If you’re putting woodworking projects together, you’re going to get squeeze-out. It’s nearly impossible to avoid, but it can actually be beneficial. A little glue coming out of the joint provides some reassurance that you have enough glue IN the joint. The question is, what do you do with squeeze-out?
How you deal with glue squeeze-out depends on the end use of the project. One thing George avoids, at least most of the time, is wiping the glue with a damp rag. He’ll explain why he thinks this is a bad idea, in most cases.
Exceptions to the rule
There are, of course, no hard and fast rules in woodworking. This means that there are times when using a damp rag is OK, and you can get away with it. It has to do with what the next step is. How you’re following up the gluing operation affects how you deal with the squeeze-out.
There are many approaches…
George explains what you shouldn’t do with squeeze-out, and gives you some tricks for dealing with it, but there are a number of approaches to this problem. Check out our great article that covers tips for cleaning glue squeeze-out. And, while you’ll nearly always have squeeze-out on your projects, there are ways to prevent it from ending up being a huge mess. Inside corners are notoriously difficult to clean glue out of, but there are ways of protecting inside corners from glue squeeze-out.
How do you deal with through tenons? Do you place glue on the tenon and/or the mortice? If you put the glue in the mortice, the mortice will collect the glue as it passes through. If you do not place the glue in the mortice, the bond between the mortice and tenon will be compromised to some degree.
And then there’s the issue of glue collecting on the tenon as it’s pushed further in the mortice ready to squeeze out onto the cheeks as the tenon is fully slid into the mortice.
So what do you do?
Hi Gary. GREAT question; this is tricky. Here’s an approach that works.
1. Pre-finish end grain on tenon. The most vulnerable place to collect glue is the end grain, as it has the tendency to suck the glue up through the exposed wood fibers, making it very difficult to remove. The solution here is to pre-finish the end grain only, being careful to not get finish on the tenon’s glue surface. Because it is end grain, it will tend to drink finish as well, so I’d suggest hitting it with a second coat within about 15 minutes of the first coat.
2. Use a modest amount of glue . Apply a very light amount of glue to both the tenon and the mortise. On the mortise, apply glue to only the front 1/2 of the joint, so that the tenon will drag glue to the remaining portion. On the tenon, only apply glue to the non-protruding portion of the joint.
3. Clean up immediately with damp rag. Get the protruding tenon as clean as possible at this point.
4. Expose glue residue and razor blade clean-up. After the glue cures and you remove clamps, wet the surface of the tenons with mineral spirits which will reveal any remaining glue residue. If you see some remaining glue, use a razor blade as a scraper, lightly scraping the surface around the perimeter of the tenon until the glue is removed. Wipe down with mineral spirits one more time to confirm.
Hi Paul, Thanks for your response but I regret that that approach is a no-go. I make a lot of Stickley style furniture and I do (ammonia) fume my work. Applying any finish will affect the absorption of the ammonia causing erratic blotching of the wood. I guess I’ll just continue to do what I’ve been doing: wet rag, wet toothbrush, drying and some subsequent sanding to get rid of the raised hairs.
Thank you for following up, unfortunately the website does not send out any notices of answered questions to writers and as such I missed any notice that you had responded.