We have recently made an oak staircase, which was glued together at the
joints. Excess glue was wiped off with a damp cloth at the time, and
bits which escaped this were scraped off with a chisel when dry. I am
currently staining and varnishing and the stain doesn't take where the
glue was wiped. I could sand this off but there is alot of it, mostly in
awkward corners and having just sanded, vacuumed and wiped the whole
thing I have no desire to start sanding again! Does anyone know of a
product which would remove the glue remains? Chemical name rather than
product name if possible since we are in France.
I doubt there will be a solvent which can dissolve set PVA without
adversely affecting the wood surface. Trichloroethane certainly
dissolves polymerised PVA, but don't rtry that on the wood!
I think that sanding is really going to be the only solution. If you
have lots to do, it's probably a good idea to fing a suitable powered
sander. A small reciprocating sander might be good, to get in all the
Well, after trying all the scraping methods and finding them too
difficult, I have resurrected my old B&D multi-sander. I have even fixed
the problem of the little diamond shaped tip flying off every five
minutes by drilling out the hole and using a small nut and bolt! It does
seem to be working, it just means all the vaccuming and wiping all over
Scraper is your best bet (Cabinet scraper that is)
I don't know why people recommend wiping off excess pva glue with a wet
cloth as this is the inevitable result.
Careful use then removal of any excess when it has just gone off, with a
sharp chisel works best for me.
PVA seals wood, and wiping off the excess doesn't prevent that, so any stain
will penetrate less in that area and give you a different colour.
A stain based on a strong solvent might cut through the pva but these are
hard to come by nowadays. Naptha, toluene, xylene etc.
A tinted varnish, which is designed to sit closer to the surface, should
give you less colour differential.
You could pva the whole section where the problem occurs. Sounds silly, but
it would give you a uniformly less porous surface to work with. IME allowing
dyes to freely penetrate isn't a good idea anyway, especially the darker
It seems it does if done carefully, see other message,
I wasn't being accurate when I said "stain". I'm actually using a
coloured wood treatment product which will be followed by Diamond Coat
I would usually use clear wood treatment followed by tinted varnish,
probably diluted with clear varnish since the colours are often too
strong, but good quality varnish is hard to find in France and very
expensive. Also what I am trying to do is match the new oak to older oak
already in the building - don't know why I'm bothering really, since
timber in the main house has all ended up the same colour, but I didn't
really want to wait 300 years or so :-) The varnish is much better over
PVA, but I have had problems with that too on timber from Douglas fir,
over some french wood filler which also seems to have a component which
BTW what is the name of timber which comes from Douglas fir? We used it
because we had alot of it going to waste in our woods, where it came
down in the storm of 1999, and it is really quite nice, a reddish
colour, looks like something between red deal and pitch pine.
Not a bad idea, that, but it's too late now since ballusters, handrails
and outside and tops of stringers are already done!
Thanks for all the replies
Douglas fir is Douglas fir. A flowery orange grain, slightly sticky.
Somewhere between ordinary redwood and pitch pine in terms of weight and
durability. Always reminds me of churches where it was used extensively for
pews in Victorian times. Bleaches beautifully BTW if you want to reduce the
I can't seem to get anywhere with these at all. I think you need a fair
amount of skill and co-ordination to be able to use one properly and
alas I seem to have neither! I'm using one on some kitchen cupboard
doors atm, where I can remove the doors and alter the angle I am working
at, but in the corners on the staircase it is hopeless. The glue
residue is not on the surface, it is just where the PVA has soaked into
the wood, and the oak is just too hard to scrape away. Sharp chisel is a
bit better but overall I have found that sanding, which I have now
resorted to, seems easier and alot less risky for the staircase!
I have found that it is only on one side of one of four short flights,
where the stringer meets the treads and risers, that I have a real
problem with this after all, it just so happens that the problem area
was where I started. So it seems that very careful wiping with the wet
cloth did in fact work pretty well, we must just have been less careful
in this area. On some areas underneath, which originally we intended to
box in but are now leaving exposed, we used the chisel method. Certainly
it is easier to do it this way, but it still leaves the problem where
the glue has soaked in. The advantage is that the area affected is much
smaller and less noticeable, but would still have been a visible problem
where treads meet risers for example. So overall I don't think there is
much to choose between the two methods. If I were doing it again I would
wipe the glue, but very carefully indeed, and as quickly as possible
after it was applied.
On small delicate projects your idea of masking tape would be good, but
wouldn't have been practical on a staircase.
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