One of the most common questions that often comes up amongst wood hobbyists is “which wood glue is the strongest?” And because there are so many different wood glue options on the market, not to mention different applications, the answer is not so clear-cut. This is something that I often wondered myself when I started woodworking. In fact, 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.
And to answer the original question, the truth is that the strongest glue for wood is undoubtedly Polyvinyl Acetate Glue (PVA Glue). And not only is PVA glue extremely strong, but it has everything you need in a decent adhesive, including cost-effectiveness and water resistance, plus it’s non-toxic! However, it’s not always the best choice. If the material that you are going to be gluing going to be exposed to extreme temperatures or the sun’s rays, epoxy or Cyanoacrylate (CA) might be a better choice.
So to summarize, the strongest wood glue is PVA glue, but that doesn’t mean that you should use it exclusively. If you are willing to work with epoxy, then I would recommend that for materials that are going to be left outside exposed to snow or extreme temperatures.
The quality of a particular wood glue is something that is going to depend on a lot of factors. We have found 4 factors that we have found useful for testing the quality of glue include how it 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 strongest glues for wood products currently available in the market and which are best suited for your woodworking projects, read on!
Table of Contents
- What is the most popular PVA Glue?
- What is the most popular CA Glue?
- What is the most popular epoxy glue?
- List of Different Types of Wood Glue
- A Closer Look at Different Types of Strong Wood Glues
- Popular Brands of Wood Glue
- How Strong is Wood Glue?
- What is The Strongest Wood Glue for Outdoor Use? (Our Pick Below)
- How Long is the Shelf Life of Wood Glue?
- Is Wood Glue Food Safe?
- Can you Stain Wood Glues?
- Our Last Words on Wood Glue
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.
You might be surprised to learn that while Titebond II is a great choice for projects that are going to be left inside, it also performs well in exterior projects. It is considered water resistant, however, it is still a good idea to avoid using this glue in wet environments or outside where there is no protection from external elements. This glue dries rather quickly and is also FDA approved, which is good news for those wanting to glue wood pieces that will come into direct contact with food.
As you probably know, professional woodworkers love Titebond III PVA glue. You can use it 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 just like the above glue. It is a popular glue product used by both kitchen cabinet makers and serious woodworkers alike.
What is the most popular 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 external elements.
The glue is fairly simple to use. It must be applied to a 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 features a very quick setting too, with the product setting in just 10 seconds and curing fully in as little as just half a minute.
What is the most popular epoxy glue?
A popular, good strong epoxy glue is the West System 2 part epoxy. It is available in fast or slow hardening versions, the best of those 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 glues
List of Different Types of Wood Glue
You will find that there are 5 main types of wood glues on the market, all of which we elaborate on a little further down in this article. These include:
- PVA Glue
- Hide Glue
- Cyanoacrylate Glue (CA Glue)
- Polyurethane Glue
A Closer Look at Several Different Types of Wood Glues
Of course, all woodworkers and hobbyists have their personal 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.
Cyanoacrylate (CA) Wood Glue
This is regular Super Glue for wood. In some of the tests we have checked online and from the groups and forums I am part of, many have said that Cyanoacrylate 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 even gluing wood and metal surfaces together. One of the other reasons it is deemed one of the most popular glue types is also because it can be used inside and outside.
The best Cyanoacrylate Wood Glue on the market is the Super Glue. I highly recommend it if you are interested in using CA glue.
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 a 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 the best products.
The best Epoxy-based wood is the Devcon epoxy glue. It is the best glue for all kinds of projects, inlcuding pasting wood, metal and plastics.
Polyurethane Wood Glue
Polyurethane 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 workers looking for a quick bind 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.
This is the polyurethane glue that I’m recommending. not only does it bind very strongly, but it’s also very affordable.
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 regularly seen.
The hide glue that I’m recommending is the Mohawk Hide Glue.
Old Brown Hide Glue
Old brown hide glue is an awesome choice for those looking for good old fashioned glue that is both organic and non-toxic. One of the main differentiating factors of this type of glue is the fact that it’s very flexible, even after it has fully cured. It’s a very durable glue that performs well in tight-fitting joints. It’s important to note that old brown hide glue cannot bind materials for extended periods of time as the protein starts to break down in it and the glue thereafter loses its strengths. Most hide glues will bind strongly for around 12 to 18 months at most.
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.
The best way to buy Gorilla Wood Glue is on Amazon.
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 too. Elmer’s wood glue is easy to apply and it’s quite versatile and durable.
The best way to buy Elmer’s Wood Glue is on Amazon
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. This is best for people who like the process of doing their own adhesive. 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, but 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, I came across a recurring pattern. Woodworkers and hobbyists seem to prefer certain brands of wood glue. The most popular brands encountered are:
- Glue Masters
- J-B Weld
How Strong is Wood Glue?
Something hobbyists and woodworkers learn along the way is that most 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 stay working 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, because many people do not know if the glue used will be able to stand the test of time. 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 raining.
Strongest Glue For Long Term Outdoor Exposure
I have found from my own experience and chatting with other DIYers that the cyanoacrylate and epoxy glues are the strongest wood glues for Extreme Outdoor Abuse, in other words, finished projects being left out with constant exposure to extreme elements year round. 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 will lose significant binding strength by about 1 year.. Most glue will be just fine however, if stored correctly, for 18 to 24 months. Titebond however claims that some of their 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 not a good idea 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 safe.
Titebond wood glues are a safe choice as they produce no toxic fumes and have been FDA approved for direct contact with food. In fact, most people I 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 to assume that it is not safe for food contact – so it might be wise to 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 many hobbyists have found that it does not stain quite as nicely as they hoped. Which wood glue stains best? We have found that 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 in the mix. This means that staining, painting, and sanding is naturally easier with this type of wood glue.
Our Last Words on Wood 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 strong 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 projects that are going to be exposed to more extreme conditions. These types of glues have enough vigor to keep holding materials in place even in extreme temperatures.