How to Decide Between Screws and Wood Glue?

Screws and Wood Glue are both fasteners that can still do its job well in combining wood, and other materials. Each has a unique set of pros and cons depending on the material that you use. So, how to decide what to use between screws and Wood Glue? How would you know which one should you choose for any specific project?

Wood Glue is more versatile. You can use it for fixing cracks on your wooden workpiece, and hold pieces of wood securely. Overall, applying Wood Glue in the most fundamental things in woodworking. Wood Glue is stronger than screws, but you can use the latter if you don’t want to wait for too long. However, you may want to avoid using Wood Glue under hot temperatures. It becomes less efficient, or, worst, useless at all. For assurance, it is better to use a combination of both if the project is for holding heavy materials. 

This article will help you choose between screws and Wood Glue by understanding their differences. By the end of it, you’ll be able to identify when and where to use these fasteners. Moreover, you’ll have better decision-making when it comes to deciding what to use between screws and Wood Glue.

When to Use Wood Glue?

Wood Glue is a durable adhesive material. When it comes to woodworking, it is the most effective and cleanest way to join pieces of wood for all applications. Wood Glue comes in various types with specific purposes. Regardless of its kind, here are some of its general use.

  • Breaks in the Wood. You can use a small amount of Wood Glue once you see a break in your wooden workpiece. A few drops are enough to bond broken pieces of wood back together. Since the Wood Glue dries, you can sand it to remove any excess blobs and patches. Sanding will also help you have a smooth finish and make it look more professional.
  • Secure Pieces of Wood. The primary purpose of Wood Glue is to hold pieces of wood together in place. You can also drill in screws for more robust support, especially if you plan on hanging your workpiece on the wall. This method helps in securing the workpieces together permanently. 
  • Decoration. Wood Glue makes a better finish, which is ideal if you want to have a clean board. There would be no visible heads, and the workpiece will look like it’s just a single piece of wood — for example, wooden skirting boards and frames. Applying a large amount of wood glue along the back of a wooden board or framework secures them more efficiently. Nevertheless, Wood Glue is the cleanest way to add final decoration to any wooden workpiece.
  • Create more Crafts. Wood Glue is more suitable to use in crafting. It is because of the tiny amounts of wood glue used for fixing small pieces of wood and even creating large wooden objects. Wood Glue ensures that the parts will not fall for an extended period. Just make sure to invest in high-quality Wood Glue to be more efficient. It will give you a great deal for your money as well.

When To Use Screws?

Screws are excellent fasteners if you have installed them correctly. In most cases, Screws lasts long, and they give you the benefit of easy assembly and even disassembling. At some point, nails were more favorable than screws because it was easier to hammer. This event changed in 1930 with the invention of the Phillips-head screw. It has been more convenient to drive in since the invention of electric and pneumatic screwdrivers.

Screws have threaded shafts that can hold pieces of wood and draw boards together. It does an excellent job of holding materials tightly. Choosing the right screw depends on the size of your workpiece. Generally, you can use screws in so many ways which include the following.

  • Heavy-Duty Construction. Screws will do an excellent job of holding pieces of wood designed to support other heavy materials. It includes fastening wood decks, installing cabinets, attaching ledger boards, and fabricating bookcases. 
  • Creative Woodworking Projects. Some say that the most significant disadvantage of using screws is that its head is visible on the wood. You can use it as an advantage for decorative purposes, or you can easily cover it with other materials. Screws are also suitable in hanging drywall, making wooden toys, and other wood-to-wood connections might require taking apart in the future.
  • Perfect for Home Use. Some prefer using screws over Wood Glue because they don’t want to wait that long until the glue gets dry. Plus, screws are easier to use and maintain because they don’t have a shelf life that you have to worry about when storing. You can have it stored in your toolbox and use it anytime. Hence, screws make it more suitable for home use. It includes some activities like framing walls and roofs, securing plywood sheathing, putting hardwood floors, and installing sidings.
  • The Use of Small-Diameter Screws. These screws are ideal for baseboard interior moldings, securing window and door casings, attaching stiles and rails to cabinets, and other similar purposes.

