How to glue wood together

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How to glue wood together

How to glue wood together

No designated furniture repair workspace is complete without a supply of different types of glue. There are many different wood glues on the market today, and each is designed to work in a slightly different manner. The biggest problem when it comes to glue is deciding which type to use for specific purposes. While some types of glue are stronger than others, it is important to use the best possible one to achieve the best results.

Following is a list of some of the most common types of glue used on wood furniture that should be kept in your workspace so it’s readily available when you need it:

PVA: This type of glue is also called Polyvinyl Acetate. It works best when trying to affix two pieces of wood together. It does not do as well on materials that are smooth like plastic or metal. PVA glue works best when it is clamped immediately after it is applied and left in place until it is thoroughly dry. It is not a good idea to use PVA glue on top of another type of old or dry glue because it will not stick efficiently. If you are going to use PVA glue, you must make sure that you remove all old glue from the surface beforehand. Although quite strong when dry, PVA glue is not always waterproof.

Polyurethane: This is a type of glue that is well known for its waterproof qualities. It is also a glue that sticks well to most surfaces – including smooth ones like plastic and metal. If you are going to refinish a piece of furniture that needs repairs, you should consider using Polyurethane glue because it absorbs both paint and stain very well. The downside to polyurethane glue is that it takes longer to dry or “cure” than other types of wood glue. Once dry, however, polyurethane glue is pretty much set for life! It is difficult to remove it – even with solvents.

Hide Glue: Hide glue is commonly used on wood furniture and wood cabinets. The name “hide” often misleads novice woodworkers into believing that it is supposed to only be used in areas that will not be seen or are “hidden.” But, the word hide actually means that the glue comes from animal products – which are commonly referred to as “hide.” Hide glue has been used for thousands of years to keep pieces of wood securely attached to each other. While there are many benefits to hide glue, this type of adhesive also presents two common problems: it tends to not work well in very humid environments and it does not last very long its container once open.

Yellow Glue and White Glue: Yelllow glue is sometimes referred to as “carpenter’s glue.” It is a versitile adhesive and it can can be applied in just about any environment and temperature. It’s a basic glue that works well for attaching two pieces of wood together. White glue is also considered a basic glue. It is meant for affixing lightweight materials together and is not the prefered type of glue to use in all situations. Even though yellow glue and white glue might not be the most durable types in the world, they both serve an important purpose and can be used effectively for many projects. Both yellow glue and white glue can usually be found for sale in either hardware stores or common places such as Target or Walmart.

There are many types of wood glue, and each has its own function. Wood glue is very effective and can hold items securely for many years. The most important aspect to consider when using wood glue is choosing the right type for the project.

How to glue wood together

Your equipment doesn’t need to be fancy to work!

Gluing wood together can be fun and makes an incredibly strong join. Here are some of the tools and tips I’ve picked-up along the way to make your glue project go smooth. The following example photos here are from a recent glue-up for a nearly 10-foot long desk as we were needing more work space in our office.

Tools I Use:

  • Gorilla or Titebond wood glues work!
  • Clamps I use (Irwin Quick Grip and simple long bar clamps)
  • Blue tape
  • Scrap pieces of clean level wood

Here’s my Typical Wood Glue Process

Start with straight boards. I try to pick boards that are consistent in shade and grain to make the staining process easier – less important if you’re painting or gel staining.

Trim boards for a tight fit. If your boards have an eased edge / slight bevel, trim it off so you have a square edge. I usually cut an 1/8th to 1/16th inch off each side. This ensures boards side together flush. You don’t have to do this to the outside edges of the outside boards unless you want a square edge.

Organize your wood. Lay your wood out on a level surface in the order you’ll glue together. This will help you see where you might need some additional cross supports to clamp the boards together.

How to glue wood together

TIP: A large wood planer will help level and smooth your boards by reducing cupping and warping. I have made it through my projects without, just means more sanding.

Prepare end board and mid-board leveling (vertical) clamps. You’ll need a minimum of 4 boards at least the width of your project, 2 for each end. These will go over and under your project and clamp your boards level. If your boards aren’t perfectly level (they almost never are) and to stop binding, you’ll have some mid-board clamps. On the adjacent image, the “stain test” board was my scrap I used mid-board to level them.

