I recently started learning about woodworking, and wondered how long it would take my wood glue to dry. So, I did some research into how long it takes, and put it together in this helpful article to explain what I found.
Most Glue types set in 10 to 20 minutes and take 24 hours to cure. This is a maximum and some individual wood glues can differ. There are 5 main types of wood glue: polyvinyl acetate (PVA), polyurethane, hot melt glue, two-part epoxy, and cyanoacrylate each with its own drying and curing time. You should always check the manufacturer’s recommendations.
If you don’t let it dry correctly you can run into a range of problems. But, on some projects you can begin working on them well before 24 hours. So, below I will explain what happens if you start moving it about too early, what glue dries the fastest, and whether the amount of glue you use impacts how fast it dries. Read on, to discover the answers to these questions and more.
The commonly used wood glues with drying times, and when they are used in woodworking
1. Polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue. Drying time = 10 to 15 minutes
It is also called yellow glue. It is used in virtually every woodworking shop because it is reasonably priced. It gets used not only for wood. But, also arts and crafts. It has been around for more than 100 years – invented in Germany in 1912 – and you can store it for a long time before it goes hard. Often 6 months to a year. Whereas other woodworking glues go hard after only a few weeks after being opened.
I remember using it a lot in school. The most fascinating thing about it was that it is white and opaque. But, dries clear. As you may be aware it starts to become sticky and dry very fast especially in small amounts. But, if you want to be really safe I would recommend leaving it to dry for 24 hours.
Where PVA/yellow glue get used in woodworking
It is primarily used when working with natural woods, and you’re gluing boards together, for example gluing the sides of a wooden box together. And you always glue long grain to long grain.
The long grain is a woodworking term that means with the grain. Meaning if you are gluing two boards together you cut and use pieces of wood so that the grain of each piece will be parallel to each other when gluing. Gluing edge grain to edge grain is not always ideal. For a number of reasons, that are beyond the scope of this article.
2. Polyurethane. Drying time = 6 hours to 24 hours
An example of this type of glue is Gorilla glue. Experienced woodworkers generally don’t use this glue because it doesn’t have very good keeping qualities. Polyurethane glues harden and cure with small amounts of moisture.
So, when the bottle is opened, air that has moisture in it can cause it to harden in their original bottle in only a few weeks. When you buy it you should buy the smallest amount you can, because any that you don’t use will likely go hard before you get a chance to use it.
Where Polyurethane glue get used in woodworking
It is primarily used when gluing plywood, because it doesn’t get absorbed into the wood, like PVA does. Plywood is made from lots of small layers of wood, and has more pores and empty space. Which causes it to act more like a sponge and soak up all the glue. This makes causes discoloration on the joins where the glue has soaked in
Polyurethane glue works perfectly for edge grain, flat grain, and even edge grain, when making cabinets for example.
3. Hot Melt Glue. Drying time = almost instantly
Hot melt glue comes in sticks that look like candlesticks, and get used with a hot glue gun that heats them up until they melt. They are very common, and you’ve probably seen them. A hot glue gun feeds the hot melt glue stick into the gun, and you press the trigger on it to squirt the melted glue out the end.
Where hot melt glue get used in woodworking
It gets used more for temporary bonding such as making jigs. Where something is needed that works quickly, and will hold very fast.
4. Two Part Epoxy glue. Drying time = within 5 minutes or so depending on the brand
It is sometimes called 5 minute epoxy. Because it dries within 5 minutes. It is a very strong glue, and doesn’t just work on wood. But, works on a lot of plastics, metals, and will glue almost anything to anything.
Where two part epoxy glue gets used in woodworking
It hardens very quickly. But, it needs to be mixed together. It can be used on any part of a woodworking project. However, because you have to mix it together, and dries so fast, PVA glue is usually preferred for almost every project. But, if you’re in a real pinch for time, then it is a good option.
5. Cyanoacrylate (Super glue). Drying time = instantly in small amounts, for larger amounts 8 to 24 hours.
Cyanoacrylate, which most folks know as super glue is extremely strong. It comes in small tubes about the size of your palm. And works well on all types of materials, not just wood.