Screws vs. Wood Glue – Which One Should You Pick?

Screws vs. Wood Glue is a common argument, especially for most woodworkers. One thing is for sure. There should be no further debate because each kind of fastener has a unique set of pros and cons. It all boils down to the material that you’re using and understanding the finish that you want to have for your workpiece. So, here’s comprehensive comparison between screws and Wood Glue for better understanding which one to use in every specific application.

  • Durability. When it comes to durability, Wood Glue is stronger than screws. It is because of its components, and that it can reach all surfaces of the material that you’re going to fasten. Screws, on the other hand, will only allow you to hold pieces of wood through its side edge or in the middle part.
  • Cleanliness in Finish the Workpiece. Once done, the screw will show visible heads on top of the workpiece. You can conceal it by boring deeper holes and covering it with a filler. However, that would be an additional procedure in the process. On the other hand, Wood Glue will give you a clean finish since it’s lying underneath the material.
  • Screws are Suitable for Sliding Workpieces. Screws are better to use for attaching other materials on a wooden workpiece. Wood Glue may not be suitable when gluing other matters to wood. 
  • Disassemble. If the project requires disassembling in the future, then screws are your perfect option. For example, a wooden toy that has a motor inside its frame. You have to seal it using screws so that it’s easier to uninstall if it needs to get fixed.

What are the Types of Wood Screws?

We will shortly discuss some of the various screws according to their four categories, which involves;

  1. Classification of Screws Based on Application
  2. Classification of Screws Based on Drive Style or Recess
  3. Classification of Screws Based on Threads 
  4. Classification of Screws Based on the Head Shape

You have to understand that screws are primarily for resisting the sheared force between objects. Screws are excellent in resisting a withdrawal force due to its surface area and structure. The same with the various types of Wood Glue, there are different kinds of screws for working on wood. There are times when a beginner gets confused with choosing the right type of screw to use for any particular project. So, here are some common types of wood screws.