Prepare wood (horizontal) clamps. You’ll need to clamp your boards together along their width with your long bar clamps. I use 36-inch clamps as they’ll cover most projects – for longer projects, you can buy pipe from your local hardware store and pipe clamps. Next, lay some boards under your boards to provide clearance for your clamps.

How to glue wood together

TIP: Blue tape the scrap wood so it doesn’t stick. I cover the board faces that will contact the glued boards with blue tape so that I don’t inadvertently glue my braces and supports to my project.

Time to Glue! Stack the boards up and have a wet shop towel ready. Glue the edges running an ample bead along each board. As soon as you lay the board flat the glue will fall so I run the bead just above the center point. There are spreaders and brushes you can use if you want to be neater.

Time to Clamp! Once all the boards are pressed together, move quickly as it sets up fast. Wipe the excess glue from where you’ll cross clamp (don’t be perfect – use speed). Clamp the end boards tight and clamp the mid-boards tight together. Make sure to apply pressure where needed so the boards are level. Start clamping the boards together horizontally with the long bar clamps. Make sure to watch that boards stay level. No need to over tighten.

Wipe off excess glue and let dry. Wipe away any of the glue that pushed out of the joints – a wet blue show towel works great. This will reduce the amount of time you spend scraping and sanding it off your project.

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DEAR TIM: I need to glue pieces of wood together and have never done it. It’s in my best interest to get this right the first time, so can you share some tips with me? I have both interior projects to do and some where the wood will be outdoors. I realize there are different glues to use, but am more concerned with technique. Surely you’ve glued lots of things together besides wood and had great success. Help me please. Sheri P., Arlington, VA

DEAR SHERI: You came to the right place. I’ve glued many things together over the years using all sorts of products. What I’ve discovered is that most of them deliver fantastic results if you just use them according to the directions and add some common sense along the way.

Both wood surfaces need to be clean and at room temperature for great results. Clamping is a must. Photo Credit: Tim Carter

You absolutely need to match the glue to the project as some glues are not formulated to withstand exposure to water once they’ve dried and cured. Other glue products are absolutely waterproof. This claim can almost always be found on the label of the product. If you don’t see any wording on a glue label stating that it’s waterproof, assume that it’s not.

If you want great results when gluing two pieces of wood, or anything for that matter, together, it helps to think on a micro scale. Imagine what’s happening where the glue is interacting with the wood, glass, plastic or metal.

Without getting into complicated chemistry or physics, realize the glue is trying to act like a burr or briar that might attach to your clothes as you walk through the woods. Dried glue has a structure that has miniature hooks, barbs, etc. that try to latch on to the surface upon which it’s spread.

This means the surface should be free of all dust, dirt, oil, etc. and it helps if the surface is somewhat rough. The roughness creates more surface area for the glue to grab onto and it creates more places for the tiny hooks and barbs to attach themselves.

Temperature is also a consideration. Most glues you’ll find at stores have a water base and should be used at temperatures that range from 50 – 90 F. Just read the label once again to see if there’s a preferred temperature range.

The common yellow glues that are water-based work as the water evaporates or soaks into the wood. As the water leaves, what’s left behind is the actual glue that does the work. Think of the water as a delivery vehicle.

Some other glues have a totally different chemistry and require the surface to be wet or there be significant humidity in the air for the glue to react and bond. Once again, read the label and do what the manufacturer says with respect to wetting the surfaces slightly.

Perhaps the most common mistake made when using wood glues is the failure to clamp or apply pressure to the objects being glued. There are numerous ways to achieve this goal.

You can use hand clamps, pipe clamps, weight, screws, nails, etc. The object is to do whatever is necessary to squeeze the pieces of wood together for as long as the instructions say to apply the pressure. Clamping time can be as short as 30 minutes or an hour.

