Cold weather and wood glue

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Forum topic by Firefighter posted 12-08-2010 03:43 PM 29644 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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96 posts in 2972 days

12-08-2010 03:43 PM

I have some cutting boards that I need to get going and I am working in an unheated (32 F) garage. The glue bottle says 45 or higher. Will this make the glue not work or just extend drying time? Also, if I glue up and bring in the house (until my wife gets home 6hrs later) can they go back out in the cold garage to cure? If it just extends the dry time, what would the clamp time be? I am using titebond III. Thanks for the ideas.

18 replies so far

View depictureboy's profile


420 posts in 3841 days

#1 posted 12-08-2010 03:54 PM

if you dont take them into the house, the glue will actually crystalize and turn a powdery white and will fail. I speak from experience. Either find a way to heat that area, or you will need to take the pieces in. It would be even better if you can take the pieces in, let them acclimate, take them back out glue them up and take them back inside.

The reason why i would take them in first is that the wood will be just as cold and will affect the glue curing just as much as the ambient temperature

-- If you can't build it, code it. If you can't code it, build it. But always ALWAYS take a picture.

View MarcusM's profile


57 posts in 3179 days

#2 posted 12-08-2010 04:16 PM

Hi Firefighter; before I had a heated shop I used to cover my glue-ups with an old electric blanket…works very well and I never had any problems. Just make sure that the glue is at or near room temp before you do your glue-up. Was always easy finding old electric blankets at second-hand stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army and such. Hope this helps

Regards, Mark

-- Tilbilly Mark

View nate22's profile


475 posts in 3073 days

#3 posted 12-08-2010 04:44 PM

If I were you and if you can I would take them inside glue them and when the glue is completly dry then I would take them back out into the garage. I only say this because I tried glueing something outside in the garage when it’s cold. I am like you I work in a garage and really don’t have any heat source. So I glue everything inside in the winter time.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 3159 days

#4 posted 12-08-2010 05:18 PM

you could use PU glue, as long as it isn’t freezing. don’t worry too much about the min temp written on those bottles.
with waterbased glues you better do follow the indicated limit, and if the bottle has frozen you can toss it away.
a good indicator is to see if it cures and becomes transparent when yoy whipe it on a surface. if it turns white it is too cold!
and if you do bring them inside, let the wood heat up a while. its not the air temp that matter but the wood temp!

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3740 days

#5 posted 12-08-2010 06:53 PM

You could also call titebond. They have a great customer service and will answer all your questions about the glue…

-- Childress Woodworks

View Firefighter's profile


96 posts in 2972 days

#6 posted 12-08-2010 09:25 PM

I decided to bring the wood and glue inside to acclimate and then glue up. I will just leave it inside to dry. Thanks for the ideas.

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4090 days

#7 posted 12-09-2010 03:51 AM

Titebond will disintegrate when it freezes. If you glue it up in the house, let it dry, and put it back in the garage in freezing temperatures, the joints will weaken and eventually fail. It says right on the bottle: “DO NOT FREEZE”. I’ve been there and have the T-shirt to prove it.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View snowdog's profile


1166 posts in 4181 days

#8 posted 12-09-2010 04:49 PM

I never thought of that. So I should not leave my 1 gal glue bottles in my shop if it drops below 32 degrees?

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4073 days

#9 posted 12-09-2010 05:45 PM

Don’t let your water-based glue bottles freeze. The glue will be significantly weaker after.

Once the glue has cured it should be okay to freeze, though. I’ve never heard that you should prevent freezing of cured glue. Titebond II and III both indicate that they are “ideal for exterior woodworking projects, including outdoor furniture, birdhouses, mailboxes, planters and picnic tables.” Most of these projects in most of the US will be exposed to freezing temperatures. Might be a good question for Titebond customer service.

-- -- --

View Vercingetorix's profile


2 posts in 2139 days

#10 posted 02-15-2013 05:18 PM

Just to add to the information for other bumbling unheated shop workers like myself, I just called the titebond tech support line after a failed glue up.

My situation was that I glued a butt joint and kept it clamped for about an hour. Ambient temperature was fairly high (50’s) but it had gotten down to the 30’s overnight. As soon as I took the clamps off, the boards fell apart, and there was a combination of overly runny glue and drier areas with a white, powdery appearance, i.e. “chalking.”

In talking to tech support, I learned that the glue should stand up to 5-10 freeze cycles, but that as long as it has its usual creamy, liquid texture, it will be fine to use. The things that actually have an impact on the glue action are the temperature of the glue, the substrate (wood), and ambient temperature. However, even if the glue is on the cool side, the thermal mass of wood at the proper temperature should quickly get it up to the right level for proper bonding.

If the glue has undergone a permanent chemical change because of freezing, it will either be solid in the bottle, or have a grainy texture.

The Upshot: Don’t throw away your glue just because it froze. If the texture is solid, gummy, or granular, throw it away. The main thing is to get the wood up to the proper temperature, which is around 55F minimum, before gluing your joints. This can take a while, unfortunately.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7681 posts in 2999 days

#11 posted 02-15-2013 05:26 PM

Nothing is more frustrating that a failed glue joint. My shop is heated, I keep it around 60, but I still bring glueups inside during the winter and put them by the fireplace.

Thanks for the info Vercingetorix!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2446 days

#12 posted 02-15-2013 05:30 PM

It won’t work. If you glue has been left outside in that weather longer than 12 hours, it’s trash (whether you warm it up or not)

It’s important to note your workpieces need to acclimate as well. Din’t just bring cold wood inside and slap some glue on them. Wait until they are at room temperature as well.

Edit – I saw the info from Titebond, but I’m not sure I would take a chance – especially on something like a cutting board, and especially something I would sell to someone else.


View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2685 days

#13 posted 02-15-2013 05:32 PM

My question is: Why are you afraid of your wife?

Put something on that nice dining room antique walnut table so the glue doesn’t hurt it, then tell the wife you can’t move it until it dries completely.

Hint: don’t use paper towels to go between the glue up and the table.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Jeff's profile


489 posts in 3393 days

#14 posted 02-15-2013 05:53 PM

I don’t know about freezing temperatures but my garage regularly dips down into the high 40’s in the winter. For 20 years I’ve glued and clamped and stored the glue under those conditions. Never had anything break apart under those conditions.

View ChuckV's profile


3178 posts in 3725 days

#15 posted 02-15-2013 07:06 PM

I once posted about these questions and included some information from Titebond customer service:

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

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