Jimmy DiResta was in George’s shop recently, so the two of them got together to talk about glue tips. Like choosing the right tool, it’s important to choose the right glue, as well as the right techniques for applying the glue.
CA (cyanoacrylate) glue is great for filling voids. Mix it with sawdust from the board you’re working on to get a really good color match.
Trim your brush
When you want to make it easier to get glue into a tight spot, like a mortise, spend a little time trimming the glue brush with a pair of scissors to make the tip more defined. This makes it easier to get in the mortise.
If you paint MDF you’ll notice that the edges of the MDF soak up a lot of paint. Get a more uniform finish by pre-painting the edges with yellow glue.
Spread glue with threads
When you’re trying to get glue spread over a wide area use a piece of threaded rod like a mastic knife to spread the glue uniformly.
Make your own dough
Mix sawdust from the project with yellow glue to make a ball of putty you can press into the recess. This creates a thicker bodied putting than CA glue, so works on vertical surfaces.
More tack time
When you have complicated glue ups you can get yourself more working time by using Extend Glue. This product gives you more time to get it together.
Tips about spreading glue, making long boards out of short boards, what’s the deal with hide glue, and a bunch of other glue tips.
WWGOA has lots more gluing and clamping tips for you.
For more information about Titebond glues visit the company’s website or call (800) 877-4583.
thank you for these tips
Good, useful tips here for using the most common adhesives in woodworking. I was a little surprised there was no discussion on epoxy. Perhaps that’s covered in a separate video? One helpful tip to add, if I may, would be how to clean up the nozzles and micro-tips after using CA. The way I do it is to soak the nozzles and tips in a small jar of Acetone for 30 minutes, rinse thoroughly with cold water and let air dry completely before reusing. I rarely throw away the micro-tips, and will clean and reuse them, clipping off the ends incrementally and replacing only when the opening becomes too big to deliver a controlled flow of a minimal amount of adhesive to the workpiece. I am a luthier by profession (now retired), and a woodworker by proxy. But my depth is in the lutherie arts. CA is my go-to adhesive for installing fret wires and also for drop-fill repairs, and most crack repairs. I just joined the WWGOA this month (Jan/23) and I’m excited to have a great source to learn more about woodworking in general. As I see it, the more I know about wood and how it works the better I’ll be in my own niche as a luthier. And who knows? While I’m still making, modding, and repairing guitars “for fun” in my home shop, maybe I’ll make some fine furniture too. Win, win!
We have a lot of content on epoxy resin, but more from a artful augmentation perspective than from an adhesive standpoint.
I currently have all of the glues that I included in this article, plus epoxy and CA in my shop: https://www.wwgoa.com/article/measuring-wood-glue-assembly-time/
I mainly use epoxy for repairs or filling knots, whereas the other glues I select primarily based on open time. For food contact and water-exposed projects I use Titebond 3.
Thanks for the tip on CA glue. Just last week I had to replace the top on my CA bottle and was wondering if there was a way to prevent that.
Thanks guys for the awesome tips. When I run out of Gorilla Wood glue I will be changing. I’m new to woodworking and need to learn everything. So far I’m sticking with scrolling, but when I unbury my dads tools this summer I want to learn how to use them. His poor garage got filled up with everything. My mom went blind, he got s now bed bound and my daughter moved in so I can’t get to most of his saws. I bought my own scroll saws though so I’m doing that now
Thanks again looking forward to more great tips
CA or expoxy resin more durable for filing knots?
Hi Rick. They both work well, and are probably both more durable than wood. I use CA for filling tiny holes/cracks, and when they are larger I use epoxy.
Woodworkers Guild of America
Thank you for the very helpful hints on gluing. NOT spreading flat the the squeeze out glue bubbles with your finger is probably the most important time saver I saw. Don’t ask me what possesses people to spread those out with their finger; it must be physiologically satisfying or something, because I catch myself doing it again from time to time.
Titebond III will stain your clothes, Titebond II will wash out of your clothes
Any of these glue good for open wallpaper seams that opened
While I have spread a lot of glue, I learned some new things. Thanks for a well done video.
I’m a micaniq
Excellent video on gluing techniques and variety of glues to use for different situations.
