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Gluing wood.

Even the most experienced carpenters and woodworkers occasionally break into a sweat when it comes time to glue up a project, especially one that takes lots of clamps after the glue is applied. You only get one shot at it, so there's little room for mistakes. Before your next glue-up, read our top 10 tips for gluing wood and save all that sweating for the gym.

1 Plain old wood glue is best

Dozens of glues claim to work well on wood and a variety of other materials. But regular wood glue is the best choice for raw wood-to-wood joinery. Most wood glues are a type of polyvinyl acetate (PVA). Also sometimes called carpenter's glue, wood glue is formulated to penetrate wood fibers, making glue joints that are stronger than the wood itself.

2 Wood glue can last for years

You may have heard that PVA glue goes bad after freezing or sitting around for a long time, but the truth is that it might still be OK. Try stirring it with a stick to mix all the glue particles (don't just shake it). If it's a little thick, add some water-up to 5 percent. If glue flows freely from the bottle and feels slippery between your fingers--not stringy or clumpy--it's probably OK to use. But if in doubt, throw it out. It's not worth taking the chance.

3 Water finds hidden glue

Once squeezed-out glue has been removed, there's still a chance that some is hiding. And if you don't find it now, you'll see it later when you apply stain or finish. Spray some warm water near glue joints to make hidden glue more visible. The water will also soften the dried glue, making it easier to scrape off.

4 Use enough glue, but not too much

Use too much glue and you'll have a big mess on your hands, but too little can give you a weak joint. You'll know you have the right amount of glue when you see a fairly even bead of squeeze-out--about the thickness of a penny-the entire length of the joint.

5 Rub the joint

One good way to ensure a strong glue joint is to use the "rub joint" method. Simply apply glue to the edges of one or both boards and rub them together to help spread the glue evenly before clamping.

6 Use waterproof glue for outdoor projects

If your carpentry project might get wet, use glue that stands up to water. Glues labeled "water resistant" are fine for things that'll only get wet occasionally. For most outdoor projects, however, choose "waterproof" glue, which comes in both PVA and polyurethane formulas. Both types are plenty strong and stand up to the weather, but polyurethane glue has the added benefit of being able to bond materials like stone, metal and glass. It's messy stuff, though, so wear gloves while using it.

7 Removing glue squeeze-out

The best time to remove glue squeeze-out is when it's starting to set up and slightly rubbery-about 20 minutes or so after clamping. Just scoop it off with a chisel and wipe off the excess with a damp (not wet!) rag. If you wait until the glue is dry, you'll have to scrape it off, which is a lot more work and can damage the wood.

8 Glue + sawdust = wood filler

When you need wood filler that matches the color of your project, mix some fine sawdust and glue together until it forms a paste, which you can use to fill small gaps and cracks. For best results, use sawdust from the same species of wood as your project; you can get some from the bag on your electric sander. Just don't try this trick for large gaps or patches--they'll stick out like a sore thumb.

9 Avoid sunken joints

PVA glue has lots of water in it, and that water will cause the wood edges at glue joints to swell. If you plane or sand glued-up panels too soon, you could be left with sunken joints after the wood dries and shrinks to its original state. Most water-based glues reach full cure in about 24 hours, but it can take several days for swollen glue joints to shrink back to size. If you're gluing up a fine piece of furniture that you hope will become a family heirloom, wait a few days after gluing up your project before sanding or planing.

10 Slow-setting glue buys you time

Most wood glues set up quickly, which can be a blessing or a curse. Sometimes you want a quick bond, but on a complicated glue-up, you might want more time before the glue starts to set up. Slow-setting glues have labels that say "longer assembly time" or "longer open time."

BY JASON WHITE editors@thefamilyhandyman.com

DO A DRY RUN

To head off any glue-up catastrophes, be sure to dry-fit and clamp together all the parts and pieces of your project before you apply glue. Do this no matter what type of glue you choose.
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Title Annotation:Top Ten TIPS
Author:White, Jason
Publication:The Family Handyman
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2015
Words:838
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