Un-sticky Glue

Because the veneer on commercial grade plywood is pretty thin, I tend to be extra careful with glue around it. I don’t want to have to do any sanding because glue made its way onto the thin veneer. When edge banding strips of solid wood onto the edge of plywood it’s almost impossible to not get glue onto the veneer surface.

One way to deal with this problem is to quickly wipe away the glue squeeze-out with a damp rag and another is to prevent the glue from sticking and deal with it after it dries; I prefer the latter. Several years ago (~2008) I bought a can of Waxilit, which is a very soft wax. Applying the wax to the surface of wood prevents glue from sticking and after the glue has dried onto the wax surface it is easily scraped away with your fingernail or a piece of plastic. After all of the glue is scraped away, the wax can be removed by wiping the area with a rag dampened with mineral spirits.

A while back I ran out of Waxilit and recently I decided to try ordinary paste wax (I use Johnson’s paste wax) and the results were the same as with Waxilit. I apply the paste wax near the edge of the plywood where I will be gluing on the edge banding. After scraping away any dried glue, the paste wax is easily removed with a rag dampened with mineral spirits. And if you are using a wipe on oil-based finish, any residual wax that is not removed will dissolve into the finish as it’s applied. This is because wax, mineral spirits, and oil-based finishes are all nonpolar or lipophilic (lipid-like or literally oil loving) substances and if you remember from your high school chemistry class, ‘like dissolves like’. This means that nonpolar substances, like mineral spirits and oil-based finishes, will dissolve other nonpolar materials.

Give this technique a try on scrap wood and see if you’re happy with the results; I think you will be.

3 Responses to “Un-sticky Glue”

  1. Steve Collins says:

    Thats some great info to have, Brian. Thanks.

  2. Andy says:

    Great article Brian! There is nothing worse than having leftover glue that you didn’t see and you have to sand the glue off to make it look normal. Hopefully that won’t happen again!

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