CA Glue – The Woodworking Problem Solver

Video - July 23, 2021

CA (cyanoacrylate) glue is a handy thing to have in the shop. It dries fast, comes in several viscosities, and can solve a lot of problems for the woodworker. Oddly enough, the thing I use CA glue for the least is gluing together joinery, mostly because a traditional wood glue is easier to use, works better, is safer and is less expensive. But it’s still worth having a bottle or two around the shop.

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Here are just a few of the things you can do with CA Glue and the viscosities I recommend. I’ll spoil the ending: I think you’re best off buying two: Medium and either Thick or Gel

  • Small Finger Joints (Thin CA) – Let’s say you’ve made a small decorative box or some other light-duty project and you have a bunch of finger joints to glue up. It’s kind of a pain to apply wood glue to all of those little fingers so an alternative option is to assemble the joints dry, then apply THIN Ca Glue over the joint, letting the glue soak into the wood and the space between the fingers.
  • Firming Up Soft Wood (Thin CA) – If you’re working woods like spalted maple, you might find some areas of your boards that are soft and easy to dent. CA glue can be used to firm up the fibers.
  • Tearout (Gel, Thick, Medium CA) – Tearout is a fact of life in the wood shop. Sometimes you can recover the torn out piece and you can glue it right back in place. Other times you might need to cut a patch out of scrap, but you can still attach it with CA glue.
  • Small Cracks and Joinery Gaps (Medium CA) – If you’re board has small hairline cracks or maybe your joinery is a little gappy, you can use a mixture of CA glue and sawdust to make a serviceable filler.
  • Knot Fills and Stabilization (Medium CA) – Small knots can be filled and stabilized using CA glue. Because it dries clear, the knot looks fairly natural as the dark color inside the knot shows through the CA glue layer.
  • Figured Wood Tearout (Thick CA) – Sometimes when planing heavily figured woods, you can end up with lots of little divots in the surface. If using a clear topcoat that dries to a film, you can pre-fill the tearout with CA glue, sand it smooth, and then topcoat with your finish.
  • Miter Clamp Blocks (Thick or Gel CA) – Using CA glue you can temporarily attach clamping blocks to a frame, as long as the clamp block is made from a wood that’s softer than the wood of the frame.
  • Dark Streaks and Knots (Dark CA Glue) – As an alternative to a clear CA glue, you can use a pigmented glue to create a darker fill.
  • Template Routing Double Stick Tape Alternative (Thick or Gel CA) – Using blue tape and CA glue, we can firmly attach templates to our workpieces without doing any damage.