Glue up problem - In an end grain cutting board, swelling of one species busting glue up

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Blog entry by Kevin May posted 04-27-2012 02:25 AM 10707 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have an end grain cutting board made of purple heart and yellow heart. The blocks are squares, 1-1/8” square, about 1-1/2” long/thick, glued up with mixed patterns (making letters). The board was treated with mineral oil. It appears that the yellow heart pieces have swollen from absorbing the mineral oil, and have busting some of the glue joints.

Has anyone ever experienced this type of problem?

Thanks for reading and your comments.


-- Kevin May "Making wood useful and fun!"

6 comments so far

View Adrian A's profile

Adrian A

169 posts in 3673 days

#1 posted 04-27-2012 02:33 AM

I havent heard of something swelling after absorbing mineral oil. It should just soak in.

Was it all perfectly flat and tight glue joints, then you soaked with mineral oil and immediately it started bursting? Can you describe a little more so we can diagnose what happened?

Did you let the glue sit for 24 hrs?

View degoose's profile


7273 posts in 4126 days

#2 posted 04-27-2012 07:23 AM

Never used Yellow Heart… and never had a board explode either…
What glue?? TiteBond…??

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View patron's profile


13704 posts in 4112 days

#3 posted 04-27-2012 07:38 AM

since the parts are laid up in letters
i’m guessing they were glued as blocks
not like regular
where they are made as long solids
then cut and flipped

could be the milling was not exact
(like square and even)
so it may have left small voids
where they join
that could be glue starved
and let them move some
(this can happen when doing to many pieces all at once)

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3880 days

#4 posted 04-27-2012 10:54 AM

When making the letters, was there any mix between end grain and edge grain which might have led to a weaker glue joint? Did you use a planer on the board after glue up? Sometimes the stress of a planer can loosen joints also, which is why most folks will stick to sanding the board flat after glue-up.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Kevin May's profile

Kevin May

74 posts in 3086 days

#5 posted 04-27-2012 12:31 PM

Thanks for the inputs. Answers Glue – Titebond III I was very careful about planning all boards to exact dimensions. I did glue up in normal CB practice of long strips (well at least 10” long) of different species in full CB width., then sawing into segments and turning on end for glue-up into boards. All blocks in same orientation, glue on edge grain. I did not let glue set for 24 hours in clamps. I know this should/could/may of solved the problem. The glue was set for 48 hours before mineral oil was applied. The board was not run through planner after glue up, used a belt sander then RA sander.

-- Kevin May "Making wood useful and fun!"

View Adrian A's profile

Adrian A

169 posts in 3673 days

#6 posted 04-27-2012 01:30 PM

Not letting the clamps stay could be one factor. The thicker and bigger the glue-up the bigger need to keep that clamps on at least 24hrs.

Here’s another question. Was the area you cut and glued the board…. Your garage or workshop. Was it a big humidity or temperature difference from where you applied mineral oil?

Also when you planed the wood did you plane more than half of the wood thickness? Also did you plane evenly on both sides of the board?

Could be moisture issues internally unbalanced in the wood due to planing and not letting it reacclimate. Or moisture issues from shop to inside house

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