Q: I am getting ready to start building a boat kit that is made with wood. I seem to remember reading years ago that I should use “yellow” wood glue, rather than white glue, as the white glue might eventually warp the wood. Does it make any difference whether I use yellow or white glue? ‑ Bill Lightfoot, Huntsville, Ala.
When choosing glue for outdoor wood kits, there’s a lot to consider.
A: You don’t mention if your structures/kits are indoors or outdoors. That makes a big difference in the type of adhesive you should use. Since you mentioned that this is a boat kit, I’m going to assume you’re referring to an outdoor project, or it’s something that will get wet.
In general, polyvinyl acetate glues (PVA), such as Elmer’s white glue, are not recommended for use on wood kits because the formula isn’t strong enough.
I looked at back issues of Garden Railways, and there were differing opinions on using carpenter’s glue for wood projects. Some loved it; others claimed the wood didn’t stay glued for long.
These days, there’s an abundance of glues available. For instance, Elmer’s carpenter glue is available in both an indoor, (Wood Glue, an aliphatic resin) and an indoor/outdoor (Wood Glue Max, a polyurethane) formula. Other brands, like Gorilla Glue and Titebond, also offer different wood glue formulations.
Aliphatic resin can take some moisture, but isn’t meant to be continually wet. The benefit is it’s relatively safe and cleans up easily with water before it dries.
Polyurethane glues are waterproof and will bond to a variety of surfaces including wood. Follow the instructions on the container; for these glues to activate, one surface should be wetted. Use these in a well-ventilated area with personal protective equipment (PPE).
If you’re looking for an alternative, I’ve had good luck with an adhesive called E6000. It’s waterproof, flexible, and can be used on wood, metal, glass, masonry, and concrete. A full cure can take up to 72 hours, so let it dry fully. This glue has a strong odor, so use in a well-ventilated area with PPE.
Learn more about other types of adhesives.
Kent Johnson reviews common types of adhesives in this video.