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What do you use for spreading glue?

by Mary Anne
posted 06-05-2010 07:38 PM

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70 replies

70 replies so far

View wisno's profile


88 posts in 3494 days

#1 posted 06-05-2010 07:43 PM

It depend on the glue that you use. There are many types of glue and they have their own character. You need to discuss with your glue supplier.

Good luck


View schloemoe's profile


709 posts in 3421 days

#2 posted 06-05-2010 07:44 PM

I buy the acid brushes from H.F. and then cut off the britsels to about a half an inch. if you are edge glueing the rub joint seems to work real well also . If you are doing a large surface [such as veneering] I always use a scrap os thin plywood….........................Schloemoe

-- schloemoe, Oregon , http://www.

View Jesse.R's profile


56 posts in 3408 days

#3 posted 06-05-2010 07:47 PM

either a glue brush or my finger generally.use just enough glue so that both surfaces are shiney and wet. if you cant see the grain through the glue your using too much and the extra is just gonna splooge out. as there arent any dry spots youll get a strong bond.

-- jesse

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3786 days

#4 posted 06-05-2010 07:48 PM

Cheap paint brushes sometimes trimmed or pieces of scrap wood.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View a1Jim's profile


117713 posts in 4060 days

#5 posted 06-05-2010 07:52 PM

For smaller areas like joints I use and acid brush or my finger. on larger areas I might use a bondo spreader. I also saw a tip on line for use the inside of a form brush that is just the handle and a plastic strip.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 3963 days

#6 posted 06-05-2010 08:10 PM

I use a small stiff brush, and I apply it to both edges.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3557 days

#7 posted 06-05-2010 08:12 PM

On most things I use acid brushes. I buy them 50 at a time from Rockler.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View DAWG's profile


2850 posts in 3620 days

#8 posted 06-05-2010 08:13 PM

Like schloemoe I use the acid brushes from H.F., or I’ll pick them up at the woodworking show. Either way they’re only $4.99 for 36 at H.F. (on sale right now for $2.99) And I glue both sides completely, it uses more glue and waste some but I don’t worry about my glue joints breaking.

-- Luke 23: 42-43

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 3778 days

#9 posted 06-05-2010 08:22 PM

Yup HF acid brushes or chip brushes with the bristles shortened.
Sometimes I wash them to be reused or just get lazy and throw them away.
For some reason, I think I read it in a woodworking magazine, it is better to
apply glue to both surfaces. Something about the moisture of each piece being the same,
they soak in the glue, and makes for a better glue up.
Or maybe I dreamed that one…


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View clieb91's profile


3663 posts in 4418 days

#10 posted 06-05-2010 08:34 PM

Mary Anne, I use Acid brushes as well sometimes but here is what I have also found that works great.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4568 days

#11 posted 06-05-2010 08:54 PM

Mary Anne, do you have any pinking shears? Take all those freebie credit card offers and cut triangle points along one edge. They flex, and you can spread glue on surfaces in fine lines to perfection. I have a stack of them and use them as throw-aways for spreading glue.


View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 3778 days

#12 posted 06-05-2010 09:07 PM

Barb- I like this idea. It’s like a mini adhesive trowel. Cool !!

Now seriously- call me paranoid but I sent Mary Anne
a PM about some of my gluing tools and I fear she is going to out me….
I will just post the PM before she does -

Mary Anne,
I use my mothers good silver butter knives, or pie server.
If I’m doing a large area, I use the bottom sole of my husbands Bostonian shoes.
In tight spots where you wish your fingers were smaller, I cut the arms off my daughters Barbies and “reach in” with the little hand….

Okay, I feel better now….

And it is okay if you get the glue all over your face, it’s an excellent “peel”...LOL

-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3444 days

#13 posted 06-05-2010 09:18 PM

Splooge? Learned a new word today from Jesse. Any one use foam brushes? I would think that some would leave bits of foam in the glue.

