Wood glue is a simple and reliable way to create a strong bond between pieces of wood. Woodworking novices wonder how you can get the best result from wood glue.
So, what is the drying time of wood glue? The drying time of wood glue can range from 10 minutes to 12 hours, and the curing time will likely be longer. It depends on several factors, from the brand of wood glue and type to the temperature and humidity of the room where it is drying.
Without the right information, it’s difficult to understand how to use wood glue properly and even lengthen the drying time. This is an ultimate guide about wood glue drying time and the factors that can affect how long wood glue takes to dry.
Types Of Wood Glue
Wood glue is a vital part of woodworking. It holds pieces of wood together in projects like furniture, cabinets, and even musical instruments. Wood glue comes in many different forms, depending on the type of project you’re working on.
Most types of wood glue are waterproof and durable, creating a strong and permanent bond that can be sanded and painted over when you need to finish your project.
There are a few types of wood glues, each with different characteristics and drying times. Below are five common types of wood glue.
1. Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA)
One of the most beloved types of wood glue is polyvinyl acetate (PVA), which has a pale yellow color and high viscosity. Thanks to its water-based formula, it dries when exposed to air.
Since many PVA glues create stronger bonds than the wood they’re holding together, they are ideal for carpentry projects. PVA glue can take up to a day to dry completely.
Polyurethane glue is different from PVA because it’s not water-based. Because of this, it can work well with wood with a high moisture content because polyurethane glue actually dries when it is exposed to moisture.
Although wood is porous, it won’t absorb polyurethane glue, so the wood won’t swell when it is used with this type of glue. Polyurethane glue also takes up to a day to dry completely.
Epoxy glue relies on a chemical reaction to create a strong bond – it is stronger than most other types of adhesives. Epoxy usually comes in two parts – epoxy and a hardener – that you have to mix, which then generate the chemical reaction that gives epoxy its strength.
Epoxy can take anywhere from a few days to a week to cure completely. Epoxy dries hard and is waterproof, and it does an excellent job of filling in cracks and holes when repairing old wood.
Cyanoacrylate, more commonly known as super glue, can be used on various materials, including wood. It dries very quickly and completely cures in about a day.
If you know anything about super glue, you’ll know that it is usually a quick fix, not a long-term solution, because the bond that it forms isn’t as strong as other types of wood glue. It can hold very small pieces of wood together and cannot support a lot of weight or stress.
5. Hide Glue
Hide glue is made from animal parts, which are high in collagen. Since it doesn’t shrink or shift while it dries, it’s usually preferred by woodworkers to create a strong and transparent bond.
However, hide glue is usually more popular among professionals since it needs to be heated before it is applied. Then, it will settle as it cools down to room temperature.
What To Know About Wood Glue Drying Time
Similar to paint, epoxy, or nail polish, wood glue has a drying time, a cure time, and a set time.
Set time is usually how long it takes for the glue to settle down, creating a moderate bond. As the glue sets, you can see it in its transitioning state between liquid and solid. This can happen within 30 minutes of the application.
During the set time, you can still adjust the bond and even shift it around a little bit to achieve the right position.
Drying time, which is the amount of time it takes for a glue to completely dry, is typically 30 minutes to a few hours. Once the glue is completely dry, it should be able to hold two pieces of wood together, at which point you can remove the clamps.
However, after the glue is completely dry, it doesn’t mean that the bond is completely settled. You may still smell some faint chemical smell, which means that the glue is still hard at work.
The cure time refers to how long it takes for the glue to achieve its maximum strength and hardness. This time is at least 24 hours, and for certain types of glue (such as epoxy), it can take up to a week.
After the glue is completely cured, then the bond is extremely strong, and you will be able to use your wooden piece as intended.
If you want to sand the bond to paint over it, you will need to wait until the glue is completely cured and hardened before doing so; otherwise, you would easily break the bond.
Wood Glue Drying Time
Below is a convenient chart of the most commonly used wood glues and their set time, drying time, and curing time.
|Type of Glue||Setting Time||Drying Time||Curing Time|
|Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA)||Up to 30 minutes||30 minutes – one hour||Up to 24 hours|
|Polyurethane glue||Up to one hour||1 – 2 hours||Up to 24 hours|
|Epoxy Glue||1 – 2 hours||Up to 12 hours||Up to 7 days|
|Cyanoacrylate (super glue)||A few seconds||10 minutes||Up to 24 hours|
|Hide Glue||Up to one hour||6 hours||Up to 24 hours|
Among these types of wood glue, you will find that PVA glue, polyurethane glue, and epoxy glue are most commonly used by hobbyists and woodworking enthusiasts.