I can tell you from past experience the longer you clamp things, the better the job will turn out. I don’t mean clamp things for days, but extending the clamping time by 50 to 100 percent of the time mentioned on the label is not a bad idea. Remember, the clamping time was probably set assuming the objects being glued are just around 70 F in temperature and that’s what the air temperature is where the clamping is happening.

If it’s colder than that, you absolutely need to extend the clamping and curing time to get maximum holding power.

Think about what’s being glued. The end grain of wood pieces will readily soak up glue. If you’re gluing end grain, spread some glue onto the end of the piece and move it around with your finger or a stick. Wait about two minutes to see if the glue soaks in.

If it does, add some additional glue before you clamp the pieces together to ensure there will be enough left at the joint to do the job. I’ve seen my own work fail because all the glue soaked into the end grain not leaving enough behind for a proper bond.

Wood is one of the best crafting materials we have, in my opinion. You can get a lot of different types of wood that can be used to build all sorts of amazing projects.

Wood is also widely available and pretty easy to work with even if you are new to woodworking. For most projects simple wood glue will be more than enough to assemble your wood project permanently but how strong is wood glue and when should you use screws or should you use both?

In this guide, I will explain exactly that, so that you will be able to confidently decide for yourselves how you should assemble your project.

You should use wood glue and screws together if you are building something that needs to be very strong and needs to carry a lot of weight later on like a heavy table or a shelf for example. But for most woodworking projects simple wood glue will be more than strong enough.

There are a few exceptions where wood glue is not the best choice and vice versa.

I will go more into depth about when to use wood glue and when it´s best to use screws.

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When to Use Wood Glue

Wood glue will create a very strong bond between wood pieces. It is ideal for gluing wooden joints, panels, and for fixing broken wooden pieces.

You should use wood glue for permanently bonding wooden joints to each other and for glueing wood pieces together that have a medium to large surface area for glueing. Wood glue should not be used if the piece hast o be flexible or if it has to carry a lot of weight later on.

For the best result and strongest connection possible wood glue should be applied in a thin and even layer. It is necessary to press both pieces together until the glue has dried.

The easiest way to do this is by clamping the wooden pieces together.

It should only take a few minutes until the wood glue has created an initial bond.

It will take about an hour or sometimes more until the glue is completely dry, however.

  • Advantages of Wood Glue:
    • Easy and safe to use
    • Cheap
    • Creates a very strong permanent bond
    • Dries quickly
  • Disadvantages of Wood Glue:
    • It will create a rigid bond so it should not be used for gluing flexible parts
    • Some wood variants like Cedar have to be cleaned from any oil residue before using wood glue to glue them
    • It is not Strong enough to glue for example feet to a tabletop

When to Use Screw to Fasten Wood

I personally try to avoid using screws to assemble my woodworking projects as much as possible for vanity reasons mainly.

I think it just looks awful if you can see screw heads on an assembled and painted piece.

So I personally always think about how to hide them later on before I even start with my project.

I prefer using wood glue over screws any day but sometimes you have to use screws because wood glue is simply not strong enough.

You should use Screws if your project needs to hold a lot of weight or if it has to withstand a lot of stress. For example when building a bookshelf, building a wood deck, and so on.

Be careful when using screws because not every type of wood can be fastened with a regular screw.

Cedar might actually „eat“ some screws that are not coated properly and some types of wood that like to move a lot might separate themselves after a while.

So make sure to double-check if have the right type of screws for the type of wood that you are using.

  • Advantages of Using Screws:
    • Easy to use and cheap
    • Projects can be disassembled easier
    • Create a very strong and permanent bond
    • Can be used for outdoor projects
    • Disadvantages of Using Screws:
      • Some type of woods „eat“ the screw if they are not coated properly
      • You should drill a hole before using the screw or the wood might split
      • You have to hide the screw heads afterward

    When to use Wood Glue and Screws Together

    On rare occasions, you might want to use both screws and wood glue together.

    I personally never used both in the past but there are some projects where it might actually make sense to use Screws and Woodglue together.

    For example, if you are using something that needs to be very strong or that has to be built very precisely then using both might make sense.

    If you are building a table then only using screws might be enough but you will be able to build an even sturdier and stronger table if you use joints and wood glue to connect the pieces and then use screws to further strengthen the connection.

