Wood Glue vs Joints vs Screws- Reviewing 3 of the Best Wood Joining Products

I like to refer to wood glue and screws in my woodworking activities as the peanut butter to my jelly. It is almost impossible to mention any wood joint minus wood glue and a wood screw.

Wood glues and screws are instrumental in any woodworking project as they are primarily used to combine pieces of wood.

As much as these items do almost the same work, they can be used together for even better results.

This article looks into the wood glue vs joints vs screws. Here’s what I have for your:

Wood Glue vs Joints vs Screws

In this section, I’ll look at these components separately, discuss their uses, similarities, difference as well as the advantages that each has over the other. Keep reading for more:

What Is Wood Glue?

Image of a Glue for Joining PlywoodWe can best describe wood glue as an adhesive used to tighten or bond pieces of wood together.

This adhesive is often made of polyvinyl acetate (PVA) resin combined with a hardener. 

When used in woodwork, the wood glue holds tight-fitting joints by forming a rigid, porous structure between the attached pieces of wood.

It is flexible in its use and is water-resistant.

Wood glue is classified into three general categories: yellow (polyvinyl acetate), the most common type of glue used in household woodwork; it is often packed in a tub or an easy application bottle.

White glue,  sometimes considered the carpenter’s glue, is less firm than yellow glue and more flexible.

Epoxy is a wood glue composed of resin and hardeners mixed in a ratio of 1:1. This glue contains an accelerator that speeds up the cure time.

Uses of Wood Glue

The development in the wood industry has positively impacted the increased use of wood material, including wood glue.

Today wood adhesives are quite the catch in the wood industry, as reflected by their high demand.

The flexibility and creativity encouraged in woodwork allow the improvisation of wood in several activities.

Below, we will discuss some of the uses of these wood adhesives.

  • Wood glue is primarily used as a holding agent in woodwork. Joining pieces of wood in your carpentry structure can be such a nightmare. While one has the choice of regular glue, it may hold your wood pieces as tightly as you want. Wood glue would do a perfect job for you as using it is quite simple and very strong once it dries up.
  • Wood glue is also used in decoration, especially when fixing large pieces of wood. You can use glue to decorate wooden skirting boards and frames. To do this, you need to apply a generous amount of glue to the back of your wooden skirt, which will help fixate the item to a wall while you secure it more efficiently. Wood glue is the best go-to tool when adding a final decoration to a wooden structure. Not to mention, the wood glue can discretely fix down those wooden tiles in your favorite room.
  • Wood glue is useful in making minor repairs. It is quite handy when dealing with a broken piece of furniture or other damaged parts around your house. Other than fixing holes on a wall, wood glue can also fix those shelves bottoms that have become loose in your house or work area.
  • Wood glue is an incredibly helpful tool when handling your craft work. Tiny amounts of glue are constantly used in holding the small pieces of wood together. By doing so, you can create large wooden structures, which are held together as tightly as you desire. There is the option of using the adhesive glues that come with the craft packs; however, these glues are often weak and inefficient. Your wood glue will be cost-effective in your craft hobby as it will save you the money you would have used in buying low-quality glue. It will also speed up your craft activity as it dries up quickly.
  • If you want to give your painted material some special effects, wood glue is the answer to your problem. It can be mixed with wood stains and pigment powders to give your painting an amazing and unique effect. Try staining or lacquering before or after gluing, ensuring that it does not drop on the finished surface as it can leave an undesirable permanent mark.
  • Lastly, your wood glue will help veneer parts of a woodworking project.

Advantages of Wood Glue

The wood glue mentioned in the article has been used for a long time as a backbone in the carpentry field.

Its application is quite simple as very few skills are required in its usage.

It also holds wooden joints so tightly that the wood around the glue can come off faster than the glue joint when subjected to stress. The following are some of its advantages.

  • It is easy to apply as it requires no special skills.
  • Some of the basic wood glues do not emit toxic fumes; hence you will not need to work outdoors or open your windows when working with the wooden glues.
  • When wet, the glue can be washed out with water or acetone, easily available substances. No harsh chemicals are needed to remove them.
  • Wood glues can be used for a long time when working, approximately 30 minutes.
  • It will also provide a strong edge grain to edge grain connections on your wood; hence you can comfortably use it in many creative works in your operation.
  • Other types of wood glue are waterproof and can be used outside.
  • Wood glue is so versatile that it can be used in many materials.