What Factors Affect Wood Glue Drying Time?
Besides the glue’s formula, various factors also affect its drying time and curing time. These factors can also affect the consistency and longevity of the bond.
Let’s take a look at some factors that can affect the drying time of wood glue below.
Stressed Joints Vs. Unstressed Joints
How long it should take for wood glue to dry depends on the amount of stress the bond must endure. If the bond needs to support a lot of weight and endure significant stress, you’ll want the bond to become as strong as possible before putting it to the test.
In that case, you will want the wood glue to cure completely (which can take from a day to a week) before using your item.
On the other hand, if your bond doesn’t have to be very strong because the wooden item doesn’t need to support anything, then you can probably use it after the glue is dry, about an hour.
How long it takes for the glue to settle and you are no longer able to reposition the bond is called assembly time. This time can affect how you can work with the glue effectively.
For example, the assembly time for super glue is extremely short – only a few seconds – so you don’t have a lot of time to work around it. Other types of wood glue, such as PVA glue, give you more time to adjust the bond, so you’ll have about 10 minutes to work around it.
There’s also ‘open assembly’ time, which is the time it takes for the exposed glue to dry. Superglue, for example, starts to dry the second it leaves the bottle and sometimes even sets around the applicator.
On the other hand, epoxy needs to be mixed before the adhesion is activated, and after it is mixed, you will have around 10 minutes to work with it. The open assembly time can also affect how easy it is to work with the type of glue.
High humidity levels can also affect the drying time of wood glue. If you are using water-based glue, for example, high humidity can prevent the water in the glue from evaporating and lengthen the drying time.
The stated drying times mentioned above are based on the humidity level of 50%. If you are climate-controlled environment, you can assume that the drying time will be pretty stable.
However, if you are working in an outdoor environment where the humidity fluctuates, you should assume that it will take longer for the wood glue to dry and keep the clamps on longer to support your piece.
If the humidity is less than 40%, you can expect the glue to completely dry before the stated drying time. On the other hand, if the humidity is more than 60%, you can expect the drying time to be much longer.
Some types of glue are not affected by high humidity. Polyurethane glue, for example, relies on moisture to dry. High moisture content from the wood and from the air can really speed up this glue’s drying time.
The temperature can also affect the drying process. Generally, the colder it is, the longer it takes for the glue to dry. If the weather is hotter, it will take much faster to dry.
Some types of glue, such as hide glue, also need to be heated to 155°F before it starts to work and will harden as it cools down to room temperature. If you are just working at room temperature or living in a moderate climate, then the glue’s drying time will be as stated on the bottle.
You should also know that for some types of wood glue, the curing process can be reversed when exposed to high temperatures (120°F or more). Epoxy glue, for example, is essentially hard plastic that can be melted under a hot day’s sun.
If you are planning on making outdoor wooden furniture, you should avoid using epoxy glue, especially if you live in a very hot climate. Otherwise, a warm summer day can ruin all of your hard work because the epoxy glue will melt!
Wood Moisture Content
Wood is porous since it contains pockets that were used to absorb moisture, which is a neat feature that allow it to absorb nutrients when it is a tree. As a result, every type of wood retains some moisture content, from 15°F to up to 75°F.
As mentioned, the moisture content of the wood can affect the wood glue drying time.
For example, if you are using a type of wood with higher moisture content, using water-based glue will really lengthen the drying time. In that case, you should use polyurethane glue, which loves moisture, so it will take faster to dry when it meets a wood with higher moisture content.
If you have very dry wood with low moisture content, using water-based glue (like PVA glue) is more suitable. The dry wood will soak up the moisture in PVA glue, which will allow the glue to dry faster as well.
Wood type is another factor that can affect the duration of a wood glue’s dry time, although it’s less of a consideration compared to other factors. This is because the type of wood will affect its density, oil content, and even moisture content.
Generally, hardwoods like oak or maple are very dense, much denser than softwood or engineered wood. This means that the wood pores will take longer to soak up moisture, and if you are using water-based glue, it will take longer to dry. In that case, using epoxy or polyurethane glue will be more suitable.
For softwoods such as pine, fir, or cedar, which are generally less dense, you can safely use PVA wood glue and expect the normal drying time.
