I remember when I first started woodworking my dad would come up behind me as I was gluing up a project. “Got enough glue on that?,” he’d say. Glue was everywhere. I guess I was afraid of starving the joints of glue. I needn’t have worried with the amount of glue I was using.
Needless to say, I’ve more or less learned how much glue to apply. When I’m gluing up a wide panel from narrower boards, I aim for tiny beads of glue to seep out of the joints as I tighten the clamps.
I used to apply a line of glue down the center of each board and spread it with my finger to cover the entire edge of the board (I only apply glue to one side of the joint on panel glue-ups.) But lately I’ve been skipping the step of covering my finger in glue. I use the flat edge of the nozzle on the Titebond glue bottle and run a strip of glue right down the middle. No spreading it out. Then I can apply the clamps. I think it results in less squeeze-out to clean up and I haven’t had a joint fail yet. I still get those tiny beads of glue along the joint lines.
So how do you clean up the squeeze-out? I’m still struggling with that one. I used to buy into the notion of using a damp rag to wipe off the excess. But I’m afraid that works the glue into the pores and I’ve had it ruin the finish. I’d have to go back and re-sand those areas.
Then I tried the idea of waiting several minutes until it skins over then scraping it off. That works somewhat. Sometimes. What I find is that as I’m scraping, the glue inside the bead is still wet and still spreads where I don’t want it to as I’m trying to scrape it off.
The latest tactic I’ve been using to deal with squeeze-out is to let the glue dry. Of course, this assumes I haven’t applied so much glue that it’s dripping down the project. But if all I have to deal with are the small, occasional beads, I’ll let them dry. Then I can use a scraper (for panels) or a sharp chisel to break away the beads.
The scraper I use has a four-sided blade that can be rotated when one edge gets dull. You can buy it on Amazon for about $8. When I first bought mine, I actually honed the edges. What I like about it is that the edges are slightly cambered, or have a gentle curve. This way, the corners of the blade won’t dig into the workpiece and I can get thin shavings as I’m removing the glue squeeze-out.
And because the edge of the blade is cambered, if I do have that errant spot or drip of glue on the project, this scraper is great at removing it. Follow up with a little sanding before applying the finish.
What is your tactic for removing glue squeeze-out? I’d really like to know.
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