Failed Glue Joints

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Forum topic by tommytenspeed posted 07-26-2014 02:32 PM 1365 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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32 posts in 2898 days

07-26-2014 02:32 PM

Topic tags/keywords: oak question traditional

I have been making beds, night stands and hope chests for several years now with great success. Recently, however, several pieces have had glue joints fail. The failed joints in question are all occurring on trim pieces (see photos). these joints were tight as can be and rock solid when built. I have made 4 sets of each with the same glue and materials in the same shop but only one night stand and one hope chest have produced the failed joint; all the others, which are much older than the failed ones, are perfectly fine. I am at a loss as to why these specific pieces are showing this defect. My wood is all kiln dried and meters out to 7 or 8% and the glue is climate controlled so as not to let it freeze in the winter. The hope chest was completed this April and in less than 3 months the joints are beginning to come apart but only on the trim; all the other glue lines are intact as you can see in my photos. The chest is made using frame and panel construction and all those joints are flawless. Why these and not others. I am very worried that the items I have sold will now start coming back to me and I am very worried about what this is going to do to my reputation. I have built a lot of furniture over the years using this type of trim (made in my shop and not purchased) and only started encountering this problem about a month ago. the only difference I can think of as to why this is happening is that I switched over from spraying urethane to lacquer. Am I not using enough to seal the wood properly and thus letting in moisture but then why would it not be affecting the other joints? HELP!

9 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4950 posts in 3989 days

#1 posted 07-26-2014 02:54 PM

I have never had long lived success with mitered corners unless they have been reinforced with a dowel, biscuit, or spline. I even discouraged my cabinet customers to shy away from mitered cabinet doors because of the tendency to have the corners open.
Could it have been some “starved” glue joints? Old glue?
Just throwin’ that out for thought.


View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2074 days

#2 posted 07-26-2014 03:00 PM

Looks like the results of wood movement to me. You have several cross-grain situations at the stiles for the frame.

-- paxorion

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2390 days

#3 posted 07-26-2014 03:12 PM

It ain’t the glue. Natural wood movement across the grain in the mitered joint causes the failure.

Wood never sleeps.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View pintodeluxe's profile (online now)


5706 posts in 2842 days

#4 posted 07-26-2014 03:17 PM

The problem arises due to wood movement of the wide stiles. The frame and panel construction is brilliant at dealing with wood movement of the panel. However, when we wrap trim across the width of wood it creates a problem. Wood expands much more across its width compared to its length. Even kiln dried, properly finished lumber will have seasonal movement as it gains and loses moisture content.
Usually wrapping trim around frame and panel construction isn’t a problem because stiles are often narrow. I think your stiles were just wide enough to cause the miter to separate.

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

View tommytenspeed's profile


32 posts in 2898 days

#5 posted 07-26-2014 03:20 PM

Thanks guys for the response. I thought about the cross grain situation at the stiles but I have made numerous beds and night stands with this same configuration and they are all holding well.

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2912 days

#6 posted 07-26-2014 03:22 PM

As others have said, it’s not the glue, it’s the design; the wood will move no matter what you seal it with and the cross grain design will split the nice mitered corners apart.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Rayne's profile


916 posts in 1568 days

#7 posted 07-26-2014 04:16 PM

I’m still an early amateur but maybe there were still fine dust particles on that joint when you glued it? If all the others are still holding strong, who knows, maybe one got away from the proper cleaning. Just an idea.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3614 days

#8 posted 07-26-2014 04:33 PM

Wood never sleeps (unless it is dead).Yes I would say movement too , maybe a bit too much stress on the corners without dowell or reinforcing this as said added to movement which is natural in all woods that are still alive I E not rotten, decayed ,or similar.
An elderly gentleman said to me years ago when talking aboiut an antique piece of furniture when I poiunted out a split between two boards it is still moving despite being two hundred years old and added it only stops when it dies.LOL but true Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View DocSavage45's profile


8609 posts in 2871 days

#9 posted 07-26-2014 04:50 PM

Charles Neil put out a great video…”Cases and Bases” He addresses wood movement and how to correct for this. In places where there is extreme weather variation highs and lows this occurrence of the currently grown woods ( not old growth) will do these things, sometimes in your shop even before you start a project.

He has several solutions that he presents.

Not sure if you can get the video anymore. Here is an email address

Charles is also an LJ member.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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