  • Classification of Screws Based on Application
Wood ScrewsThese are for fastening wood, which is usually from brass, bronze, or steel. 
Drywall ScrewsThese come with a bugle head to prevent tearing the surface of the drywall with softwood or hardwood.
Deck ScrewsThese are almost similar to Drywall Screws, except that they have better corrosion resistance coating like zinc plating. These screws are suitable for wood decks to withstand any environmental conditions.
Sheet Metal ScrewsThese are for joining pieces of metal to a wooden workpiece or other materials.
Eye ScrewsThese screws add stability and strength, which are ideal to use for lifting ropes, chains, and cables.
Concrete Screws or Masonry ScrewsThese are for fastening metal, wood, and other materials to concrete or masonry.
Double Ended Screws or Dowel Screws If your project involves two pieces spinning together, it is the right screw to use. These are headless screws used with wood to conceal joints.
Set ScrewsThese are also headless fasteners used to resist relative motion between the two rotating objects like a moving pulley on a shaft.
Lag ScrewsThese are the most robust and massive in size screws used for fastening heavy pieces of wood. 
  • Classification of Screws Based on Drive Style or Recess
SlottedThe most ancient screw with a single slot deep cut on its head.
PhillipsIt is one of the most popular screws because of its crossed-shape drive style. This design is for preventing the over-tightening of the screw, but the torque requirement is a bit higher.
PozidrivAlmost the same with Phillips, except that it has an alternating cross shape offset at 45 degrees.
Robertson or Square. It has a square protrusion that improves centering, which makes it useful for furniture use.
TorxIt features 6 pints star shape used for transmitting high torques without damaging the screw head. 
Torx PlusIt is an enhanced version of Torx, which allows more contact between the drive and the screwdriver for faster-driving speed.
HexIt features a hexagon shape that provides a larger contact area between screw and screwdriver for transmitting high torques.
  • Classification of Screws Based on Threads 
Coarse Thread ScrewsThese screws have more space between each thread, which makes it easier to insert or remove from wood, plywood, plastic and other materials.
Fine Threaded ScrewsThese screws have a short pitch, which makes it longer to insert or remove material. The screw is ideal for hardwood.
Single Thread ScrewsThese screws have a continuous helical shape thread, which is ideal for both soft and hardwood.
Twin Thread ScrewThese screws have two threads running over the shank, which makes it quicker to insert and remove.
  • Classification of Screws Based on the Head Shape
Flat Head (Countersunk Screw Head)It has a countersunk head with a combination of a flat top surface.
Oval or Raised Head (Countersunk Screw Head)It is almost the same as flat head screws, except that it has a domed shaped above its head. It’s more of decorative purposes in either chrome or nickel plate.
Bugle Head (Countersunk Screw Head)It has a flat top surface with a concave curved shape under the bearing head for reducing the damage to the surface.
Pan Head (Non-Countersunk Screw Head)It has a flat or slightly rounded head with chamfered edges designed to provide high tightening torques.
Button Head (Non-Countersunk Screw Head)It features a domed head in large diameter, which makes it a good substitute for Phillips. It has lighter fastening operations, too. 
Round Head (Non-Countersunk Screw Head)It has a high profile and deep drive cut in either finished brass or chromium designed to use in machine and wood screws.
Truss Head or Oven Head (Non-Countersunk Screw Head)It has a low profile dome head with an extra-wide load-bearing flat surface used for small clearances.
Binding Head (Non-Countersunk Screw Head)It is almost similar to a pan head, except that it has a thicker flat bearing surface and deeper slot.
Flange Head (Non-Countersunk Screw Head)Its head can be circular or hexed with a washer underneath a flat load-bearing surface. It increases the bearing capacity and maintains the position of the screw.
Fillister Head (Non-Countersunk Screw Head)It has a smaller head but with a deeper slot to allow high-level torques. 
Socket Head (Non-Countersunk Screw Head)It is the most reliable type of screw head, which is usually from high-grade carbon and stainless steel. It features a cylindrical head and long vertical sides for higher strength.


Can Wood Glue Replace Screws?

When it comes to woodworking, Wood Glue can completely replace screws. It is ideal for holding pieces of wood. Plus, Wood Glue will leave you no nail heads. You can use a screw if you want to eliminate waiting time. Another effective way is to use the combination of both fasteners. However, if you’re working for construction, you may want to avoid using Wood Glue in any job under the scorching weather. The structural integrity of most Wood Glue becomes weak in this condition. Hence, it can make them inefficient or useless at all.

Is Wood Glue Stronger Than Screws?

Wood Glue is stronger than screws when it comes to woodworking. It is even more robust than the wood. Just make sure to avoid using in under hot temperatures. The Wood Glue dries quickly and will show cracks and other damages in a short time if you apply it in warm conditions. Some Wood Glues can work on hot weather, but they are expensive and hard to find. On the other hand, screws also add appeal to the overall appearance of any project.

What Is the Strongest Glue for Wood Repair?

According to a study and experience from most professional woodworkers, PVA Glue is the most durable type of Wood Glue for regular wood joints. On the other hand, Polyurethane Glue is suitable for all-purposes because it is waterproof. Plus, it accepts wood stains and can sand well in thin coatings.

Final Words

Wood Glue is a durable adhesive material used to hold pieces of wood tightly. There are various types of Wood Glue for different purposes. So, it is essential to know when to use each type. On the other hand, Screws come in many sizes and types. It is vital to use the right length, depending on the thickness of the material.

When it comes to choosing between Screws and Wood Glue, it all boils down to your preference and your project. More often, Wood Glue is common to use in woodworking because it is more stringent. There are some circumstances that the workpiece requires using screws, especially when attaching metals on wood. You can also use both methods at the same time to add more strength and durability to the wooden workpiece.

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