A reliable wood glue is behind just about every successful woodworking project, and the right fit for your particular build will ensure your piece’s longevity and strength.

I’ve tested just about every wooden glue available over the years, and I put together these reviews and a buyer’s guide to help you choose the best option for your projects.

 

Best Wooden Glues – Top Picks

 

1. Franklin International 5005 Titebond II Premium Wooden Glue

Franklin International’s Titebond products are well-known in the woodworking industry for being reliable and adaptable to various projects.

Titebond II forms a super-strong bond with all wood surfaces, whether they’re prepped or not. This makes it easy to use for just about any project, and you’ll never have to worry about your work falling apart with age.

It’s relatively thin, so it offers excellent coverage and is easy to apply and smear on your workpiece. It cleans up quickly with water to minimize sanding after it dries.

It sets in about 30 minutes, but I recommend waiting at least 24 hours before unclamping your work. This will allow for a full-strength bond.

The color is similar to a honey cream, which makes it ideal for pine, common board, and other light-colored wood. It doesn’t stain well, so be sure to clean up or sand off any excess before staining your work.

The glue doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals, so it’s safe to use in enclosed spaces. I do recommend wearing gloves to reduce mess, but it’s not required.

The formula is food-safe, so you can use this on surfaces that will come in contact with food, like cutting boards. It’s water-resistant but not waterproof, so you’ll need to make sure the bond doesn’t get submerged or wet frequently.

It comes in a large, 32-ounce bottle, and it’s very affordable. It offers excellent value for the price. The bottle has a snap-close cap that does a great job of keeping the glue inside from drying out. The tiny bit that does dry on the cap is easy to pop off.

 

Pros

Forms a powerful bond

Easy to apply and fast to dry

Food-safe

Water-resistant

Affordable

Cap keeps glue viable for years

Cons

Doesn’t stain particularly well

Not waterproof

 

2. Franklin 2303 Titebond Polyurethane Glue

This is a polyurethane glue that forms a solid bond. You can use this for gluing wooden, metal, plastic, corian, ceramic, and more, so it’s more versatile than many other wood glues.

It’s easy to get a good bond even without extensive surface preparation. You need very little to make your project durable. However, it can irritate your skin and be quite messy to apply. I recommend wearing gloves and keeping some wet rags nearby to help with the clean-up process.

I suggest leaving your pieces clamped for about 45 minutes to an hour and then unclamping and letting it sit untouched for 24 hours. This will help develop the strongest bond possible.

It’s pale yellow when it goes on, and it doesn’t hold stain well. As such, I recommend doing your best to clean up the joint before the glue dries and then sanding off any excess.

The smell isn’t bad, but it contains some potentially harmful chemicals. As such, it’s best to wear a mask or use the glue in well-ventilated areas.

This glue is not food safe, so you should avoid using it on cutting boards, tabletops, or other surfaces that may contact food or beverages. However, it is waterproof and will stand up to regular exposure to moisture, so it can be suitable for some kitchen or bathroom projects where steam and water are possible.

This glue comes in 8-ounce bottles and is relatively expensive. It can dry out somewhat quickly once opened, further increasing the cost. However, you can use it to bond most surfaces. It’s not my favorite for standard wooden projects, but it’s an excellent product to have around for waterproof bonds and for use with other materials.

 

Pros

Forms a very strong bond

Can be used with wooden, ceramic, metal, plastic, and more

Easy to apply

Excellent coverage

Waterproof

Bottle prevents it from drying out

Cons

Doesn’t stain well

Not food-safe

Somewhat costly

 

3. Starbond EM-02 Super Fast Thin, Premium Instant CA Super Glue

This is a cyanoacrylate (CA) glue, so it dries in under 30 seconds, reducing your working time immensely. However, it offers minimal time to correct mistakes, and it doesn’t create quite as strong of a bond as most wooden glues. This is ideal for finishing work or small repairs, but I recommend a traditional wooden glue for projects that need to be stable or support weight.

It’s very thin and liquidy, making it easy to apply in small areas. The bottle comes with various replacement tips that make it a breeze to adapt to your needs. It includes whip tips, a standard applicator, and a broad tip for larger jobs.

It dries clear as long as your surface is clean and you’re not using it in extreme temperatures. It can be a bit messy if you’re not careful during the application, but it’s not too difficult to keep the glue where you want it.

It’s not food safe, as it does contain some volatile organic compounds (VOCs). I recommend using this only in a well-ventilated area, and nitrile gloves will help keep it from bonding your skin.

It forms a waterproof seal, so it’s suitable for projects that you expect to be exposed to water or moisture.

It comes in a small, 2-ounce bottle, as many CA glues do. It’s significantly less expensive than most similar products, and it provides excellent value for the money. The bottle keeps the glue usable for years, as long as the storing conditions are appropriate.

 

Pros

Dries rapidly

Very easy to apply

Includes multiple applicator tips

Waterproof

Affordable

Lasts a long time

Cons

Not as strong as traditional wood glue

Contains some VOCs

Can be a bit messy during application

What is Wood Glue?

Wood glue is an adhesive that can bond wooden surfaces to other wood surfaces. As you’ll see below, it comes in several forms, each with a different estimated tensile strength and drying time.

 

Types of Wood Glue

There are four primary types of wood glue, which I’ll discuss below.

 

Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) Glue

PVA glue is what most woodworkers recognize as “traditional” wooden glue. It forms a permanent bond that is stronger than wooden itself. It’s semi-flexible, which means it can “breathe” with your wood as it swells and shrinks in response to moisture changes.

