AbstractThree formaldehyde-based resins were prepared: urea-formaldehyde (UF) resin without melamine modifier (named UF0 resin) and melamine-urea-formaldehyde (MUF) resins with melamine modifier added at two different synthesis stages (named MUF1 resin and MUF2 resin). The effects of the melamine addition stage on the performance and curing behavior of MUF resin were studied. Three-ply plywood bonded by these adhesives was manufactured, and its bond strength and formaldehyde emissions were measured. The curing behavior and functional groups of the resins were measured by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). Their activation energies were calculated using the Kissinger equation and the Kissinger-Akahira-Sunose (KAS) method. The results showed that melamine addition and the addition stage had significant influences on the characteristics of resins. The plywood bonded by MUF1 resin showed the highest bond strength and the lowest formaldehyde emissions. The activation energies of UF0 resin, MUF1 resin, and MUF2 resin were significantly different; the values were 99.44 kJ/mol, 105.75 kJ/mol, and 150.65 kJ/mol, respectively. According to the FT-IR spectra, the amount of methylene and methylene-ether bonds in cured MUF2 resin was the lowest, which meant that the cross-linking degree of MUF2 resin was the lowest.