The oil content of the wood will also affect the drying time. Remember, oil and water don’t mix, so if your wood has a lot of oil content, it won’t work well with water-based glue either, and it will take very long for the glue to dry. Epoxy or polyurethane glue will be the way to go.
When working with wood glue, good ventilation is always recommended. This is not just because a lot of wood glue has very high VOCs content that might be harmful to your health when ingested.
Ventilation can also affect the drying time, especially for water-based glue like PVA glue. Good ventilation allows the water content in the glue to evaporate faster, which will allow the glue to dry faster.
The type of application can also affect the drying time of wood glue. The thicker the application, the longer the glue will take to dry.
In most instances, if you are using a clamp, the excess glue will be squeezed out, and you don’t have to worry about applying too much wood glue to lengthen the drying time. However, if you need to fill a gap or big space using good glue, it will take a while to dry.
How To Make Wood Glue Dry Faster
It is highly recommended that you wait the appropriate amount of time for the wood glue to dry – and even cure – completely before using your wooden piece.
This is especially important if your wooden item needs to withstand a lot of stress. If you are gluing on a chair leg or a bookshelf, it’s best to wait for the bond to become as strong as possible. Otherwise, you may break the entire thing.
However, if you need to make a quick fix to an item that doesn’t need to support weight, there are a few ways that you can shorten the drying time.
If you are using water-based glue, then you’ll know that heat and dryness can suck out the moisture content in the glue and accelerate the drying process. So, you can place a dehumidifier in the room and use a hairdryer or heater to go over the bond to allow the water to evaporate faster.
If using epoxy, mixing a higher percentage of hardeners can help speed up the drying process. The glue will set very quickly, however, which will give you less time to shift the bond around. If you are mixing in more hardener, you can expect the bond to be weaker as well since there is less epoxy content in the glue.
For polyurethane glue, exposing the bond to a highly humid area can allow the glue to absorb more moisture, which will shorten the drying time. For any other type of glue, a thin application will allow the glue to set faster and dry faster as well.
Sanding Wood Glue
Getting too impatient when it comes to handling a joint can ruin it. If you are in a hurry to move to the next step to sand, paint, and finish your wooden item, you may risk weakening the bond, and your entire piece may fall apart.
In most cases, it is very important to wait until the glue is completely cured and hardened before sanding the piece. If you have an unstressed joint that doesn’t need to support a lot of weight, you may sand the piece lightly after the glue is completely dry but before it is cured.
For stressed joints, it is best to allow the bond to cure and dry for a full day before applying any pressure, including sanding. If you apply any pressure before that, the bond may not be very strong yet, and the force from the sanding process can break it apart.
How Long To Clamp Wood Glue?
Depending on the project that you have, you may enjoy the help of clamps to secure the pieces while the glue takes the time to dry.
Again, how long the wood needs the support of the clamps depends on whether the joints are stressed or not. If the joints are unstressed, then you can remove the clamps after the glue is dry, which will only take a few hours in most cases.
However, if you have stressed joints, it’s best to leave the clamps until the wood glue is completely cured, which can take 24 hours to a week. Doing so will allow the bond to gain its maximum strength with the support of the clamps, and you can remove the clamps after the bond can stand on its own.
Remember that the amounts of time mentioned here are entirely dependent on the drying time and the curing time, which are affected by all of the factors that are mentioned above. So if you work in a cold climate, a humid or poorly ventilated area, the drying time will be longer, which means you will need to leave the clamps on longer.
When in doubt, it’s always best to leave the clamps on rather than remove them too early. You don’t lose anything when you leave the clamps on but will risk breaking the bond if you remove the clamps before the glue is completely cured.
Why Isn’t My Wood Glue Drying?
When working with wood glue, it’s best to work in the desired environment with the optimal temperature, humidity, and airflow that can allow the wood glue to behave correctly.
This is because various factors can cause wood glue to stay liquid. One of these is the temperature of the workshop. Wood glue will dry when it is in a certain temperature range, so if it gets colder than the designated temperatures, then it will not dry in the expected time.
Similarly, factors like poor ventilation and high humidity can also affect how long it takes water-based glue to dry. If it is too humid, the water won’t be able to evaporate, causing the glue to remain the same.
In some instances, you may not be using the right type of wood glue for the type of wood that you have. Depending on your wood, especially how dense it is and how much moisture content it has, it may need to be used with a different type of glue.
If you are working in an optimal condition, but your wood glue is still not drying, you may need to check the glue’s expiration date. If it is expired, it may no longer work.
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