Wood Glue FAQ – Your Questions Answered

Wood Glue FAQ - Your Questions Answered

What is wood glue? Wood glue is a common term for an adhesive that can be used to join two pieces of wood together. Wood glue has been in use for thousands of years and was originally made by boiling hides, tendons, or sinews together with water (or sometimes milk) until the mixture became thick and sticky.

Today there are many types of wood glue on the market including PVA glues, epoxy glues, polyurethane glues, PVC-based adhesives and more.

With this FAQ, I am going to address the many questions that I typically see being asked.

How strong is wood glue?

Modern wood glues are very strong and are often stronger than the wood that you are glueing together. For example, if you are joining two boards, if you try to pull them apart, the wood is more likely to split than the wood joint failing.

How long does wood glue take to dry?

The type of glue and the ambient temperature can be big factors in how long glue takes to dry.

In most cases, glue will be dry to the touch within 20-30 minutes, but will need to be clamped and left for a minimum of 24 hours to fully cure.

For a more comprehensive guide to wood glue use in British climates, see my other article: What Wood Glue To Use In The British Climate

What wood glue is best?

There are many types of wood glue on the market and deciding which is best for each application will depend upon your circumstances.

Generally speaking, some glues set up quicker than others, so in warmer temperatures or for lamination projects, you may want a slower setting glue. However, in most cases, the quickest set-up time the better as it means that you can get on with your project more quickly.

For a more comprehensive overview of Which Glue is Best, feel free to see my article What Glue to Use in the British Climate.

How to dissolve wood glue

To remove common white carpenters wood glue, water or white vinegar will do the job.

If the glue is animal-based such as glue made from animal hide, then vinegar will dissolve this.

If you suspect the joint was glued with epoxy or urethane use acetone or denatured alcohol.

How to get wood glue out of clothes

Most wood glue, including PVA based glues, are water-soluble, so the glue should come out in a warm wash in your washing machine.

If this doesn’t remove the glue, then placing the garment in a bowl of hot water with a diluted mixture of white vinegar should do the trick.

For more stubborn glue stains you could try De-Solv-it Sticky stuff Glue remover which is designed to remove tape and sticker residue, tar, grease, chewing gum and makeup.

As always, it is advisable to spot test the cleaner on an area of the fabric that is not visible to be sure that the chemicals do not harm the garment.

How to remove dried wood glue

Dried wood glue can be scraped off with a sharp scraper and then sanded until the dried glue is gone.

Is wood glue PVA?

No, not all wood glue is PVA based.

Wood glues that are PVA (Polyvinyl alcohol) based tend to be the white wood glues that you can buy.

Other types of glue contain epoxy or are urethane-based.

Does wood glue work on plastic?

The short answer is no, wood glue does not work on Plastics.

Wood Glue is a glue, that generally works on porous and water absorbent materials such as wood.

As plastic is neither of these things, wood glue will not work on any type of Plastic.

Is wood glue waterproof?

No, not all wood glues are waterproof as many are water-based and as such are water-soluble.

There are more specialist types of wood glue such as Titebond 3 which is still water-based but is guaranteed to be proven as waterproof.

polyurethane, SuperGlue or CA glue (cyanoacrylate) and epoxy glues are waterproof once they have cured.

Does wood glue dry clear?

Not many wood glues dry clear.

The colour depends on both glue type (e.g. PVA or CA) and the specific glue. Many PVA glues dry orange or brown, while most polyurethane glues tend to dry brown.

CA wood glues tend to be the most consistent, with most drying clear or translucent.

Does wood glue work on metal?

The short answer is no, wood glue does not work on metal.

Wood Glue is a glue, that generally works on porous and water absorbent materials such as wood.

As metal is neither of these things, wood glue will not work on any type of metal.

How long does wood glue last?

Typically 1-2 years.

Most glue manufacturers stamp a shelf life on their products to limit liability in case the glue is stored in poor storage conditions causing product failure.

The stated shelf life of wood glue typically is one to two years. However, the expected shelf life of many types of glue stretches well past those few years.

For example, store a bottle of white or yellow wood glue (polyvinyl acetate, or PVA glue) in optimum conditions, and it can last for 10 years or longer.

Is wood glue toxic?

Many types of wood glue contain formaldehyde or other chemicals, which are toxic.

If possible, choose wood glue that is free of any toxic materials. Standard carpenter’s wood glue such as PVA-based glues are rated non-toxic and are almost totally safe.

Both Titebond and Gorilla’s Wood Glue are rated as non-toxic.

How much weight can wood glue hold?

Most wood glues will withstand between 3600 psi (pounds per square inch) to 4000 psi. The specific value depends on many factors, including the type of wood glue.

Also, the glue is often stronger than the wood so, the wood often breaks before the glue bond fails.

How to make wood glue dry faster?

To make wood glue dry faster:

  • Do not dilute it
  • Ensure good ventilation
  • Don’t apply too much at a time
  • Use a Polyurethane-based wood glue which dries faster
  • Ensure the workpiece is clamped to prevent the wood from moving whilst the glue is drying
  • Apply gentle heat to the area either by leaving in the sun or using a hairdryer. Do not heat too quickly as the glue may dry too quickly and crack

Does wood glue work on mdf?

Yes. As MDF is porous and therefore allows the wood glue to soak in, it is perfect for MDF material.

Hint: apply a thin coat of wood glue on the surfaces that you wish to glue and allow this to dry. Once dry then glue the joint and clamp as usual. As MDF is very porous, this will prevent all of the wood glue soaking into the material and weakening the joing.

Does wood glue work on painted wood?

In short, yes, but it won’t give a great joint. As wood glue relies on adhering to a porous surface, such as bare wood, the paint may prevent the glue from creating a strong and long-lasting bond.

My advice would be to remove the paint from surfaces that you wish to glue together to get a good bond.

How to get wood glue out of carpet

Firstly what are you doing using wood glue in a carpeted area?!

Secondly, to remove wood glue from carpet, follow the instructions for removing wood glue from clothes, above.

Where to buy wood glue

Wood glue can be found in most DIY stores, online at places like Amazon or even in your local supermarket in their hardware section.

How long to let wood glue dry before sanding?

Most wood glues dry in about 30 minutes to 1 hour. At that point, you can do some light sanding, as long as you do not subject the joints to stress.

The glue has not fully cured at that point, so the joint does not have full strength. It will reach full strength in about 24 hours.

Does wood glue go bad?

Yes. Most wood glues have a ‘shelf life’ which is typically printed on the packaging. This is usually 1-2 years from manufactuer.

After this time, the manufacturer will not guarantee that the bond will not fail.

Is wood glue food safe?

Most PVA based wood glues could be considered food safe for non-direct food contact, however, it is always best to check with the manufacturer.

Any glue with Epoxy, Urethane or Polyurethane is not considered food-safe.

Wood Glue FAQ – Your Questions Answered

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