Dieter Schmid's Fine Tools

Read here what our colleague Anthony writes about Titebond glues

Dieter asked me to try out a series of Titebond glues that have found their way into the shop April 2016.

I have been a big fan of Titebond for over 10 years, in the past I had to import the bottles from the USA or England. I have extensively used Titebond Original I and Ultimate III for all kinds of projects, indoor / outdoor and large scale furniture. I have always had great results. Now I have had the chance to have a look at other products in the Titebond range, and here are the results.

Tested glues were,
  • Titebond I
  • Titebond II
  • Titebond III
  • Titebond Quick and Thick ( their latest product )
  • Titebond Genuine Hide Glue
  • Titebond Translucent Wood Glue
  • Titebond Extend Wood Glue
  • Titebond Polyurethane Liquid Glue

The first thing to mention is that all the glues except the Polyurethane are water clean-up. Any squeeze-out can be quickly removed with a damp cloth. For the Polyurethane, you will need some mineral spirts on hand to clean any residual glue.

This brings me to an important point, while all the Titebond range can be sanded, some glues dry very hard (especially Ultimate III). If using a power sander, the wood to either side of the dried glue will sand down faster than the glue itself, leaving dips in the wood (remember Titebond quote that their glue is stronger than wood, and its true) Masking inside cabinet corners with painting tape is a must if you want to save big sanding hours later on.

So to the glues:

  1. Titebond Original I. In the past, my No1 choice for woodworking. I use it with softwoods, and for joints where there will not be a big amount of stress e.g. Laminating thin boards to a greater thickness. While the company say it dries translucent, I have found it can dry a bit yellow, so not for me if I’m working with a darker wood. Fast set time means all the parts for a project can be glued up and ready to sand in 4 hours. The bottle states minimum clamp time 30 mins, but I always leave them as long as possible…. Unless I need the clamps for more glue-ups!
  2. Titebond Premium II. The only difference here is that it can be used for exterior work, like garden furniture. Again, it dries with a slight yellow colour, not a big thing if the gluing is for hidden joints. Very strong. I broke a beech shelf in half, glued it and then after an overnight drying went to break it again. The board broke, but not at the glued joint.
  3. Titebond Ultimate III. This glue offers better protection to the outside elements but to be honest, it’s not what I use it for. When I want a joint to glue and hold, really hold, then this is what I use. Recently I completed a large dining table, joining 16 lengths of beech together with biscuit joints. The final location in the house has a different atmosphere to the workshop, drier and warmer, so I was expecting some movement in the wood. Sure enough, the top has moved, but not the joints themselves. And this is why I love this glue. It just holds, no matter what. The best woodworking glue I have used. However, it does dry to a brown colour, so not recommended for light colour woods unless the joints are hidden e.g. mortice. Another word of caution, it has a very fast initial tack, so get those boards lined up perfectly as you might only have one shot at it before it’s not possible to break it apart again. In the past for my biscuit joints, I used 4 mm biscuits with a 3/16th (4.7 mm) slot cutter from Vertitas. The glue fills the gaps well and I have much less stress with a super tight fit at glue-up time.
  4. Titebond Quick and Thick. OK, so what’s the difference here? A thick PVA glue??? Wrong, sure its thick and sets fast…. But if you have ever been working with kids as they glue wood to paper or stone, then watching as everything falls off when they go to pick it up off the table??? This glue works wonders. It dries within 30 minutes (so you can move the project) and is not as tricky or dangerous as fast drying epoxy to use. Quick and Thick dries clear and washes clean in water. Fills gaps too. But a word of caution. The initial set is so quick, that if you have filled a larger gap, a skin will form as the glue dries and the inner glue will NOT dry, leaving a white bubble and ( for joint applications) an uncured joint.
    Anyway, when my kids want to have workshop time in the future, they will be using this glue for sure.
  5. Titebond Genuine Hide Glue. I’m not a big fan of Hide or other animal type glues. In my school time, I can remember heating this foul smelling stuff in a pot and then battling to get it into the joint before it went hard again. This Hide glue works straight from the bottle. And, it doesn’t smell. And, you can dissolve it in water again. I used it to joint 2 bits of beech together end on end and the resulting joint was really strong. I tried to break it but could not, even after soaking the bits in water. I’m not sure about the dissolving in water part; certainly the dried glue squeeze-out came off in water. I think it depends on the joint. However where this glue really works is in the restoration of old furniture joints. I tried it on an old chair – all attempts to repair this had failed as the new glue did not bond to the old. So I softened the old glue with water and added the Hide glue the refit the joint (was not possible to pull apart the whole chair. Anyway, the Hide glue bonded really well to the old glue and the chair is as good as new. A great product for special jobs.
    Note: 24 hours after soaking in water (then leaving on my workbench) the joint did come apart easily. So I think with this glue, time is important, not direct wet or soaking time, but time to let moisture get into the joint and loosen the glue.
  6. Titebond Translucent Wood Glue. This one I was really interested in trying. With other Titebond glues having a bit of colour in the dried product, I was keen to use clear glue, and to test how strong it is. Firstly, it dried perfectly clear and secondly, really held a strong bond I could not break with a hammer. I think that for projects like a table top, where glue lines could spoil a the look, this glue is a real winner. For hidden joints, I would stay with the Ultimate III.
  7. Titebond Extend Wood Glue. So why would anyone want a longer opening time. Let’s say you are putting together a Carcase cabinet frame with 3 drawers. You have to glue together 2 sides, 8 rails and maybe the base as well. No matter which joints you are using, that’s a lot of glue that needs to be spread, angles checked, clamps placed and tightened. Often, the first glue applied has formed a strong tack before the last is added, causing big problems if you need to adjust something. I glued 2 boards together, clamped them and waited 20 minutes before trying to open the joint. There was no problem opening it, moving the boards and reclamping (never possible with Ultimate III, I know from painful experience) No extra glue was required and 4 hours later I had a great bond. Definitely a glue recommended for tricky clamping jobs or when a bit more time is required to get the project assembled.
  8. Titebond Polyurethane Liquid Glue. This glue is the black sheep of the glues I looked at. Firstly, its chemical makeup is completely different, it does not clean up in water and gloves and (when sanding it) a dust mask should be worn. Not for kids! Also what is interesting is that unlike the other glues, it does not air dry, but dries on contact with either humidity in the air or in the wood. The end result is that it expands slightly when dry creating a bubble/foam texture, not shrinking like the other glues. This has some interesting advantages. Number 1, in my test it did gap- fill a bit, maybe 1-2 mm but NOT a replacement for a poor fitting joint as the foam is not as strong as a good wood to wood contact.. Number 2, the foam is very easy to clear up with a scraper when there is squeeze-out in the joint. The dovetail joints I used were super strong; hitting it with a hammer broke the pins, not the bond itself. I also used this glue on some sap wet Larch and the result was great. The glue reacted with the wood well and the resulting bond was unbreakable. I think with regular glue, the moisture in the wood would have compromised the joint or added a considerable amount to the curing time.
    How the joint holds as the wood dries out remains to be seen.