    Andi f you are building a project where a lot of precision is required on top of strength then you can simply glue down the pieces initially to make sure that they are fixed before drilling any holes and connecting the pieces with screws.

    This will guarantee that the pieces won´t move out of position as you drilled the holes and screw the wood pieces down.

    So in the end there isn´t really a definitive answer to the question of whether you should use screws, wood glue, or both. It entirely depends on your project.

    So take a look at your project and try to answer the following questions in order to narrow down whether you should use wood glue or screws for your project.

    Are you going to use wood joints to connect the wooden pieces together?

    Do your wooden pieces have a lot of surface area to apply glue to?

    Does your project only need to support a moderate amount of weight?

    If you can answer all of these questions with yes, then using wood glue is perfect for your project.

    Do you need to disassemble your whole or parts of your project?

    Does your project need to be flexible or is the wood moving a little bit?

    Do you need your project to support a lot of weight?

    If you can answer any of these questions with yes then using screws might be the best way to go.

    Do you need a lot of precision in your projects?

    Do you need your project to support a lot of weight that will strain the wood in different angles or directions?

    If you answered any of these questions with yes then you might want to consider using wood glue and screws together.

    Posted on September 11th, 2020

    By: Steve Maxwell

    Updated on September 12th, 2020

    UPDATED 11Sep2020 + video below. Trees only grow so wide, and that’s just one reason gluing boards together edge-to-edge to make wider panels is a basic woodworking skill. Stability and appearance are the other benefits of edge gluing solid panels from narrower boards, and success depends on mastering three steps. Too many novice and intermediate workshoppers spend more time struggling with edge gluing than they should. That’s where this article can help.

    Edge-Gluing Step#1: Jointing Solid Wood

    The quality of edge-glued boards is judged by how smooth and gap-free the joints are. This is where a process called jointing comes in. It involves milling board edges so they’re straight, square and able to come together more or less gap-free. Exceptionally well milled lumber is sometimes straight enough for immediate edge gluing as it comes from the store, but this is rare. Most woodworkers use a stationary machine called a jointer to create true edges. Watch the video at the bottom of this article for details on using a jointer effectively. You can also use a hand plane if your tool budget and workshop space don’t permit a jointer, though you’ll need to invest time to develop planing skills.

    I’ve always found jointing before edge gluing works best as a trial and error process. Even with a properly tuned jointer, and lots of experience, neighbouring boards will still sometimes show small gaps when they come together. Placing boards side-by-side on a flat surface highlights trouble before glue application, when it’s still easy to joint again. Gaps as wide as a couple of sheets of paper are acceptable along the middle of a joint, but if you’ve got anything larger than this, use the jointer again. You’ll also want to avoid high spots in the middle of board joints. This leaves gaps near the ends, and these are more likely to open up after gluing than small gaps in the middle.

    As you dry-fit boards without glue at this stage, also pay attention to the orientation of curved growth rings visible on board ends. Most boards show a cupped, concave growth ring pattern, oriented towards one board face or another. Some woodworkers like to orient cups of neighbouring boards in the same direction, but I’ve had better luck alternating the cups – one up, next one down. If one particular board face looks great, feel free to put it into view even if it puts the ring pattern out of sync. Click here to learn more about orienting growth rings properly. With all neighbouring boards fitting tightly, mark mating edges with an X, so you know the way the boards go together best when it comes time to apply glue.

    It’s not necessary to install biscuits or dowels along board edges for strength, since modern wood glues form a bond that’s stronger than wood. Biscuits or dowels do help with board-to-board alignment, but I find installing them more trouble than it’s worth. In 30+ years of cabinetmaking I’ve used glued alone for edge gluing with no issues.

    Edge-Gluing Step#2: Clamping and Glue-Up

    Now’s the time to dry-fit everything in clamps without glue as a final test under pressure. This offers two benefits. First, it prompts you to get out all the clamps you’ll need for the job, without having to rush around later adjusting more clamps while glue hardens. Second, dry-fitting under pressure lets you double check that any paper-thin gaps that were acceptable in step#1 will actually close up completely when you tighten things down. You can’t wait until after the glue is applied to determine this because each joint will be hidden under a berm of glue squeeze out. This could easily be hiding an ugly gap that would only become obvious later, after sanding, when it’s too late to do anything about it.

