Avoiding Messy Excess Glue on Through Tenons

      When you use through tenon joinery with exposed tenon ends, it's hard to keep glue off the tenon ends. Here's some advice on dealing with the mess. April 20, 2011

I recently completed a mission style picture frame using through tenons. Try as I might, keeping glue off of the exposed tenon just wasn't going to happen! I used the slightest amount of glue, warmed it up in hot water to make it thinner, and then brushed it on inside of the mortise. Does anybody have a trick? The tenon was about 5/16" proud, so scraping/sanding wasn't easy.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor Z:
I always apply the glue to the tenon. Just don't get any glue on the part that protrudes from the mortise. You will have some squeeze out on the back side, but the exposed part of the tenon should remain clean.

From contributor G:
Try blue painters tape on places you don't want the glue. Use hide glue, easy to wipe off, residual doesn't effect finishing later.

From contributor J:
Good to know. Strength really wasn't an issue because I pegged them too. I can see now (looking back) that putting glue on the tenon is better. On the hide glue, I'm hoping you mean the liquid product. Anyway, thanks to you both.

From contributor G:
Yes, the TiteBond or Old Brown liquid hide glue is just about as strong as the kind you mix yourself. I heat up mine in a small container of hot water first to make it easier to spread.

From contributor L:
You can use the hide glue with the brown or other similar color. To the exposed part, you can use the knife to kick them away and keep a good finishing result.

From the original questioner:
I recently finished some finger jointed boxes made out of canary wood and used the hide glue (Titebond, liquid). They're holding fine and because of the clamps and cauls, I wasn't able to clean off all the glue until the clamps were removed. Most of it I just sanded off and there isn't any residue. I finished them with Danish oil and they look good.

From contributor O:
I design and build Arts and Crafts exclusively, so I've done lots of through tenons. I never worry about glue on a tenon. I put it on the tenon and mortise and it inevitably gets on the tenon. While the glue is still wet I take a very damp rag and wipe it off and keep wiping until I'm sure it's all gone. I do it this way so I never glue starve a joint. I can fix excess glue on an exposed tenon. I can't (easily) fix a glue starved joint. If I suspect any remaining glue, I wipe the joint with mineral spirits to see if any shows. Never had a problem this way.

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