Glue ups

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Forum topic by sawdustmaster posted 05-12-2011 11:39 PM 2445 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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70 posts in 2826 days

05-12-2011 11:39 PM

Is it just me or are all complex glue ups this ridiculous? My first box with hand cut box joints. 4 corner clamps and 6 quick clamps for a 6”x6” wooden cube! Also, anyone have any tips for not getting so much glue squeeze out. I use about half a roll of paper towels after every glue up to clean up the mess. The glue also stains the wood to some degree I have found, usually where you don’t want a stain. Its spanish cedar by the way, going to be one of those tissue box boxes when the top gets put on. Thanks for looking.

-- --Now we are surrounded sir. "Excellent private, now we can attack in any direction."

9 replies so far

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3136 days

#1 posted 05-13-2011 12:26 AM

Yes. Gluing is ridiculus. But it does get better.

Gluing is as much of a skill as cutting dovetails. One thing to learn is how much glue and how to spread it. Another is how many pieces to put together at one time.

You really only need to get the wood wet with glue, kinda like paint. You want all of the surface covered, but only a thin film. If you were painting those surfaces with latex paint, how thick of a film would you leave? You probably want an even thinner film of glue. For fingers like those I would use a putty knife to spread it, scraping most all of it off. And I’ve seen one article that asserts that yes, it is in fact better to put a thin layer of glue on both surfaces than a thicker layer on one. Something about how that first bit of glue on the wood soaks into the fibers is what is actually holds the glue joint together (everything else gets squeezed out) and it penitrates better if the glue hasn’t been spread into a film before contacting the dry wood.

When I’m gluing I have some newspaper, a putty knife, and a rag in a bucket of water. Often I use the putty knife to spread, but I also use it to remove glue from places where I’ve put too much. When I have big glob of glue I scrape it onto the newspaper. The rag and water are for cleaning up the putty knife before going after another glob.

-- Greg D.

View Jahness's profile


70 posts in 2764 days

#2 posted 05-13-2011 12:37 AM

I usually use a small artist paint brush and put a few drops of water in the glue when gluing up box joints. I also never use corner clamps when gluing up box joints. If the box joints are cut correctly, there’s no need for a corner clamp.

-- John

View Loren's profile


10401 posts in 3648 days

#3 posted 05-13-2011 12:56 AM

Read James Krenov about the glue. He wrote about it in some of his
books. You do learn how to use just the right amount, and if your
joints are well-fitted clamps help close the joints, but the geometry
takes care of the joint staying together.

You should be going for a very firm fit when dry fitting. When you
add a couple of dots of glue on the inside faces, the joint will slip
together easier because the glue lubricates.

If you’re handcutting box joints, try some dovetails. They are actually
easier to get right and gluing them up is easy too.

View brianlee's profile


18 posts in 2601 days

#4 posted 05-13-2011 12:56 AM

Whenever Norm Abram was doing a glue up, he liked to joke, “You can never have too many clamps.” Looking at you clamping project I would leave the corner clamps out. If your box is out of square, a bar clamp across the diagonal would work better and easier than those corner clamps.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2690 days

#5 posted 05-13-2011 04:03 AM

I quit trying to clean up wet glue a long time ago. I felt like I just spread it around,now the wood is wet and I cant tell where the glue is until I apply finish.Sound familiar? I now wait until its dry and scrape it off.Works MUCH better for me.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View NormG's profile


6112 posts in 3004 days

#6 posted 05-13-2011 04:54 AM

I use tape on inside joints and glue sparingly

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2880 days

#7 posted 05-13-2011 03:29 PM

With small boxes like that I always put tape around the boards where the glue joints are. Most of the leaked out glue will land on the tape and its much easier to clean…

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2850 days

#8 posted 05-13-2011 05:03 PM

The putty knife sounds a little awkward and an invitation to excess, to me. For joints like that I like acid brushes, like those here.

They wash out and last a long time.

I also concur with John; Titebond says you can dilute glue up to (if I recall right) 10%. But just a few drops in the tuna can and that kind of spreading is easier, maybe even cinchy.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3060 days

#9 posted 05-13-2011 08:20 PM

A big hole does not take much of glue.

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