This investigation was conducted to determine the feasibility of using a two-component polyurethane (PUR) adhesive, with special waterproof properties, in constructing wooden structures. We designed and conducted tests to compare the shear strength and adhesion performance of PUR with polyvinyl acetate (PVAc) adhesive on block-shear specimens constructed of oriental beech (Fagus orientalis L.), fir (Abies alba Mill.), poplar (Populus deltoides Bartr.), white oak (Quercus alba L.), sycamore (Platanus orientalis L.) and white walnut (Juglans cinerea L.). The values of the percentage of wood failure were also determined in specimens constructed with each adhesive. The highest shear strength values of both adhesives were obtained in specimens constructed of beech, while the lowest shear strength values were obtained in fir and poplar specimens. Average shear strength of the PUR adhesive was 16.5% higher than that of the PVAc adhesive. Specimens constructed of fir, poplar and sycamore were characterised by the highest percentages of wood failure, whereas the lowest average percentages of wood failure were obtained in beech and oak specimens. With the exception of oak specimens, there was no statistically significant difference between percentage of wood failure among the PUR and PVAc adhesives. Generally, the PUR adhesive showed an acceptable adhesion performance on wood materials used in our study. © 2013 Northeast Forestry University and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.