hey! it’s international glue awareness day! nah, not really. what it really is, interna…. microjig, maker of the grr-ripper. work safer. work smarter. yeah, i use a little bit of glue in my projects. a lot of new woodworkers are surprised to learn that wood glue is often the strongest method for joining two pieces of wood together. it can hold better than screws or nails, and in most cases the glue is actually stronger than the wood it’s holding together. i’ve glued these boards together with wood glue, and lets see where they break.
here you can see the area that was glued up, still remains. it broke along the grain of the wood. there are a lot of different types of adhesives, all with their own benefits. for specialty situations, i might use contact cement, or superglue, or hot glue, spray adhesive, rubber cement, silicone, or construction adhesive. but i’ll save those for a future video. in this video, i’m only going to discuss the adhesives i most commonly use and always have on hand in my shop. woodworking for mere mortals is not sponsored by any of the brands i mention here. these are adhesives that work well for me, and that i’m confident to recommend to you. yellow wood glue is the adhesive i use, and trust on almost every project. i use tightbond ii, it dries fairly quickly, but it’s slow enough to give me time to position and adjust pieces for assembly, and it’s water resistant.
to make it easier to use, i pour it into a smaller bottle, this one is called a glu-bot. the main benefit here is that it can push the glue out at any angle so you don’t have to hold it upside down. wood glue works best on the face-grain or the edge-grain of a board and will create an incredibly tight bond. glue on the end-grain is a little different, i’ll talk more about that in a minuet. i like to make sure that every part of the joined surface is covered in glue. there’s a lot of ways you can spread it around evenly. you can use a disposable brush, or you could use one of these silicone basting brushes. they work out really well and you can usually find them at the dollar store, in with the kitchen supplies. but really, the best part about using these silicone brushes, is that it’s weirdly satisfying to remove that dried-up glue. i don’t know why that is, but it’s kind of like that feeling i get when i remove a splinter, and i just need to examine it.
for larger surfaces, an old credit card or playing card works well to spread the glue, or even just a scrap of cardboard. but really i usually find the most convenient way to spread glue, especially on the edges of boards, is just to use my finger. wood glue washes off easily in water, or just peels off once it’s dry. and that can be kind of satisfying too. it’s important to clamp your boards together while they’re drying, to insure a strong bond. the goal with clamping, is to apply even pressure, all along the boards. the more clamps you use, the better. and you don’t need to make them super tight, a good way to judge is just tighten them until you see glue squeezing out. i have no special technique for removing the excess glue i try to wipe off as much as i can while it’s still wet, using my finger or a dry cloth.
for wood glue to achieve it’s maximum strength, it needs about 24 hours of dry time. but that’s not how long you need to wait before moving on with your project. i find that i can remove the clamps in about an hour, as long i’m not subjecting the joint to any stress. and if, if i’m feeling extra frisky, a half hour is usually fine. i can’t usually wipe off all the excess glue, so i just sand it off once it’s dry. the important thing is to make sure that you get it off any areas that will be visible. double check the wood by wiping some mineral spirits on it. it will highlight any areas that you missed so you can sand them off. it’s also worth pointing out, that clamping is not always necessary on certain small or decorative projects. it’s fine to glue small pieces in place by just setting them in place and letting them dry.
this is especially useful for art projects such as collages, that won’t receive any stress and there’s really no practical way to clamp them anyway. a technique i like using a lot, especially on case work, cabinets and such, is to glue the boards together and then tack them into place with a brad or a pin nailer. the nails alone aren’t really strong enough to hold the work pieces together, but they act as clamps. so once i glue and tack the boards together, i can immediately move on with my assembly, rather than having to wait an hour. of course there is one major drawback, the nails will leave visible holes. this isn’t a problem if the joint is a part of the project that won’t show, or if the project is going to be painted. however, if it’s on a fine piece that you want to stain or finish, it will be nearly impossible to fill those holes and match the color of the wood perfectly. gluing on the end-grain of a board is not as strong but it can be acceptable. imagine the grain of wood like these straws, the end-grain is hollow, that’s the direction that the tree grows and how water and nutrients travel up the trunk.
so when you apply glue to that end-grain, a lot it gets soaked up, not leaving much for bonding. this is mostly a problem on projects that are going to be subjected to a lot of stress or movement. for small decorative projects, it’s usually fine say for boxes, or mitered corners on picture frames. there are a couple of techniques you can use to improve the strength of end-grain glue-ups. the first is to make up a sizing, for the end-grain. sort of a preconditioner. make up a mixture of half glue and half water, and brush it on. the thinned glue fills in those pores easily. let it dry for a while and then glue together your pieces like normal with full-strength glue. another method, the one i usually use, is just to force full-strength glue into the pores of the end-grain.
just smoosh it in, you’ll see and feel it being absorbed. then just let it dry a few minuets and glue it up as normal. if this is going to be for a chair or table, something that’s going to be subjected to force, i would reinforce this joint with some sort of a mechanical fastener, like a screw. the strongest method would be to add a couple of pocket screws. not surprisingly wood glue works fantastic on, well, wood, but not so well on anything else. and sometimes you need to join wood to other materials, say metal, or plastic, or glass. in most of these cases, i like to use epoxy. i find the five minute epoxy works great for almost all my needs. they always come in two parts, that you need to mix together.
mix it together really well, and dab it on the parts you want to join, there’s no need to clamp. so why not just use epoxy for everything, instead of even bothering with wood glue? well for one thing, it’s more expensive, but it’s also messier and a little bit more difficult to use, having to mix it up each time and you can’t really sand it down very easily. and if you’re joining two pieces of wood together, it might not be as strong as wood glue. and since it’s not water-based, clean up is kind of a pain. if there were a single glue i would consider using for everything, it might just be be weldbond. i’ve only recently started using it, and i find myself using it more and more, it’s got a lot going for it. it seems to bond just about anything, just like it says. i’ve used it for gluing together painted boards, something that wood doesn’t do well.
i’ve used it for glass, and ceramics, terracotta, metal, plastic. another great feature of weldbond, is that it dries clear and it just doesn’t seem to be as messy as wood glue. if you have any tips or tricks on glueing, i’d love to hear them, or if you have any questions, please leave them down in the comments and i’ll answer some of those early next week on more minutes. and let me know what type of adhesives you like and why. there are so many different kinds and we tend to evaluate them based on their strength alone, which isn’t always the most important factor in choosing a glue. i don’t make that many projects that require four ton, holding power. dry time, clean-up, environmental impact, volatility, ease of use, durability to the elements, convenience, these are all factors to consider when buying glue. hey memos! have you checked out home and garden for mere mortals lately? we are assembling a great new team of contributors, including kristopher, who will be sharing his gardening tips and advice with us every month.
check out his first hgmm video posted just last week, and give him a warm welcome, and check out and subscribe to his personal channel too. we have lots more, great, home lifestyle videos coming soon. and don’t forget to check out more minutes, for deleted scenes, answers to your questions, and lots more about…. glue. thanks for watching everybody, i’ll see you next week.