Glue is a common adhesive used in many types of woodworking projects, and if your woodworking plans call for it, you’ll need to use it. There are right and wrong ways to glue pieces of wood together, so make sure that you are using proper technique to get the strongest adhesive bond.

The wood must fit

When gluing two surfaces together, be sure that the surfaces that will be glued together fit each other without any bowing. If you need to force a piece of wood into place while the glue is trying, the strength of the joint will be compromised. If one of the pieces of wood bows, and needs to be forced and held into place, that is not a good thing.

Use less glue

Try to keep the amount of glue to a minimum. Spread a thin layer of wood glue onto both joining surfaces, and be sure to cover the entire surface that will be glued. Use a stick or a brush to apply the glue accurately and in a thin layer. Cover the entire surface that is to be glued. If you use thick layers of glue, the joint will actually be weaker than if you use thin layers of glue.

Keep it clean

Be sure that the joining surfaces are free of any contaminants that could interrupt the adhesiveness of the glue. Dust, oil, wax, etc. – all these will cause problems when trying to glue surfaces together. Clean the surfaces and let them dry appropriately as well.

Clamp it

One you have glued your pieces of wood together, be sure to clamp the pieces while they dry. This is very important. The wood must be held in place until the glue has properly dried and set. Clamp the wood together and tighten the clamps until you see a small bead of glue coming out from the joints. This means that the the joining surfaces are secured tightly together. You might need to leave your wood clamped together for up to 24 hours to let the glue properly cure and set.


Once the join dries and the glue is set, you will have little beads of dried glue raised above the surface. At this point, remove your clamps and use a chisel or something to scrape the excess dried glue away. This works better than trying to wipe it off with a damp cloth, which can cause undesirable after-effects.

A good example of using a lot of these gluing techniques would be in the construction of a cabinet, if you are trying to follow some cabinet woodworking plans. Having to glue the shelves in if you are using dadoes will require lightly applied thin layers of wood glue.

image: vanRijn