Glued Wood Joints

Choose the right glue for the job in hand and make sure you know all there is to know about mixing, setting times, and any necessary precautions. Do a dry run before you actually glue up any joint. Work in a clean, dust-free environment – and choose somewhere you won’t be interrupted.

The mating faces – the two faces of wood to be joined – must be clean and dust-free. Assemble the joints together, clamping them if necessary – keep some small offcuts of wood handy to protect the piece from the jaws of the clamp.

Once you’ve done a trial assembly so you know which piece goes where, use a low-tack masking tape to cover the areas outside the joint that you want to keep free of glue. You can use a fine artists’ paintbrush to apply glue to small areas. Assemble the joint, checking for alignment and squareness and then clamp it. Wipe off any excess glue that may have oozed from the joint immediately – when dry, some glues will repel paint finishes or remain visible underneath it. Wait until the glue is set (check the manufactuers’ instructions), then peel away the masking tape and scrape or sand the surfaces to a fine finish.

Because of their difficult shape, some repairs to joints – particularly on chairs – are difficult to keep clamped until the adhesive dries completely. One of the best ways to clamp a chair – or any other odd-shaped structure – is to use a length of rope or webbing about 50mm (2in) wide and a stout stick clamp – a bit like a tourniquet. This is great for pulling chair legs onto stretchers but be careful that you do not over-wind and break the other joints in the chair. And beware when the stick is unwound – once loosened, they have a habit of spinning suddenly so watch you don’t get hit in the face.

Glue guns are useful for accurate spot-glueing. The gun is fitted with a rod of solid glue – various types are available – that is heated until it melts then discharged as a liquid, or with a cartridge of cold glue that is forced out when you pull the trigger. Both types tend to be fast-setting.

Useful Tips

  • To remove a dribble of glue from a joint, wait until the glue has become rubbery, then cut off the dribble with a sharp chisel.
  • Candle wax will stop glue sticking where it is not required.
  • Make sure you have the manufacturers’ recommended solvent handy: it is inevitable that you’ll get some glue where you don’t want it – normally on your own hands or clothes.

Safety Tips

  • Remember, some glues contain solvents that can give off dangerous fumes, so make sure that the area you are working in is sufficiently ventilated at all times.
  • Super-glues can bond human skin, so take care when handling them and wear gloves if possible.
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