Wood Glue vs Wood Filler – What’s the Difference?

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Never used wood filler before? What about wood glue? If you are new to the world of woodworking, you may not have experienced these amazing tools.

There’s a satisfaction that comes from sawing perfectly in a straight line, to the right depth, doing 95% of the work with your saw. Then shaping the wood with a variety of tools until it becomes something unique to you, something you’ve built with your own two hands, well with the tools you have as well. But it was you who was wielding those tools.

Whether you are a newcomer or a DIY enthusiast, there are two things you are 100 percent going to want to have in your woodworking cabinet, and those are wood glue and wood filler.

When you embark on a new project, having all the tools you need at hand before you start the project ensures success. For me, these two are vital for all my woodworking projects.

With the amount of overlap between wood filler, wood glue, and wood putty, it can get a little confusing as to when to use one over the other.

So I’ve put together this guide on wood glue vs. wood filler, so you know when it’s best to use each one.

Wood Glue vs. Wood Filler

Wood filler vs. wood putty

Let’s start out by cover the difference between wood filler and wood putty. If you google what the differences are, you’ll likely find that the majority of the results will come back for wood putty, and that’s not an accident.

There is a huge amount of overlap between these two, not least because they perform the same basic function, and that’s to fill holes and crevices in pieces of wood.

The main difference between these is the consistency of each of these and how they fill the spaces in the pieces of wood.

Wood filler is typically made from sawdust and fibres, which are blended together with a special wood binder. While wood putty is made from epoxy.

When it comes to consistency, wood filler hardens overtime while putty does not. Filler is not designed to be waterproof, it will shrink and crack and dry up when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods. So wood filler is best used on projects that will be left indoors.

Wood Glue

On the other hand, wood glue does exactly what it says on the tin, or in this case bottle. This is a type of glue that is specially designed to adhere to the wood. Now, not every type of glue can do this, and when you are working with a large scale DIY or professional woodworking project, well chances are, you’ll either be using super glue or gorilla glue to get the job done.

You may be wondering why you would use wood glue over nails, firstly the easy of application, then you have the fact that glue can be invisible, whereas, with nails, you would need to hide the holes/nail heads.

Wood glue is easy to use, you just point and apply, it doesn’t require any hammering or worrying about driving a nail in straight, or using power tools to drive a nail in.

Plus, as mentioned above, once you’ve driven nails into a project, you’ll need to find a way to cover them up. Another thing that you won’t need to worry about with wood glue.

Plus, wood glue is great for everything from joining two pieces together, securing joints and repairing cracks, this is an adhesive that you must have on hand if you are working with wood.

Now, it’s not without its drawbacks, for one thing. At the same time, you’ll find that wood glue, for the most part, is largely safe to use, you’ll want to keep an eye on any toxicity reports when using something like gorilla glue. Plus, when working with these extra strength adhesives such as wood glue, I highly advise doing so in a well-ventilated area to reduce the likelihood of inhaling any dangerous fumes.

Then we come to temperature, wood glue isn’t designed to be used in extremely hot temperatures. So if you are working in extremely hot climates, you’ll want to take care to cover your wood glue in something which is more weather resistant. There are many brands of wood glue to choose from.

When to use each

Now you know the differences between the two. It’s time to cover when it’s best to use wood glue and when it’s best to use wood filler.

Firstly wood filler isn’t meant to be used outside. When exposed to the elements, wood expands, and wood filler will not expand in line with it. So if you are going to be working with your project outside or if once completed, it will live outside, then you’ll want to look at wood putty or even wood glue (mixed with sawdust) to fill any cracks or crevices.

Whether you can use wood glue to fill those holes will depend on the size and the nature of the hole. A small hole can be filled by joining different pieces of wood together, which is exactly what wood glue is designed to do, add sawdust, and the hole may even be invisible.

Certain wood glue brands, such as gorilla glue, can also take some time to fully dry or cure. On the other hand, wood filler will set up a lot faster in terms of drying time and application.

Wrap Up

Hopefully, I’ve managed to show you what to use and when. So now, you’ll know when to incorporate both wood glue and wood filler into your woodworking projects. I also hope you can see that this really isn’t a case of wood glue vs. wood filler, they have different jobs to accomplish, and both have their place.

Wood Glue vs Wood Filler - What’s the Difference?
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