View degoose's profile


7255 posts in 3837 days

#14 posted 06-05-2010 09:22 PM

Roller applicator bottle… for large glue ups…and for small weave glue ups I just squirt straight from the small Tite Bond III bottle and cover the surface and then splooge it against the next block…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 3443 days

#15 posted 06-05-2010 09:42 PM

i use my fingers for small areas, metal spatula for gluing tenons and mortises, a cheap brush for larger areas and when gluing panels together.
i used to use a brush for nearly everything, but the spatula is a much more effective tool for getting the right amount on tenons and inside mortises without making a mess.
and i always try to put glue on the two surfaces, especially when it needs to be really solid.

btw, does anyone else suffer from the plastic rear pants syndrome? i have the bad habit of whiping gluey fingers on my rear pocket, to the point where it becomes like solid plastic!

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 4216 days

#16 posted 06-05-2010 09:50 PM

I use my fingers, acid brushes, pieces of old credit cards and, for applying glue to the substrate when veneering, a printer’s roller. For larger surfaces, the printer’s roller works very well, leaving a nice even coating of glue and not absorbing as much as does a foam paint roller. For really small glue jobs, like box joints, I normally use a toothpick.


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View ellen35's profile


2742 posts in 3915 days

#17 posted 06-05-2010 09:51 PM

I use foam brushes… no problem with the brushes falling apart. I also use the acid brushes that others talked about. I’m going to try to use the plastic inside the foam brushes (which, by the way, I buy at the craft stores for 0.05 cents each on sale – I buy a hundred of them when I can find that many) as someone else suggested.
I only put glue on 1 side of a cutting board glue up. I’ve never had a problem with them.
I don’t have any Barbie dolls….

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3786 days

#18 posted 06-05-2010 09:57 PM

Something else I often use are door shims. I always have a large coffee can full of them around and it’s easy enough to break off the thin end to spread glue.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View CharlesNeil's profile


2496 posts in 4353 days

#19 posted 06-05-2010 10:05 PM

finger . any thing better

View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4701 days

#20 posted 06-05-2010 10:09 PM

I may get thrown out the woodworker’s fellowship for saying this, but….. For small joints, if I am going to be able to get the parts together before the glue runs, I don’t spread it at all. jut lay down a small bead and clamp ‘em together. Otherwise, I either use my finger, or foam brush.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Ger21's profile


1087 posts in 3614 days

#21 posted 06-05-2010 10:40 PM

I’m with Charlie. Let it spread itself when clamping. At least for Titebond

I do use the acid brush to get into biscuit slots when I use them. Also use them for epoxy and polyurethane.

-- Gerry,

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 3423 days

#22 posted 06-05-2010 10:55 PM

Buy my PVA glue(similar to Titebond) in 5 gallon containers and decant into those plastic ketchup bottles with a thin spout. I do a lot of edge jointing and simply run 2 beads on one of the edges before clamping up. Let the glue spread itself! Always get just enough squeeze out and has never had a problem in many, many years. Suppose doing it many times has taught me how thick the beads must be.

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 3587 days

#23 posted 06-05-2010 11:04 PM

I would have to say my finger so I can feel any bits of sawdust or other debris. For large areas I use a brush. For box sides I use an artist’s brush. By the way, I am happy to see warm weather arrive, but now the glue is setting up way too fast.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3808 days

#24 posted 06-05-2010 11:31 PM

Sometimes I use the acid brushes… and like schloemoe I find they need trimming. I also (depending on how wide is the joint) use a small acrylic paintbrush when I need far more control.

But like you… I get covered with glue no matter what….

View wch's profile


45 posts in 3441 days

#25 posted 06-05-2010 11:35 PM

I usually just use a scrap of cardboard, but I find it’s hard to get a nice consistent layer, so I end up using more glue then necessary, which leads to more mess and cleanup.

However, I’ve seen pictures of comblike glue spreaders with little teeth, and to me it looks like the way to go to get a consistent layer. Since it’s easier to spread evenly, it should be faster to use, which means you have more open time to position the pieces being glued together. I bet if you took a silicone spatula and cut tiny little notches into it, it would make an excellent glue spreader that could be easily cleaned.

Here are some pictures of comb-shaped spreaders (although these are for other things besides woodworking).

View mmh's profile


3677 posts in 4205 days

#26 posted 06-05-2010 11:50 PM

I’m with barbs, I cut up those unwanted credit cards that are sent in the mail. I cut them in different sized trapezoids (angled rectangles so I can use the different sizes for small/med/large surfaces. I use them especially for mixing and applying epoxy as they are stiff, yet flexible, disposable and FREE!

