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Let's chat about glue

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  • Let's chat about glue

    Technology has really improved the wood glues we have today, but now it becomes
    quite a problem in selecting "the correct glue"

    I understand the various top glue manufacturers ...Elmer's, Titebond, Locktite, Gorilla etc.

    Then they also offer instant type wood super glues, water resistant glue, general usage glue, good old white and yellow glue, the assorted poly and Hyde glues, construction adhesives etc.

    I have leaned towards using two types, The Gorilla poly type and the Titebond-3
    I have never had any challenges with either and they both work very well in their applications.

    So, I wonder what the "experts" use? what the intermediate woodworkers use?
    And their comments.........

    Cactus Man

  • #2
    Re: Let's chat about glue

    I am in the same boat with you. I have tried Gorillas new wood glue with 1/2 hour clamp times and had mixed results. It skims over very quickly and I am not sold on its holdind power. I am sticking to titebond and The old Gorilla glue and will deal with the black stains all over my fingers lol


    • #3
      Re: Let's chat about glue

      I use Titebond 3 for medium to dark colored woods because it dries to a medium brown tone. I use Titebond 2 or Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue for lighter colored woods. Titebond 3 is supposedly more "water resistant" but I don't use it for that. Water resistant means nothing to me... it's either water PROOF or it's not. Other than the color, I don't see much difference between the Titebond 2, 3 or Elmers. They're all excellent for furniture or most any indoor wood project.

      I'm not impressed with Gorilla glue and the other polyurethane glues. I don't like that they foam up for a long time after application, making it more work to clean up. The bond line is more visible than Titebond or Elmer's. And polyurethanes are more brittle, and don't handle shock loads as well. I don't want the joints to fail if the piece takes an accidental hit. Polyurethanes probably have a place but I haven't really come across a situation where the yellow glues or epoxy won't do the job.

      For water proof applications, I use West Systems epoxy. It's expensive but it is good material, especially designed for wood. Always get the "fast" hardener, it's still pretty slow. The slow hardener is just waaaaay toooo sloooow. And for some applications, like laminating, I use their filler powder. You have to allow a 5 mil bond line or a touch more with any epoxy, so it will be a more visible glue line than you get with yellow glue, which needs only 2-3 mils.

      For oily woods like ebony I also use the epoxy, but wipe down with lacquer thinner just before glue-up and rough up with 80 grit paper.

      For semi-difficult woods (e.g., cocobolo), I use epoxy BUT if I need an invisible glue line, then I do the following:

      * Clean the wood real well with lacquer thinner.
      * Rough up the glue surfaces with 80 grit paper.
      * Clean with lacquer thinner again.
      * Prime both surfaces with yellow glue thinned 50-50 with water.
      * Wait 1/2 hour
      * Glue with the same yellow glue, not thinned at all
      * Leave in the clamps at least overnight.

      I try not to overtighten the clamps. You have to draw the joint together but if you squeeze too much of the glue out, it'll be a starved joint and, in my experience, will come apart earlier than you intended.

      That's what I do!

      I'm fixin' to start a guitar project and for that, I will be experimenting with hide glue. You want to be able to disassemble the guitar for repairs (especially for my first one!!) and hide glue fills that bill. Plus it's traditional for musical instruments. We're talking the kind you mix up youself in a heated glue pot, not the pre-made liquid in the bottle.


      • #4
        Re: Let's chat about glue

        Thanks Andy,

        Good information in your post.

        I've only been practicing "woodworking" since my retirement in 2003. Experience before that goes back to when I was a teen in the early 60's and "Elmers" white glue or hide glue was about the only thing around the home or what I remember from Woodshop.

        Recently I've used Elmers yellow wood glue, Titebond II and to some small degree Gorilla glue (the original). Elmer's works well, but I've recently switched to Titebond II as that seems to be a popular choice on the few forums that I participate.. I have not used Titebond III as it's a bit more costly and none of my projects are out in the weather. I've also found that both Elmer's and Titebond II, thinned and mixed with sawdust to make surface repairs seems to work well, if the project it going to be painted; and, most of my work so far has been with pine that is painted.

        I've had no problems with the Elmer's, but in consideration of Titebond's
        popularity I thought I would give it a try when it came to buy a new container this past fall. It seems to have a better tack and less clamping time than the Elmer's. So far, I'm quite impressed with modern wood glues

        I don't use the Gorilla glue for wood-to-wood, just don't see the need for it and the wet-to-activate and resulting foaming isn't desireable IMO. But, I have used it in glueing to a melmine surface (glueing slide mounts to the bottom of my drill press table) and a couple of "fixes" when things broke... like glueing the press-on metal fan to the steel motor shaft of my little Stinger vac. For things like that, where the foam doesn't matter, it has worked surprisingly well.