Cons of a Wood Glue

  • PVA, also known as wood glue, is limited in its use because it only works on porous material. The strength of this glue depends on its ability to penetrate a wood surface. It forms a molecular bond through the wood’s tiny cell structures. However, this bond may not be as tight when used on smooth surfaces.
  • Most of the wood glues are naturally not structural. They tend to stretch or deform when used in a long-term load. The stretching can have small consequences, such as shifted parts on the wood joint that would show misalignment in the glue areas. Sometimes the effects are as serious as having a complete joint failure.
  • Wood glues don’t work best in cold temperatures. Woodworkers are often advised to apply the wood glue at a recommended wood temperature; failure to which, the glue films will not form properly.
  • White and yellow wood glues have a limited shelf life. The period for use is estimated between one to three years.
  • A wood glue curing time may take up to 24 hours; this is such a long time, especially when you want to get things done as fast as possible.
  • While some wood glue is mostly water-resistant, other standard wood glues are not, so you can barely use them in your outdoor projects unless your packaging states otherwise.
  • Lastly, wood glue must be supplemented by other materials such as clumps to work efficiently. The items being held together must be clamped together or weighed down to achieve the desired bond, yet you cannot achieve this by using wood glue independently.

What Are Wood Joints?

Image of 3 way Miter Joint In Types of Wood JointsWood joints are one of the most vital aspects of woodworking because you rarely have a project that won’t need some form of a wood joint.

Wood joints are created to give your project strength, flexibility, toughness, and appearance.

A wood joint is a part of a woodworking process that combines pieces of wood to create complicated structures.

Different techniques may be used in producing wood joints; it all depends on the woodwork project you are working with.

For instance, the wood joints used in constructing house joinery differ from those used in making a cabinet joint.

Common types of wood joints used in projects include the butt joint, biscuit joint, bridle joint, dovetail joint, finger joint, lap joint, mortise and tenon joint, rabbet joint, pocket hole joinery, and tongue and groove joint.

Uses Of Wood Joints

  • A butt joint is a traditional type of wood joint mainly used to fix baseboards and window trims. This joint works best when you are more concerned with the pace of your project completion than the final look.
  • Bridle joint is another traditional joining method used in joining rafter tops. It is also used in scarf joints and timber framing as a sill corner joint.
  • Dowel joints are used I creating stability of a weaker wooden joint like a butt joint. They are not just attractive, but very strong as well. 
  • Box joints are used in making boards and solid panels of wood, used in joining wider slate. Making this joint is quite easy and can be a mass product.
  • A dovetail joint is a form of a box joint that involves locking fingers with diagonal cuts. With the strength ad resistance offered from the dovetail joint, it serves efficiently in joining wooden furniture.
  • Dado joint, one of the strongest wooden joints, is used in building cabinets and bookshelves. They are usually made using a table saw or a router.
  • Groove joints are also similar to dado joints. They are mainly used in making cabinets and other wooden work. This joint is also used in panel construction and the bottom of drawers.
  • Groove and tongue joints are used as floor boards, lining boards, wood paneling, and table tops.
  • One of the most classic wooden joints is the mortise and tenon joint. Woodworkers have used it for the longest time in assembling various projects that need strength and reliability. The mortise and tenon joint is the strongest joint in wooden work.
  • A rebate joint is a form of the traditional butt joint that has a groove cut at the end of the timber. This joint is useful in your general carpentry work or cabinet making.
  • A miter joint has minimal strength compared to other types of joints. It is used for trimming and molding purposes.

Pros and Cons of Wood Joints

As discussed earlier, wood joints differ depending on your woodwork project. You will also find that the different types of joints have advantages and disadvantages.

Butt Joint Pros and Cons

Butt joints are the easiest type of joints a woodworker can make. However, it merely glues the pieces of wood together since an end-grain is joined to a long wood grain by the weakest sections using plates or pins. For this reason, a butt joint is easily broken if it is not stabilized.

Dovetail Joint Pros & Cons

The dovetail joint has remarkable strength and is resistant to pulling apart. 

Dovetail joint needs precision in its cutting; hence is not the best option for a beginner in woodworking.

Dowel Joint Pros & Cons 

It is easy to make a dowel joint as it is a quick process.

With a dowel joint, you will achieve a great finish in your project.

Using a dowel joint eliminates the need for screws, nails, and other equipment.

These joints are also remarkably strong, especially when using multiple rows of the dowel.

On the contrary, dowel joints can cause misalignment of joints in your woodwork project. 

It also causes shearing.

Dowel joint does not allow for a face to face contact.

Finger Joint Pros

Finger joints make straighter joints compared to other types of joints.

In creating a finger joint, less wood is wasted; hence, it is an excellent, cost-effective joint.

