Woodworking Tips
Woodworking Tips Index
Slow-Setting Glue
Yellow woodworkers glue is terrific stuff. But it's not always the best choice in every gluing situation. Sometimes you need more time to apply glue and assemble all the parts than the few minutes yellow glue gives you.

There are a several things you can do in this kind of situation. Whenever we have problems getting a complicated glue job together quickly, we sometimes switch from yellow woodworkers glue (like Titebond or Elmer's Carpenters' glue) to a white all-purpose glue (such as Elmer's Glue-All).

Another option is to use a hide glue or a powdered plastic (urea-formaldehyde) resin glue. Both of these glues set up slower than yellow glue and are just as strong. (You can find them at most hardware stores and in many woodworking mail order catalogs.)

Garrett Wade http://www.garrettwade.com sells a "Slo-Set" glue in their catalog that gives you more working time (20-30 minutes), but still achieves 75% of its strength after clamping for 30 minutes.

The last option is one of the easiest. You can thin Titebond yellow glue with about 5% water (one part water to twenty parts glue). One of the researchers at Franklin Industries (manufacturer of Titebond) told us that this will slow the set time about 50%. And he said that it won't have any significant effect on the strength of the glue joint as long as you don't mix in more than 5% water.

To test this, we glued up three sets of boards. The first set didn't have any water mixed in with the glue. The second set had 5% water, and the third set had 10% water. We didn't stick the boards together right away, but let them sit open.

As expected, the first boards got tacky within minutes. The second set took longer. And the glue on the third set of boards was too thin and runny.

After the glue joints were put together and dry, we broke the joints apart. The 10% boards broke apart at the glue line -- not a good sign. But the other two sets pulled splinters from both sides of the glue line. That's the sign of a good glue joint -- one where the glue is stronger than the surrounding wood fibers.

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