Wood Glue vs Wood Filler

If you love the world of DIY, chances are that you’re more than familiar with the wide world of woodworking. There’s a certain satisfaction that comes sawing, smoothing, and shaping a piece of wood to perfection with nothing but your own two hands – and, of course, whatever tools you may have on hand.

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a newcomer, two things that you are going to want to have in your woodworking cabinet are wood glue and wood filler. When embarking on any project, it’s always necessary to ensure that you have the right tools for the job on hand before getting started, and both of these are vital for many woodworking projects.

Even so, given the amount of overlap that there can be between wood filler, wood putty, and wood glue, it can start to feel a little confusing, and the question of when to use which can loom large.

Here, then, is a quick overview of the particulars of wood glue vs. wood filler, and when it’s best to use each.

Wood Glue vs Wood Filler

Wood Filler vs. Wood Putty

Let’s begin by drawing a distinction between wood filler and wood putty. If you Google around for one, you’ll likely find search results for the latter, and that’s no accident. There is a fair amount of overlap between these two, not least because they perform the same basic function – filling holes and crevices in wood pieces.

Their consistency and how they fill those spaces is what helps define them. Wood filler is typically made from sawdust and fibers blended together in a special wood binder, while wood putty is made from epoxy. The consistency of wood filler hardens, while putty does not. Filler is not designed to be waterproof, and it will shrink, crack, and dry up when exposed to sunlight, so it is thus best used indoors.

Wood Glue

Meanwhile, wood glue is just what it says on the bottle – a type of glue that is specially designed to adhere to wood. Not every kind of glue can do this, and when it comes to working with large scale DIY and professional woodworking products, chances are that you’ll be using either super glue or gorilla glue to get the job done.

A natural question is why you should use wood glue instead of nails. Ease of application is one answer. Wood glue is as easy to use as pointing and applying, and it doesn’t require the extra effort of hammering in a nail straight. What’s more, while you’ll typically want to cover up nails with paint, there’s no such need with wood glue.

Add to that the fact that wood glue is good for use in everything from joining joints to repairing cracks, and the popularity of these adhesives should be clear.

That said, wood glue isn’t without its own drawbacks. For one thing, while wood glue is largely safe, you will want to keep an eye out for toxicity reports when using something like gorilla glue. In addition, you’ll always want to be sure to use extra strength adhesives such as wood glue in a well-ventilated area, lest you risk inhaling dangerous fumes.

Then there’s the question of temperature. Wood glue isn’t designed to be used in extremely hot temperatures. If you are working in an extremely hot climate, you’ll want to take care to cover your wood glue with something which is more weather resistant. There are various different brands of wood glue to choose from, and I wrote all about five of these great brands of wood glue here.

When to Use Each

Now that we have introduced the two, it’s time to answer the question of when it’s better to use wood glue and when wood filler is the better option.

As previously stated, wood filler isn’t designed to be used outside. When exposed to the elements, wood expands, and wood filler will not expand along with it. If you are working with wood outside, you will thus want to look to wood putty or even wood glue to fill cracks and crevices.

Whether you can use wood glue to fill those holes will naturally depend on the size and nature of the hole. A small hole or one that can be filled by joining different pieces of wood together – which is what wood glue is designed to do – can be remedied by it. Other cases are likely better served by wood putty.


Both wood glue and wood filler can be used indoors with ease. Wood glue can sometimes be detected by its odor. While this odor can usually be masked, if you don’t want to deal with it and are just looking to fill some cracks or holes, wood filler may be the way to go.

Certain wood glues, especially gorilla glue, can also take some time to dry. By contrast, wood filler can be a lot faster to use in terms of application and drying times.

By knowing which to use and when, you’ll be able to incorporate both wood glue and wood filler into your woodworking projects with the greatest success.

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