Does glue get too old?

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Forum topic by richgreer posted 06-08-2011 02:20 PM 4755 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4541 posts in 3068 days

06-08-2011 02:20 PM

I discovered a bottle of glue (Tite Bond 3) that had been on the shelf for some time and it was not well sealed. The glue was noticeably thicker than a new bottle but you could still easily pour it and spread it.

I wonder, would this glue have less holding power than newer glue?

I ask because I don’t know.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

17 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4212 days

#1 posted 06-08-2011 02:30 PM

Rich, the manufacturer definitely gives it a shelf life. I think it is about a year, but I don’t remember exactly.

I would say just because it was open is not a problem, but if it is several years old, it may have less holding power from what I’ve read.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3982 days

#2 posted 06-08-2011 02:34 PM

I have some glue from 2008 that I have been using with no noticeable difference in 2011. In fact that test that I made using glue over dye was made using that glue

I’m sure that the manufacturer will tell you to replace older glue so that they can sell more, but I don’t see them putting an expiration date in the bottle.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3092 days

#3 posted 06-08-2011 03:05 PM

Likewise, as Gary stated,
I am using Titebond that is 2 years old and I see no difference in consistency, color or strength.
I do store my glue’s and wood-filler’s in the house over the winter month’s as to keeping a consistent temperature in the 70 degree range.
I would assume that having any of these products go through extreme temperature changes, or not sealed tightly will in fact degrade their performance substantially.
If you see or suspect a change in color or thin/thickness, dispose of it and buy fresh. There is too much effort and cost in a project to chance a failure.
I would not want to take any chances on a chair or other piece failing and causing injury due to using a glue that might be suspect to a strength issue. Glue is pretty inexpensive compared to a liability issue.

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3656 days

#4 posted 06-08-2011 03:40 PM

Rich—I date the bottles when I open them. I have a bottle of Titebond III that was opened 5/23/09 and it seems to be doing fine.

I suspect there is a good deal of leeway between the manufacturer’s recommended shelf life and the actual shelf life. It may vary depending on the formula … Titebond I may not have as long of a shelf life as II or III since it has a much shorter ‘open’ time. Just a WAG.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7754 posts in 2907 days

#5 posted 06-08-2011 04:10 PM

FWIW, I am NOT saying this is the thing to do, but I happen to have a ~10yr old bottle of DAP Carpenters glue that has undergone the heating and freezing cycle all those years, turned mildewy once (added bleach to kill/clear) and it still appears to be usable. I no longer use it for anything, especially after getting into WW last year, SO THIS IS JUST AN OBSERVATION.

My thoughts are that I agree with Jim that keeping it from freezing may be the best thing to do for keeping it in its best usable state. I suspect that IF there is any loss of holding strength over time, that it is minimal and probably not anything to worry about for daily household fixes around the house. But if building fine furniture, then spend the minimal few extra $$$ to replace old glue, IMO.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Loren's profile (online now)


10373 posts in 3641 days

#6 posted 06-08-2011 04:11 PM

Yes. It does get old and when it does you probably shouldn’t use
it for gluing your fine work. I use old glue sometimes for slapping
together shop jigs and experiments though.

With white glue you can sort of tell by the smell. It smells a bit
sweet when fresh.

I haven’t dealt with frozen glue issues.

White glue does last longer if refrigerated, according to Luthier’s
Mercantile, who sell a white glue for instrument making.

In my personal experience, yellow glue doesn’t seem to stay
“fresh” as long as white. It seems to get gummy and adding
water doesn’t thin it down again like you can do with white glue.

View Paul2274's profile


330 posts in 3106 days

#7 posted 06-08-2011 04:26 PM

Just like some of us…. we get old and dried up and start to crack and don’t hold things as tight as we used to ;)


View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3053 days

#8 posted 06-08-2011 04:48 PM

Why take the risk?

Throw it away and but a new one.

you can try it on scrap, to see if it dry .
They usually last at least 3-4 years. Unless they are stored in 70 degress or above weather.

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3044 days

#9 posted 06-08-2011 05:05 PM

There is an easy way to tell if your glue is still in “working order” by testing it out.

American Woodworker has a 12-step glue-up tutorial/article, and testing your glue is the 8th topic down:

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3092 days

#10 posted 06-08-2011 05:12 PM

Horizontal Mike,
Titebond is water based. You know what happens to water based paint if it freezes.
Not good.

View knotscott's profile


8006 posts in 3369 days

#11 posted 06-08-2011 05:19 PM

I tend to buy smaller bottles of glue so it’s more likely to get used promptly and less likely to get old. When you consider the cost of the wood and the time invested in a given project, it’s just not worth taking a chance with $4 worth of old glue if the project is important. It might be fine, but it might not…the downside is pretty signifnicant.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3044 days

#12 posted 06-08-2011 05:24 PM

knotscott, I completely agree with you. I have a quart of TBIII that’s been open for about a year now. Seems to still be doing fine, but I’ll probably toss it in the next 3-6-months. I bought the quart because it was on sale and only $1-2 at the time and I wasn’t sure how much glue I’d be using as I had just started woodworking at the time.

I might buy that size again in the future, especially if it’s on sale as I’ll likely be using more glue over the next year, than I have since I opened it. With that being said, I still have a little over half a bottle left. I’ll probably end up using about half the bottle or a bit more before it gets tossed. I’d rather avoid the pitfalls and frustrations of a failed glue-up due to something as simple and cheap as using fresh glue.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View helluvawreck's profile


31019 posts in 2860 days

#13 posted 06-08-2011 09:01 PM

Because my shop gets real cold in the winter I become a little nervous about old glue but I hardly ever throw it away. I do get a new bottle every now and then because of this. None of what I’m saying about this makes any sense really. At least I will have a newer bottle if I get really worried.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3068 days

#14 posted 06-08-2011 09:11 PM

Let me say that, in general, this is not an issue for me because I go through a 16 oz. bottle of Tite Bond III at least once every 2 months. However, I found this old bottle that had hidden away in the back of a storage closet. It was a little thicker than new glue but appeared to work okay.

I raised the question more because of curiosity than anything else. If I had any doubts about a glue I would not take the chance on an important piece of work.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3092 days

#15 posted 06-08-2011 09:14 PM

Living in the Chicago area, in the late fall I bring anything I think will be affected by severe cold. It can get to -20 for extended periods of time in the dead of winter.
I collect all of my cordless batteries, glue’s, water based stains etc. and in the spring when I go back to the hobby, I’m good to go.

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