Wood glue is probably the best glue for almost all projects, where you have to glue wood to wood but there are some occasions, where you may want or need to use another glue. For example, if you want to glue wood to another material or if you are working with a type of wood, that has a lot of movement. So I put a few types of glue to the test to find out which kind of glue would be a good alternative to wood glue and when to use it.
Instead of wood glue construction adhesive, epoxy glue, or PVA glue can be used. Construction adhesive and epoxy glue is perfect if a very strong and permanent bond is needed. Both types of glues can be used to glue wood to other materials. PVA glue works very similarly to wood glue and is great for gluing wood to wood.
So I tried a bunch of different glues but the three types of glue, that worked the best for me where construction adhesive, Epoxy glue, and PVA glue.
Let´s start with PVA Glue. PVA glue behaves very similarly to regular wood glue, mainly because wood glue is actually PVA glue.
The biggest difference between wood glue and PVA glue is its viscosity. Wood glue is more fluent than PVA glue. This makes it easier to glue wood with it because it is being absorbed slightly better into the wood itself, thus creating a stronger bond.
But you can easily mix some water with PVA glue to achieve the same result.
There are some advantages to wood glue, though. For one, there are some specific types of wood glue, that dry quicker than PVA glue and some types of wood glue can be painted a little bit better, as well.
PVA glue is water-based and does not produce any toxic fumes itself.
It drys relatively quickly. After about 15 minutes it will have a strong initial bond and after about10 hours it will be completely dry.
This is obviously only an estimate. It may take a little longer to dry or it may dry a bit faster depending on how much PVA glue you applied or how hot or cold the surrounding temperature is.
PVA drys clear, so you don´t have to hide any crimes as the glue pretty much does it for you.
You can use PVA glue for gluing wood to wood but when it comes to gluing wood to other types of materials, then PVA might not be the best choice.
Construction adhesive is a really great choice for glueing wood to other types of materials.
It is also your best bet when it comes to gluing wood, that is already sealed.
Construction adhesive creates a very strong bond but one thing, that you should keep in mind is that it will be flexible in the beginning but after about a year it will be completely hard. So if you are working with a type of wood, that moves a lot then construction adhesive is probably not the best choice.
You can use construction adhesive to glue two pieces of wood to each other too but PVA will create a better bond and it is a lot cheaper than construction adhesive.
Construction adhesive will also not dry transparent, so you have to be careful, that none of it will get into contact with the wood at places where it is not supposed to.
There is a wide variety of construction adhesive out there, some that are extremely strong and some, that actually dry flexible. So if you really want to glue wood, that moves a lot, then you can buy construction adhesive that drys flexible. And if you want to glue something very heavy to a wall, for example, then you can simply get a very strong variant.
Just keep in mind, that if the wood is sealed with a very smooth lack, for example, then construction adhesive may not have enough grip on the sealed wood to make it stick to another type of material. In this case, you should consider roughing up the surface to give the adhesive something to hold on to.
And finally, epoxy resin. Epoxy glue is probably one of my favorite last resort type glues. This glue will stick and bond almost anything.
Epoxy resin is a two-component glue, that has to be mixed in the correct ratio before it can be applied. The two components are usually the resin and the other part is a hardener.
Depending on the brand and type of resin the mixing ratio will vary slightly. The most common mixing ration is one to one. But you should definitely read the instructions before using the resin just to be sure.
Epoxy resin will stick to almost every material including wood. So it is perfect for gluing wood to other materials or for gluing wood, that already has been sealed.
Epoxy will dry very hard and it will be water-resistant once it’s dry.
One downside to epoxy glue is, that it takes a long time to dry. It will take around 20 hours before it is completely hardened and it does not have a strong initial bond. So you have to fix the two pieces, that you want to glue, in place until the epoxy resin is completely hardened.
Epoxy resin is also quite expensive. So while it is a good alternative to wood glue when you have to glue wood to other materials it is probably a little bit overkill when you only want to glue two regular pieces of wood.
What Can I Use if I Don´t Have Glue?
If you don´t have any glue in your house but you really need to glue something, then you can actually make your own glue. This glue will not be as strong as commercial glue but it is a solid alternative when you are in a pinch. You don´t need a lot of materials either and all of these materials can normally be found in any household.
So to make your own glue all you need is 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour. Mix the water and the flour until you have a thick paste. Then cook the mixture until it boils. Then take it off the heat and let it cool down. The glue is ready to use once it has cooled down completely. This glue will not be strong at it can mold after a while.
So when you don´t have any glue at home then you can make your own glue by mixing equal parts water and flour and heating it up to a boiling point. This self-made glue will not be very strong, though.
It will be strong enough for glueing paper and cardboard but it will not work for heavier materials like wood.
Another downside is, that this glue can mold after a while. It has flour in it after all.
So why should you even make your own glue if it has so many drawbacks? For one, it is actually quite an interesting and fun project, especially for kits, to make your own glue and work with it.
Also, if you really need to glue something like an image to a card because on the very next day is the birthday of someone and you really need that card by then, then this will probably save your life.
So, I guess, before you don´t have any glue it’s better to have a bad one that will at least work ok.
That being said, I actually was quite surprised how well the glue works on paper. It created quite a good bond. So it isn´t as bad as you might think. But it still won´t be strong enough to glue wood.
If you really need to glue wood or generally something, that is heavier than paper, then I would just recommend getting one of the glues, that I mentioned above instead of making your own glue.
Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create interactive props and puzzles for Escape Games and marketing agencies. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.