What’s Your Go To Glue?

by | Jun 3, 2015 | 42 comments

I like using animal glue. It’s perfect for the job but I have to admit can be a little faffy having to do all the alchemy thing. I’ve given the liquid hide glues a go, but even these, at least in my workshop need heating, taking almost as long as the pearls at bad times of the year.
hide glueIt wasn’t until I started building lots of laminated workbench tops that I realised what the real bond of a glue is all about
; it’s creating a bond of trust with a close friend. Producing workbenches brought about a whole different exploration of glues for me over furniture and I found this a real mental hardship. If I built an item of furniture which couldn’t hold itself together mechanically without glue then I’d done something wrong with the joints, or it needed another nail in it, the glue was generally just for good measure. Laminating bench tops really was something else, putting trust in glue. If I can’t physically see how it holds then I have an issue with it.

But modern glues are brilliant. Of late we’ve started using West System for bench tops and nothing holds laminations like that stuff. Polyurethanes are not for me, I can’t be doing with all that putting a little bit on, 10 minutes later youre pinned against the workshop wall as its done its foaming up thing.
Titebond Original and Extend have had a space in my workshop for a while now since needing
bulk quantities of stuff for the benches, and before that it was just the white glues found on the builder’s merchant ‘s shelf that I’d keep to hand as a nice simple, dependable solution.

animal glue jointer plane handleTitebond is what I’ve used for laminating my wooden plane bodies, it’s nice and quick and I’ve come to trust it. When it came to gluing in the handle for my jointer though I wanted to ensure reversibility for repairs, and as it took longer than the bloody plane to make I might want to put it into another plane later.
So it’s been back to animal glue for this and for me these really are the only glues that feel like glue should – sticky and messy. The smell gives me good memories as well, I know a lot dislike it but I find it always takes me back. it always feels like a very natural choice of glue in the winter when you’ve got the stove going, just sit it next to your pot of tea, glue in the tea, tea in the glue, its all part of the fun. and now I have an induction hob in the workshop, there
‘s no problem this time of year either.

What glues do you trust for holding it all together?


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About Richard Maguire

About Richard Maguire

As a professional hand tool woodworker, Richard found hand tools to be the far more efficient solution for a one man workshop. Richard runs 'The English Woodworker' as an online resource and video education for those looking for a fuss free approach to building fine furniture by hand. Learn More About Richard & The English Woodworker.


  1. Joe Laviolette

    I use hot hide glue whenever I can for a variety of reasons. I will use Titebond III when I need a type 1 PVA (waterproof). If I need a lot of open time, I will use old brown glue (liquid hide glue) at a little above room temperature.

  2. thekiltedwoodworker

    Honestly, for anything I do that won’t receive any undo stress (presentation or jewelry boxes, an ichibana stand, something along those lines), I’ve always used plain old Elmer’s white school glue. I buy it in smaller bottles, usually when the stores are having a sale on Back To School items, because I’ll go for periods of time in the shop without making much (fortunately my shop time is increasing as the boy gets older). I usually pay less than a dollar for a bottle.

    This practice was confirmed when I took a class with Frank Klausz and that’s what he suggested using for the boxes we made there.

    When I built a conference table last month, I did splurge and buy a bottle of Titebond (I, not II or III) and used plenty along the full length. I was still a bit concerned about the glue holding (probably completely unfounded), so I sank a number of 3/4″ thick butterflies along the glue line for added security. I used epoxy for the butterflies.

    But for 90% of my work, I use white glue. Never had a problem with it.

  3. adrian

    When I’ve assembled complex stuff I’ve used fish glue for its long open time. I remain puzzled by the obscurity of this glue. In my shop, the liquid hide glue I bought was stubbornly solid, and when I heated it in warm water as recommended…it set so fast I didn’t have time to get the joint fully clamped up. The fish glue gave me an hour of working time.

  4. Michael

    Don’t really have a go-to glue.
    Titebond III for long open/water proof jobs
    Titebond I for general stuff
    Hot Hide glue think currently using 190lbs – no chemistry involved – just cover the granules with cold water – let soak in until no water left and heat .

  5. Michael

    Richard, out of curiosity – how would you remove that handle if you had to?

