Wood Glue for Boatbuilding

Which adhesives to use when building or restoring a wooden boat.


There are many types of glue on the market and they are all advertised as having amazing properties.
Resorcinol
Polyurethane
Epoxy
Urea formaldehyde
PVA
Hot melt
Cyanoacrylate
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So which one should you use when boat building?


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Well there is no need to stick to one type for everything.

For the hull and any structural components clearly you will need the best.

And if you are building with plywood you will have to use epoxy to make those fillets etc.

But for anything else consider,
  • Where the joint is situated?

  • How exposed to the elements will it be?

  • How easy will it be to repair if the joint should fail?

  • Will it need to fill any gaps?

  • And will any health hazards be acceptable?



Resorcinol.

This is the adhesive which, is used to make marine grade plywood marine grade, simply because it is the best waterproof wood to wood adhesive.

It is rarely advertised, for the DIY market because the manufacturers sell enough to industry.

However it can be bought in small quantities.

This is a high exposure resistant and waterproof adhesive.

Resorcinol has two components.

It is comprised of a liquid resin and a hardener which can be either powder or liquid.

Joints are strongest on closely meeting faces where, clamping pressure is high.

Excellent for laminating as it will not creep once the initial set has occurred.

However, it does leave a dark colored line along the joint.

There are two main grades one of which can only be used in warm temperatures.

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Polyurethane Glue


Gorilla Wood Glue 8 fl. oz. - $4.99

from: Rockler Woodworking and Hardware

There are several strong waterproof Polyurethane Glues on the market now.

They have excellent wood to wood performance and are also effective on other materials.

The glue requires moisture to cure, so very dry wood may need to be moistened first.

Excess glue is easily sanded, will not become brittle with age or expand or contract in the joint.

These glues are used straight from the bottle, so no mixing and less waste

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Epoxy.

For plywood building, epoxy with its strength and gap-filling properties is the way to go.
105B Epoxy Resin, 0.98 Gallon - $104.99

from: Rockler Woodworking and Hardware
However for other wood gluing applications it has perhaps been over hyped by the advertisers.

It is certainly waterproof and is excellent for sealing end grain.

However it does set hard and therefore can be brittle.

Once set cleaning off any excess is difficult.

It can deteriorate with prolonged exposure to UV light.

And there are the health risks, associated with the chemicals in the hardeners to consider.

More on Epoxy Resin.

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Urea formaldehyde.

These adhesives are rated water resistant not waterproof.

However the better grades such as Aerolite 306 are excellent easy to use adhesives for non-exposed applications.

They have moderate gap filling ability good durability and are creep resistant.

However, low grade formulas may become brittle with age.


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PVA.


Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue, Gallon - $31.99

from: Rockler Woodworking and Hardware
These are not generally recommended for use in a marine environment.

There are some exterior versions which are described as being 'waterproof'.

I should be wary of using them on a boat and certainly not outside the cabin unless the wood is properly sealed to control the moisture level.

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Hot melt glue.


Pro 100 Hot Glue Gun - $24.69

from: Rockler Woodworking and Hardware

This is definitely not something to be considered for building the boat.

However a hot glue gun because it is convenient and the glue sets quickly is a super way to make templates.

Using small strips of thin plywood a template, of that awkward curve can be quickly stuck together with the gun.


Cyanoacrylate.

These are not for use on boats.

However they could, at a push be used to glue small pieces together, but only on interiors.

It does become brittle and has poor shock and solvent resistance.

It will yellow and degrade with exposure to UV light.


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"For one thing, I was no longer alone; a man is never alone with the wind, and the boat made three."
(Hilaire Belloc)