Glue: Chisel or wipe with sponge?

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Forum topic by pastor_shane posted 12-10-2007 04:36 AM 2004 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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29 posts in 4057 days

12-10-2007 04:36 AM

Topic tags/keywords: glue question trick

I have just finished cutting the last board for an “arts & Crafts” style bed that I am working on. It is all Red oak. My question is one that has confused me for a long time. When I am working with Pine I found that I should let the glue slightly harden and then clean up glue-lines with a chisel. However, when I watch “Norm” he oftens uses a damp sponge. When do you wipe and when do you chisel?

-- Shane, Guttenberg, Iowa

24 replies so far

View mot's profile


4922 posts in 4271 days

#1 posted 12-10-2007 04:39 AM

Hi Shane,

I wipe when there is minimal squeeze out, and use a scraper if there is alot of squeeze out. If I wipe, I wipe RIGHT AWAY. If I scrape, I wait about an hour…with normal yellow glue, that is. Using glues with longer setup times, I might wait a couple of hours. If there is a lot of squeeze out, waiting until the next morning really sucks the life out of you having to scrape that hard mess off. Just how I do it.


-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4109 days

#2 posted 12-10-2007 04:48 AM

I used to wipe with a sponge (Norm told me to), but it didn’t remove all the glue, just thinned and smeared it. I always had a patch where the stain would be a little lighter because the glue had blocked it a bit. Now I let the glue get gummy (about an hour or so like Tom(mot) says) and use a glass scraper to trim it off. Glass scrapers are really cheap and use a disposable razor for the scraper blade. I wouldn’t want to get gummy glue junk on my chisels.

-- -- --

View Karson's profile


35152 posts in 4635 days

#3 posted 12-10-2007 05:34 AM

I’ve always used the chisel approach . I’ve never been able to stick around or remember to do it in an hour. It’s usually next day.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4334 days

#4 posted 12-10-2007 06:12 AM

I use a little of both but mostly chisel. I find that it takes about 20 minutes and I can start peeling it off pretty good. I finish out with a cabinet scraper before sending through the drum sander or it gums the sandpaper. If I do wipe with a wet rag, I can only get one side very good because of the clamps on the other side.

I glue up boards a little thick because I have a drum sander and then take it down to final thickness after glue up. Therefore, I do not have an issue with hold out on stain from the glue.

I don’t have nice chisels so I don’t worry about getting glue on them, they are very utilitarian.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4109 days

#5 posted 12-10-2007 05:39 PM

I didn’t mean to imply that my chisels are of the highest quality or in pristine condition! And I didn’t mean to imply that using a chisel for glue cleanup was sacreligious! I know a guy who lets his squeeze-out dry and then uses a hand plane to scrape it off. I’ve also heard the argument that a dry rag is better than a wet sponge. If that works for them, it’s okay with me. My comment was just meant to offer an option that works for me, not to imply that my way was “right”.

My chisels aren’t anything to write home about, but they work best when they are sharp and clean. I prefer to replace a five-cent razor blade when it gets all covered with glue than take the time to clean a chisel. Maybe that sounds lazy or wasteful, but from a economic standpoint, it would probably take at least 50 cents worth of my time to clean the chisel.

-- -- --

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4196 days

#6 posted 12-10-2007 06:16 PM

I use a wet rag on joints and a scraper on wide glue ups. on a table top I prefer to let the glue squeeze up and dry before I take it off. I’ll usually do that the next day. I’ve not had any problem when I wipe off the glue then hand plane and sand the joint area.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4395 days

#7 posted 12-10-2007 06:30 PM

didn’t Marc and Matt discuss this and there was a prime time at 1/2 hour or something?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4534 days

#8 posted 12-10-2007 11:40 PM

When I use a chisel I use a flat gouge carving chisel. It gets right to the glue line.

There’s less chance of damage from the corners of a flat chisel. That’s on a flat glue up.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View schwingding's profile


133 posts in 4060 days

#9 posted 12-11-2007 07:09 PM

I dislike the wet sponge area because it pushes glue futher down into the pores and causes problems with stain and finish adhesion. Instead I let the glue harden and use a cabinet scraper to remove it.

-- Just another woodworker

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 4191 days

#10 posted 12-11-2007 07:24 PM

wiping never gets all the always end up with some on the wood. It’s not a problem if you have a sander…I always let the glue set for a little while then it comes of nice with a sharp chisel…but i will have to try Peters razerblade technique.


View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 4147 days

#11 posted 12-11-2007 09:00 PM

I typically wait until it hardens and then scrape it off with a card scraper…that is for flat surfaces or areas that I can easily get to. For those areas that are harder to reach, I try hard to avoid the squeeze-out (i.e. apply only as much glue as absolutely necessary) but if there is some squeeze-out I will follow-up with a chisel after about 30 minutes.

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at

View TreeBones's profile


1827 posts in 4257 days

#12 posted 12-17-2007 07:35 PM

I always wipe with a wet rag unless its where I cant sand later, like inside corners that are hard to get to and then use the chisel after some drying time.

-- Ron, Twain Harte, Ca. Portable on site Sawmill Service

View USCJeff's profile


1065 posts in 4302 days

#13 posted 12-17-2007 08:01 PM

I’d second Mot’s comments.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 4403 days

#14 posted 12-17-2007 08:04 PM

My choice is a paint scraper. The kind that you can sharpen. Works great.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4225 days

#15 posted 12-17-2007 09:21 PM

Norm says to wipe it off with a damp sponge. David Marks uses masking tape near the joint (The glue squeeze out gets on the tape, not the project). I use scrapers, chisles, knives, sandpaper, a wet sponge or rag, and tape…whatever gets the blob out off my project. The best thing I’ve found though, is to use an acid brush to spread the glue first, before joining the pieces together. Squeeze out is from excessive glue in any area, right? Spread it out first!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

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