Hot glue is very useful when you need to quickly bond two materials together. It can be used on both non-porous and porous surfaces. Hot glue is usually used in arts and crafts, so you may wonder how it may perform in a high-strength application such as woodworking.
Does hot glue work on wood? Yes, but only in some applications. Hot glue works for filling gaps and quick fixes, but since it doesn’t have a lot of tensile strength and is not heat resistant, it’s not a very versatile adhesive for demanding applications.
In this article, we’ll talk about how well hot glue performs on wood, when it’s okay to use hot glue, and when it’s better to use wood glue.
How Strong Is Hot Glue On Wood?
Hot glue is a hot-melt adhesive that is used in a wide variety of applications, but especially in arts and crafts. It is made by combining a thermoplastic polymer with various stabilizers to give hot glue its adhesive properties.
When the glue is heated, it will turn into a liquid form for easy application. Once applied, the glue will start to cool down and set immediately. This is one of the main advantages of hot glue – it can be applied quickly and easily.
Hot glue is commonly used for bonding fabric, paper, wood, and plastic. It is also often used for making quick repairs, especially when a strong bond is not a priority.
This is because while the bonds may be strong enough to hold together small objects, they are not designed to support significant weight or stress.
Although hot glue can certainly be used to bond two pieces of wood, it is not the best choice for creating a strong bond on wood. The glue can hold the pieces together for a short period of time, but with enough force, the bonded wood can be pulled off relatively easily.
If you are looking for a stronger adhesive for wood, consider using wood glue or epoxy. Both of these options will create a much stronger bond than hot glue, which is why they are more widely used in woodworking.
That said, hot glue can make a decent wood filler, especially if you have small holes to fill. Since the holes in wood pieces do not need to support a lot of strength, you can easily use hot glue to fill in gaps and holes if you don’t have wood fillers on hand.
Hot Glue Vs. Wood Glue
Wood glue is specially formulated for use with wood. Unlike other adhesives, wood glue is designed to penetrate deep into the wood fibers, creating a strong bond that can withstand heavy loads.
Wood glue is also highly resistant to moisture, making it an ideal choice for outdoor projects. When applied correctly, wood glue can create a joint that is stronger than the wood itself.
For these reasons, wood glue is highly recommended for any woodworking project that requires a strong and durable bond, especially if you are making furniture and shelves.
However, one disadvantage of wood glue is that it can require a lot of time to set, dry, and cure completely. You often have to clamp the bond for about 24 hours for the wood glue to achieve its maximum strength.
If you need a quick fix, hot glue can be a perfectly reasonable alternative for wood.
As long as you are creating small wood projects that do not need to support a lot of strength, hot glue can work very well. It sets and dries almost instantly, and you don’t have to clamp the wood for the bond to set.
This means for craft projects like wooden picture frames, wooden dollhouses, or any projects that use wooden popsicle sticks, wood glue is the better choice.
Advantages Of Using Hot Glue
There are many advantages to using hot glue; that’s why many DIYers prefer using hot glue to other types of adhesives.
Hot glue is super easy to use and quite simple to master, as long as you have the right hot glue gun. It’s beginner-friendly and doesn’t require a lot of additional tools and materials to work with (for example, clamps).
Compared to traditional wood glue, hot glue also has a much longer shelf life and can be stored at room temperature. Even if you leave it in storage for years and years, it’s still highly effective once it’s activated with heat.
Another advantage of using hot glue is that it sets very quickly to create a relatively strong bond, especially if you are doing a craft project.
Compared to other wood glue options, such as epoxy, wood glue doesn’t need to be mixed or prepared at all. You only need a hot glue gun to activate the glue, and the hot glue gun will help you guide the glue and apply it perfectly.
Disadvantages Of Using Hot Glue
Of course, there are also reasons why woodworkers avoid using hot glue for projects that require structural integrity. Besides the fact that it’s not very durable, there are a few reasons why hot glue is not a sustainable solution for big woodworking projects.
First of all, hot glue is not water-resistant, which means the hot glue bond can weaken significantly when it meets moisture. Since wood is porous, it tends to absorb moisture in the air, which can affect the hot glue bond.
That’s why you should never use hot glue on woodworking projects that are designed for the outdoors – for example, birdhouses. The hot glue won’t be able to withstand harsh outdoor conditions, including rain, snow, or humidity, and your project will fall apart in just a few weeks. You’d have to choose a waterproof wood glue instead.
In addition, hot glue is not very heat resistant. Since the hot glue becomes liquid when it is heated around 175°F, it’s not a sustainable solution if you live in a warm area or if your project is regularly exposed to high heat.
That’s why hot glue is not a sustainable solution if you want a long-lasting, structurally sound project.
When To Use Hot Glue On Wood
Although hot glue is not very structurally strong, it can still come in quite handy when it comes to woodworking. Here are a few ways that you can utilize hot glue for woodworking.
One simple trick is to use hot glue to temporarily hold wood pieces in place before nailing them together. The glue will keep the pieces from sliding around as you work, and it can be easily removed once the nails are in place.
Anyone who has ever attempted a woodworking project knows that there are always a few imperfections that need to be sanded or filled in before the project can be considered complete. If you don’t have wood fillers, one way to fill small holes and cracks is with hot glue.
The liquid glue will take the form of the hole in the wood, and it can easily be sanded down to create a smooth surface. In addition, hot glue is less likely to shrink or crack than other types of filler. As a result, it is an ideal material for filling small imperfections in the wood.
When cutting multiple boards with a saw, you can secure them together with hot glue to prevent them from moving. This is especially helpful when cutting long boards or boards that are difficult to keep still.
To do this, simply apply a line of hot glue along one edge of each board and then press the boards together. The glue will harden quickly, keeping the boards in place while you cut. This method is much easier than trying to clamp the boards together, and it also prevents the boards from slipping and ruining your cut.
If you have a loose knob in your furniture, you can also secure it using hot glue. Since the knobs in your furniture do not need to withstand a lot of stress, and some are even decorative, using hot glue is a quick fix that can really secure them in place.
How To Remove Hot Glue From Wood
In many of these situations, the hot glue is a temporary bond that you can easily remove.
If you’re trying to remove hot glue from a flat wood surface, one of the easiest ways to do it is to use a scraper. Simply hold the scraper at a slight angle and gently scrape the hot glue off the surface. You may need to use a little bit of force, but be careful not to damage the wood.
If you have a delicate wood surface that you don’t want to damage with a scraper, you can try heating it up with a hair dryer. This will help to loosen the adhesive and make it easier to remove. Once the hot glue turns soft, you can simply peel it off of the wood surface.
Once you’ve removed all of the hot glue, you can finish cleaning up the surface with a damp cloth.