At the end of the day, do you really need 8 or so different glues in the workshop? Certainly in my day today work, the answer is no. However each glue has its own advantages and having this glue on hand makes life easier, if say I want a clear glue line or a water resistant joint.

When you look at the cost of a piece of furniture, wood, fittings, your own time, then, say 10eur for a specialty glue is not so expensive, and it can really made the difference to a project. Titebond have a great range of adhesives, you just need to decide which one fits the project you are working on. All the glues I tried did what I wanted, and that’s the most important thing.

Test Photos

  1. Test pieces in action:
    Titebond Test 1

  2. Glue as colour comparison, wet after 5 minutes
    Titebond Test 2
    From left to right:
    Titebond Original I, Premium II, Ultimate III, Quick and Thick, Hide, Translucent, Extend, Polyurethane

  3. Glue as colour comparison, after 1 hour curing time.
    Titebond Test 3
    As you can see, the final colour is starting to show at the edges. The Polyurethane has already reacted with the humidity in the air and bubbled accordingly. All the glues were still wet to touch, except the Quick and Thick, where an outer skin had already formed.

  4. Glue as colour comparison, after 12 hours curing time.
    Titebond Test 4
    The final result. Titebond I, II, and III show different colour ranges from yellow to brown, Hide is dark (well, as expected) Quick and Thick very clear, as is Translucent with Extend also an acceptable colour. Polyurethane is in a world of its own, the foam texture has not changed from hour 1.Finally, a test with a sharp chisel the test cured strength. All the glues were tough to cut into, except Hide, which still retained some softness after 12 hours ( OK it is Hide after all ) and the Polyurethane glue , where the foam was easy to cut through. This has to do with the characteristics of this glue in that it expands, and after all, this was just an open glue line, not a tight joint.
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