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Cracking the glue code

Q: When I buy glue, I can’t find a production or expiration date on the containers.  It could have been sitting in the store for years—how do I know how old it is?

Dave Starr, Zumbrota, Minn.

glue code 1
Enlarge Image
The code on a bottle of
Titebond glue that was
manufactured in July 2002.

A: Dave, the answer is right there on the glue bottle—once you know the code. Here's how to interpret the line of numbers and letters stamped on the containers of white, yellow, and polyurethane glue produced by Franklin International, maker of Titebond and the biggest supplier of woodworking glue.

In the typical code shown at right, the first number represents the final digit of the year in which the glue was produced; it’s followed by a letter designating the month, with "A" standing for January, "B" for February, and so forth. (They skip "I" because it looks like the number 1.) You can ignore the rest of the code, which relates to the particular batch of glue.

Elmer's glue carries a similar code. In this case, however, the series starts with a letter corresponding to the year of manufacture, with "H" standing for 2005 and "I" signifying 2006. The two numbers following tell you the day of manufacture, and the next letter reveals the month, with "A" designating January, etc.

glue code 2
Enlarge Image
You see the worst-case
result of keeping yellow
glue too long.

Now, what should you do with that information? According to Franklin spokesman Dale Zimmerman, white and yellow glue have a shelf life of two years; polyurethane and liquid hide glue have a one-year shelf life. Note: Franklin's hide glue carries an uncoded expiration date to make sure everybody can read it. That's because degradation is a greater problem with this type of glue. 

If your retailer removes the code, look elsewhere for that bottle of glue. When you take the glue home, write the date of purchase on a piece of masking tape and place it on the container as a clear reference to the glue's age. Then store it out of direct sunlight.


Comments (8)
Lazeegurl wrote:

I agree with PFalzon - why can't manufacturers put an expiration date in a clearly understandable way. Is it a secret?

4/28/2011 05:06:48 PM Report Abuse
pfalzon wrote:

What a lot of wasted time. Suppliers should write the expiry date clearly similar to what you find on food products. Shame on them!

4/24/2011 11:27:11 AM Report Abuse
Cheapside Mike wrote:

For us Canadians here is the link for Lepage Outdoor glue TDS which explains their code

4/22/2011 07:25:29 AM Report Abuse
pebbles204 wrote:

If you go to you can find the correct way to read the code. They say the code always starts with the letter A. The second number is the year of manufacturing. The 3rd & 4th numbers are the month and the 5th & 6th numbers are the day of that month. The rest of the numbers are batch numbers. Dave's Titebond II was manfactured July 30, 2009, A90730.

4/21/2011 04:21:49 PM Report Abuse
Bruce-Federal Period wrote:

Since April 2009, Franklin┐s code appears like A 9 07 23 1234 (spaces added. The letter ┐A┐ signifies the glue was made in America. The first number, ┐9┐, is the last digit of the year of manufacture. The next number pair, ┐07┐, is the month of manufacture, and the next number pair indicates the day of manufacture. The final four digits are the manufacturing lot number. So the example number above would indicate that the glue was manufactured on July 23, 2009.

4/21/2011 03:50:22 PM Report Abuse
Dave B wrote:

Come to think of it, I wonder how long it's been since WOOD talked to Franklin about this, given that the example lots were from 2002, 2005 and 2006. Maybe Franklin has changed their system in the last five years or so?

4/21/2011 03:16:08 PM Report Abuse
Dave B wrote:

I agree with jvwilliamsjr and think that WOOD is all wet here. My Titebond II is labeled A907300042, my Titebond III is labeled 8J513.27, and my Titebond Molding & Trim Glue is labeled A010220004. Do you guys want to talk to Franklin again? Thanks.

4/21/2011 03:13:18 PM Report Abuse
jvwilliamsjr wrote:

I went right out to my shop to check my glue and found that both of my bottles of Titebond ll had coded #'s that start with letters. IE: A012170056 Thanks Jesse Williams

4/21/2011 02:18:37 PM Report Abuse

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