Gazette Archive 12/2/98
Home Shop Test of Excel Polyurethane
Sammy Mayeux, owner of The Ambel Corporation, the distributor of Excel Polyurethane Glue, kindly offered samples of Excel to any member of the WWA who asked for it. And he offered to the member who spoke up first a large bottle of Excel in exchange for a written review. That was me. Adding to my good luck, Sammy sent me two other Excel glue products to try.
The first polyurethane glue I ever used was Gorilla Glue, probably because it had such a catchy and easily remembered name and logo. I was never dissatisfied with Gorilla Glue, but I did think it foamed excessively. It seemed that no matter where I used it or how little I thought I was putting on, I always had lots of squeeze out to trim away. I guess I was applying too much, but being used to yellow glues, I found it difficult to apply really small amounts. As for Gorilla Glue's waterproof characteristics, I used it to make some small garden accessories which are watered daily, and the pieces have held together perfectly.
When what was left of my Gorilla Glue thickened up in the bottle, I tossed it and on my next project that needed waterproof glue I tried Titebond Polyurethane. This stuff I did not like. Even out of a brand new bottle it was too thick, both difficult to pour out of the bottle and difficult to spread. I kept cutting off the tip of the spout lower and lower to make the hole bigger, but Titebond Poly never did flow well. Worse yet, I had a failure with it. One of the dovetailed sides of a tall, shallow planter box came apart. The wood did not split, which would indicate that the glue held but the wood failed. The joint simply separated under pressure from the roots and dirt. Admittedly, this could be from poor gluing technique, but I spread glue on the tails and wet down the sockets, then clamped overnight, so I can't see what I could have done wrong.
The Excel Polyurethane Glue arrived just in time to build a second planter of similar size and shape. The first thing I noticed was how easily Excel flows out of the spout. I was able to leave a nice thin line of glue without squeezing the bottle so hard it cramped my hand. What little squeeze out (actually foam out) there was came off quickly with a sharp chisel and the remaining residue sanded off easily. More important, the glue joints in the second planter box are holding together. I am not expert enough to run a scientific comparison between Excel and Gorilla glue, but I don't think you could review one without mentioning the other. In my case, I really liked Excel, and I'll be buying it in the future.
In fact, I liked Excel Glue so much that I began to wonder why I would ever again use yellow or white glue for any regular gluing job. Why couldn't I just glue everything with Excel? The glue line is for all practical purposes invisible. Any excess slices or sands off easily. And it seems to be as strong as any other glue, although that would have to be borne out by scientific tests. Anyway, I'm now a fan. And it doesn't hurt that I heard a rumor--a rumor, mind you--that Sam Maloof uses polyurethane glue almost exclusively.
Now on to the other two products Sammy sent along. One is quick-curing Excel Express, with an open time of only 5 to 8 minutes and a clamp time of 40 minutes. I used it on a recent project because of the brief clamping time and am truly pleased. It comes in a tube for a caulking gun, and is very easy to apply. Another good thing about it is the color. The foam-out is white, and on the maple I was using the glue line is invisible. If you need a quick set glue, give this stuff a try. I think you'll like it.
The last product he sent was Structan, which he plans to soon market under his Excel line (perhaps by another name?). It is similar to Excel Express but is supposed to be 10% to 20% strong and with an open working time of about 30 minutes. It comes in a toothpaste-type tube and is waterproof, like the other polys. I tested Structan on some small pieces and it worked quite well, but I'm not sure why I would use it instead of the original Excel. Maybe Sammy can give us some tips about that.
Editor's Note: Bill Sharp operates his own website packed with interesting tidbits about woodworking and odd jobs around the house. He calls it Bill Sharp's Home Workshop