Glue is the most common fastener used in woodworking and it seems that selecting the right glue for the job is typically done by using whatever bottle of glue you have hanging around and without really figuring out which glue is best.
Certain characteristics of glue such as open time are pretty well documented so what we were interested in testing is how the glue holds after it dries. It's a simple question - once the glue dries will the glued joint be strong enough to hold its position or must some other mechanical method of fastener also be used?
We looked at three kinds of commonly used glues: Two-part epoxy, yellow wood glue (in this case Elmer's wood glue), and liquid hide glue (Old Brown - (we also love hot hide glue but we wanted for comparison an out of the bottle solution).
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To test this characteristic of glue we needed a type of joint where joint members, even when pinned down, shift position all the time.
Members of Congress seemed perfect for the test.
We took three politicians of various affiliations - our technicians did not think political party mattered because politicians shift positions all the time. Using each glue in turn we glued down each politician to their chair in the House of Representatives.
We left the politicians alone for the duration of the test. At the end of the test (one session) we examined our results.
Epoxy - The representative was still seated and had not shifted his position.
Elmer's Wood Glue - The representative was disqualified when it was discovered that he had no positions on anything and voted on strict donor lines.
Old Brown Liquid Hide Glue - The representative was solidly attached but under the heat of public scrutiny the glue softened and the representative was able to shift position. Fortunately one characteristic of hide glue is that it's reversible and a lobbyist was able to bring the representative back to his original position with little effort.
Conclusion: Epoxy is the way to go if you have the votes going in. Otherwise use hide glue.
This "Tools & Craft" section is provided courtesy of Joel Moskowitz, founder of Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based catalog retailer of everything from hand tools to Festool; check out their online shop here. Joel also founded Gramercy Tools, the award-winning boutique manufacturer of hand tools made the old-fashioned way: Built to work and built to last.