Paint first or glue first?

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Forum topic by MrFid posted 08-16-2017 02:21 AM 764 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MrFid's profile


906 posts in 2755 days

08-16-2017 02:21 AM

Topic tags/keywords: paint glueup mt question

Hi folks,

I have a question for the expert finishers around here. I am working on a commission piece that will be a counter height bar table, fairly simple construction. The top is made of cherry, however the base (legs and aprons) is made of poplar and will be given a coat of milk paint. I’ve never used milk paint before, but I’ve done a bunch of reading about it and I think I’ve got the general idea.

My question involves the order of gluing the base together and painting. I like the idea of painting the legs and aprons before glue up as I’ve seen people do before, however I am nervous about excess glue from the mortise and tenon connections leaking onto the already finished parts. I’m getting better at using the correct amount of glue on M&Ts, but I don’t want to starve the point of glue so that I won’t get squeeze out. Worth noting that I’ve cut the mortises deeper than the tenons by maybe 3/16” to allow a reservoir and I plan to lightly chamfer the top edges of the mortises to allow additional wiggle room.

So, it is worth it to glue first so that I can clean up the joints without worrying about the paint? What techniques do people find helpful in this situation?

Any advice would be helpful. Thanks all!

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

4 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10588 posts in 4498 days

#1 posted 08-16-2017 02:44 AM

Do a test piece with the paint on it, put a
little glue on the paint and see if it pops
off with a chisel when dry. I reckon it will,
it normally does with film finishes, but milk
paint is a little unusual.

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1771 days

#2 posted 08-17-2017 01:40 AM


Two methods for dealing with glue squeeze out on previously finished parts are to 1) cover the adjacent surfaces before applying the glue or 2) remove any squeeze out prior to the glue curing. Both methods presume the finish has cured at least for a few days.

The first method would best be done by dry-assembling and clamping the table base together and then carefully applying painter’s tape (as opposed to typical masking tape), ensuring the edge of the tape is well-sealed to the pre-finished part and fits tight in the corners. After the tape is in place and the table base glued and setting in the clamps, any squeeze out would mostly flow out onto the painter’s tape. After about 30 minutes the painter’s tape can be removed. Leaving the painters tape in place until the glue is cured could make removing the painter’s tape difficult.

The second method would involve removing any glue squeeze out after the table base has been clamped for perhaps 15 to 30 minutes. A clean damp cloth wrapped around a chisel can be used to remove any glue squeeze out before the glue hardens. The chisel helps with getting into the inside corners. Constantly repositioning the damp cloth on the chisel would reduce the chance of smearing the glue on the surface.

View ArtMann's profile


1480 posts in 1667 days

#3 posted 08-17-2017 04:05 AM

If the surface is already painted and the paint has dried, you can probably just wash the glue off with a wet rag before it starts to cure. Try it as an experiment first.

View Robert's profile


3941 posts in 2331 days

#4 posted 08-17-2017 01:27 PM

The trick is to apply the glue in such a way as to minimize squeeze out.

One way is to stay back from the edges.

Other than that, what JBrow said. I like to use a soft bristle toothbrush to get in corners.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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