PVA glue typically dries to the touch in a few hours, but it takes around 24 hours to cure fully. They don’t take stain well once dry.

Some PVA glues are waterproof and food-safe.

 

Epoxy-Based Glue

Epoxy-based glue relies on the hardening and strength of epoxy to create a bond. Epoxy glues are thick, so they’re ideal for use on vertical surfaces or for filling gaps and crevices.

They’re a bit more frustrating to use, as they come in two parts that you’ll need to mix before applying.

These are the most water-resistant wood glues available, but they’re not food-safe.

 

Polyurethane Glue

Polyurethane glues form semi-flexible and permanent bonds, and they’re ideal for joining end-grain pieces to other end-grain pieces. The bonds are highly water-resistant, so you’ll only be able to clean up spills or mistakes with mineral spirits or solvent.

Poly glue contains VOCs, so you should always wear a mask when using them and apply them in a well-ventilated area.

They tend to take stain better than PVA glues.

 

Hide Glue

Hide glue is made from animal collagen, and it forms a permanent, flexible bond that can breathe with expanding and shrinking wood fibers. It takes about 24 hours to cure, and you’ll have several minutes once it’s applied to make adjustments if needed.

Hide glue usually stains better than PVA glue, but it’s not as resistant to water.

 

Cyanoacrylate (CA) Glue

CA glue – commonly referred to as “super glue” – is a rapidly curing adhesive that creates a sturdy bond in about 30 seconds. It gives you minimal time to make adjustments, but the bond is strong and semi-permanent. It’s not ideal for structural joints or pieces that will bear weight.

CA glue contains VOCs, so it requires a mask and ventilation during use.

 

Features

There are several features of a glue you might want to consider before selecting one to add to your workshop.

 

Viscosity

The glue’s thickness can determine where it will be useful and what kind of joints you can bond with it. A thick glue is easy to work with on vertical surfaces, but it won’t seep into cracks or gaps well and isn’t ideal for filling voids. Thin glues can quickly soak into a crevice to create a bond, but they can be a nightmare to use on vertically-oriented workpieces, as they drip readily.

Thin glue is also generally more comfortable to get out of a glue bottle, which is important when you start getting to the bottom of the container.

 

Waterproof

Many wooden glues are water-resistant, and others are waterproof. The types of projects you intend to work on can help determine which is right for you.

For example, epoxy glues are regularly used for boat repair, and they tend to stand up best to water. Water-resistant glues shouldn’t be exposed to liquids regularly, but they can persist through spills and high moisture environments. As such, they’re ideal for projects that you place in kitchens or bathrooms, where moisture from cooking and showering is common.

 

Toxicity

It’s best to consider the concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a glue before purchasing. VOCs are unsafe to inhale, so a high-VOC glue should only be used in a well-ventilated area with a mask.

You might need to consider if a glue is food-safe as well if you plan on using it for cutting boards, turned bowls or cups, or other projects that will come in contact with food or beverages.

 

White Glue vs. Yellow Glue

When it comes to PVA glue, there are two varieties that you’ll see most often: white and yellow. White glue is generally for indoor use only, as it isn’t water-resistant. The bond it creates isn’t strong enough for structural joints or projects that will support weight.

Yellow wood glue is referred to as “carpenter’s glue.” It’s water-resistant and waterproof in some cases, so you can use it on outdoor and indoor projects. It creates permanent, strong bonds that have a tensile strength stronger than wooden.

 

Tips for Using Wooden Glue

Most wood glue is relatively straightforward, but there are some guidelines you can follow for more comfortable use and faster cleanup.

 

How to Use It

If you’re using PVA or hide glue, make sure to close the bottle unless you’re applying it. PVA glue dries out when exposed to air, so the shorter periods the bottle is opened for, the longer your glue will last. Apply it to one surface, spread evenly with your finger or applicator, then clamp your pieces together and leave for about three hours. Let the bond cure for 24 hours.

CA glue has an even shorter dry time, so make sure to close the bottle immediately after use. Apply to one workpiece and quickly set the second one in place. Hold for 30 seconds with pressure to let it cure. CA glue forms the strongest bond if the wooden is a bit moist before applying.

Polyurethane glue is similar to PVA glue in both the dry time and instructions for use. However, it contains VOCs, so only spread it with a nitrile glove and use it in a ventilated area with a mask on.

Epoxy glue requires a resin and a hardener, which you’ll have to mix before applying. I recommend using a small plastic cup to mix equal parts, then apply with a brush or applicator. Leave clamped for several hours according to the instructions on the bottles.

 

How to Clean It

PVA glue and hide glue can typically be cleaned up with a wet rag or water before it dries, and residue can be sanded away after curing. The other types will require mineral spirits or solvents before they dry and can be sanded afterward.

 

Safety Measures

PVA and hide glue are safe to use without protective gear, but I recommend wearing nitrile gloves to make cleanup easier. All other types should be used with a mask and adequate ventilation, as they contain potentially harmful compounds that shouldn’t be inhaled.

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Conclusion

Choosing the best wooden glue for your work will make the application and curing process easier for you. It will also leave you with the strongest, most durable bond possible for your particular project.

My overall favorite wood glue and top recommendation is the Franklin International 5005 Titebond II Premium Wood Glue. It creates a powerful, permanent bond, it’s easy to work with, and it’s both food-safe and water-resistant.