the future as new glue does not stick well to old glue.
#3 Epoxy Glue
Epoxy glue is made up of a resinous part and a hardening material and is a great choice for projects where you need it to fit into the nooks and crannies in the spaces between woods. It can be used for both softwood and hardwoods but can be slower to bond than other glues meaning you should use a clamping system to ensure you get a good bond as the glue dries. Epoxy glue is usually resistant to rain and weather as well as UV rays and heat making it suitable for use outdoors. However, some epoxy glue can only be used indoors so make sure to check this is not the case if you want to use it for an outdoor project.
Top tip: This is a good choice of glue to use to fill in gaps or strengthen damaged wood.
#4 Polyurethane Wood Glue
This is one of the strongest wood glues out there that creates tight and some of the longest-lasting bonds. This glue type is also versatile so is a good choice if you are planning to stick wood to a different type of material, such as plastic, metal, glass, or even concrete. Another benefit of this glue type is that it is waterproof and does not dry in a way that leaves a nasty appearance as PVA does.
The downside of this glue is that it is made from a variety of chemicals so you will need to use mineral spirits to clean it even when wet and be careful not to get it on your skin isocyanates can cause irritation. It is also a good idea to wear a face mask when working with this type of glue.
Top tip: When working with polyurethane glues the surface you apply it to must be made wet first. This makes the glue expand as it sets helping to form stronger bonds.
#5 Hide Glue
Derived from animal collagen (a common protein), this type of glue is one of the oldest known adhesives. As the name suggests, the glue is actually drawn from animal hides. It can be bought in liquid form or in granules which can be melted in a double boiler and applied whilst still warm with a brush. People tend to use this sort of glue when working with antiques to help maintain their authenticity and because it produces a particularly strong bond akin to PVA.
It is also a non-toxic substance, can be stained (unlike PVA), and comes in a number of colors and strengths. The different strengths are measured by gram, with higher grams indicating stronger binding properties. Another benefit of this glue is that it can be used again even once cooled as it can simply be reheated in a double-boiler. This means its effects are reversible which can be very handy when working with wood.
Top tip: This is a great choice of glue for working with furniture and musical instruments.
#6 Hot Melt Glue
Sometimes referred to as HMA (Hot Melt Adhesive), this is the classic glue you remember from school that starts as a cylindrical stick that looks like plastic and gets pushed through a ‘glue gun’ where it is heated and comes out in a sticky, stringy glue. This glue sets very quickly once applied so you need to act fast. It is also only really good on softwoods and is not a strong glue so should not be used on joints although there are some more heavy duty guns out there which increase the effectiveness of this glue type.
Top tip: This glue can be easily removed by reheating it or can be popped off with a device like a chisel.
How to choose the right wood glue: Top tips
When it comes to choosing the right glue, the key consideration will always be the specific task you are using it for. However, in addition to this major decision, there are a number of other important choices to be made. Here, we outline 8 other key considerations you’ll want to think about when choosing which glue type to use.
#1 Chemical vs non-toxic
Sometimes it is easy to assume that a chemical option will naturally be stronger. However, some non-toxic glues can be just as stronger as their chemical competitors and have the added benefit of being more eco-friendly, being suitable for use in enclosed spaces, and being easier to clean or sometimes even reuse. As such, if you can afford it, a non-toxic glue is usually a better choice if it offers equal bonding strength to a chemical competitor.
#2 Color: Yellow glue vs White glue
If you are looking for a waterproof glue, then yellow glue will usually be a bad option due to the fact that it is not normally waterproof. However, yellow glue tends to be cheaper and can be easily sanded down so if it is not going to be used outdoors or somewhere where it is going to be seen, then it can be a good choice. Yellow glues also tend to have a stronger bond, requires clamping for 30 minutes, and will take between 12-18 hours to cure.
White glue is less heat-resistant than yellow glue and takes longer to dry, although once it has dried it is usually waterproof. The other good thing about white glue is that whilst it is still wet you can clean it up with water whereas yellow glue requires nail polish remover or other harsher chemicals.
#3 Adhesive strength
When working with glue you sometimes need to be able to maneuver what you are sticking together into place requiring an adhesive that does not dry almost immediately on contact, such as super glue. Other times you want to be able to stick something straight on without having to clamp it in place in order for the glue to take effect, as you would be required to do with a yellow glue. Make sure you pick the right adhesive strength for the task you are carrying out and remember that more rigid bonds are likely to break sooner than more flexible ones.
Viscosity is just a fancy way of saying how liquid a glue’s consistency is. Where a glue has low viscosity, this means they are likely to be runnier. Low viscosity glues are suitable for filling in cracks, furniture repairs, and fixing joints in place. Low viscosity glues also tend to have faster drying times.
Medium viscosity glues may be more gel-like in consistency and are a good choice when binding wood with soft or lightweight materials, such as leather, felt, or fiberglass. High viscosity glues are, obviously, thicker and less runny making them suitable for tasks which are more heavy-duty. High viscosity glues are good for bonding wood together with other heavy materials.
