How do you glue finger joints?

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Forum topic by Paul Pomerleau posted 08-18-2011 02:07 PM 10901 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Paul Pomerleau

309 posts in 2934 days

08-18-2011 02:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question jig finger joint glue

I started wood working last Christmas and I have a cardboard box with various scrap pieces of hard wood in my basement workshop.
I thought, I should have a wooden box to store these in.
Problem is, I’ve never made a simple storage bin before and I spent a bit of time trying to figure out what type of joint to use.
Dovetails scare me, and rabbet joints don’t look very good, so I opted for the common finger joint.
I built a screw advance box joint jig for my table saw.
It’s not the prettiest one, nor does it have fancy wooden gears, but it works.
So, now I have my four 8” high by 12” long sides cut out of 1/2” plywood with all the 1/4” fingers cut out and it dry fits very well.
Now I’m trying to figure out the best way of gluing it together.
I will use Titebond 2 glue, and figure the best way to get the glue on quickly is with a small brush.
I foresee a few problems.
I will take the entire top off the glue bottle, dab the brush into the glue and go in between the fingers as quickly as possible to minimize swelling and drying before I can get the pieces together.
This does not seem possible without creating a mess of glue running down the sides of the plywood.
Plus, I figure I would have to clamp and square each corner before starting to glue the next side, as it will most certainly be dry by the time I get the next side done.
So, there are 16 fingers on each end of each board, that all need to have glue applied, assembled, clamped and squared before swelling and drying occurs.
How do you guys and gals do it?

-- Close to Ottawa Ontario Canada

9 replies so far

View higtron's profile


247 posts in 2918 days

#1 posted 08-18-2011 02:54 PM

I put blue tape down the inside, and outside of the box pieces leaving the fingers un taped. Glue it and clamp it then while the glue is skinned over and before it’s completely dry pull the tape off. If your worried abou t open time on the glue up get some Tight Bound III it has a longer open time, pour the glue in a small container like a lid of a mayonaise jar dip your brush in that move fast you don’t need glue on both sides of the joint there is a lot of glue surface on box joints, as soon as you get the glue on one piece put it together with the corasponding piece.

-- A friend will help you move, a good friend will help you move a body

View D_Allen's profile


495 posts in 3025 days

#2 posted 08-19-2011 03:34 AM

You need enough 1/2” glue brushes, 16 should do it, nailed side by side on a board. Wet them all with glue and do the entire joint at one time. ;-o

-- Website is finally up and

View 1yeldud1's profile


301 posts in 3283 days

#3 posted 08-19-2011 04:38 AM

Itake a scrap piece of wood and put a “dab” of glue – about the size of a dime on it. i use a paint brush from a art and craft store (about 1/16 dia). I tape the inside of the box near the fingers with blue painters tape. I spread the glue on all contact surfaces of the fingers – a really really thin layer – then assemble the box and wrap the box with blue tape in both directions to hold the joints tight. I then lay a precision square on the outside of the boxes to assure that they are square – if any are slightly canted I adjust and put pressure to make them square while the glue dries. After about 2 hours I remove the tape and take a sharp chisle and remove any glue residue from inside the box joints.

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3292 days

#4 posted 08-20-2011 01:52 AM

Make a matching box joint out of scrap, dip it in white glue and apply. Go to, search boxjoints and see how he does it. Super simple.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View DonnyBahama's profile


215 posts in 2772 days

#5 posted 08-22-2011 07:30 AM

“Let any squeeze out get to a snot consistency, then zip it off with a sharp chisel.”

Barry, are we talking fresh-out-of-the-nose? Or dried-onto-the-bottom-of-the-coffee-table?

-- Founding member of the (un)Official LumberJock's Frugal Woodworking Society -

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18428 posts in 3917 days

#6 posted 08-22-2011 09:03 PM

I just drip a drop into the joints and smear it around with a Q-tip, fit and clamp. I used Titebond II too. No problems for me.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3282 days

#7 posted 08-22-2011 09:17 PM

The few times I did so far, All i did is apply a line to the mating surfaces(some always slips down into the grooves) Then Clamp together, The way i look at it you are effectively spreading when assembling & clamping.

IMHO only

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2931 days

#8 posted 08-23-2011 04:23 AM

Good one Donny!!!! I blew snot all over my computer.

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

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3400 days

#9 posted 08-23-2011 04:45 AM

I use Titebond III or even their liquid Hide Glue. I don’t worry so much about glue mess on finger joints simply because a.) they are usually proud of the surface anyway and need a gentle sanding and b.) I might have other areas of tearout or miss-fits that require some CA sanding/repair.

Masking it off beforehand is a good trick, though.

-- jay,

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