I am new at woodworking. I was working on a small project where I was
gluing 1/8" x 3/4" strips of wood to some boards and then planned to stain
the whole thing. I had some glue squish out and used a wet clothe to wipe
that off. It looked fine until I stained it and then I found the glue had
not wiped off completely and soaked into the wood and would not take stain.
I was using pine and a dark stain so the glue spots showed up like pale
yellow smears along the strips. I tried using a very modest amount of glue
but it still squished out when I used clamps. How can I avoid this problem
on future projects?
Glue squeezeout is a fact of life. There are opinions on both sides of
this, but I don't like using water to clean up glue. The thought is that
when you're cleaning up the glue with water, you're actually leaving a
coating of diluted glue on the surface. What I do is wait for the glue to
get about half-set, then use a chisel to peel the glue off the surface. If
you let the glue fully harden, it will be hell getting it off the wood and
you will likely take wood with you. Another option that I seem to have
limited success with is taping off the areas likely to be affected with
painter's masking tape.
If I am using an oil-based finish, I will use paste wax. Minwax Finishing
Wax to be exact. I dry-assemble the pieces and rub the wax along any
squeeze-out location. Then glue/clamp as usual. Glue pops off pretty easily.
The solvents in the finish seem to do a fine job of spreading the tiny bit
of wax around. If you put gobs on, I could anticipate problems, perhaps a
few minutes with some mineral spirits. I've not had any problems. My
finishes are home-brew tung oil and/or linseed oil, poly and mineral
spirits. Wipe on and off. I almost never use stain.
After many years of various projects, experience tells me the exact
amount of glue to use to avoid excess. Until then, you can line both
sides of the joint with masking tape during the dry run, apply the
glue and clamp, wait an hour for the excess glue to set up, then peel
off the tape.
The gel stage they are referring to is when the glue has nearly dried out,
but not fully hardened. The glue will just then pop off rather than
smearing. You might want to do a few trials so you know when to catch it at
the right time.
I use a scraper rather than a chisel, but I suppose that is an individual
It is possible to wash the fresh glue off, but you have to be very thorough;
and is probably not good for either the wood or the joint.
I see a number of suggestions posted, but I don't believe any single answer
always applies, here or anywhere. With many pines, the glue will quickly soak
below the surface and effect any later stain. If going to stain, I'd use tape
to mask the area. Sanding also effects this, as the coarser the grit, the more
the surface absorption. With denser pines or many hardwoods, you can often
wait until the glue just starts to set then pop it off with a chisel.
If you have an accident with pine, I'd quickly flood it with water. Take a
stiff brush and quickly scrub, wipe, then repeat. With find sanded oak, two
wipes with a damp cloth may be enough, or popping off semi-dried glue may
I came to these conclusions by taking several samples of four different woods,
and applying each method to each wood type, letting it dry, then applying a
dark pigmented stain.
If you question if any particular method will work, and work the exact way
that you're doing it, then try it first with a small scrap piece. Remember,
change the wood, the sanding grit, the stain, the type of glue or the
temperature, and the results may vary.
It's better if you let the glue dry to a semi-hard state and then
use a scraper to remove it. Sand or scrape afterward and you won't
have a glue line to worry about. Norm (and others) should be ashamed
of themselves telling people to remove wet glue with a wet cloth.
Best bet to avoid stain problems: Don't stain. Clear finishes will
work over a small amount of glue. Buy wood of the type and color
you seek instead. If you figure in your costs (prestain conditioner,
stain, brushes, containers, and loads of your precious time), it's
-cheaper- to buy real wood and not try to make junk wood "look
something like" the real wood, which it can never fully do.
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I got hosed by this just recently. I was wiping with a damp cloth and
sanding out afterwards. It seemed to work fine, except for two noticeable
spots. It must have been a difference in the roughness of the grain of the
wood (red oak). I wasn't even using stain, just clear coating.
It'll be tape and chisel for me from now on.
I'm not an expert and have only completed a few projects, as a matter of
fact I had the same problem as you described. I helped to solve it by
masking off areas I don't want glue on and by verifying there was no glue
before I stained and finished the piece. I found an article on the Internet
that recommended wiping the piece down with denatured alcohol before
finishing it. Glue spots will show up as white blotches. Its way better to
detect your mistakes before you put the finish on. By sanding and sraping
you can usually get those blotches off with a little effort.
A lot of good ideas in this thread! I try to be extra careful with the
glue and to keep it where I want it, I apply glue to both surfaces of a
small project with an artist's paint brush and eyeball the surfaces,
flatten/remove any extra with a popcycle stick and then put the two
surfaces together. I often wonder if I'm taking chances the glue will be
weak in spots because it didn't squish out the sides (?) but so far so
Remember that "weak" is also a relative term. Some people seem nearly obsessed
with trying to find the best/strongest/most-resistant glue around. IMO, more
importantly you need to think about and understand the joint and stress it
will bear. Some cases would be just fine, even if you only glued 3/4 of the
area. For some pieces I just use white glue, as it's more than strong enough.
Provided that the wood is properly prepared and coated with the glue, of
course. That does seem to be an item that's often missed.
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