Monday, January 27, 2014

How To Clean Up Glue Squeeze-Out

It's easy.  Here's my secret:

Use hide glue.

photo courtesy
Any hide glue does the same, but I had recently used this Titebond product, which I have had excellent results with. 

Today I had to clean up some leg blanks I laminated together for my walnut dining table.

Stop laughing, YES... this is the same table I have been working on for about two years.

Normally when I clamp something up, I use a wet rag to wipe off as much squeeze out as I can.  I can not remember having had any trouble doing this with hide glue.  I have heard some have had troubles with PVA glue showing up during finishing when wiped off this way, though.

When I did these legs, I must have been inattentive for this step, as they all dried with lots of sloppy squeeze out.  In fact, one leg looked like it had been painted with glue.

What to do?  I thought about scraping it with a chisel or some other tool, but I hate using my sharp tools for this.

Instead, I got a bucket of hot water and a rag.  I would have used my heat gun, but couldn't find it.  I realized that using it with a bucket of water might not be such a good idea anyway.


But the hot water worked way better than I thought.  I just squeezed enough water out of the rag so it wouldn't drip everywhere, and laid it over the dried squeeze-out.  After a few seconds I just started scrubbing away.

Hide glue is reversible with heat and water, so it doesn't take much to clean it up in this manner.  That one board that was completely caked with hide glue was cleaned up in less than a minute.

Water will raise the grain, but after a glue up my work needs to be planed anyway.  After cleaning up this dried squeeze-out I planed a reference face and an edge with a handplane on each of the legs, then drove them over to Dictum to dimension in their power planer. 

Perhaps in another two years this stupid table will be done!


  1. Brian, That's a great tip, thank you! You do get your hide glue at Dictum. I am just wondering what is the gram strengh and if you have tried to make your own liquid hide glue by adding urea or salts?

    1. Hi Aymeric!

      You sure can get Titebond Liquid Hide Glue from Dictum. I also know you can get the granules for the stuff you heat up yourself. I have done both. I have not tried making my own liquid hide glue by adding urea or anything to my homemade stuff, but I have heard that is all you have to do. You should try it! Let me know how it goes.

    2. thanks Brian for your reply. an interesting scientific article regarding animal glues:
      here in France they mostly sell bone glue, which basically is similar to hide glue but has less strength according to this paper. Anyway I found some liquid glue for cabinetmaking that contains bones and skins. They call it "colle forte d'ébénisterie", it should be ok, will give it a try...

  2. On your recommendation I'm going to give liquid hide glue a try as my supply of wood glue is starting to run low. What's kept me from it is the temperatures in my area, which have been incredibly cold for the past two months (for instance, it is currently -14 C just for an example) We haven't had a day above freezing in roughly 6 weeks. My garage is usually only 50-55 degrees (10-12 C??) So I'm wondering if the glue would set in that temp range. Thanks for the tip.

    1. Hi Bill, thanks for the comment. My guess is that you'll be OK at 50 degrees or so. I wouldn't try it much colder than that, though.

      I'll make you this guarantee: If you don't like it, you won't ever have to buy it again! :o)



  3. Brian I use hide glue on my chairs because of the reversibility and workability. I have always used Old Brown Glue. One thing about hide glue is it will loose its strength if allowed to sit too long. I am out right now but I believe there is a "use by date" on the bottles.

    I have heard that putting the glue in an ice cube tray and sitting it in the refrigerator, not the freezer, will help preserve it. Also that one cube is the correct amount to glue up one Windsor chair. Hide glue works best when it is heated, I use a warm water bath in a sunbeam hot pot, way cheaper than an actual glue pot.

    Here is a link to some good posts on hide glue by Pete Galbert.

    1. Reversibility of hide glue is one of it's best features! I use a baby bottle warmer and an old baby food jar for my glue pot. It almost gets hot enough.

      Thanks for the comment, Ray!