How to Prevent Glue Spots on Your Finished Projects

  • Glue Spots Cramping Your Style?

    Preserve the Aesthetic of Your Woodworking Projects With These Few Tips


    glue-squeeze-outSo you’ve finally finished your project, and all that painstaking effort is now beautifully reflected in the final product. Take a step back, and bask in the warm glow of your hard work and meticulousness. Great job, man. But, wait… what’s that… is that?… no; no, it couldn’t be… glue spots?! (insert any combination of grunting, huffing and/or expletives here) – Glue spots can wreck the presentation of your project. For those of you who work too hard to suffer the pangs of sneaky glue spots (which is all of us), find out how to prevent them, and how to keep your style (and your final results) totally un-cramped.

    The Genesis of Glue Spots

    Glue spots are not always the result of carelessness or lazy workmanship; instead, they often occur from glue squeeze-out, drips, or gluey fingertips, and, essentially, because they’re really hard to see. Because most glues are virtually invisible after drying, you may not realize they’re there until they resurface beneath your finish. They reappear because the glue seals to your materials, preventing finishes and stains from penetrating the wood grain. The result is splotchy, unsightly, infuriating and totally avoidable.

    Preventing Glue Spots

    The most crucial part of preventing glue spots is managing glue squeeze-out. When you’re gluing joints together, some glue squeeze-out is both good and eventual. You should have some gelled-out glue beads along the length of your joint. While you might be inclined the wipe them away immediately, please don’t; this will simply slather wet glue further over the surface. Instead, allow these glue beads to squeeze-out and mostly dry before scraping them off with a chisel or a putty knife.

    On another hand, if your squeeze-out happens to be beading in an inside corner, a sharp chisel may not be your best plan of attack. Instead, use something pliable that can conform to the shape of the corner. This way, you can scrape-off the squeeze-out without marring adjoining materials. Often, a drinking-straw (or something of similarly tough but malleable material) offers both the strength needed to scrape and the flexibility to mimic the corner and preserve your work surfaces. Scrape with something that offers those characteristics, and you’ll be free of both glue and and any dents, scuffs, or scrapes.

    Additionally, if you’re extra dedicated, you can attempt to prevent glue from ever touching the surface of your working materials by masking the surface along the joint. Lay a strip of masking tape along the seam of your joint before clamping your pieces together, and most squeeze-out will end up atop the tape rather than on your material. Allow the beads to mostly dry, and remove the tape. This should eliminate most residue. Still, no matter how careful you are, there’s likely to be a spot of glue somewhere on your material. The task now, resides in finding those areas.

    Checking Your Work

    After it dries, glue is pretty invisible on your working materials. So, how do you know you’ve successfully prevented any glue-spots from crapping-up your project? Well, in this case, ordinary mineral spirits or denatured alcohol act as a magic-like potion revealing any dried glue residue. Simply wipe the liquid along the joint and surrounding material, and any glue spots will reveal themselves remaining dry where the raw material becomes darker as the spirits penetrate the grain. After you’ve identified glue-spots, simply sand them out. Lightly sand-off any residual adhesive to ensure your material is ready for a smooth consistent finish.

    And that’s it, folks. Take just a few extra minutes to ensure your material is free of glue spots, and your final product will proudly reflect your exemplary work ethic. Keep your results looking as professionally as you work by preventing glue-spots from ever resurfacing on your finished projects.