Does Hot Glue Work on Wood: MIT Engineer Speaks Truth

A hot glue gun is one of the best ways to apply hot glue for wood projects. These include DIY home repairs on cabinets or furniture or construction with wood. But how does it work?

Hot glue works fine for most woodworking projects. However, some wood is required to bond to other materials. A better solution would be using glue specifically formulated for wood.

Does hot glue work on wood? Hot glue works on wood, and it comes in many forms. Hot melt glue helps in woodworking projects and makes the job easier. Numerous contractors use hot glue guns for installing flooring, windows, doors, and bath backdrops.

According to an expert Sarah Jensen, a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering at MIT, hot glue has intermolecular forces that bond with the wood. It is better to mix epoxies and elastomers to create stronger bonding hot glue.

What Is the Best Hot Glue for Wood?

Picking the correct type of glue for a woodworking project enables a skilled worker to create substantial, solid final projects built to last.

Here is a table illustrating what forum users are suggesting is the best glue to use on wood:

Best Glue to use on woodPercentage of total results
Titebond is used in many woodworking shops. It dries at full strength after 24 hours. Click here to view the current pricing on Amazon. 36%
Elmer works well to bond wood also. 24%
Devcon is an all-purpose adhesive that works on wood.4%
If your wood will be outside, best to use Brunettes Adhesive.9%
Gorilla glue is recommended by many forum users.27%

Adhesives And Dispensing Types for Woodworking

  • Traditional Hot Melt Adhesives

Hot melt adhesives are polymer-based and are thermoplastic, meaning they are solid at room temperature.

When to choose traditional hot melt adhesives?

According to E.M. Petrie, a textile and adhesive consultant/author, hot melt adhesives have gained popularity given their low cost of processing and regulatory requirements.

Hot melts adhesives provide the quickest bonding method. In addition, hot melt equipment occupies a much smaller factor footprint than other bonding methods.

When not to use hot melt?

Hot melt adhesives do not deliver a structural bond. It would be best not to use a traditional hot melt adhesive to expose the bond to direct heat or fluctuating weather temperatures.

  • Polyurethane (PUR) Hot Melt Adhesives

Polyurethane PUR is a form of hot melt glue and is sturdier than thermoplastic hot melts. It is common in wood projects. You can apply PUR as a bead or spray for covering large surface areas.

PUR hot melt comes in sealed cartridges that include:

  • Infinity PUR WW30. This type of glue is best for wood-to-wood links. The open time is 30 seconds.
  • Infinity PUR WW60. This glue is best for wood-to-wood links as well. However, it has 60 seconds of open time, which gives you extra time to complete the project.
  • Infinity Bond Super PUR 180. The open time is 180 seconds, which gives you additional time to organize pieces.

When should I use a PUR adhesive?

PUR adhesive is an excellent structural adhesive in its shear modulus, elongations, and lap shear strength (LSS).

The shear modulus determines how stiff a bonded structure is in combination with the substrate design.

Elongation determines whether substrates with varying thermal elongation can be bonded together using a longer bond line.

According to Bernd Burchardt, a bonding products expert/author, PURs are the most diverse adhesive technology and can be used across various mechanical properties. PURs can be used on rubber-like properties and very rigid items.

Use PUR to replace fasteners, staples, nails, and screws.

Select a polyurethane glue for outdoor projects with close-fitting joints when using wood straight from the backyard.

Polyurethane glue is water-resistant and has sturdy bonds on the end grain, making it suitable for exterior miter connections.

Ensure that the glue label has terms like water-resistant, weatherproof, or waterproof.

When not to use PUR?

PUR hot melt reacts with moisture in the air. It is vital to protect it from humidity before use by packaging it in airtight cartridges or foil.

Each glue has its strengths and weaknesses. Selecting the correct adhesive for your project is necessary for successful completion.

Do Glue Sticks Wood on Wood?

In a construction-type project, glue sticks may not keep the parts together, and you need to use something else.

Regular wood glue is best for most wood projects, and it is not expensive. It lasts a long time if you make sure to close the bottle well every time.

Glue sticks will not hold wood glue for a wood-to-wood joint. However, if you need to bond wood temporarily to something, it can be a great option.

But, some companies are producing glue stick adhesives designed for woodworks. For example, the Ivation Cordless Glue Gun are designed for wood applications. Click here to view one on Amazon.

It can be a great option when you need something fast like affixing a wooden router template to masking tape applied to the workpiece or bond decorations with little structural strength in the bond.

How Long Does It Take Hot Glue to Dry on Wood?

A glue joint can be dry enough for no more than 20 to 30 minutes in proper settings. However, this could take more than an hour when it is cooler.

There are different formulations with different temperatures, but the commonly found hobby class guns are usually 120 C/240 F melting points.

Another factor is how long you let it sit in the hot glue gun before using it. If you leave it on for a while and let the glue reach maximum temperature, the liquid working time is longer. The dense air detaches the bond triggering it to dry quickly.

Does Glue Dry Faster in Hot or Cold?

Hot glue is a water-based adhesive. Therefore, it will dry in hotter air faster than colder air. Hot glue will also dry faster on absorbent materials such as fabric and paper as they inhale and let the water dissolve through them.

Which Are the Factors That Affect the Drying Period of Wood Glue?

  • Stressed Or Unstressed Joints

The period you are waiting for wood glue to dry completely is dependent on the amount of pressure endured by the bond.

Gluing a shelf that is supported by two planks of wood under it does not have any stress or pressure to endure.

To strengthen their bond, hold the two joints for about 30 minutes up to around one hour. Such kind of a joint expects you to keep the two boards held together for a day.

  • Type

Wood glues are not all similar. There is a variety, and each has its formula which has effects on the drying period.

It is good to understand how long glue takes to dry. That is essential when choosing the perfect one to use for a specified job.