    Book Matching Basics

    The most beautiful edge-glued boards combine two pieces of wood with grain patterns that are mirror images of each other along the joint line. This is called book matching, and though it’s most commonly used with veneers, it works just as well with solid boards, too. The trick involves creating the all-important mirror image grain patterns first, and to make this happen you’ll need to saw one piece of wood into two pieces on edge. This is called resawing, and though it’s usually done on a bandsaw, I’ve also had excellent results with a tablesaw.

    How to glue wood together Clamps over the joint line between adjacent boards helps align them before the main clamps get tightened. This simple step saves lots of sanding time.

    While you’re at it, apply small clamps over the joints at all board ends, as you can see above, to ensure each piece of wood aligns vertically with its neighbour. Boards almost always have at least a small amount of warping, and this forms steps along joints with neighbouring boards. But as long as the ends of all boards are held in alignment by small clamps, you can push any high boards down later by hand so they’re flush with their neighbours during final assembly. Go back to the jointer if any of the gaps don’t close fully under pressure.

    When everything looks good, apply a generous bead of glue to one side of each joint, bring the boards together by hand, then tighten up the end clamps. Push any high boards down so they’re flush with neighbours, and hold them that way while a helper torques down the main clamps with moderate pressure. There should be squeeze out along the entire length of each joint. This excess glue is easiest to scrape off when it’s half hard. Don’t wait until the squeeze out is fully hard.

    Edge-Gluing Step#3: Smoothening the Panels

    No matter how carefully you aligned boards during glue up, there’s always some mismatch along joints. Unless this is exceptionally small, start by sanding edge-glued panels across the grain using an 80-grit sanding belt to level up any mismatch. Next, use the same abrasive parallel to the grain to remove cross-grain scratches, then cut the laminated panel to final size before proceeding with finer and finer levels of sanding.

    Master these techniques and you’ll be able to count on flawless edge-glued panels for every project you build. It’s one of those seemingly-difficult things that you’ll never forget how to do once you’ve mastered it.

    Watch the video below to see how I mill rough lumber so it’s flat, square and true. This is a necessary step when working with solid wood.

    Video Feature

    Click here for a video lesson on how to use a jointer

    Selecting the right wood glue will help you create durable, lasting bonds. However, not all wood adhesives are suitable for all applications. Here’s what you need to know to choose the right glue and use it correctly.

    • Wood glue: The basics
    • What is PVA glue and how does it work?
    • How to use wood glue

    Wood glue: The basics

    Gluing is an important part of many wood-based projects. But determining the best wood glue for your particular task isn’t always easy. Here’s what you need to know to decide which wood glue will work best for your project.

    Polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue is the most common type of wood glue. This type includes typical white and yellow glues, or what are commonly called “carpenter’s glue.” Iit can be used for many – but not all – projects.

    Hide glue is made from animal products. It can come as a liquid or as granules, flakes, or sheets that need to be dissolved in water. It needs to be heated and applied with a brush, and it bonds as it cools.

    Epoxy typically comes in two separate components: a hardener and a resin. The parts are mixed together to create a chemical bond that, when it hardens, is waterproof and fills gaps. Some epoxies are slow to cure, but they are some of the strongest wood glues available. If you are looking for an epoxy that’s easy to apply and works great with wood, try Loctite Epoxy Quick Set or one of Loctite’s many epoxies for every application.

    Polyurethane glues are a type of moisture-activated glue that foams as it dries into a very resilient adhesive.

    For most wood-based projects, Loctite PL Wood Lumber, Paneling & Trim Adhesive is a solid choice.

    Watch this video and learn more about using Loctite PL Premium Construction Adhesive for all your wood-based tasks:

    Wood glues are very strong and ideal for helping you in your do it yourself home projects. If you apply the wood glue properly and dry it correctly, the joined wood pieces will never split. You can join two wood pieces to repair or make your wooden chairs or tables using wood glue. Ensure you select the right adhesive for your project.