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 3691 days

#27 posted 06-05-2010 11:58 PM

Wow, what a lot of good answers. One of the really cool things about the LJ community is the generosity and willingness to share methods and secrets. Success or failure, for me, often comes in the small details like knowing how to spread the glue in a given situation. I love learning the things that are second nature to more experienced woodworkers.

Thank you, everyone!
It looks like brushes get the most use, and giving it the finger is also popular.
I really like Barbs’ credit card idea and making triangle fingers with pinking shears. You could even put a handle on it like clieb91’s spreaders. Then there is Dustbunny’s Barbie doll fingers. LOL

Plenty of splooging went on in my shop today.

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 4009 days

#28 posted 06-05-2010 11:58 PM

I save all those fake credit cards that come relentlessly in the mail, they are great spreaders. For thin edges, ye ol’ finger.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4701 days

#29 posted 06-06-2010 12:23 AM

Oh, I almost forgot… I’ve used a raccoon tail with pretty good success as well. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View patron's profile


13650 posts in 3824 days

#30 posted 06-06-2010 12:24 AM

mary anne
in the tile part of box stores , or at any hardware ask ,
they have 4”square plastic spreaders , cheap .
they have from 1/16” to 1/4” square notches on all sides ,
great for surfaces , you can smosh it around and get even lines ,
and see where the glue is thick or thin ,
wash as you finish with a kitchen brush ,
or let it dry and scrape with a putty knife ,
they can last years .
they also have them in metal , but with v notches ,
like ellen makes ,
even dedicated ones with a rolled handle .
thanks .

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

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 3691 days

#31 posted 06-06-2010 12:30 AM

LOL @ Charlie!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18658 posts in 4158 days

#32 posted 06-06-2010 12:58 AM

I was going to say old credit cards, but it has already been said, so i won’t.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 3691 days

#33 posted 06-06-2010 02:21 AM

Then I won’t thank you for the suggestion because I already did. :)

View HighRockWoodworking's profile


182 posts in 3462 days

#34 posted 06-06-2010 02:35 AM

Gotta love acid brushes!

-- Chris Adkins,

View pvwoodcrafts's profile


244 posts in 4404 days

#35 posted 06-06-2010 03:45 AM

for 4/4 edge joints I lay down 2 small beads near center and clamp. Just add more beads for wider joints. It kinda spreads itself

-- mike & judy western md. www. [email protected]

View sras's profile


5155 posts in 3612 days

#36 posted 06-06-2010 04:13 AM

I use a piece of cardboard. There is a picture and a little description in my last blog post (which needs an update – progress is slow)

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View NormG's profile


6441 posts in 3486 days

#37 posted 06-06-2010 05:48 AM

I know I am gonna get for this: I take various size plastic drywall putty knives, run threw my dado set to make grooves, they last forever

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3541 days

#38 posted 06-06-2010 06:07 AM

I use the Acid brushes like most everyone does. I also use old toothbrushes sometimes. They spread the glue very well. I also have a small paint roller that I use when I need to cover a large area quickly. However one unusual thing that I us is this. I save all of those fake credit cards that come in the mail. They make great spreaders. Also, you can cut them with scissors to make something to reach into a tight spot. One trick that has also proven pretty handy is to cut these cards with a set of pinking shears to give them a toothed edge. You can then spread glue with little grooves similar to the way you do with a trowel when spread flooring glue. This is handy for some applications.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View dbhost's profile


5772 posts in 3715 days

#39 posted 06-06-2010 06:08 AM

It just depends on WHERE I am spreading the glue. For tight spaces, I use acid brushes, or doing things like laminating large panels front to back, I have a glue roller that works great, unless it is a large panel, then I have found that Bondo squeegees work great…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23218 posts in 3588 days

#40 posted 06-06-2010 06:56 AM

HI MaryAnne. it depends on what I’m gluing as to what I use to spread the glue. On flat surfaces for laminated layups etc, I use a short stick and run it across to make sure all the surface has plenty of glue- no bare spots. If I’m doing frames, raised panel doors or biscuit joined parts, I use the acid brushes to work the glue int these cmall areas or corners for complete coverage- the more surface area the stronger the joint. I keep a damp rag around for clean up and squeeze out. I have pretty much standardized on tight bond III glue but I do use epoxy for filling and where there is a need for a super stong joint. West System Epoxy will penetrate both wood surfaces about 1/32”- it is my very best glue for many substrates.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View billthekatt's profile


46 posts in 3508 days

#41 posted 06-06-2010 08:19 AM

i tend to use my fingers for most glue ups then i always seem to wipe the excess off under the bench..ive also started to use a roller for larger glue ups..seems to work pretty good..

