To Glue or Not to Glue, That is the Question

Builders know that glue is a necessary evil and sometimes it can seriously slow down a project. In the shop I usually use Titebond Original Wood Glue to assemble projects. Depending on your conditions the amount of time it takes to dry can be the deciding factor on how you assemble. Most builders use additional measures to keep materials in place, such as brad nails or pocket hole screws. Glue should not be your only means of assembly, especially if the part has any type of load or tension. If the part is not structural then using only glue can be perfectly acceptable. An example of this would be adding detail such as small trim pieces or layering signs. In some cases depending on the material, the glue will be stronger than the actual materials it is attaching.

Using Glue to speed up Assembly

If you need to glue up a project but you dont want to mark up your wood surface with holes from brad nails you can use a different type of glue. My choice for quick adhesion is CA glue. I use Fast Cap 2P-10 glue and accelerator. With the accelerator it cures in just seconds. This comes in really handy when you are gluing items and you don’t want to tie up your clamps for long periods of time. I recently used it to hold pieces for a rustic flag in place because I don’t have enough clamps. I put a spot of glue on the ends and center of each piece and filled the rest in with Titebond.

Difference between CA Glue and Superglue

Both are technically the same CA glue is short for Cyanoacrylate. wood workers, model builders and hobbyist usually call it CA glue. Users who purchase off the shelf at your hardware store or from the craft section probably call it Superglue, which is a name brand. Super glue bonds through moisture, in the air or in the material. Have you ever used super glue and it did not bond? This is probably because the material was not porous so it did not have moisture. CA glue like the one I mentioned above is best when used with an accelerator. You can actually do the same with regular superglue, just spray some water on it. But don’t overdo it. Gorilla Glue is another popular off the shelf brand that actually requires water, usually by wetting one surface with water and glue on the other. Gorilla Glue expands so be careful. You dont want to use too much because it can cause whatever you are gluing to expand larger than you wanted. An example of this is when you glue items with tight tolerances.


Cleanup of glue can be tricky. Squeeze out of wood glue can cause stains to not soak into wood. Likewise CA glue can also damage surfaces around the glue up if not properly cleaned off. Both may require chemical or mechanical removal. Immediate cleanup with mineral spirits can usually remove both if they are in small quantities. A razor blade used as a scraper or other sharp tool can also be handy for mechanical removal. In both cases you want to be careful not to damage the surface. Take it slow.

Wrap Up

Its important to consider using adhesives in your build. If you are in a hurry and a glue up will slow you down, consider a couple drops of CA glue. If you not worried about time then maybe just use clamps. Bottom line, plan ahead and know what steps are needed to complete your project. Learn what the capabilities are of the glue you are using, and use the right glue for the job.

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