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Best wood glue 2021: Get the best adhesion possible for your DIY projects

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Get stuck into a bit of glue-it-yourself with our guide to the hardest-working glues for wood

Gluing bits of wood together is just a matter of gluing bits of wood together, right? Well, technically, it could be that simple… as long as you’re not too bothered about the outcome. However, if the separate pieces of wood you want to combine need to be joined together cleanly, with both precision and a guaranteed glued strength, then you’re going to have to get serious.

Have you selected the right type of glue for the task? Have you done adequate preparation before you begin? Do you know whether the glue you have just applied liberally in an enclosed, unventilated room is going to make you pass out in the next few minutes? These are just some of the questions that must be addressed before you start sticking with dangerously uninformed abandon. Fortunately, as ever, Expert Reviews is on hand to ensure you don’t come horribly unstuck.


Best wood glue: At a glance


How to buy the best wood glue for you

There are many different types of glue and, indeed, types of glue for wood, depending on what you’re working on. To save time and a lot of – probably – unnecessary words about near-industrial scale gluing, we’re going to focus here on the more domestic side of wood wrangling, straying slightly into the camp of the hobby carpenter.

In this home-based scenario, conventional wisdom dictates that a PVA or PVA-style glue be the order of the day. Wood, you see, is porous and PVA is water-based, so when the PVA is applied, the wood quickly absorbs it, allowing a very strong bond to be established as it dries.

But not all PVA glues are the same. Indeed, PVA glue brands can vary wildly depending on what has been added to their chemical makeup so that they set stronger or faster. So, pre-sorting the wheat from the chaff, we’ve taken five of the best PVA and PVA-like glues for wood on the market and picked out the pros of each. But, first, let’s talk prep…

What kind of preparation could I possibly need?

This all depends on exactly what you are gluing and which glue you are using. For a quick fix of, say, a small wooden photo frame, you’re going to want to make sure you have a flat, clean surface to use, old newspaper to cover it and catch any spillages, and some water and a cloth to hand to clean up any stray sticky stuff. You’re also going to need to make sure that both surfaces of the wood you’re affixing are clean and free from dust, oil, grease and loose material. If there’s any old, dried glue on them, you’ll want to carefully chip that off and/or sand it down flush.

PVA glue is not toxic, but it will stick to your hands with annoying tenacity, so you might want to consider rubber gloves and, just as a precaution, safety goggles – safety first!

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If you’re planning on gluing larger, heavier pieces of wood, you’re going to require some form of clamping mechanism to hold them in place while the glue sets. Something like the WORKPRO F Bar Clamp, available for £15 on Amazon, does an excellent job of ensuring no unfortunate slippage occurs.

Okay, you’re nearly good to glue. But now a word about open time, working time, set time and curing time.

What on earth is open time, working time, set time and curing time?

Four terms that might come up during your wood gluing, depending on the glue manufacturer’s instructions. Open time is the maximum amount of time you have to make your join after applying the glue – left for too long the surface starts to dry or cure, so bonding quality degrades. Working time is the wriggle room you get to adjust your join so that both surfaces are properly aligned. Next up, set time is the time it takes for the glue to form a solid bond. But it’s not finished yet – curing time is how long it takes overall for the glue to form its strongest bond possible.

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The best wood glue to buy in 2021

1. Gorilla Wood Glue: Best wood glue for an unbreakable bond

Price: £6 | Buy now from Wickes

Gorilla is one of the most well-known glue brands in the world; although why ‘gorilla’ was chosen as the brand name, or whether gorillas are particularly adhesive or not, are questions for another time.

Here we have the great ape’s wood-fixated fixative, a water-resistant PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue that has been formulated especially for use with wood. Good to go both indoors and outdoors, the long-lasting Gorilla Wood Glue offers a high bond strength (so be very careful how you use and store it!) and a shorter clamp time, meaning less waiting to get jobs done.

Relatively easy to clean up with just water when still fluid, once cured it can be simply sanded down so that any seams are left perfectly flush for a professional job.

Performance-wise, once wood is bonded by Gorilla, it would take someone with the strength of a raging primate to separate it again. Oh, I see…

Key specs – Size: 236ml; Type: PVA-based; Set time: 20-30 minutes; Curing time: 24 hours; Waterproof: Yes; Indoor or outdoor: Both; Toxic: No

Buy now from Wickes


2. Everbuild 502 All Purpose Weatherproof Wood Adhesive: Best wood glue on a budget

Price: £8 | Buy now from Amazon

While you should use Gorilla Wood Glue’s 236ml sparingly, from Everbuild comes 502 All Purpose Weatherproof Wood Adhesive in all its one litre of gluey glory.