Finger joints have a longer life span when used for a vertical load.

When combined with adhesives, finger joints can create stronger joinery than mortise and tenon.


Finger joints can come out crooked.

It is harder to achieve a smooth wall when using it.

Bridle Joint Pros & Cons

Making a bridle joint is simple compared to the mortise and tenon joint.

They are effective in the construction of narrow frames.

It is simple to cut a bridle joint since it does not need a mortising machine.

However, you can see an end grain when using a bridle joint, which is quite unattractive in your woodwork project.

Rebate Joint pros and Cons

The surfaces of a rebate joint are big enough; you will not need a timber block when using this joint.

Rebate joints are not strong enough. You need to supplement it with dowels, screws, or nails to strengthen it.

What Are Deck Screws?

Deck screws are threaded fasteners specially designed for building decks. They are characterized by a tip, a shank, and a head. The head contains a recess of a particular type of bit, such as Philip’s head.

Uses of Deck Screws

Deck screws are tools specifically designed to build decks. They are used on the decking to fasten boards. They are useful in installing rails and building frames.

Advantages of Deck Screws

  • Deck screws are long-lasting.

Image of deck screw but is it #8 or #10 Screws for Decking?Deck-screws are made of material that is corrosive resistant, thus enabling them to withstand the elements and remain tightly fastened in a place.

They are also specially designed in a way that makes it difficult to break them even when subjected to pressure.

  • Cost-Effectiveness

Deck-screws is a relatively cheap choice for fastening your deck. Stainless steel decks work as great corrosion resistance.

If your budget can’t afford the stainless steel, a coated deck screw will work just as well.

  • Versatility

Deck screws come in various materials and colors. You can get them in galvanized, coated, or stainless steel. They are also available in reds, greens, browns, and gray hues. 

  • Deck screws are perfect for low clearance decks or wide decking boards.

Disadvantages of Deck Screws

  • Deck screws can pose a safety hazard following the nature of their installation. The deck screws are installed from the top down, leaving a threat of getting loose and working their way up. As a result, they will stick above the deck surface, which can injure a bare-footed person or trip those wearing shoes.
  • Deck screws are considered unattractive since some property owners prefer a clean and seamless look for their deck surface. However, alternatives such as the hidden deck screws were invented to make up for such small inconveniences.

Wood Glue Vs Joints Vs Screw

The debate on wood glue versus screws in joining pieces of wood together has existed for a long time.

For some woodworkers, wood glue is not strong enough to strongly hold their pieces of wood together and should therefore be supplemented by using screws alongside it.

  • Wood glues and screws serve a common purpose of holding pieces of wood together. In constructing an extremely strong structure, you are advised to use wood glue and screws to achieve the perfect bond within your structure.
  • Wood glue is stronger than screws because it is applied across the wood. While a screw can only hold a specific joint of your wood, the glue is evenly spread on the wood, allowing it to soak into the wood fibers and essentially welds them together.
  • While wood glue can be used in almost all types of wood, screws are limited in their use. Not every type of wood can be fastened with a regular screw. For instance, cedar wood may “eat” some screws which are not properly coated.
  • Depending on the types of joints used in a project, they are often stronger and more durable than screws. We use joints and wood glue together. Therefore, the increased glue surfaces give the joint more strength and power than screws. Screws can easily strip out from wood; a joint would not.
  • Screws are more expensive than wood glue, especially when working with high volumes of wood. You would need as many screws as possible to hold your pieces together. Buying them will cost you quite a fortune than a bottle of glue.
  • If you intend to disassemble your wood pieces after completing your project, screws will work best for you. Screws allow easy disassembly, while wood glue doesn’t.
  • Lastly, wood glue is your friend if you want a clean project finish because they hardly leave a visible mark. Screws will leave holes on your pieces, which will demand you to work on covering them after your project completion.

Generally, there is no definitive answer to whether you should use wood glue, screws, or joints in your woodwork.

Using either item entirely depends on the type of project you are working on.

It would be best if you examined your project to determine the best way you want to hold your pieces of wood together.

Final Thoughts

Wood glue, joints, and screws are essential items in your woodwork project. You will likely use either or all of these items in your structure.

However, you are also likely to face confusion on what decision to make regarding the item to use in your work. We cannot dismiss one for being less effective than the other as they are all project-handy.

All you need to do is examine the type of project you are working on and the type of wood, and voila! The information in this article will guide you on the best tool to use, depending on your project.

Meanwhile, have fun by creatively using the glue, screws, and joints in your projects.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.