When we think of joining two things together, the first word that instantly pops into our head is glue. But when it comes to joining wood, there is more than one way to proceed. Besides, what if you do not have glue at your home, or it isn’t getting the job done? This is why In this article, we will be discussing 3 ways to stick wood without glue.
The best way to stick wood together without using glue is with nails and screws. Another way is by using dowels and lastly, we can use joinery. Using dowels requires drilling holes big enough through the wood to hammer in a piece of round wood inside. And in joinery, you carve out joints in the two pieces of wood in such a way that when they are put together they fit and stick without using any fasteners or nails.
Everyone knows that we can stick two pieces of wood together using nails and screws. This method is pretty straightforward and probably the first one that you’ll try – but don’t worry, we’ll cover it either way. The other two, however, require a bit more explanation and also some effort on your end. So without further ado, let’s dive right into the explanation for these in the next section.
1. Nails and Screws
Nails have been used as fasteners for as long as one can remember. They are usually made from wood, steel, copper, or iron. Nails can be hammered into the wood and pulled out unless driven completely inside.
You can use them by themselves but they aren’t the best way to stick wood together. There is also the risk of splitting wood when you drive nails in. Screws on the other hand are better at that job and can fasten two pieces of wood together better than nails.
They are self-threading and when you fasten them into a piece of wood they thread the wood. So you can easily take them out by rotating them in the opposite direction of the thread.
Though you can usually fasten two pieces of wood with a screw directly with a little effort, you should still drill a pilot hole to avoid any splitting. Make the hole in the wood just slightly smaller than the size of the screw. Let the screw make the threads in the wood as you turn it in.
- Easy to hammer nails into wood.
- Screws fasten wood together tightly.
- Does not require a lot of practice to achieve.
- Does not require a lot of tools.
- Wood can split if it is thin when hammering nails in it.
- Needs a drill to make a pilot hole for screws otherwise, it requires much more physical effort.
- Nails alone are not good for many joints and require the use of glue for a stronger bond.
2. Dowel Pins
So dowel pins are a great way to join two pieces of wood together. Though they are usually accompanied with glue, they can still be used by themselves just like nails. Dowels are used not only for joining wood but also for joining metal pieces together using metallic ones.
For wood, you have wooden dowels that you hammer in but first, you need to make holes for them. Dowel pins are sold as dowel rods that when you insert them into the holes, you cut the remainder off. These rods are big and can be used several times till their length runs out.
To make holes you need to use a drill bit big enough for the dowel to fit in perfectly. Usually, these dowels are sold in sizes as big as the drill bits so that they are a perfect fit. hammer the dowels into the holes and cut the remaining length outside the hole off. You can then plane or sand off the surface to ensure that they are uniform with the pieces of wood they are joining.
- Cheap method to join wood.
- Does not require sawdust and glue paste to hide markings.
- Looks aesthetically pleasing to some people.
- Can be sanded down to match the texture of the wood itself.
- Requires the same size drill bit to make a hole for dowel pins.
- Sometimes it requires glue for a stronger bond.
Joinery has been used by traditional carpenters for centuries to avoid using any nails or fasteners. This is because nails were made out of iron and back in the day it was not easy to acquire them. So people made wooden joints that fit and would stick together easily.
There are tons of joints used even today where people try to avoid using metal fasteners and such. Mortise and Tenon joint is one of the more common ones that is used in today’s furniture as well. It is much easier to carve out using hand tools like chisels. While you can also machine carve this joint as well.
Then we have dovetails which are a bit more difficult to make by hand. It is a more advanced form of woodworking that requires precision. You can also make dovetails using machines which makes the job much easier. French Dovetail and English Dovetail are two types of Dovetails that expert woodcarvers use all the time. Dovetails are great for making drawers, boxes, shelves, and such.
And traditional Japanese artisans have been making shrines and temples using joints that don’t require nails for centuries. They still repair their sacred places using the same techniques so they do not use nails or any other fastener. Though their joints are very complex and require years of practice to perfect.
- Does not require any fasteners of any type to join wood.
- Also gives an aesthetically pleasing look in many joints when joining different colored woods.
- Can be made by hands or tools.
- Requires advanced technique for some joints.
Using the Above Methods With Glue
In most cases, people use glue with the above methods to achieve a better and stronger bond between the pieces of wood they are trying to join. Although it is not always the case like for instance when using screws and traditional Japanese joinery you don’t need to use glue for maximum efficiency. Since both screws and those joints can be separated for maintenance purposes in the future.
But if you are planning on making a joint permanent, then use glue so that they don’t separate as easily under stress. So it is a good choice to work with glue when joining wood while using any of the above methods. This way you can make sure whatever you are working on is safe and won’t come apart under a little duress or weight.
Driving in Wedges in Joints to Strengthen Them
When making joints like Mortise and Tenon you can drive in wedges to tighten it so it does not come out. This way you do not need to drive nails into it or use glue to fortify the joint. Many people use this technique to ensure that the wood does not come undone.
But even this technique comes with its fair share of risks. If you drive in a wedge too deep into a piece of wood, chances are it might split all the way. This would waste all the work you have done to make the joint. This is why glue and nails are a way more viable option if you want to fasten a joint more firmly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need to drill a pilot hole for driving in screws?
While it is not necessary, it makes the job of putting in screws much easier. It cuts off the need to use unnecessary physical strength. Also, it avoids causing duress to the wood so it does not split.
Is there a risk of splitting wood when hammering nails?
There is always a risk of splitting wood when you push something into it, whether it is wedges or nails.
Can you make joints using hand tools only?
Yes, it is possible to make the most complex joints using hand tools only. But using power tools just makes the job much easier and reduces the time it takes to create them.
Can you use glue with all the methods above?
Yes, you can use all the above methods along with glue to ensure that the bond is much stronger between the two pieces of wood.
So far we have established that it is possible to avoid using glue altogether if you want to join two pieces of wood. But we can all agree to the fact that glue just makes the job much easier. In some cases, if you don’t use glue, for instance like with nails or dowels, you might end up breaking the pieces of wood apart. So it is much better to use glue where you can unless it is not an option at all.