    • John

      Heat it dear Liza, heat it ( along with the song hole in my bucket)

      Look on Utube for full info ………..I recently sold on eBay a quantity of animal hide crystals and a metal pot, kept back some crystals and bought a baby bottle warmer ……use jam jar ….amazing stuff

    • Richard

      Yep, John pretty much covered that. I could heat it and hit it, something like that. Sometimes a bit of hot water helps as well.

  6. Joe Freeman

    It’s Poundland PVA for me, most of the time. If I need gap-filling and/or speed it’s their epoxy.

  7. Robert F

    I find Cascamite works well on laminations. Taking off any squeezed out waste after it has dried with a cabinet scraper is also good fun.

  8. Paul Chapman

    Evo Stik Resin W, PVA. Never had a problem with it.

    • John

      Yes good stuff but if you are into furniture restoring of plane handle removal you would have a
      problem…….but animal hide and bone glue can be heated and removed without damaging joint faces, you try and remove pva glue ….look on Utube ….John

  9. Martin

    When I laminated my workbench I used Titebond II Extend. I’m glad I used the “extend” variant as I ended up needing all the open time to get everything lined up. In general use, however, I use Old Brown liquid hide glue. I absolutely love the stuff. I store it inside and it just takes about 5 minutes steeped in warm water to get to a liquid and it generally stays there for quite some time. I’ll probably add more hot water every few hours or so to freshen it up a bit. The huge advantage is that it’s SO MUCH EASIER to deal with squeeze out and it’s transparent to finishes. These two properties alone make it worth the price of admission.

    I live in San Diego, California, however (incidentally where Old Brown is made), so I must concede that a “cold day in the shop” is somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 degrees (15 for the metrically inclined).

  10. Campbell

    The type of glue I prefer all boils down to what I am going to use it on, Polyurethanes are handy, good for making oars or for jobs that require speed. WEST System is cracking sticks pretty much everything, use it mostly for sheathing or laminating hulls and coach roofs or for glass fibre skinning, and their 5 minute stuff is great for those little flaws that just seem to happen, apply a little go boil the kettle, make your tea and come back ready to go – no waiting. The big downer about the epoxies are they struggle with oily woods like teak and break down under exposure to UV and sunlight.

    Cesein and Hide glues are great for furniture work, but not practical for most of the work I do, as they fail all too easily when exposed to moisture.

    But my glue of glue, the holy grail, my Mona Lisa is Resorcinol, aka Aerodux, this stuff is amazing, so amazing they used it to build de Havilland Mosquitos, it bonds like anything, though you have to make sure your joints are tight, and it doesn’t suffer the degradation that epoxy does – it is brilliant for laminating frames and other components, scarphs and other joints, making masts and spars – I cannot praise it enough.

  11. Stephen Guest

    For years I decanted from an industrial size container of glue leftover from my
    father’s Joinery, a PVA made for exterior work (Sovereign Industries I think). When that ran out I started using Titebond 3 for most of my work which is exterior joinery. I use PU glue for some interior jobs but mainly for little site jobs that need to go off quickly. A couple of Summers back I had to assemble an arched fanlight and I opted for Cascamite as it’s open time was a little longer than the titebond in the hot temperatures. Finally-I’ve had to delay some on site frame assembling in the past as it’s been below 8 degrees outside-haven’t found a glue for that…

  12. Chris Buckingham

    Glues! What a minefield! I mainly use Cascamite for “special” jobs, I still have nightmares about using PVA glue on a laminated curved window head, only to watch it straiten back to flat when I took the jig off two days later, I now use it for priming walls before rendering. Having just made 10 pairs of shutters for my house I was seduced into using PU glue for the first time, to my amazement it worked very well, I even left an unpainted section outside in the weather to test it’s durability, and it has passed with flying colours, so I shall now use PU for quick jobs, and continue to use Cascamite for those special jobs, I also tend to use glue as a second option, the strength being the mechanical joint itself where possible.

  13. Frugal

    For most jobs I just use Evostik Resin-W, mainly because it is what my dad always used and nothing he made fell apart. I have tried Titebond, but it does not seem to be any different.