Polyvinyl Acetate

This type of wood glue is common. It is easily identified due to its viscous consistency and pale-yellow color.

The glue is water-based. That means, once its water starts to evaporate when exposed to air, that is when drying starts.

PVA is a type of water-based glue, it creates a stronger bond than the wood in use. This makes it efficient in various applications in carpentry work.

According to a 2013 study, PVA dries faster on corrugated boards, especially when a drying agent such as polyvinyl alcohol is added to the adhesive.

The majority of these types of glues are put on set for about 30 minutes to almost one hour and dry within a one-day period.


Polyurethane is a type of glue that is not water-based. It is very efficient in areas with a high amount of moisture since it easily dries up when exposed to such conditions.

It is put to set for about two hours and takes a day to dry completely.


Epoxy is a type of glue that uses a chemical reaction between a hardener and resin. The reaction takes place in separate tubes.

Polyurethane dries up when exposed to moisture while PVA glue dries up when exposed to air. Epoxy takes a longer period (72 hours) to dry completely but it is stronger than the other glues.


Some people refer to this glue as superglue. It can be used on several types of materials, including wood.

Cyanoacrylate or superglue takes a shorter period to dry as compared to Epoxy, PVA, or Polyurethane. It is put to set in about 10 minutes and takes a day to dry completely.


Hide is high in collagen. Collagen is a major ingredient in glue making. Most carpenters use it because it dries up transparently.

It hardly lets joints shift while drying. It is reversible and does not shrink in the process of drying. The glue slowly hardens when cooling to room temperature.

Does Hot Glue Work on Painted Wood?

Wood glue would work perfectly on painted wood. The heated gel like substance will bond with the paint that is on the wood and it can penetrate the paint layer.

Hot glue comprises thermoplastic polymers that link with wax. However, sticking the glue on a surface that is painted does not guarantee a firm joint that you may desire.

The joint will not be as sturdy as the paint if you wish to apply wood glue to the painted surface.

The glue must penetrate the wood fibers to achieve a strong joint between surfaces, not bond painted wood.

Most of these wood glues are likely to bond with wood that has no paint on it. Whenever wood is painted using oil-based paint, there is a need to use a different type of glue.

Surfaces that are painted with oil and those that have wood glue do not get into wooden fibers. Therefore, the joint is not firm enough.

It is always advisable to sand, scrape, or cut off the areas with paint if you are planning to glue that surface hoping for a firm joint.

Wood Glue Over Water Based Paint

I prefer surfaces that are painted using water-based paints. Examples of the paints include Acrylic and Latex. Wood glue functions better on wood that is painted using these paints.

If you pay attention to a glue that is water-based, like PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glues, it is easily applicable over water-based paint.

In water-based products, the bonding agent is almost similar. For example, that of latex or acrylic paint is similar to the bonding agent of wood glue, more specifically, PVA.

However, PVA is more efficient on drywall but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve well on painted walls. The glue has high adhesion properties since it is more water-resistant.

How to Glue Painted Wood

Ensure you sand the painted wood lightly alongside the glue line to let the glue bond to the wood’s surface and not to the paint.

Be sure to sand precisely where the glue line will be to avoid any detectable cuts on your project. Make sure the glue is completely dry and hard.

Does Hot Glue Work to Bond Metal to Wood?

While it is possible to glue wood and metal together, it can be tricky. The problem lies in that the two surfaces vary in density and porosity.

Wood starts expanding and contracting more than metal. As a result, achieving a secure bond is hard.

Attempting to glue anything to metal can be complex, so you must select the suitable adhesive to glue metal and wood correctly.

When selecting your glue, you will need to consult the label and manufacturer’s instructions in detail.

 It might seem complicated to create a bond between metal and wood but using suitable glue will make a solid bond that lasts.

When picking an adhesive, you will need to consider the following aspects:

  • Water-resistance
  • Flexibility
  • Temperature
  • Tensile strength

Which Glue Is Best to Use on Metal?

Epoxy is the best adhesive for metal-to-metal and metal-to-wood projects. Polyurethane-based glue is best for bonding metal to wood. Superglue is also suitable for metal bonding but should only be used for minor repairs.

The type of glue best for bonding depends on a few other deliberations. These include the surface, how fast you require the adhesive to cure, and the surroundings of the finished project.

Wood can be a complex surface to glue to metal because the two vary in mass and porosity.

However, polyurethane-based glues have the strength and elasticity to strengthen the bond than the wood itself.

Will Hot Glue Peel Off Wood?

Wood glue is sturdy and creates long-lasting wood connections. But the band takes some time to dry. In contrast, hot glue hardens instantly. If not handled carefully, it can damage the wood.

To remove hot glue safely from wood, let the glue dry. As soon as the glue dries, rub acetone around the edges of the hot glue using cotton swabs.

Give the acetone a few moments to react to the glue, and then peel the portion of the bond off the surface. The adhesive should peel off just as quickly.

Here is a video that reveal hot glue hacks that include some applications with wood:

Warning! You must do this carefully because acetone can harm the wood’s finish.

Hot Melt Glue Pros

  • Hot melt glue dries fast, and this aids when organizing the project.
  • Hot Melt glue is quite easy to store.
  • Hot Melt glue has a prolonged shelf life making wood projects more pleasant and inexpensive.

Hot Melt Glue Cons

  • Some tools like plastics may melt down if exposed to high heat.
  • Hot melt glue-like thermoplastic is not waterproof. In addition, ensure the exteriors are clean.
  • Hot glue is super-hot and can harm you.

Final Thoughts

Finding the best glue to use on wood depends on what someone is looking for and the kind of environment to use them.

Picking the correct type of hot glue for a woodworking project will enable you to create substantial, solid final projects built to last.

Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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