Glue Selection

When I am assembling any piece with complex joinery, glue selection is an important consideration.  PVA glues like Titebond 1,2 and 3 are the standard choice for most woodworking projects.  They are strong, thermoplastic, have a moderate open time and work well across a normal temperature range.  Dried Titebond I can be dissolved with alcohol and this trait can come in handy when you make a mistake(Something that I have experienced first hand).  Hide glue is another standard choice, particularly for restoration work, but its susceptibility to heat and moisture can be a problem in some applications.  Like PVA glues, hide glue has a high initial tack and a short to moderate open time.  You can often overcome the shorter 5-10 minute open time of PVA glues by assembling a piece in stages and only glueing together one joint at a time, but this can be a hassle.  Another downside to using PVA or hide glue on maple or other light woods is that they dry to a darker color than the wood itself and this appears as a very fine dark line highlighting each joint.

When choosing the glue I was going to use to assemble my “Luna” table I settled on a product called Uni-bond 800.  Uni-bond is typically associated with veneering, but it has several characteristics that made it ideal for this project.  It is a two part formula with 30 minutes of open time at 70 degrees.  In addition, Uni-bond can easily be tinted with a white dye to match the color of maple and this helps eliminate any discoloration along the joint line.  That 30 minutes of open time made assembling the table a leisurely affair rather than a frantic scramble.  The biggest downside to Unibond is that it needs to be kept above 70 degrees throughout the curing process or it won’t cure properly.  This can be a problem in shops like mine which are heated with wood stoves at this time of year.  Fortunately I can bring pieces into my basement, crank the heat to 80 degrees and rest easily knowing that the temperature will remain above 70 throughout the curing process.