    I recently got into hide glue as an attempt to improve my veneering (using PVA was never very successful, there was always a number of bubbles). Rather than spending a hundred pounds on an electric glue pot, I spent £13 on a cosmetic wax melting pot. Thermostatically controlled and it has a removable metal pot in the centre: http://www.amazon.co.uk/WaxStar-trade-Professional-Warmer-Heater/dp/B00EIR0QBY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433354807&sr=8-1&keywords=wax+pot

    • Richard

      Thanks Frugal, that sounds like an interesting approach for the hide glue heating, should be more accessible.

      • Nikolaus

        Hi Richard,

        used liquid hide glue for a while and liked it a lot! But it’s expensive and only available through internet in Germany. Usually use D3 white glue for almost everything.
        See your using one of these metal glue pot’s. Have one too (trough the internet 😉 ) but was told that the glue turns black if you use iron pot to heat it. Has your pot coat of some sort inside or is it a bit rusty like mine and still works? I really want to try the hot hide glue thing!!


  14. Mike

    My first WB (hard Maple) I used a new product at the time: Gorilla . 21 glue line, 8 ft long.
    I was told by an old timer cabinet maker that it would fall apart. Now 12 years later, all is good… no separation. So I guess I’d use it again and again until such time that is does fail.
    However, it is not my go to glue … way too messy. Dark Hide Glue is the main stay for Mahogany and While Oak. System epoxy has failed me more times than success and I don’t entirely blame the product. It is hard for me to get the right ratios. However, to be fair tropical’s; Teak and Cocobolo move more than my dog’s tail. Even after a good scrub of Acetone.

  15. Polly Becton

    Doing boat work, it’s mostly epoxy: West, System 3 and others from time-to-time. It’s waterproof, gap-filling, structural, immune to creep. Epoxy is easily protected from UV with a good varnish coat for uses on deck; when used as an adhesive, a bit of silica and milled glass fiber – 1/32 inch – improves the bond, makes it thixotropic and adds a lot of UV protection too. No failures of any of my work – even with teak – up to a twenty year life span. My work is worth the cost of epoxy when I need it. Isn’t yours?

    PVA (Titebond, etc.) is okay for a lot of things, but it is susceptible to creep, it’s not structural, not gap filling so your joints have to be made to v. tight tolerances and I surely wouldn’t trust it to laminate anything or use it where the joint integrity is dependent on the glue. And it’s not reversible and generally not repairable (PVA glue won’t bond to cured PVA glue!). No PVA table tops. No PVA benches. No heirloom furniture should be made with PVA; conservators in future generations will curse your memory. I mostly limit it to shop jigs and tools and other short lifespan constructs.

    Hide glue is the go-to choice for any reversible bonds or for heirlooms that will be worth conserving in future by your grandchildren (or your customer’s grandchildren) and later. You do work to that standard, don’t you?

    • Campbell

      Epoxy has a well founded reputation, and I use it often, though mostly for the occasional glass-sheathing job, poorly fitted deck beams and cold moulding work or where I’m aiming for an invisible finish on light woods. But for almost all my scarphing and planking needs, laminated stems and frames, masts and spar work, I will always reach for Resorcinol, I trust it implicitly, it’s not a really question of cost.

  16. Douglas Coates

    I’ve recently gone back to pva for general work. But I suspect the name is a ‘catch-all’ for varying qualities. I have (at the moment) Morrells, and Wurth – both really good I think.
    Also have Titebond 1 and 3. Cascamite can perform very well indeed but sometimes the water content can be an issue (for me).
    And I hate polyurethane – sticks to blankets… but the only way I can get it off my fingers is to remove the skin.

  17. Rob Stoakley

    Nobody has yet mentioned Everbuild D4. Completely waterproof, every bit as good as TBIII but you won’t need to part with an arm and bloody leg to buy some. Made in the UK so it hasn’t travelled across three thousand odd miles of ogin, which means that at my local emporium I can buy a litre of the stuff for less than a fiver.
    Any PVA, regardless of denomination will ‘creep’ and should never be used for laminating or such like work. Only a urea formaldehyde or resin based, two part adhesive should be used…if it was good enough to build Mosquito fighter bombers in the war, it’s good enough for me.

    • Joe Freeman

      The stuff I use is made by Ever Build but is labelled as “Universal PVA Bond.”

  18. Jason

    Elmers Glue All for me, mostly. I recently took a woodworking class from a guy who studied with Tag Frid. He mentioned that Elmers has a 30 minute open time.

