strongest wood glue

What is the Strongest Glue for Wood?

A question that comes up often amongst wood hobbyists, what is the strongest glue for wood? There are so many different wood glue options on the market, not to mention different applications. The answer is not so clear-cut, but also not too difficult to come by, if you do a little investigation. After working on a variety of wood projects and getting into in-depth discussions with other wood hobbyists, we decided to do a bit of research to come up with a solid answer.

What is the strongest glue for wood? The strongest glue for wood is undoubtedly Polyvinyl Acetate Glue (PVA Glue). PVA glue is strong, cost-effective, water resistant and FDA Approved. If you are needing a strong glue for continuous exposure to outdoor elements such as freeze, thaw, sun and rain, epoxy or Cyanoacrylate (CA) is your strong glue choice.

You read it correctly, for all around use the PVA glues are the strongest except when you have a completed wood project that will be kept outside all of the time in the elements.

Just how good a particular type of wood glue is, depends on a number of factors. 4 factors that we found useful for testing the quality of glue include how the glue performs in bonding long grain to long grain, long grain to end grain, gap filling, and long term outdoor exposure. 

To learn more about the various types of strongest glue for wood products currently available and which are best suited for your wood working projects, read on.

What is the most popular PVA Glue?

After extensive research the truth has been uncovered. The most popular PVA glue that fellow hobbyists and DIYers seem to be using is the Titebond II and Titebond III products. Titebond glue is particularly popular for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the glue is able to provide a bond that is stronger than the wood itself. Once applied to wood, Titebond PVA glue proves easy to work with (for example, sanding), and it also performs well when exposed to heat. These glues typically bond strongly when clamped for as little as just 3 minutes. While the product is still wet, it can be easily cleaned or wiped away with water. More importantly, for those concerned with health, the Titebond PVA glue range is non-toxic and therefore safe to use.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these most popular PVA glue and other different types and what they are best used for. 

Titebond II PVA Glue

You might be surprised to learn that while Titebond II is sold as glue best for interior wood projects, it also performs well in exterior projects. It is rated for water resistance with ANSI/HPVA specs. That being said, it is still a good idea to avoid using this glue in wet environments or outside where there is no protection from the elements. This glue offers a quick working time and is also FDA approved, which is good news for those wanting to glue wood pieces that will come into indirect contact with food items. 

Titebond III PVA Glue

Professional woodworkers often sing the praises of Titebond III PVA glue. You can use Titebond III indoors or outdoors on furniture, window frames, and more. This glue is not just rated for water resistance like Titebond II is. It is actually rated as waterproof and adheres to ANSI/HPVA Type 1 glue specs. Titebond III is also FDA approved for coming into indirect contact with food. It is a popular glue product used by kitchen cabinet makers and serious woodwork hobbyists alike.

What is a popula CA Glue?

For those who aren’t afraid they might get their fingers stuck to their wood project, FastCap’s  2P-10 is a very good choice. We have found that the 2P-10 CA is a very strong product and it comes in 4 main viscosities: Jel, Thick, Medium and thin. Jel and Thick are the best options for external work as it performs well when exposed to the elements.

The glue is fairly simple to use. It must be applied to the surface and then requires an activator sprayed on it. Thereafter, simply stick the two surfaces together. The bond is strong and permanent. One of the major benefits of this glue is that only a small amount is needed. and it’s great for fixing small chips and damaged pieces of wood. It’s quick setting too, with the product setting in just 10 seconds and curing fully in as little as just half a minute.

What is a popular epoxy glue?

A popular, good strong epoxy glue is West System 2 part epoxy. It is available in fast or slow hardener depending on how much open time you need for working on your project. It is an excellent choice for filling deep voids, knotholes, and cracks and making a very strong permanent bond.

Keep reading for our pick on Extreme Long Term Outdoor Use

Different Types of Wood Glue

You will find that there are 5 main types of wood glue on the market, all of which we elaborate on a little further down in this article. These include:

  • PVA Glue
  • Hide Glue
  • Epoxy
  • Cyanoacrylate Glue (CA Glue)
  • Polyurethane Glue

A Closer Look at Different Types of Strong Wood Glues

Of course, all wood workers and hobbyists have their preferences for glue depending on the type of project they are working on. Below are a few of the glue types we heard mentioned most frequently. 