Where Cyanoacrylate gets used in woodworking
It has a lot of overlap with the other glue types, and there isn’t any specific reason why it would get used over another type of glue such as PVA. But, in certain instances it can make sense to use super glue over another because of the shape of the nozzle, and the super quick drying time in small amounts.
Are all glues the same strength?
All glues that are used in woodworking aren’t the same strength. But, for practical purposes they are. This is because the wood that they are sticking too will fail, before the glue breaks apart. Wood is weaker than glues used in woodworking.
So, if you pry apart two pieces of wood that are glued together the glue will rip off the wood first regardless of what glue you use.
But, there are indoor and outdoor glues. Outdoor glues are more flexible than indoor glues. Wood that is kept outdoors will expand and contract due to moisture. In winter for example wood will expand. And in the summer weather the wood will shrink again.
If the glue was inflexible then it would break off too soon, when the wet weather arrives. For this reason, there are two different types of glues used in carpentry, woodworking, and around the home.
Outdoor glues are designed so that they adjust as the wood changes size. So, they are more rigid than glues that are only designed to be used indoors.
What Affect the Drying time of Wood Glue?
The typical drying time of wood glue is under standard conditions for weather and materials. Humidity, temperature, and the type of wood you are using also affects drying time.
The humidity of the workshop affects the time taken for the wood glue to dry. If you are working in a humid environment, the moisture content in the air will make it longer for the wood glue to dry. Alternatively, a less humid or dry environment will speed the drying process of the wood glue.
The temperature of the workshop has an impact on the drying time of the wood glue. You will have to ensure that the temperature of the workplace is conducive for the glue to dry. If you’re working in an unheated garage, you can try some workaround like using heat lamps to make the glue dry soon.
Wood type is a factor that decides how soon the glue dries. If you are working with dry wood, then the moisture content in the glue is absorbed quickly by the wood and the glue dries soon. However, wood with high moisture content will delay the drying of the glue.
What is the Fastest Way to Dry Glue?
If you are really looking for a faster way to dry wood glue so that you can quickly return to the wooden project, a few things can help. Make sure that you choose the way that best suits you to dry glue fast.
1. Using a Hair Dryer
Heat is one of the best ways to make glue dry faster. You can hold a hairdryer to the wooden joint that is glued for 2-3 minutes to fasten the process of drying. Be sure to hold the dryer in a way that the airflow is directed at the glue. Be careful to not use the dryer for an extended period of time as you can damage the wooden project.
2. Use a Space Heater
Increase the temperature of the room where the project is placed to make the glue dry faster. You can close the windows and doors of the room and turn on the heater for the glue to dry. This works well during winters and in workshops in cold places.
3. Try a Heat Lamp
If your workshop is in a northern climate that can get very cold during winters, it is important to have a handy way to make the glue dry in normal time. Heat lamps can help you achieve this. All you have to do is shine the heat lamp on the wooden pieces that are glued up for the drying process to become faster. Use this technique even if you’re in a moderate climate to fasten the time it takes for the glue to dry.
4. Buy an Accelerator
Accelerators will speed up the time it takes for the glue to dry. You can make use of the accelerator on top of the wood glue to make the glue become solid soon. Ensure that you do not overapply the accelerator. An even coat on top of the wood glue is enough to make the glue dry in a few minutes.
5. Direct Ventilation at your project
Sometimes the simplest way to make glue dry faster is to place it in a ventilated space. A lot of wood glues dry on exposure to air. You can keep fans pointed towards the glued part on your wooden project to speed up the drying.
Wood glue dries within 24 hours. But, almost all the glues used in woodworking will dry much sooner – in less than 1 hour. However, each type of wood glue is unique and you should refer to the instructions from the manufacturer.
PVA glue or yellow glue is the most common type of glue used in woodworking, and will work for 90% of woodworking projects. Other glues that have significantly faster drying times also come with the drawback that you can’t keep them around very long in your woodshop before they go hard. But, having some of them around ready to mix up in special cases is a good idea.