-- larry

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 3691 days

#42 posted 06-06-2010 03:23 PM

Thanks for all the great ideas! I really like the various spreaders.

I had another thought that no one has mentioned yet: dipping small pieces into a puddle of glue.
I might try that on the weave board I am working on.

View CaptainSkully's profile


1610 posts in 4041 days

#43 posted 06-07-2010 01:46 AM

I found those reusable plastic brushes so hard that they acted like squeegees. I use acid brushes from Harbor Freight after I give them a serious haircut. The exact same brushes are sold at woodworking stores as glue brushes for many times the price.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View juanabee's profile


112 posts in 3491 days

#44 posted 06-07-2010 06:48 PM

Acid brush for medium areas, with the bristles trimmed for smaller areas, small foam roller for sheet goods and larger areas.

-- "Life's nonsense pierces us with strange relation." Wallace Stevens

View bluesmarky's profile


21 posts in 3399 days

#45 posted 06-07-2010 07:14 PM

For larger flat pieces I have started using a notched trowel for adhesives. It seems to do a good job of spreading the glue evenly before clamping. Just make sure you wipe off the trowel when you are done.

-- bluesmarky..........................................."If you're here & I'm here, doesn't that make it our time?"

View Triumph1's profile


930 posts in 3562 days

#46 posted 06-07-2010 08:02 PM

Acid bushes for me also…but I bought ones that have plastic tips instead of hair. They clean up really easy after gluing so you don’t have to throw them out. Two boxes of 50 have lasted me over four years now. When doing a cutting board I used a piece of 6-32 threaded rod. I would apply the glue and then spread it with the rod. The threading gave a perfect consistancy and thickness. All you have to do is rinse the rod off afterwards. I have also been using small Dixie cups to hold the glue. Since I do a lot of “small” glue-ups I would squirt some glue onto a piece of wax paper, or whatever was handy, but that wouldn’t work well all the time. Now I squirt the glue into a small plastic dixie cup. I can even add a little water if I want to thin it up. It makes it much easier to handle. After the job is done just throw it out.

-- Jeff , Wisconsin Please...can I stay in the basement a little longer, please!

View Ben Martin's profile

Ben Martin

34 posts in 3692 days

#47 posted 06-07-2010 08:13 PM

I usually use my fingers. once in a while I’ll think before I’ve got glue on my hands and grab something small out of the scrap bin instead, but I usually only think of that after it’s too late.

View lumberdustjohn's profile


1263 posts in 3649 days

#48 posted 06-08-2010 01:57 PM

Always spread with the pointer finger.
It’s ok to wipe off extra with any finger.
I do one side and make sure I spread it well.

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

View TheMechanic007's profile


41 posts in 3484 days

#49 posted 06-08-2010 02:25 PM

”Oh, I almost forgot… I’ve used a raccoon tail with pretty good success as well. :-)

—Charlie M. “Woodworking – patience = firewood” ”

Does it bother the raccoon at all?

Acid brushs here and when needed I keep the inside part of foam brushes-the wood handle with plastic tab…

-- Chris From Maryland, If it aint broke, You havent tried fixin it yet...

View NewPickeringWdWrkr's profile


338 posts in 3496 days

#50 posted 06-08-2010 03:14 PM

For titebond, I took a tip from Marc (TWW). I mostly use acid brushes which I’ve trimmed short. Thought that was my own discovery as the long bristles were too unwieldy. But I keep the brush fresh through a project by keeping it in a jar of water (that part from Marc). Allows me to get away with only 1 or 2 brushes per project. Just have to make sure you get most of the water out before using.

for epoxy – which I generally only use as a gap filler – I use a thin strip of wood to act as a trowel/putty knife.

-- Mike - Antero's Urban Wood Designs

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