Glue setup time problem

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Forum topic by SuburbanDon posted 01-26-2012 05:54 PM 1672 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View SuburbanDon's profile


487 posts in 3232 days

01-26-2012 05:54 PM

Topic tags/keywords: glue setup

Hi Guys, the other day I was gluing up a small table. I had four small tenons to join at the same time and I was using Titebond III. My tenons fit snugly but could be assembled by hand only. The glue is supposed to have an extended setup time but I noticed that I really needed to have glue applied and joints assembled in about a minute or I was in trouble. I really didn’t have time to clamp anything properly. The result was some joints did not get together snugly.

I work in a garage that is very cold until I’m out there and running a heater. So my glue is cool or cold. The other issue is that maybe my joints are a little too snug ?

Do you think I can expect a much improved setup time by warming my glue and perhaps making the joints not-too-snug ?

Thanks, Don Ware

-- --- Measure twice, mis-cut, start over, repeat ---

10 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3209 days

#1 posted 01-26-2012 06:17 PM

Cold should actually extend working time. I don’t think your problem is glue setting up.

Glue applied to a tenon or in a mortise will cause the wood to swell. Same as the way water raises grain.

So your tenons get bigger while the mortise gets smaller at the same time.

Make your joints looser.

Some times you still have to use clamp pressure to draw joints together.

View Randy Sharp's profile

Randy Sharp

363 posts in 3910 days

#2 posted 01-26-2012 06:18 PM

Don, I’d side with the joint size. When the joint is tight, and the glue is on the heavy side, it creates a sealed air pocket in the bottom of the mortise. The air can’t escape, thus the air pressure won’t allow the tenon to fully seat.

-- Randy, Tupelo, MS ~ A man who honors his wife will have children who honor their father.

View a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3815 days

#3 posted 01-26-2012 06:31 PM

Don Part of your trouble is the type of glue your using Titebond III is a great glue but it’s the quickest drying Titebond product. Yes making the joints a little less snug will help but heating the glue will only accelerate the glues drying time.
You can use white glue for a slow drying rate or use some premixed hide glue it’s much more slippery for tight fitting joints.
Before I had a heated shop I would bring things in the house to have the glue dry.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3088 days

#4 posted 01-26-2012 06:40 PM

Looser joints, true.

There is another characteristic of the Titebond glues: their “initial tack.” My understanding is that this is an assembly aid, and I use it that way. It seems to me that once that occurs—in about a minute, to my sense—you still have time after that to break the tack (as in clamping a joint tighter than you can get it by hand) and move the work slightly, after which your bond will form as expected. I could not find a usable definition of “initial tack” on the Franklin site.

From Franklin, features of TB III:

Passes ANSI/HPVA Type I water-resistance

Waterproof formula that cleans up with water

Superior strength – Strong initial tack

Designed for interior and exterior applications

Longer open assembly time

Lower application temperature

Unaffected by finishes

FDA approved for indirect food contact

According to another chart, it chalks at 47oF, so none of your stuff—material, air, adhesive—should be close to that for maximum success.

You may want to consider a small glue storage cabinet with a light bulb in it, on 24/7, given your shop situation.



-- " 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 Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3088 days

#5 posted 01-26-2012 06:46 PM

a1Jim, according to the Titebond specs, TB I and II have an open time of 5 – 10 minutes and TB III is open 10 – 15 minutes.

Your mileage may have varied, of course, due to your proximity to the Oregon Vortex. All we suffer from over here on the dry side is the Juniper Effect.



-- " 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 GregD's profile


788 posts in 3374 days

#6 posted 01-26-2012 06:48 PM

It has also been my experince that cold glue sets up more slowly than warm glue. In hot weather and difficult glue ups I’ve even refridgerated my glue bottle before using it so that the first thing it does after spreading is pick up a bit of moisture from the humidity and that helps me a lot.

Check the Titebond web site – as I recall they say that you can thin the glue up to 10% or so.

I pretty much always assume I’m going to have to use clamp pressure to close my joints. I’m not so experienced and I still find that planning and executing the glue up are the most challenging phases of many projects.

+1 on Randy’s observation. There needs to be a place for excess glue to go, and that is after you’ve done a good job removing the excess before assembling the joint.

-- Greg D.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5816 posts in 3051 days

#7 posted 01-26-2012 06:51 PM

Look for Titebond II Extend. It has an open time of 20 minutes. It is a little runny compared to TB II, but the extra open time lets you relax and enjoy your project. In strength tests I have found it stronger than white oak wood fibers.

You won’t need to sacrifice a good snug fitting joint. If you can assemble your joints with hand pressure, then it is just right.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View SuburbanDon's profile


487 posts in 3232 days

#8 posted 01-26-2012 09:43 PM

Thanks for all of the responses. Mainly it looks like my joints were probably a bit too snug. I think I will do some experiments with scrap wood rather than a project just to see what it will take.

-- --- Measure twice, mis-cut, start over, repeat ---

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3982 days

#9 posted 01-27-2012 02:28 AM

Don, the joint should be loose enough to put together with hand pressure, but not so loose that when you hold it up, with one part hanging down, it falls apart. +1 on Pintodeluxe’s TBII extend glue.

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 3421 days

#10 posted 01-27-2012 03:09 AM

Don, Willie has it right. I use Titebond II Extend for difficult time consuming glue ups and it gives you plenty of open time. It’s also rated for exterior use and is FDA approved although the FDA approval isn’t listed on the bottle or their website. I called the Titebond company and asked if it was and they said yes it is FDA approved.

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

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