Glues that are more evaporative have a tendency to shrink more than less evaporative glues. So if you want to really fill up a gap and form a really tight joint, then you don’t want to use a glue that is overly evaporative.
#6 Water resistance
Obviously, if you are building something for indoor use this is not likely to be of huge importance. However, if you are working on something that is going to be used outside, then you are going to want something that is highly water-resistant or preferably waterproof. Not all glues are waterproof even when dry, so it is important to keep this in mind.
#7 Drying speed
This links with adhesive strength. If you want a glue that dries almost instantly on contact with limited to no need for clamping, then this is a key consideration.
Even if glue dries clear, it can leave an unsightly mark and be obvious that a repair has been carried out. Stainable glue can help with this as the more stainable a glue is, the easier it for it to be painted over or stained to cover up its existence and help give a tidier and neater appearance.
How to use wood glue
Once you have bought wood glue, you usually have up to a year to use them before they start to deteriorate in quality. You should also make sure to clear the nozzle from residual glue after using it if you don’t want to come back to your glue and find the nozzle to be impenetrable and unusable. It is generally a good idea to wear gloves when working with glue, but this should be especially adhered to when working with toxic glues. The same is true for face masks and, ideally, you should work with chemical glues in a well-ventilated space.
Top 10 Best Wood Glue 2023 [Updated]
#1 Best adhesive for wood indoors and out: Titebond’s Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue
If you’re looking for a super-strength glue that is suitable for indoor and outdoor use, then you don’t need to look any further than this epoxy-based glue. This fully waterproof adhesive is a great choice if you need to fix furniture or even make your own from scratch and the tan color helps to ensure it blends in nicely with most woods. This versatile glue is one of the most popular out there and it is easy to see why.
The major pros of this glue are that: it is completely solvent-free and non-toxic; it has FDA approval for ancillary contact with food; it can be cleaned away with water whilst wet; it dries incredibly quickly; it is easy to sand down, and; it creates tight and strong but flexible bonds that are long-lasting. The downside of this glue is that it requires clamping whether it is being used on unstressed or stressed joints and it has low viscosity so can be messy to use.
#2 Best epoxy for wood: J-B Weld’s quick setting epoxy adhesive
Whether you’re finally getting round to fixing that broken wobbly chair or need to rescue a weakened shelf on the brink of collapse, this incredible epoxy glue will be just what you need if you are working with wood joints. Perhaps this best thing about this glue is that, once it has fully cured (dried and hardened) it can still be manipulated roughly, including with a drill, unlike superglue which would shatter. This feature makes this the best wood glue for cabinets.
Other great things about this epoxy glue are that: it creates a stronger bond than wood alone creates, so in fixing your chair you might make it stronger than it was even to begin with; it dries very quickly (although this means you’ll have to work with it fast once mixed); it has high viscosity so is easy to work with, and; it can be used indoors and out. The downside of this glue is that it is quite small and is not non-toxic.
#3 Best exterior wood glue: Gorilla’s gorilla wood glue
If you are after a non-toxic glue that is suitable for use on outdoor projects, then you will love this comically named gorilla glue. This glue really does live up to its namesakes’ strength even in the toughest weather conditions with ANSI/HPVA Type II accreditation for water resistance backing this up. This PVA based glue also dries a natural color without foaming and easy to use without causing unsightly joins making it the best wood glue for chairs you want to keep outdoors.
Other things to like about this PVA glue for outside are that: it is fully cured after just 24 hours; it is strong enough to be used on hardwoods as well as softwoods; although it needs clamping, this is only required for about half an hour which is pretty efficient; it gets deep into wood creating stronger bonds; a little goes a long way, and; it has medium viscosity. The downside of this glue is that the dispenser gets clogged up easily.
#4 Best glue for glass to wood: E6000’s 4-pack of mini adhesives
If you are after a glue suitable for use on both glass and wood, then this powerful and versatile glue will be the answer to all your prayers. This stuff is actually so strong you can even stick a couple of stones together so it makes light work of sticking wood to glass. With a soft initial tack, this glue also gives you time to adjust what you are joining together into perfect alignment. For those working with multiple materials, this is the glue of choice.
Other pluses about this glue are that: it is waterproof so can be used on outdoor projects; it is made in the USA so you can be sure of its quality; the smaller tubes allow for greater precision in your initial application, and; it is a good glue to use if you have a lot of pictures to mount. The downside of this glue is that it is not non-toxic and must be used in a well-ventilated space as the smell is pretty gross. It’s important to wear gloves when using this glue too as you don;;t want to get it on your skin.
#5 Best woodworking glue: Titebond’s Liquid Hide Glue
If you are working with antiques, musical instruments or are just someone who loves working with traditional methods, then you’ll love this quality hide glue product. The best thing about this glue is that you can undo anything you do with it simply by involving heat making it the best glue for wood to wood projects. This feature is also great if you are working on a priceless antique table or a prized violin and don’t want to have to explain the horrible glue marks that have accidentally defaced these expensive assets.
