Boat building is a specialised area of woodworking requiring specialised glues. The aspects of strength, longevity, and resistance to water degradation has been studied extensively by technical experts, who present their findings freely to the general public. Using the wrong glue, that releases while the boat is far offshore, can be disastrous. Familiarise yourself with the findings, and make informed decisions when choosing an appropriate glue.
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Wood technical adviser John Welsford points out some facts about resorcinal-based glue. He states this glue was developed shortly after World War II, and used extensively in boatbuilding until the 1960s, when epoxy-based glues were developed. This glue is waterproof after curing but cleans up with water when uncured. Resorcinol glue requires tight fitting joints with no gaps and strong clamping when curing. Usually, large C-clamps or large glue clamps provide the correct pressure.
Epoxy glues are two-part glues. A resin is mixed with a hardener, and the glue cures by chemical action, as opposed to air-drying like other glues. This glue is waterproof, and commonly used in modern wooden boat building. It does not require close fitting parts, but rather it fills gaps. It only needs moderate clamping during the curing phase. Epoxy glue is available in various cures times. Use quick curing only for fast jobs. If you have to align parts and spend time clamping, use a slow overnight cure; you do not want the glue to cure before the parts are clamped together.
Polyurethane based glues, unlike epoxy glues, are used straight out of the bottle, with no mixing of hardener. The glue requires a tight fitting joint, and pressure clamping during the cure time. "DIY Wood Boat" notes that moisture is required to use this glue effectively, so the wood has to be slightly moistened with water before applying the glue to the surfaces to be joined. These glues are waterproof, but Welsford expresses concern about the strength. He ran strength tests, and had several glue failures.
Urea Formaldehyde-Based Glue
Urea Formaldehyde glue is a three-part glue. A powder is mixed in with water to form a paste. Afterwards, an acid is added in to start the curing process. Welsford states tight fitting joints and a high pressure are required for a good glue bond. This glue leaves a clear, almost invisible glue line. This glue is water resistant, but not water proof, according to "DIY Wood Boat."
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