  19. David Brodie


    What glue I use is dependent on what I’m assembling and the complexity of the glue up. For my Windsor chairs I use liquid hide glue with urea added to extend the open time. I also use hide glue for my dovetail assemblies as I like the help it provides in letting the joints slip together (PVA and aliphatic glues have caused me no ends of problems in the past as they’ve grabbed aggressively during dovetail assembly) I have not experienced this grabbing problem with hide glue. For day to day quick glue ups I reach for a bottle of LePage’s white glue that conveniently sits on the window sill over my workbench.

  20. Henk ten Hoeve

    Dear all,
    cascamite is nice in a stable situation, but it fails after 30 years. Epoxy can’t stand wood movement due to the enviroment, so it won’t be my choice for large pieces of Ash to form a benchtop, or you should be certain to use 10% humidity wood and seal it entirly with epoxy so it stays 10 %. The only glue that I know of that stays put in the harsh cycling humidity you encounter in Great Brittany is Resorcinol Glue, or you could go by with Resorcinol Glue and nothing else will keep your thick laminations of ash together for the time you expect your benches to stay together. It is the only glue I see penetrating the wood. This is based on my own expirence as a boat builder and I have seen them all fail sooner or later except for the resocinol. It is also based on the extensive Glue reports in Wooden Boat mag.
    Greatings To Hellen and Ricard, Keep up the good work !

  21. Bob Groh

    Generally I use TiteBond (I, II or III depending a bit on need for open time and water resistance) – great tack and the bond is stronger than the wood. I do use conventional 5 minute epoxy(from local hardware store) or (again) Titebond for knife scales. I have a bottle of liquid hide glue from Titebond and want to give that a try – supposedly has a very long open time and shares the possibility of using heat and moisture to ‘unglue’ it for repairs. There have been some magazine articles (Fine Woodworking for one) where they tested a wide variety of glues – Titebond came out as one of the best so good enough for me.

    I just ran some mini-tests on knife scales – hard maple on steel with epoxy, Titebond, and several ‘instant glues’ – the clear winners were Titebond and epoxy.

  22. Ian M. Stewart

    I confess to using mainly PVA – Evo Stik Resin W. I haven’t noticed any creep, but then I’ve used West System Epoxy when laminating, and to build my dinghy.

    For small jobs that could use Epoxy, I find that the original (standard) Araldite is as good as any, and a sight cheaper than keeping in large bottles of Epoxy that go off before they are used up. I get through about two packs a year. I don’t like the 5 minute stuff – don’t trust it and it’s too fast for me. The pound shop epoxies work, but are not as strong or as nice to use.

    I really should try out the hide glue and maybe a PU, to see how I like them.

  23. Vincent

    One aspect of my work is to make airtight bellows which means to adhere leather to wood. For many years in workshop conditions I used a modern standard PVA for this work and generally With excellent results. There was always just time to mould the leather to the timber before setting took over. About 20 years ago I had unusually to do this job on site, which I should say here was in a vast church in January, the temperature was somewhere between 5 and 10 Celsius. As using PVA will not set much below 20C (maybe there are some now) I reluctantly had to use a more traditional glue which was a hot animal glue. Well, I’ve never looked back -I was totally converted (to the glue not the church). Now, apart from situations that require a waterproof glue I use it for most things in my trade. After all it was used successfully for so many decades, and as has been touched upon is reversible, which of course makes restoration easy and meets with the approval of the conservationists.

  24. Kermit

    Don’t much care for Gorilla glue. I seldom need to repair a gorilla, so the bottle I have languishes on the shelf. I do use System 3 epoxies in some situations, and have Titebond II and III on hand. I use Old Brown quite a lot, and am liking it more and more. Probably by favorite glue is DAP Weldwood powdered resin glue. I guess Cascanite is about the same–don’t know the name here. I once did a funky trial of PRG by edge gluing two sticks together, letting it cure for a few days, and then threw it unceremoniously into a bucket of water. A month later the bond was secure. The wood looked truly horrid, but the joint didn’t fail. I like mixing the amount I need, and the open time is quite good. Gap filling properties are good as well.