Other great things about this hide glue are that: its viscosity can be adapted by heating as it has lower viscosity when heated making it a versatile choice that is easy to work with; it has the most natural finish of any glue without having to do any work on it; it cures in 24 hours which is on a par with PVA, and; it is effective on open seams. The downside of this glue is that it has a short shelf life of under a year and is not great for use in particularly warm places due to the effect on viscosity.
#6 Best waterproof wood glue: Loctite’s PL Premium Polyurethane Construction Adhesive
If you are after a waterproof glue that can be applied thickly and still have good bonding strength, then you should check this option out. Perfect for filling in wide gaps sue to its high viscosity, this glue is impervious to anything Mother Nature can throw at it come rain or shine making it a great choice for use on sheds or other outdoor projects. For those who have struggled to find a glue to stand up to tough weather conditions, this is your answer.
The other great things about this polyurethane glue are that: it dries slowly which gives you more time to work things into place; it sticks almost any material together with a strong bond; it is suitable for use in both hot and cold climates with equal strength; it can be painted over easily, and; it works on wet or dry surfaces. The downside of this glue is that it is chemical based so is not a good choice for eco-friendly projects.
#7 The best wood glue for all-round purposes: Titebond’s Titebond II Premium Wood Glue
If you’re someone who works with a bit of everything from wood to plastic both indoors and out, then you will love this versatile and strong bonding glue. These guys are industry leaders when it comes to wood glue too so you don’t need to worry if your major focus is woodwork as this glue creates strong bonds with soft and hardwoods as well as miscellaneous materials too. This polyvinyl acetate wood glue is also brilliantly water-resistant making it the best wood glue for wood crafts.
Other great things about this all-round glue are that: it sets reasonably quickly, after around an hour and just 24 hours curing time; it is the highest viscosity on this list (nice and thick!) making it easy to work with; it easy to sand off once dry, and; it has a longer shelf-life than most glues with a good 24 months before you need to think about replacing it. The downside of this glue is that it is yellow, is not entirely waterproof, and it requires clamping.
#8 Superglue: Starbond EM-2000 Thick, Premium CA Super Glue Kit with Extra Bottles, Caps, and Microtips
If you are someone with an interest in more arts and crafty style projects, be that archery, carving, or model machines, this great kit comes with everything you need. The CA superglue has high viscosity, whilst the precision nozzles help you to apply it to even the tightest of spaces with limited mess. This is also a good glue for quick fixes of picture frames and filling in large gaps between wood as it creates good strong bonds.
Other things to like about this superglue are that: it has a much longer shelf life than other types of glue and if kept cool will last for a god 5 years; its viscosity is high but it is also runny enough to slide into difficult to target spaces, and; it bonds within as little as 2 minutes which still gives some wiggle room to position things perfectly. The downside of this glue is that it is not non-toxic and you need to be careful if you get it on your fingers (although the top tip above works well if this does happen).
#9 Best Hot Melt Glue Gun: 3M Hot Melt Applicator TC with Quadrack Converter and Palm Trigger
If you are after a professional quality glue gun suitable for use with wood, then you should definitely check out this glue gun. Capable of reaching 265 Degrees Fahrenheit this gun packs a punch so you will want to be careful not to get any of this glue on your skin whilst it’s still hot. However, this ensures this is no arts and crafts level glue gun and makes it the best glue for furniture repair and all your general woodworking tasks where you might need some glue.
Other benefits of this glue gun are that: you can buy upwards of 400 glue sticks for a little over $130 making it a reasonably priced option; it is ergonomically designed so you can work long shifts with it comfortably and still use with precision, and; it can pump out a whopping 3.5 pounds of glue in a single hour. The downside of this glue gun is that the device itself is quite pricey and it is potentially more dangerous working with hot melt glue.
#10 Best Paintbrush for Use with Wood Glue: Fulton’s Sili-Brush – Silicone Glue Brush with Applicator
If you work with hide glue or polyurethane glues it is sometimes helpful to apply the glue with a brush, but normal paintbrushes quickly waste and need replacing regularly. This excellent brush is made with non-stick bristles made from silicone that is easy to clean and won’t need replacing for many years. There will also be no pesky bristles left behind with this brush helping to ensure a pristine finish every time with the minimum of fuss.
Other great things about this glue brush are that: it is easy to work with than a putty knife with a more even finish; it makes it easier to reach difficult spaces; it helps to ensure you don’t end up with wet glue all over your fingers, and; it will save you a lot of money replacing normal paint brushes all the time. The downside of this brush is that it is not suitable for use with CA (superglue) type glues and the bristles are not incredibly stiff which can make certain tasks more difficult.
When working with wood, it is very likely that you are going to need to use glue at some point, whether that is to hold something in place whilst you screw it together or a permanent fix to ensure a joint is nice and tightly fitted together. Obviously, it is vital to use a glue that is suitable for use with wood. However, you also need to make sure you choose an appropriate glue for an appropriate task.
In this post, we’ve given you the lowdown on all the major glue types that are suitable for use with wood and the other key decisions that are going to help ensure you pick the right glue for the right task. The list above will have a glue to match all wood crafting needs and budgets.