Miss a spot and your project loses style points. Here's what to do before and after glue-up.

A little bit of glue squeeze-out is a good thing. It shows that you used enough glue to produce a strong joint. However, it's also a potential finish wrecker, so be sure to remove every bit of it before you proceed.

Effective glue removal is a matter of timing. If you wait and scrape the glue off after it hardens, you might pull out chunks of wood. You're also more likely to miss a spot, only to see it show up when you apply the first coat of stain or finish. If you wipe squeeze-out with a damp rag immediately after glue-up, you might smear glue into the surrounding wood pores, which makes your cleanup task much more challenging.

The easy, effective way to deal with squeeze-out is to assemble and clamp your project, then wait 30 minutes and check the glue. When it has reached a rubbery consistency all the way through, you can quickly take it off with a scraper, as shown in Photo A.

It pays to take extra steps before you apply glue in areas that will be tricky to scrape. Photo B shows masking tape being applied to both sides of a butt joint, and the same technique works on the inside corners of a box, for example.

Or, for really tight areas, go ahead and apply finish to those surfaces that will be visible in the completed project. Yellow or white glue won't adhere to the finish, so you can let the squeeze-out harden, then easily pop it loose with a putty knife.

Photo C shows a special technique that you'll appreciate. When you're building up pieces by gluing them face-to-face, cut a pair of shallow saw kerfs near each edge of the piece that will receive glue. Apply glue only between the kerfs, and they'll capture any excess before it can ooze to the edge and squeeze out. If the ends will be visible in the completed project, use your router table and a 18 " straight bit to make stopped grooves.

Finally, despite all of your precautions, always double-check for dried squeeze-out before moving on to your finishing procedures. Wipe mineral spirits over the project's surface, as shown in Photo D, and any dried glue will show up. Remove it carefully with a chisel or a well-sharpened cabinet scraper.

Masking tape along joints will keep glue from the wood. Peel off the tape after the glue is partially or completely dry.


Cut glue-stopping grooves 18 " deep with your tablesaw or with a straight bit and router table, and then apply glue as shown.


Mineral spirits, or paint thinner, will reveal any dried glue. It evaporates quickly, and won't affect the finish.