What’s The Best Type Of Glue For A Toothpick Bridge?

Strong toothpick bridges need a strong adhesive. However, due to the fragility of toothpicks, the amount of weight added by wood glue is of greater concern.

So, when it comes to selecting the best glue for a toothpick bridge, the choice actually isn’t quite that obvious.

That’s why, in this post, you’ll discover why wood glues aren’t always the best option for your toothpick bridge project. You will also learn which fast-drying glue is preferred for light-model making (and why).

And we reveal our top three super simple tips for getting glue to dry much faster.

best glue for toothpick bridge

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Does Wood Glue Work On Toothpicks?

Yes it does. Wood glue will bond wooden toothpicks together as well as it will any wood glue joint.

However, wood glues might be a strong glue for wood, but they aren’t the strongest adhesive out there.

You see, wood glues are PVA glue. Made from Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA), these thermoplastic adhesives can bind paper and wood. But, they are not strong enough to glue materials like plastics and metals.

Also, while PVA glues can often take as little as 30 minutes to dry, they take much longer than that to set and cure.

That’s because when PVA glue dries, this water-based adhesive has gone through an evaporation process. The water in the emulsion has vaporised away, leaving behind a wood-binding substance. A dry PVA glue is solid, but it is still soft, and it has not hardened into a permanent bond.

Curing, on the other hand, is a chemical change that turns soft glue into a hard long-lasting substance. When PVA glue cures completely, that is when you can feel confident it has set. However, PVA glue can take anywhere from 18 to 24 hours to wholly cure.

But, until then, you’ll need to handle that toothpick bridge with extreme care. Or otherwise, you will need to keep those freshly glued toothpicks pressed together (until PVA glue sets).

Related Post: Can You Really Stain Over Wood Glue? (What You Need To Know)

Is Wood Glue Heavy? Will It Add A Lot Of Weight To My Toothpick Bridge?

Wood glues work well at binding wood joints, because it can seep into wood grain. This means that wood glue can bind the very wood fibers of two different toothpicks together.

However, a thick PVA glue can add weight to model wooden structures. And that’s because much of the glue will have been pressed into the toothpick itself.

That extra weight can add up when you’re gluing hundreds of toothpicks together. And when it comes to making toothpick bridges, you’ll want to keep things as light as possible.

So, What Is The Best Glue For A Toothpick Bridge?

If you’re concerned about PVA glues possible added weight—and lengthy curing times—then a better option for your toothpick bridge is CA glue.

What Is CA Glue?

CA (Cyanoacrylates) glue is a fast-drying lightweight adhesive. In fact, these so called ‘super glues’ contain accelerator additives. And these additives reduce the time it takes for this glue to dry and cure.

Sometimes referred to as Krazy Glue or Instant Adhesive, CA glue is typically made from Ethyl Cyanoacrylates.

It’s speedy drying time is one of the main reasons why CA glue is the most popular option for model building. While, PVA wood glues take 30 minutes to dry, CA super glues can take as little as 10 seconds to dry into place. CA glue can also cure in as little as 8 hours, a mere third of the time of many PVA glue products.

So, if CA glue dries so much faster, why isn’t it used for all wood glue joints? Well, because that fast curing time comes with a bit of a snag. CA glue can become brittle over time. And this, in turn, makes CA glue nowhere near as strong as PVA glues.

Isn’t CA Glue The Same As PVA Glue? Nope, they are two different adhesives. One of them is a thermoplastic (PVA). And the other contains formaldehyde condensation (CA).

Does It Really Matter How Fast Glue Dries On A Toothpick Bridge?

Yes it does, especially as toothpicks are simply too difficult to clamp into place.

You see, after we use wood glue on a standard wood joint, we then use clamps to hold that joint in place. This makes sure the glue can set properly without any gaps.

But, using woodworking clamps isn’t really an option when it comes to delicate toothpicks. So, you don’t have the luxury of time, when it comes to waiting for glue to dry and set.

This is why a fast-drying glue is your best option for a toothpick bridge. Still, if you only have PVA wood glue to hand, there are a few things you can do to get glue to dry faster.

Related Post: Edge Glued Panels vs Plywood (Everything You Need To Know!)

Our Top 3 Super Simple Tips For Getting Glue To Dry Much Faster

Tip 1). Thin Application:

This one is pretty simple, but you’d be surprised how many people skip over this.

Try to keep that application of glue as thin as possible. This is key to helping wood glue dry fast.

Tip 2). Turn Up The Heat:

Use the oven to help raise the heat so that it dries faster. Now, this does not mean putting your toothpick bridge in the oven to bake like a pie.

Instead, bring your toothpick bridge into the kitchen, and place it nearby (not inside!) your oven. Switch the oven on and place it on a low heat.

As heat fills the kitchen, the increased temperature will speed up drying.

Tip 3). Minimize Gaps:

Press the two freshly glued toothpicks together to make sure you get as much of the PVA glue to squeeze out the sides.

You want to force the PVA down into the very fibers of those toothpicks. That is where the magic happens.

But, you’ll also want to remove and clean off as much of the excess glue as possible. All the while, make sure there are no gaps between the toothpicks (as gaps will weaken the overall strength of the bond).

Related Post: Can You Really Stain Over Wood Glue? (What You Need To Know)

To Wrap Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…

  • 1). You can use wood glue, (also known as PVA glue), as a toothpick bridge adhesive.
  • 2). CA glue (also referred to as super glue) dries much faster than PVA glue. Making it more suited for toothpick bridge building.
  • 3). Stick to thin applications of glue. This will allow glue to set and cure more quickly.


Ethyl Cyanoacrylates | Wikipedia.org