Cynoacrylate (CA) Wood Glue 

This is regular Super Glue for wood. Surprisingly, in some of the tests we have watched online and from the groups and forums we are part of, many have said that Super Glue for wood or Cynoacrylate is a very strong and fast drying adhesive. It is known to perform very well when gluing long grain to long grain wood. You can get this type of glue in thick, medium, and thin varieties. CA has been found to perform well when gluing oily wood or when gluing wood and metal surfaces together. One of the reasons it is deemed one of the most popular wood glue types is also because it can be used inside and outside. 

Epoxy Based Glue

Epoxy based glues are excellent for outdoor woodworking projects. This type of glue has a few added benefits that other glues simply cannot offer. Epoxy wood glue is a popular choice for hobbyists, as it can be sanded fairly easily once it has dried and it fills gaps effectively too. As waterproof glue, it can be used in a variety of environments. How quickly epoxy based wood glue dries depends on the product. Some are quick and dry in seconds while others will take several minutes to dry. In some of our discussions we have found that West System Epoxy and East Coast Resin are firm favorites.

Polyurethane Wood Glue

Polyurethane wood glue is an extremely strong adhesive. It easily bonds wood surfaces, but can also bond wood to other materials (concrete, glass, metal, foam) with ease. This glue is often used in projects where a durable weather-proof bond is required, as it seeps into the wood quite deeply. The biggest benefits of polyurethane glue are that it is versatile, fills joints effectively, and creates extremely durable end grain connections on wood projects. 

Polyurethane wood glue requires moisture in order to cure fully. Hobbyists find that misting both surfaces before applying the glue works well. It’s best for quick workers as the working-time is only around 15 minutes. While it is a powerful and long lasting glue once applied, the product has a 1-year shelf life, so you can’t keep the same pot of glue around year after year.

Hide Glue

Hide glue can be bought as granules, flakes, flat sheets or ready-to-use liquids. The dry version must be dissolved in water and then heated. It must be applied while it is still warm (usually 140 degrees Fahrenheit as any hotter will reduce the glue’s strength). Hide glue is typically used to create durable joints and most hobbyists prefer it because it provides impressive performance and creates a unique crackle-effect on wood surfaces. Most hide glue is clear, so quite undetectable when used in woodwork projects that will be on display or regularly seen

Old Brown Hide Glue

Old brown hide glue is a firm favorite for those looking for good old fashioned glue that is both organic and non-toxic. This glue has the ability to be flexible, even after it has fully cured. It’s durable glue that performs well in tight-fitting joints. It’s important to note that old brown hide glue cannot be kept for extended periods of time as the protein starts to break down in it and the glue thereafter loses its strengths. Most hide glues can be kept for around 12 months, or 18 months at a push.

Gorilla Wood Glue

Gorilla wood glue can be used to glue wood to a variety of materials such as paper, leather, ceramic and metal. This glue consists of minute rubber particles, which make the bond it forms resistant to impact damage. This sets it apart from most other glues, which can become brittle with age. As a 100% waterproof glue, Gorilla wood glue is ideal for both interior and exterior wood projects.

Elmer’s Wood Glue

This particular wood glue is designed specifically to glue wood to wood. It is most often used by professional carpenters and in industrial wood projects, although it has become quite popular amongst hobbyists and DIYers. Elmer’s wood glue is easy to apply with no mess and is quite a versatile and durable bonder.

Homemade Hide Glue

While homemade hide glue has the potential to be stronger than most other types of wood glues, it is not always convenient to make. Those who like the therapeutic process involved do make their own glue and attest to its strength. This type of glue is made from the trimmings and scraps of animal hide. The hide bits are covered in water and boiled (and simmered) for many hours until the hide pieces look almost translucent. The solid hide pieces are then strained out and the liquid left behind is further boiled until it starts to thicken. 

The liquid is removed from heat and allowed to cool. Testing the stickiness is done by touching the cool liquid. If it is sticky, it is ready, if not; it is returned to the heat and boiled a bit longer. The liquid is then strained through cheesecloth and set into a flat container until it dries into a rubbery form. This is then squeezed by hand and broken up in tiny chunks that are set aside in a well ventilated room to dry. Once completely dry, the bits are stored in an air tight, waterproof container. When glue is needed, some of the dry bits can be heated, causing them to return to liquid form – ready for use. 