This is a good overview of glue types. They each have their advantages and disadvantages. I spread them all (except for the CA glue) with a plastic glue brush or paddle and several types can be found on the Rockler website. The glues come off of the plastic bristles with water, rubbing and soaking fairly easily and they then dry quickly. I would not use a threaded, steel bar to spread the glue as it would be difficult placing it anywhere on your workbench without it rolling off, it would be difficult to clean, would collect old glue and it would rust. The glue brushes work better and can be placed on a piece or scrap between uses.
CA glue can easily be catalyzed with a water. This can be from a damp paper towel or a used glass cleaner sprayer. I don’t know what’s in the accelerant but the CA reacts with the moisture in the air to normally dry. CA glue also blends nicely with the plastic wood fillers that have acetone or MEK in them, which can be a useful repair when you lose a small chunk on a turned piece on the lathe. However, it is very hard and when sanding it, it will be harder than the wood around it, causing it to stay elevated a bit. When mixed with sawdust, it will stain to some extent but it won’t appear the same as the surrounding wood. A little goes a long way. [The wax pencils can also be used as fillers in small cracks and imperfect joints and there are many colors that can get you a satisfactory match. However, the wax is not durable and tends to interfere with almost all of the finishes I have used (shellac, water or oil-based polyurethane and especially lacquer), so I now rarely use them.]
Hide glue is useful when you need a long set-up time, such as when assembling multiple pieces that fit inside each other. TB-Hide glue can be hard to find. It’s a sticky mess to work with, so wearing gloves is advised, but it can be cleaned up with a damp sponge, which unfortunately also tends to loosen the glue. It dries translucent and amber. A lot goes a short way. It doesn’t interfere with staining as much as the PVA and CA glues. Drying time should be at least 2 days. Even after that, it can be removed with water.
The PVA glues include the Titebonds 1-3:
TB-1 (Elmer’s, Tacky Glue and many others) tends to dry clear. It is useful for making your own wood filler but it takes much longer to dry then the plastic wood fillers, so usage in long cracks would be its likely most common application. I’ve used it when temporarily assembling pieces that I wanted to later separate by soaking them apart in the bathtub. It’s surprising how long it takes to separate when doing that.
TB-2 is my go-to wood glue for most things. It has a short set-up time and when doing glue-ups, is usually ready overnight. It is difficult to remove when smeared and interferes with staining. It is water-resistant. It can soften with heat, such as when sanding over it. A little goes a long way.
TB-3 for me has been problematic. It appears to have a more limited shelf-life. It can separate, at which point it is too thick to remix and its effectiveness then remains in doubt. For that reason, I don’t buy more than I need for a single project and a lot goes a little way. More expensive than TB-2, TB-3 tends to be gummy and I have pulled the spokes out of a wheel 2 weeks after using it. It is supposed to be water-proof, but it washes off the glue brushes (even after drying on the brush!) and the instructions warn about using it on surfaces exposed to water. I use it only for cutting boards, period. Its holding power, for me, has been disappointing because it stays flexible for so long compared to TB-2.
Urethane glue is another one I don’t use much in woodworking. It is like the foam gap fillers (like Great Stuff). It expands and is messy to use. Removal of the excess can be scraped or cut off but it crystalizes and is brittle. Once exposed to air, it activates. I have found it to be inconvenient with it hardening in the bottle either before or right after using it just once.
There’s also epoxy. Its use on wood is probably not ideal. It’s super-expensive with a steep learning curve. It can be used to fill cracks in wood and as a coating to protect the surface, but any extensive use will cost more than the wood itself. It develops bubbles in it that have to be removed with a heat gun or torch. Once mixed, it starts to get hard and all of it has to be used once mixed. You need a respirator to use any significant quantity of it or in a “well ventilated area” where dust falling on it will be a problem. Probably all of us have used it to repair ceramics and while it “works,” it’s almost always a visible repair that yellows over time. Getting it to match anything is unlikely. When sanded, it looks frosted and porous. It has its uses, but not much for me with woodworking.
When you buy a new bottle of glue, write the date of purchase on it with a Sharpie. It’s a good way to know if your glue is pushing the limits of shelf life.
Rather than buy brushes to apply glue, I use lollipop sticks, you might call them popsicle sticks, they are free, and after use cab be thrown into re-cycling.
I found I store the bottle upside down, helps keep the glue fresh and ready at all times. Enjoyed your report on glues.
Should have included Titebond for melamine. Great to bond melamine to itself (or to plastic or wood)
Thanks. One thing please both wear mikes my vol was crazy loud then super quiet, depends on who was talking
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