When speaking with family and friends who are getting into woodworking, I’m often asked, “Does super glue work on wood?”
Yes, super glue works effectively on wood, especially for small pieces. It bonds quickly and is versatile but is less durable than traditional wood glues for larger projects.
Super glue, known for its quick bonding ability, is a reliable choice for small woodworking projects.
While it may not replace traditional wood glues for larger tasks, its strength on smaller pieces makes it a valuable tool in the woodshop.
Super glues are cyanoacrylate esters (most commonly ethyl). A bit technical here, but esters are any class of organic compounds that create alcohols and acids when introduced to water. We don’t need to understand the chemistry behind super glues – only that they create an incredibly strong adhesive bonding. The bond created by cyanoacrylate glue is almost unbreakable.
Super glue works well on wood, especially small pieces of wood, because of its quick-drying properties that bond almost instantly. It also works well on a variety of materials, including plastics, glass, stone, ceramics, rubber, and metals.
The Guinness Book of World Records, a pretty authoritative entity, verified that Loctite (brand name) cyanoacrylate glue set a record by lifting an automobile of more than 5 tons with just 9 drops of its adhesive. That’s a lot more than a hard hat glued to a beam.
Super glues cure quickly and are not poisonous if they come in contact with your skin. When dried and cured, super glues transform into a plastic state. As such, they do become somewhat brittle, susceptible to damage from dropping or shaking.
This distinguishes them from PVA glues that could theoretically withstand 30 years of adhesion depending on how your project is stored and used and the stability of the wood you used. Wood glues are stronger than super glue on wood projects, although super glue is more convenient when working with small pieces of wood in model making that can’t be clamped because it adheres so quickly.
Gorilla Super Glue is a modified super glue that is more impact resistant than other super glues. While Gorilla Glue is a polyurethane glue, its Super Glue is cyanoacrylate glue. Gorilla Super Glue has all of the quick-drying and quick-curing properties of other super glues, with the addition of providing more stability.
Some Super Glue Considerations
- Gluing wood to metal. Super glue can be used to glue wood to metal, even though the two are so different in density and porosity. However, the strength and flexibility of a polyurethane-based glue like Gorilla Glue or Gorilla Wood Glue might make it the better choice. Nonetheless, Loctite Super Glue is also a good choice for wood-to-metal gluing.
- Super glue and oiled wood. Earlier, we mentioned that esters react to water, and cyanoacrylate glues react well to the presence of moisture. As we all know, oil and water do not mix. An oiled surface on wood will reject super glue. Removing the outer surface of the oiled wood down to bare wood is the solution if you insist on using super glue.
- Super Glue and painted wood. Super glue will work on painted wood. It is suggested, though, that some of the paint should be scraped or sanded at the point of gluing to obtain optimum results.
- Super Glue and MDF. Medium density fiberboard (MDF) is an engineered wood product manufactured by bonding wood fibers with wax and resin and treating it with high temperature and high pressure. Super glues work well with MDF, but as with all super glue use, you must remember it bonds instantly. Therefore, work quickly and be sure of your alignments and measurements before applying the glue.
Is Super Glue Stronger Than Wood Glue?
All glues have their highest, best use around the house and in the woodworking shop. This is why it’s good to have both super glues and polyurethane glues on hand.
Wood glues like Gorilla Glue are typically the furniture and wood adhesive we reach for. Super glues are more well-rounded in their use, working well with more of a variety of materials, as we mentioned earlier.
Some do argue that super glue is technically stronger than wood glue, but its use is more object-determined. Somewhat brittle after curing and subject to damage from dropping or shaking, it might not be a good choice for objects that could be dropped or shaken. How likely is it that the wooden chair is going to be shaken from repeated use, for instance.
But, for working with small wood objects that don’t lend themselves to clamping, super glue is the glue of choice because it works so quickly.
Apparently, super glues can lift automobiles, and that’s pretty strong. I’m not sure I would expect wood glue to be able to do the same thing. But, as with the woodworking shop adage “the right tool for the right job,” so goes glues.
All have their ideal uses, but no glue is an all-purpose everything kind of glue. Polyurethane glues like Gorilla Glue are the furniture and wood “things” adhesive, while super glues are a bit more of an all-rounder product because of the variety of materials they work well with, like plastics and ceramics.
Here’s a very good video on super glue, of CA glue, sort of a Super Glue 101 class. It’s not long and tells you what you need to know about its uses.
Our advice is to keep some of each in your shop for that “right glue for the right job” task.