Popular Brands of Wood Glue

While investigating the best glue for wood, we came across a recurring pattern. Wood workers and hobbyists seem to prefer certain brands of wood glue. The most popular brands encountered are:

  • Titebond
  • Gorilla
  • Elmer’s
  • Glue Masters
  • FastCap
  • Aleene’s
  • J-B Weld

How Strong is Wood Glue? 

Something hobbyists and wood workers learn along the way is that wood glue is stronger than wood. Will wood fall apart with just glue and no nails? While glued wood joints may hold for some time, it is expected that without extra fasteners such as nails, the structure (the wood itself) will give way and the join will break apart. It’s always a good idea to use wood glue in addition to fasteners. Unfortunately, wood is not all that strong and while some wood glues can last through the harshest exposure; the wood might fail at some point. In most instances, to ensure that the strength of the glue is enhanced and that the strength of the wood structure itself is improved, other fasteners need to be used in the process. 

What is a Strong Wood Glue for Outdoor Use? (Our Pick Below)

Do you know which wood glue is best to use when working on outdoor projects? Outdoor wood projects can be stressful as often, one does not quite know if they can trust their glue product to hold out. What is the best wood glue for outside use? First and foremost, it is important to seek out glue that has either ANSI/HPVA Type I waterproof rating or ANSI/HPVA Type II water resistant rating specifications. This means that these glues will hold up when it rains among other outdoor conditions.

Strongest Glue For Long Term Outdoor Exposure

We have found from our use and chatting with other DIYers, it became common knowledge that the cyanoacrylate and epoxy glues are the strongest wood glues for Extreme Outdoor Abuse, in other words, finished projects being left out in the elements year around. These include FastCap’s 2P-10 Jel or Thick and West Systems 205 Fast.

How Long is the Shelf Life of Wood Glue?

Most wood glues can’t really be trusted after the 1-year mark. Most glue will be just fine, if stored correctly, for 18 months to 24 months. Titebond however claims that some wood glue products (including their PVA glue), can last for anything up to 10 years, if the glue is stored in the correct conditions. Of course, it is never advised to keep glue for any longer than the manufacturer label deems safe. 

Is Strong Wood Glue Food Grade Safe?

When you think about it, some of the wood pieces that you glue will come into contact with food in one way or another. Think of cutting boards or kitchen cabinets and countertops (the list goes on). Not all glues are food-grade safe. 

Titebond wood glues are a safe choice as they produce no toxic fumes and have been FDA approved for indirect contact with food. In fact, most people we have spoken to opt for this particular brand of glue for that very reason. You should always check the label of your wood glue to ensure that it is safe. The label should say something like “FDA approved for indirect contact with food”. If the label does not say that, head over to the manufacturer’s website to do a bit of research. If you can’t find any mention of the product being ‘food safe’ there, it is best so assume that it is not safe for food contact – rather avoid it.

Can you Stain Strong Wood Glues?

Unfortunately, most wood glues won’t absorb stain. There are a few on the market that claim that they can be stained, but it is the experience of many hobbyists that it does not stain quite as nicely as they hoped. Which wood glue stains best? We have found that the Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Glue Max is the best stainable wood glue and is favored among professional woodworkers, hobbyists, and DIYers. This product is different from other wood glues that claim to be stainable as it contains real wood fibers itself. This means that staining, painting, and sanding are just naturally easier when this type of wood glue is used. 

Our Last Words on Strong Glue

When it comes to finding the strongest glue for wood, it really does come down to the type of project you are dealing with. For instance, making a matchstick sculpture will require a completely different wood glue type than piecing together wooden outside furniture or door frames.

We have come to find that Polyvinyl Acetate Glue (PVA Glue) is the best option for most woodwork projects, with Titebond being the brand of choice. Not only is it a stong glue but it is also FDA approved.

Conversely, from our experience and feedback from several forums and woodworking groups, you would want to use CA or epoxies as mentioned earlier for 24/7 outdoor use. These types of glues have the strength to keep things together longer then some wood will even last.

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Hey, this is Brian and Gene. Since the two of us have pretty much been self-employed our entire lives, we have a lot of experience designing and creating all sorts of DIY projects for businesses and homes—projects that have helped us make money or save money through the years!

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