Q.For gluing joints in interior wood trim that will never get wet, is white carpenter’s glue as strong as yellow carpenter’s glue?

A.Yes. Both glues will form a bond stronger than the wood itself. The main difference between the two glues is in application characteristics.

Both glues belong to a class of glues called PVAs, because they are based on a resin called polyvinyl acetate. White glues like Elmer’s were the first glues of this type to be introduced. While they are perfectly fine for gluing wood (and a host of other porous materials), they do not sand well, tend to run, and have low initial tack. Yellow glues were developed to address these problems.

Yellow glues have a higher solids content (they are thicker than white glues and sand better) and have tackifiers added to speed assembly time. To distinguish these improved glues from the older white glues, manufacturers added a yellow color and a meaningless designation, calling them "aliphatic" resin glues.

If you think of yellow glue as white glue with a higher solids content, some additives and yellow color, you’re on the right track. Yellow glues are definitely easier to use and have better application characteristics but are no different in strength from white glues.

— J.J.