        • #5
          Re: Let's chat about glue

          A number of WWing mags have tested various glues in recent years. Here are a few links I found in a quick Google search:

          "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006


          1/20/2017 - The Beginning of a new Error


          • #6
            Re: Let's chat about glue

            I use titebond II and always have. I never had an issue with it. I agree with not over tightening your clamps. If you need to pull the wood together that much, you are not ready for gluing.



            • #7
              Re: Let's chat about glue

              I use Titebond II for almost all of projects.
              I decided to change calling the bathroom the "John" and renamed it the "Jim". I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.


              • #8
                Re: Let's chat about glue

                I use carpenter's wood glue or Titebond 2 for wood. They're cheap, easy to work with, and aren't particularly messy or smelly. Either of these is strong enough that the differences in joint creation and clamping technique will be greater than the differences in glue. A well created and glued joint seems to be stronger than the wood (at least for the woods l'm likely to use) in just about every case.

                I agree that water resistance is not really relevant for me.


                • #9
                  Re: Let's chat about glue

                  I should add that I don't find the absolute strength of the glue to be terribly relevant. If you're using a good joint design with any of these glues, the strength will be fine.

                  I do think that a better question than testing newly-glued joints would be how the glue joint holds up after extended time. I'm talking 50 years kind of time. For example, a lot of old furniture pieces were assembled with hide glue. I imagine many of us have had the experience of a chair or furniture piece that has come loose, and found crumbly, failed glue. Turns out that crystallization is a characteristic of hide glue. Although, there are many musical instruments that seem to last a long time with hide glue. Maybe the furniture hide glue was somehow different than that used by the stringed instrument makers?

                  In any case, I don't know how modern resins work over extended time. I do know that many polymers tend to continue to cross-link, becoming increasingly brittle with age. Does aliphatic resin glue like Elmer's or Titebond do this? They are really about perfect when new.

                  Epoxies do continue to cross-link. But again I don't know enough about it - does it stop at some point? And what is the time scale involved?

                  For any of these modern glues, I hope that the time scale is long. If it's only 20 years, then it's a problem for a piece that I hope will be handed down in the family. If the time scale is 200 years, it probably won't matter. Unfortunately I will be long gone before any test results would be available, unless someone has done some accelerated life testing.


                  • #10
                    Re: Let's chat about glue

                    One glue not mentioned is sold by Lee Valley, and that's 2002GF. I used it last year to glue up the laminations on my new workbench top, because it has an open time of 15-18 minutes, as opposed to Titebond around 8 min. No mixing, has same consistency and goes on like titebond. don't get me wrong, I like Titebond II and III, and still use it. I have had no failures on the workbench top. I also just used it on some picture frame miters, and it worked great.
                    "non illegitimis carborundum"


                    • #11
                      Re: Let's chat about glue

                      I usually use Titebond. I found some Elmer's yellow glue in my folk's house when it was sold and it looks like there is mildew growing on the top of the glue in the bottle. Does glue go bad? Wondering if I should pitch the bottle or just pour off the bad portion.


                      • #12
                        Re: Let's chat about glue

                        It has always been my understanding that glue (any glue) has a shelf life and that beyond whatever that might be, the glue looses it's original adhesive properties. I don't recall seeing anything on the label regarding a "best by date" and on the two older bottles of Elmer's that I still have (Probond and Probond Professional Strength) there isn't anything beyond a copyright date.

                        However, a quick check of the FAQ on the Elmer's website ( ) found this (and I need to dump both of these old bottles):

                        If stored properly and capped tightly, Elmer's school glues and wood glues have an average shelf life of 2 years; Krazy Glue, also known as a cyanoacrylate, has a shelf life of approximately 12 - 18 months.

                        Similarly, there is this on the Titebond website ( ):

                        What is the shelf life of Titebond Wood Glues?
                        Our literature states the shelf life of all of our glues as one year. Titebond Liquid Hide Glue includes an expiration date on the bottle, because it can progressively lose its ability to dry hard, and this change is not visually obvious. Titebond Polyurethane Glue has a one year shelf life in an unopened container, but is useable as long as the glue remains fluid. Polyurethanes, however, are designed to react when exposed to moisture and can sometimes begin to cure after the bottle has been opened, and solidify.

                        Most of our yellow and white glues, including Titebond Original and Titebond II, remain usable beyond two years. Should Titebond Original become thick and stringy, or Titebond II turns into an orange colored gel, these changes signify that the glue is no longer usable. The minimum shelf life of Titebond III is stated as one year, when stored appropriately at room temperature. Titebond III is expected to last beyond its stated shelf life. If thickened, shake vigorously by firmly tapping bottle on a hard surface until product is restored to original form.

                        So YES, there is a point where "glue goes bad" and I'd say in your particular case, it well beyond the time when it should be dumped.