Finish Problems After Glue Clean-up

Washing off excess glue can alter the way wood accepts stain. Pros share some simple tips for preventing problems. June 27, 2005

I have a simple problem. This problem is occuring after I glue 90 degree angles using red oak and clamp it and wipe off the excess with water and paper towels. After it dries I stain it, and I end up with a dark streak in the stain running right where I wiped off the glue with water and the paper towel. Does anyone have any suggestions that would help?

Forum Responses
(Adhesive Forum)
From contributor C:
When you wipe down glue with water and a rag (especially open-grained wood like oak), you run the risk of actually pushing the glue, or a thinned solution of it, into the grain where it is hard to sand off.

Try this trick: Instead of wiping the glue off right away, just let the squeeze-out sit there. When it is somewhat (but not completely) dry, it reaches a state that some woodworkers call leather-hard – it’s no longer wet or gooey, but not plastic-hard yet either. In this state, it can be fairly easily pared away with a chisel.

You'll soon get the feel for just when to try to remove the glue, and what sharpness of chisel to use. If you use one that’s too sharp, you're likely to catch the wood grain.

From contributor T:
It seems to me that glue residue when left smeared, or remaining after wash-off, normally prevents stain penetration, which would leave a lighter, less-stained streak and not a darker one. I would guess that you’ve raised the grain where the wood was wetted, thus making it take more stain. This is very common, and the solution when it occurs is to re-sand any areas that were wet, or wet the involved panels all over when washing it to leave a more uniform surface for the stain.

From contributor S:

I've also noticed that when you wet an area to remove glue, the glue spot will show as darker than the surrounding wood, and when you've got all the glue off, this will no longer occur.

From contributor J:
I agree with Contributor T. What is happening is the grain is raising from the water being used, and not sanded, prior to staining. Glue will keep the stain from penetrating