A high-quality, high-strength, resin-based glue that’s perfect for all your wood bonding needs, it features excellent water-resistance, meaning it’s ideal for external as well as internal use. Plus, with an initial setting speed of just ten minutes, those bigger projects will suddenly start to take up less of your precious free time.

Adding extra confidence to your adhesive activities, the Everbuild also conforms to the international standard EN 204 (D3) and BS 14256 for creep resistance, so whatever you glue is going to stay that way.

Drying clear, with low timber-staining, the Everbuild 502 is your ideal option for all general woodworking and joinery use – and, of course, there’s plenty of it.

Key specs – Size: 1 litre; Type: PVA-based; Set time: 10 minutes; Curing time: 24 hours; Waterproof: Yes; Indoor or outdoor: Both; Toxic: No

3. Titebond lll Ultimate Wood Glue: Best wood glue for ultimate versatility

Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon

Okay, so the job ahead of you involves securing the strongest wood-on-wood bonds you can, with both speed and ease, for something that will ultimately have to resist a lot of water. Which means you’re either a carpenter in Manchester or a modern-day Noah building an ark. In either case, the answer for you is Titebond III, a wood glue formulated specifically for these conditions.

An APP (Advanced Proprietary Polymer), Titebond III gives the application ease of PVA and the superior water-resistance qualities of polyurethane. It also scores over standard PVAs by its ability to withstand lower application temperatures without any fear of creep (distorting).

Like all PVAs, Titebond III can be cleaned up quickly with water while fluid, but APP is nothing if not persistent in its performance when cured, so it’s vital to avoid getting it on hands or equipment.

Key specs – Size: 237ml; Type: APP; Set time: 30 minutes; Curing time: 24 hours; Waterproof: Yes; Indoor or outdoor: Both; Toxic: No

4. UniBond No More Nails Invisible: Best wood glue for a no-mess, no-fuss finish

Price: £4 | Buy now from Amazon

Not every wood gluing job requires a grounding in carpentry skills; sometimes all you want to do is attach one piece of wood to another, quickly and free from fuss, without needing to get involved with mechanical fixings such as nails.

This is where No More Nails Invisible comes in. A solvent-free, heavy-duty wood glue made from a water-based copolymer to give extra strength to joins, the glue applies white and dries translucent for a nicely professional finish.

Great for general DIY use around the house (this is an internal only option), No More Nails is easy to apply. Simply bead the glue onto one surface of the wood you’re joining, press into place (no need to clamp), giving a twist to ensure the glue spreads evenly, then clean up any oozing excess with water and leave to dry.

Key specs – Size: 184g; Type: Water-based copolymer; Set time: Bond sets immediately; Curing time: 24-48 hours; Waterproof: No; Indoor or outdoor: Indoor; Toxic: No

5. Everbuild Mitre Fast Two Part Instant Bonding Kit: Best wood glue for industrial bonding

Price: £6 | Buy now from Amazon

When you absolutely, positively must get your wood gluing work done rapidly and with full confidence in the bond formed, there’s Mitre Fast from Everbuild. A two-part kit consisting of a cyanoacrylate adhesive (super glue) and an aerosol activator, once these two components meet bonding is instantaneous.

It’s incredibly simple to use: just spray the activator lightly onto one of the profiles you wish to glue, give that a few moments to evaporate, apply the adhesive side of the equation to the other profile and push together. At this point you have roughly ten seconds of wiggle room to ensure correct positioning, then hold firmly in place for another ten and a strong bond is made.

As the name might suggest, this is best used for mitring, but as the kit works with any kind of wood and MDF, you’ll find it ideal for smaller jobs around the house.

Key specs – Size: 200ml; Type: Cyanoacrylate adhesive; Set time: 10 seconds; Curing time: n/a; Waterproof: No; Indoor or outdoor: Indoor; Toxic: No

6. Gorilla Super Glue Micro Precise Liquid: Best wood glue for small jobs

Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

Superglue is not the first glue type that generally springs to mind when working with wood, but for smaller fixes it can be absolutely ideal, allowing for precision application and a super-strong bond.

This particular superglue from Gorilla comes with a tapered nozzle and squeezable sides which make it easy to apply accurately. Bear in mind that you don’t need to use much, though: one drop per 6.5cm² area is recommended by Gorilla.

Once applied to one surface, simply press the two wooden surfaces together for between 10 and 45 seconds to let the superglue do its work. The full curing process takes 24 hours.

The glue is heat-resistant up to 104°C, but it is susceptible to moisture and not water resistant at all. As always, it’s advised to handle with care and use eye and hand protection where possible. Also, keep it out of the reach of children and pets and always keep the lid screwed tightly on between uses.

Key specs – Size: 5ml; Type: Cyanoacrylate; Set time: 1 minute; Curing time: 24 hours; Waterproof: Yes; Indoor or outdoor: Both; Toxic: Yes

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