The hardware and speciality stores abound with adhesives of all sorts these days. Confusion can easily beset the woodturner buyer unless the needs are known for the glues. Thankfully five different and readily accessible glues are all that is needed for ninety-nine percent of woodturning requirements.
First of all is the typical woodworker’s glue or aliphatic resin emulsion which most call carpenter’s glue or yellow glue. It is similar to polyvinyl acetate or white glue but has a better tacky quality and less initial slippage. Both dry to a bond that is stronger than most woods, at least when applied to side grain. It is often used to attach a waste block to faceplate turnings and may have paper separating the waste block and the turning wood. In addition, it is a good glue to use building up segmented turnings.
Second is another standby of many wood shops, epoxy resin glues. This is a two part adhesive that is great for attaching handles or any situation where it is necessary to adhere metal to wood. It will also allow the joining together of damp woods while most other adhesives require the wood to be dry.
Third is cyanoacrylate adhesives or “super glues” commonly called CA glue. These have become the standard of many woodturners. Thin or watery CA is used to fill cracks in burls and other woods while the medium can be used to attach waste wood to faceplate turning even on end grain or wet wood. Thick CA can be used to fill voids in woods that might otherwise be thrown away.
Fourth, the rise in the popularity of turning mesaproducts wooden pens has brought polyurethane glues to a similar popularity. While some pen turners use CA to attach the brass sleeves to the wooden pen blanks, others find the gap filling ability of the polyurethane glues along with their great strength to be valuable in turning pens and similar projects. It should be noted that the foam of polyurethane glues which serves to fill the gaps has very little strength but the the strength of the bond where two materials meet is exceptional.
Fifth, one of the least used or understood glues in the woodturner’s possible arsenal is hot glue from a hot glue gun such as the crafters use. It can used to quickly make temporary jigs as well as to hold waste blocks to faceplate turnings. One should use the high heat and not the low heat glues.
A little common sense in the use of five types of glues should make the use of each of them reasonable and valuable to woodturners. Each has its place to play in the workshop.