5 Great Wood Gluing Tips

Woodworking Workshop

Family Handyman has recently posted a collection of useful gluing tips for joining wood. Some of them you may have heard of or already use, some will likely be new to you. Here are five of my favorites.

Mask Glue Joints Before Prefinishing


Finishing the parts of your project before you assemble them can be a great time-saver and allow you to get a better-quality finish. But for a strong glue joint, you have to keep the joints free of finish (glue doesn’t stick to varnish or stains very well). The solution is to apply masking tape to the surfaces that will be glued. Then remove it to expose raw wood when you glue up the project. Any good-quality masking tape will work. If you’ll be using a water-based finish, you’ll get the best results with a “no-bleed” tape such as green Frog Tape and ScotchBlue painter’s tape.

Cover Bar Clamps With Wax Paper

glueTips_2When you use steel bar clamps or pipe clamps, and wood glue comes in contact with the clamp, the moisture in the glue can cause the steel to leave a dark mark on your wood. Lay a sheet of wax paper over the clamps to prevent this “dark spot” problem. It will also catch glue drips that would otherwise get all over your clamps and workbench.

Spread Glue With a Notched Trowel

glueTips_3When you’re gluing large surfaces, an inexpensive notched plastic trowel works great for spreading the glue. To find one, look in the flooring or tile section of the hardware store or home center. If you’re fortunate enough to have a pair of “pinking” shears in the family sewing basket, you can make our own spreader from an expired credit card.

Let It Jell, Then Shave It Off

glueTips_4Look at any woodworkers’ forum and you’ll likely find a debate about the best way to remove glue squeeze-out. Some woodworkers insist that you should clean it up immediately with a damp rag. Others let it dry completely, then scrape it off. We think that in most cases the best method is to wait about 30 to 60 minutes—just until the glue turns a darker color and changes to a gel—and then shave it off with a sharp chisel. This will remove almost all of the glue without making a mess. You may still have a little cleanup to do, but it’s a lot less work than cleaning up wet glue or removing hard glue.

Tack, Then Clamp

glueTips_5Wood glue makes boards slippery, so it can be hard to keep them lined up correctly while you apply clamps. An easy solution is to hold the parts in alignment with a few strategically placed brads before you apply the clamps. For leg glue-ups like we show here, cut your parts extra long and place the brads where they’ll get cut off during the finishing process. Otherwise, just place brads where the filled holes won’t be too visible.

Link: How to Glue Wood.

2 thoughts on “5 Great Wood Gluing Tips

  1. Angelica says:

    Cut a credit card with someone’s pinking shears? Do you WANT them to lose their mind?? You better be gluing up a dog house, because that’s where the people-who-use-fabric-scissors-for-non-fabric-cutting go! ;)

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

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