Which Glue is for You? Epoxy Part 1 of 4

by Dale on July 13, 2013


Epoxy is a two-part process.

1.) One part is a resin and

2.) the other part is the hardener.

Both parts must be mixed together, right before use. Some epoxy dries fast by design, like five-minute epoxy, and others are slow drying (20 – 30 minutes). You must mix these two parts together in the proper ratio.

Most epoxies are a 50-50 mix, but the more advanced or sophisticated epoxies use different ratios. They sell pumps which pump the correct amount automatically. This is the method I use for slow dry epoxy.MB_glue cans

  • When cured epoxy is 100% waterproof, I use epoxy on outdoor projects and sometimes for exterior doors. The slow dry product gives you plenty of time to get everything together and clamped. I also use epoxy when re-gluing chairs of lesser quality. It is also a good gap filler and it dries quite solid.
  • Squeeze-out with epoxy is unfortunately, somewhat difficult to clean up. You must use a solvent to clean it off wood. I used denatured alcohol or lacquer thinner and after everything dries I re-sand up to the glue joint.
  • The gap filling ability of epoxy will often come in handy. I also color my epoxy with fresco colors and thicken it with sanding dust. I use a five-minute epoxy thickened and colored for an excellent wood filler to fill knots, dents, holes and chips.

One of the many attributes of the filler is its staying power. It will never fall out, as other fillers may.MB_glue jars

Although it does take a lot longer than five minutes to dry enough to sand it off, it is well worth the wait. Usually it takes about one hour to dry completely.

If you cut a tendon too loose for a mortise, you can use thickening epoxy to glue the joint and it will hold very well. Just let the epoxy cure for at least 24 hours before you remove the clamps.

Epoxy will also bind just about anything.
It will glue glass, ceramic, steel (as in JB weld), leather, and brass. I have used it to make three-piece lamination doors, laminated rockers, ceiling beams (arched), laminated pedestals with steel cores, and many other kinds of demanding situations. I think it is the strongest, most waterproof glue available. Wooden boat builders, use it all the time, where a glue failure could be fatal in a storm on the ocean.

You can also use it in special applications to totally seal a door or outdoor bench. Encasing the wood in epoxy, waterproof, and stopping the word from expanding and contracting. This is what we use on outdoor cabinets, and some outdoor furniture and doors.

The epoxy won’t hold up to the UV light from the sun so you will have to coat the epoxy with a marine grade varnish of several coats. It must have UV inhibitors in the varnish, and you must use five coats or more. It’s all very time-consuming and expensive, which is why few people use it. But it will last five years or more and only needs a few touchups to keep it looking good.

****You should also wear gloves. If you don’t you can develop an allergy to the epoxy.

Another tip:
When using epoxy as a gap filler; you should first coat both surfaces with a thickened epoxy. This will make sure the epoxy gets a good “bite” on the raw wood, making it even stronger.

I like epoxy, I buy it by the gallon. It does have a long shelf life and although it can sometimes become too thick to pour out or to pump, just put it into a double boiler and once heated it will become thin again. Allow the epoxy to become cool then mix it as in the beginning. If you have questions about any aspect of epoxy, just ask in the comments below.

Build and Bond…

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Kellough July 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Hi Dale, thanks for the epoxy notes, some ideas I hadn’t heard before.
Can you elaborate on this paragraph please?
“When using second epoxy as a gap filler; you should first coat both surfaces with a thickened epoxy. This will make sure the epoxy gets a good “bite” on the raw wood, making it even stronger.”

What is second epoxy? Wouldn’t thinner epoxy be better for a first bite (goes deeper)?

Hope your arm gets better soon, Don’t keep it too still or you could get frozen shoulder. A lot more annoying than it sounds.


Dale Barnard August 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Good thing you questioned this because it was a typo or a mistake in the editing, which is now corrected. The proper method of using thickened epoxy as a gap filler is to coat both surfaces with the unthickened epoxy before applying the thickened so it gets a good Bite on the wood. (I don’t know what a second epoxy would be either!) Thanks for your concern about my shoulder, wearing the sling to allow it to rest at times during the evening. Now, it’s getting proper exercise as I am back to work. Dale


Lynn Ogden July 21, 2013 at 8:51 pm

I sort of wished I hadn’t started my daughter’s coffee table, from walnut that fell in a storm, which I had sawed and dried after a tornado about 2 years ago.
I could really use some help with stuff i have no experience with.
I enjoy your email, and I especially enjoyed your talk at the Kyanna Woodworkers meeting
a couple of years ago.



Dale Barnard August 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Hi Lynn, Feel free to call me and I will be glad to help with advice on the phone. You could also come to my shop for a private class as well. Thanks, Dale


Steve Schoemann July 22, 2013 at 4:21 am

Interesting = I have been thinking about using epoxy on the feet of Adirondack chair that I make. That is the on part that touches the ground and I would like to prevent moistures from working its way up into the wood.

By the way the shaker step stool turned out great. I may stain it next week.

What did you do to your arm?


Dale August 12, 2013 at 3:03 am

Hi Steve, That will work great on the feet of the chair. Dislocated my shoulder, its already improved considerably and I only wear the sling at night. While I wore the sling we had some laughs in class. See ya, Dale


james gordon February 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

After doing repair on chairs using West System, There is often a large amount of squeeze out. Epoxy on hands or furniture cleans up easy with vinegar. The downside is you will also find any cuts you have on your hands, It burns.
Thanks for the Article .


Dale Barnard February 7, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Thanks for the cleanup tip about vinegar, I didn’t know that and I will try it on my next epoxy job!


mark nagle March 11, 2014 at 4:48 am

Regarding the vinegar clean -up. I assume we are not talking about apple cider vinegar, so is white vinegar what you are using for clean up? Or…???


Dale March 21, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Hi Mark,
Actually both types of vinegar will work, but apple cider vinegar might stain the wood. So the white vinegar is best.



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