  25. peter

    Though I have not got the years of experence to add any comments of substance. Though through reading comments, I noticed that no body addressed the issue of which ever glue of choise’s shelf life, that I have internet read, is a issue. Just a learners two bobs worth.cheers Peter

    • Chris Buckingham

      This was one consideration when I decided to use PU glue for my shutter project, I had read that the shelf life was extremely limited, so, given that it has been on the retailers shelf already for some weeks/months, then shipped to me in Southern France (another few weeks), I thought I would have to use it pretty quickly, I used the “mastic gun” type and found that having finished the project I left it in my carpentry shop, it stayed there for another year in 45Deg summer temperatures and -18 winter temperatures, and to my surprise it was still useable after cleaning the nozzle, so it is not that bad.

  26. fred wheeler

    All the suggestions and experiences are very interesting – but I know of a fine woodworker who died from cancer. The cause – all the different glue types he used. He left a wife and family behind. My view is in the world of so many adhesive I am not precious towards any adhesive but will only use ‘non toxic’ or ‘low toxic’ glues.
    Check the COSHH and MSDS information on what it contains. You may be surprised.
    Stay safe and be careful out there.

    • Kermit

      Absolutely correct, Fred. Glues containing formaldehyde are dangerous, even when dried/cured. So are epoxies–probably others as well. It is critical to remember that exposing youraself to the DUST from these glues is quite hazardous as well. Protect yourself. Of course, many (most?) wood dusts are anything from irritants to toxics. Another topic, perhaps.

  27. Jeff

    I make musical instruments, from baroque to much later, so hide glue is my go to glue. It’s the best/only glue for taking things apart during repairs and moves with the instrument with changes in humidity. When some of the wood is only 1 or 2 mm thick this latter point is absolutely crucial. Not a fan of the smell myself but like the stickiness and it definitely goes nowhere near my tea.

    However, for everything else it’s Titebond for me, a great and reliable glue that I trust. So for me the go to glue depends very much on context.

  28. Jim

    Titebond I or III and sometimes Elmers White Glue, but I would like to try Titebond No drip for rub joints. I use epoxy for a gap filler. I do not like polyurethane glues at all. I love using a hot glue gun for tacking together models or other temporary glue-ups.

  29. mike murray

    Hi guys,
    I haven’t commented for a while but did want to let you know that I am still following your blog, and enjoying it very much. I have to admit, I haven’t had time to thoroughly go thru all that you have posted recently, seems they are coming fast and furious. But, I will, I promise. I am still very interested. Excellent information. Thank you both.
    I’m surprised at how easily I tend to slip back to my old ways of using a power tool for everything. I was doing a small paneled door for my son the other day and started to dig out my router for rounding over the outside edge. Then after a little frustration of wrong bit and wrong sole on it, it donned on me, heck, just use the hand plane like Richard showed you. So then, I quietly put the router back in the drawer and completed the round over in a mater of seconds with the block plane. Oh my, I am a creature of habit and I need to engage brain before selecting my tools. : )

  30. DenverGeorge

    I use two glues. Titebond III for exterior or waterproof (cutting boards). Titebond liquid hide glue for everything else. It has a long open time. During the winter I’ve gotten into the habit of taking my hide glue inside when I’m finished in the shop so it doesn’t turn into sludge when it gets cold.

  31. mike murray

    I presume you made that beautiful handle? I have made a few and I know how much work goes into making them. I can certainly appreciate the beauty in that one.

  32. Gumpbelly

    I love hide glue. When you make as many goofs as some people I know do, it’s necessary to have reversibility. For just straight up glue ups I’ll use Elmer’s, or the Franklin Titebond products. I tend to like I a lot more than III though, and it’s not about cost, stuff is kinda unnatural. Total agreement with the author about Poly glue. Got chased half way across the shop first time I tried it. Possessed, I was throwing water at it, in hopes it was somehow “holy water” yelling back Satan back, nothing worked till I grabbed it and threw it on the burn pile. Evidently it wasn’t really Satan as it did poorly in flames.


    It depends on the job. For working on the boat, I’ll use a PU or an epoxy. There are many epoxy glues out there, and I’ve tried a few. For my woodworking, I’ve tended to use PVA glues, although I did dip a toe into the resorcinol pond for both applications. I’ve had a bottle of hide glue for ages, but not yet opened it. I like the positive comments that I’ve heard for the hide glue, so I’ll give it a bash for my next small job.

    I used PVA for my benchtop, and I’ve used it for many laminations, so it works for me.


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