    Here are tips on how to glue two wood pieces together:

    1. Select the right glue.
    When joining wood pieces, ensure you select the suitable glue. You can choose super glue if you are joining repairing broken furniture or only joining two wood pieces because it dries very fast. However, when using super glue, the bond is not strong enough to resist a lot of pressure, and the wood might separate within a short time. You can buy super glue from hardware or order online.

    If you want a permanent bond, you should go for PVA glue. Polyvinyl acetate glue is strong and forms a durable bond between two pieces of wood. However, it is not water-resistant. It is not suitable for glueing outdoor wood. If you want to repair outdoor furniture, you should choose carpenter’s glue; it is water-resistant. With the right wood glue you can join two wood pieces.

    2. Clean off the surface.
    Use a damp cloth to wipe any dirt or dust on the wood surface before applying the glue. If there is wood glue on the surface, scrub it off using a brush or use a knife to scrape to remove the glue to enable the surface to adhere to the new adhesive. Old glue residual can make the bond weak when joining the woods.

    3. Joining wood surfaces.
    If you are joining two pieces of wood with smooth surfaces, use a stiff-bristled brush to spread the glue on one side to prevent buildup and save time. You can then press the wood together to bond them. If you plan to join large panels, use a rubber roller to spread layers of glue on the surfaces consistently. Apply the glue on each board and press them together to form a bond.

    You can use a syringe to apply glue on chairs you wish to repair. A needle helps you insert glue on the right places easily to prevent the chair’s rung from shaking. Apply glue to the joints when you are making a table or chair to create a strong bond as you join them.

    4. Allow the glue to dry, then wipe the excess.
    Using a damp cloth to wipe off the excess glue can add moisture and weaken joined wood pieces’ bond. You should wait for about thirty minutes for the glue to dry and harden. Use tools such as a knife or a chisel with a smooth edge to scrape the excess glue gently.

    Bottom line.
    Wood glue helps you repair your wooden chairs and tables. Ensure you use the right type of wood glue for your project. Clean the wood surfaces you wish to join before applying the wood glue. Avoid using a damp cloth to dry off excess glue before it dries because the moisture can weaken the joined surfaces’ bond.

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    Glue-ups, also known as segmented turning, are a way of crafting wood. The process involves gluing pieces of wood together to create one block, which is then attached to a lathe. The woodworker cuts into this block to form his preferred shape. Glue-ups give each wooden block a unique mixture of grains, thereby adding individuality to projects. To glue up wood for wood turning, you need some basic tools and a strong wood glue.

    Things You’ll Need:

    • Measuring Tape
    • Wood
    • Sandpaper
    • Saw
    • Strong Wood Glue
    • Clamp

    Remove any varnish, polish or paint from the surface of the wood. Use sandpaper or a sanding machine to do this. This gives you a clean piece of wood.

    Cut the wood to the correct width for your project. The measurement will vary, depending on your project and wood width. For example, if your wood is 8 inches wide, but your woodworking plan requires 6 inches of width, then cut off 2 inches.

    Cut the wood into smaller, equal lengths using a saw. Keep the pieces in order as you chop them up. Then when you glue them together, the grain will match better and look like one block of wood.

    Place the sections of wood together into a block. Make sure they align and fit flat against one another. This is called a “dry-fit.”

    Disassemble the block of wood and glue the sections together. Apply glue to the first two pieces of wood. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure that the glue is applied correctly.

    Check that the glue is spread right to the edges of each piece of wood so that it is securely attached to the next, then clamp the pieces of wood together. Leave the wood to dry.

    Glue the outer surface of the wood block built in step 6, to the surface of the next piece of wood. Clamp them together and leave to dry.

    Repeat steps 6 and 7 until all the pieces of wood have been glued together. Do not glue them all at once, as the pieces will not align properly.

    Check that the glue-up is successful. Test its rigidity by wriggling it with your hands. If it’s solid, attach it to the lathe for turning.