excess glue

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Forum topic by Bernie posted 12-06-2010 05:47 AM 1499 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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422 posts in 3891 days

12-06-2010 05:47 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hi Folks – I’m a self taught woodworker with a deli ma. When gluing up projects, I always end up with a bit of glue oozing out of the joints. I used to follow the glue manufacturing solution and wipe the excess glue with a damp cloth. This always resulted in a finishing problem. Stains do not take well to the oozing areas. Last winter, I worked as a helper for a real master cabinet maker (his cement workshop put an end to that). He explained to me that water dilutes the glue which causes it to sink deeper into the wood. He preferred to let dry and then scrape it off with a cabinet scraper followed by a sanding. I find this to be rather time consuming, especially with mortise joints that are not flush. What is your procedure and why? Thanks!

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

11 replies so far

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 4112 days

#1 posted 12-06-2010 06:13 AM

I prefer the scraping technique to the damp cloth for the same reason you mention. It sounds to me like you may be a little over zealous with the application of glue, but that is better than having a glue starved joint. There are numerous strategies and I have used them all with varying degrees of success and failure. For some joints, you can apply masking tape around the area of the joint and then after the glue squeezes out, remove the tape and the squeeze out comes off with it. This is time consuming and tedious in the application of the tape, but probably the quickest and most effective if managing the glue squeeze out. However, what I do most of the time is this. I wait till the glue has kind of turned into a gel (still soft, but won’t run) and then use a chisel or putty knife to scrape it off. It comes off easily and it doesn’t get rubbed into the surrounding wood. Pretty any method will require some amount of sanding before applying finish. If you wipe the joint with mineral spirits you can see the areas where the glue might interfere with your finish so that you can take care of those problems prior to applying your finish.

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

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 4122 days

#2 posted 12-06-2010 07:10 AM

I usually use a damp cloth, but never enough to soak the joint. It takes some practice, but the trick is to not “overglue” the joint. I shoot for just enough glue to get a small amount of squeeze out under moderate clamping pressure. The squeeze out shows me that the joint isn’t “starved”. A quick swipe with a damp rag (or paper towel) and it’s done. Whatever residue is left behind gets sanded away.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View dmoney's profile


191 posts in 4133 days

#3 posted 12-06-2010 07:29 AM

it’s nice to know others have this problem as well. i let it dry completely then scrape and sand.

-- Derek, Iowa

View Pete_Jud's profile


424 posts in 4807 days

#4 posted 12-06-2010 08:06 AM

I wait about 30 minutes after clamping, then hit it with the scraper, works for me, I have done the wipe it with a damp cloth or sponge, and found it just spread it around and made more of a mess than it was worth. If I am doing panels, that will go through the planer, I want that glue off, because it will dull the knifes.

-- Life is to short to own an ugly boat.

View childress's profile


841 posts in 4595 days

#5 posted 12-06-2010 08:37 AM

Like Pete, I wait 30 to 60 minutes then scrape. The glue just peels right off.

Also, if you’re gluing a perpendicular joint, use a straw when the glue is fairly fresh and it will get pushed up into the straw as the edge of it scrapes it…

If you’re having problems with specific joints, there are ways to cut the joints and apply the glue so there is no squeeze out. Like with mortise and tenon stuff. FWW did a write up on this stuff recently.

-- Childress Woodworks

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 5045 days

#6 posted 12-06-2010 09:03 AM

I just finished gluing up a batch of seven cutting boards. I waited about 45 minutes or so and the glue scraped off easily. I usually just use and old beat up bench chisel.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4876 days

#7 posted 12-06-2010 01:27 PM

Bernie, if you want another vote for scraping the glue off after a 20 to 30 minute period, you have mine as well. Like you I used to wipe it off with a damp rag but I became a convert to simply scraping it off. After 30 minutes the glue will have set up and have a rubbery consistency which comes off easily with a putty knife. There will some some trace glue residual around the seam but this is easily removed when sanding.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4128 days

#8 posted 12-06-2010 04:28 PM

I scrap. However, sometimes you can avoid the problem by putting some adhesive tape where the glue will squeeze out and/or pre-finishing a portion of the piece. It’s tricky but can be done. You don’t want to get any finish on to the gluing surface, but you want it to be right up to the gluing surface. Plain old paste wax will do a good job of keeping the glue from penetrating where it shouldn’t.

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

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 3891 days

#9 posted 12-07-2010 05:23 AM

Thanks everyone… I did a small gluing job today and tried the 40 minute scrape. It worked very well and will be part of my project planning from now on. The tape procedure will be in the back of my mind because it may useful for certain projects. But the 30 – 40 minute solution is EXCELLENT. I always do a final sanding after glue-ups. I’ve been using a light wetting to whisk my projects and pop out any small dents, but I will also use doc’s mineral spirit method. I put a lot of work and care into my projects so these final steps are worth the effort, especially now since you folks have saved me time with a bit more planning. I’ve let the glue dry 24 hrs in the past and spent a bit more time scraping and sanding.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View kcrandy's profile


285 posts in 4486 days

#10 posted 12-07-2010 05:45 AM

Nothing to add to the discussion, just thanks for teaching me again. Great forum. Great website.

-- Caulk and paint are a poor carpenter's best friends

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 4534 days

#11 posted 12-07-2010 05:54 AM

If I am glueing up panels, I use a damp cloth first, then scrape the rest off after it sets. If its in a corner I take a utility knife and put a wet rag over the blade and wipe it off. Otherwise Rich’s idea with the masking tape works good too.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

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