Canadian Woodworking

Holding it together

Author: John Silloats
Published: August September 2002

The glue selected to construct any project is as important as the other components because it is what’s going to hold the project together for a long time to come.


I know from experience that when a project is created it takes an idea, planning, getting the right stock, working on the proper finish and lots of time and patience. Another important aspect, that merits serious consideration is, how do we hold it all together?


The nails and screws used should be thought of as temporary clamps to hold pieces together until the glue has time to set up. The better the glue and the fewer the screws used means less filler needed to cover up the holes. Whenever possible, I glue and clamp only and avoid using an excessive amount of fasteners.

Often, when it comes to buying supplies for the workshop, woodworkers let price dictate their choice. In some cases this can be the way to go. But, when it comes to glue, quality is especially important. As a professional woodworker I know that it is money well spent, so when deciding on glue I want to be sure that it satisfies the following requirements: Is it consistent? Is it strong and long lasting? Does it set up quickly and finally, how easy is it to apply? Over the past twenty-five years I have tried all kinds of glues. I’ve decided to stick with LePage. After 125 years in the glue manufacturing business I find that they have both the experience and the up-to-date technology to satisfy my needs in the workshop.

The yellow carpenter’s glue sets up in approximately 20 minutes when applied to softwood and clamped. This is important because you don’t want to spend a lot of time waiting for the glue to dry before going on to the next stage of the project.
For example, I have edged and laminated rough stock together and then, after a very short period of time, put them through the thickness planer, getting excellent results. This allowed me to save the time it would have taken to plane individual boards before laminating.

The picture you see is a piece of 2” x 4” pine. I removed the center section, inserted plastic straws and then halved it on an angle to give you a simulated magnified look at the grain in wood. Wood is a series of elongated cell structures of different lengths lined up in a row. The inside of each cell is hollow and this is what the glue attaches itself to. It actually fuses the cell structures to each other. Note that, the harder the wood, the smaller the cell structure, and the more penetrating time is needed for the moisture of the glue to disperse and set up.

The yellow LePage carpenter’s glue is designed specifically for woodworking. The glue is yellow so that it matches most colours of wood. Additives have been mixed with the formula to give it high initial tack, which reduces slippage when clamping. When it comes to consistency LePage products have a long shelf life in the shop. I’ve used them over time, and am able to get consistent results with each job.

If a project is going to be exposed to the elements I use LePage’s outdoor wood glue. With this product, keep in mind that it develops its strength in approximately one hour, but full water resistance is not achieved for up to five days. Therefore, keep your outdoor projects inside for five days after gluing. With glue, as with any product, it is important to know how the product works, to achieve the best results.

LePage has recently designed a new glue container that offers a variety of methods to dispense the product, depending on your application. This award winning dispenser has a wide mouth for easier refilling and is easier to squeeze. It also features a flat surface on one side of the bottle so that you can lay it on its side on the workbench. This means that it is ready to use and it does not roll away. The new spout also gives me a choice of opening sizes for dispensing just the right amount. In addition, it has a re-sealable cap that sits in it’s own cradle in the lid. The spout design also works very well for getting the glue into biscuit cuts or dowels. These innovations make the product very easy to apply.

Whenever possible, move the pieces back and forth to push the glue into the pores. This allows the glue to set up quickly and will give you the strongest hold. Over the years my wife and I have made most of the furniture in our house using LePage glues. I can tell you that the glue has not cracked and I have never had a joint come apart. Done properly, glue is a great way to hold it all together.

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