All about glue size
A basic explanation of this product and how to use it. February 13, 2001
I am interested in knowing exactly what "glue size" is, as well as applications for using it.
When machining a low density wood (softwoods or hardwoods) or a medium to dense hardwood with substantial amounts of reaction wood, wood fibers may be so weak that they are pushed over instead of cut off. This is especially obvious when sanding--the wood develops very fine "peach fuzz." Although this may be the effect of dull sandpaper or a dull knife, it can often be remedied with glue size. Glue size is used to stiffen and strengthen wood fibers so that they can easily be sanded or lightly planed off.
Glue size is also applied to the porous edges of particle and fiber boards to prevent over-absorption of glues and finishes. This helps fill the grain and give the wood more even coloration and surface quality.
Because many of the materials used for glue size become soft and will flow when heated, it is necessary to avoid high temperatures caused by the friction of aggressive sanding. It is also important to keep the temperature controlled during curing of the finishes.
Most of the time, commercial glue size formulas are better than homemade. Glue size is most commonly made of a watered-down, water-based, PVA adhesive. If you do plan to make your own, try something on the order of 10 parts (or a little less) water to one part white glue. Keep experimenting if this doesn't work out right (it will vary with species).
Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?
Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
KnowledgeBase: Adhesives, Gluing and Laminating
KnowledgeBase: Adhesives, Gluing and Laminating: Glues and Bonding Agents
KnowledgeBase: Woodworking Miscellaneous
KnowledgeBase: Woodworking Miscellaneous: Accessories
KnowledgeBase: Woodworking Miscellaneous: Woodworking
KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in
any manner without permission of the Editor.
Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.
The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices.
What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe
for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use
of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation,
and at their own risk.
335 Bedell Road
Montrose, PA 18801
Copyright © 1996-2018 - WOODWEB ® Inc.