PVA based glues are a standard for many craftspeople and modellers who work with wood. If you spend months gluing small pieces of wood together, you want to be able to make a perfect finish. The lure of a glue which claims to be stainable is high, as it could reduce your work load. Elmer's wood glues have a good reputation and this glue claims to be stainable as well as provide easy water clean-up and superior sanding.
What Makes it Stainable?
Testing the Glue
I decided to test the glue against standard craft pva glue to see if there was any noticeable difference in stainability. I used Aileen's Tacky Glue, as that is one of the most commonly found brands in modellers workshops, and it has a similar consistency to the Elmer's glue.
Following the instructions on the Elmer's bottle, I glued two craft sticks together to both test the bond and the stainability of the glue. I intentionally over glued and wiped off the excess glue, to see if it would soak into the wood enough to impede staining.
The photograph shows craft sticks glued with Aileens Tacky Glue and Elmer's Probond Stainable Wood Glue. Each set of glued sticks had an intentional glue smear and a dot of glue left on the surface before staining. Both were left to sit for 24 hours before staining as the Elmer's bottle suggests. Neither was sanded before this first staining to see if the glue would stain on it's own.
Both glued samples showed noticeable patches where stain would not take, these patches were in areas where glue had been wiped off with a dry, not damp rag.
The bond strength was significantly different between the two glues. The Elmer's glue filled the gaps between the craft sticks and the glued bond was difficult to break. The Aileen's glue had a much weaker bond and appeared to be a softer, more bendable pva glue. The Elmer's Probond certainly would hold glued wood seams better, important for modeling and miniatures where very small surface areas may be available for gluing.
Results After Sanding
After the initial poor staining of the stainable glue, I sanded the wood according to the directions and added a second coat of stain. I left some of the glue blob on the end obvious, to act as a comparison for the sanded areas.
Sanding the Elmer's Probond glue was much easier than sanding the Aileen's glue. Aileen's glue remains more plastic than the Elmer's glue which dries harder, allowing for better sanding.
After sanding, there was a noticable difference in the staining pattern on the wood. The Elmer's glued areas did seem to sand off cleaner, leaving less glue residue on the wood to impede staining. The Aileen's glue appeared to have soaked into the wood a bit further, making it difficult to remove all the glue in order to have stain adhere. Where small blobs of glue were still visible, sanding the glue finish did not make them accept stain appreciably better.
Elmer's Probond Stainable Wood Glue is a good quality, pva based wood carpenters glue. It is not recommended for applications where the glue joint will be subjected to water. The glue dries hard, sands well, and contains very fine wood flour which helps to fill small gaps.Note: Care must be taken to remove this glue from surfaces which are to be stained. Areas with glue over spill should be wiped carefully with a damp cloth before the glue sets. Otherwise, like with other pva glues, the surface glue layer will need to be removed through sanding before the piece will accept stain evenly. The glue is more easily sanded than some other pva glues, but it does not seem to accept stain appreciably better. I don't feel the glue should be called stainable It is its ability to come off more cleanly in sanding that causes the difference in how a piece stains after this glue is used.
As a wood glue it has the advantage of filling small gaps and sanding off more cleanly, which would lend it to some applications (boat building, decking, dolls house floors) where these attributes might be useful.