Spreading Glue

Suggested glue-spreading devices for edge gluing, from simple to advanced. December 6, 2006

Does anybody have suggestions for spreading glue on the edge of lumber? We do a lot of laminated blanks for drawer faces and raised panels. Our current method is to squeeze it out of a glue bottle by hand. The problem I am trying to solve is controlling the amount of glue in the joint. If we use too little glue, the joint is starved; if we use too much, cleanup takes too long. How can we control (and spread) this glue?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor F:
I use a roller applicator. It may take a little while to get used to, but it works better than a bottle. You can get one from Woodworkers Supply, Rockler, and others.

From contributor O:
We have a small one from Quick Machinery; speeds up the process, but took a little trial and error to get the amount on the edges right. All in all, it's better than the finger.

From contributor D:
Try the hand held applicator from Virutex. It can be used by hand, but better yet it has a roller on top. If you mount it to a bench, you just roll your part over the wheel.

From the original questioner:
Great suggestions! I'll keep an eye out for the one at Rockler. I had something like that once before, but for some reason the guys abandoned it. The Virutex one has some possibilities. I wonder how often you have to clean it and how much work that entails? The one from Quick Machinery looks best of all. That website was worth the trip just to see the quicktime video on their hydraulic clamps. That little 6 station carrier clamp looks like what I need.

From contributor A:
I use to have the one from Taylor - plate spreader with lots of holes that raised up out of a glue bath. It was perfect - a little squeeze out, no starved joints and spray a mist of water on it when you are done. Our glue up is minimal, time wise, or I would have one now.

From contributor T:
I've tried all of the methods from fingertip to fancy glue roller. In the shop, we use a regular glue bottle followed by a disposable foam brush to spread the glue. Once the brush is loaded, it leaves the right amount of glue behind to get a good joint every time. The brushes cost about twenty or thirty cents and we usually use them for a couple of days, then toss 'em. As is the case with most things in life, there are different quality levels of foam brushes. The type that you can buy from Jamestown Distributors works best.

From contributor B:
We have one from Taylor, as contributor A described. Been using it for about 1 1/2 years - it has been a great time saver. As a drawer manufacturer, we do glueups all the time.

From contributor R:
I use a glue pot from Lamello, sold through Colonial Saw, called an LK - 3 manual gluer. If you don't have one, you need one. This tool has interchangeable tips for many different types of applications, from edge gluing to broad surface gluing of lumber faces, etc. I use a tip for the loose mortise and tenon joints on my face frames that dispenses a regulated amount of glue to the mortise. The pot is always under pressure and ready to go. Look into it; I think it's a must for anyone doing a lot of gluing of their own doors and face frames.

From the original questioner:
I've seen that pressurized glue pot before and thought it was quite cool. I've often thought about it with respect to putting the perfect amount of glue onto a cope end. How does it differ from an ordinary pressurized paint pot? Is it not the same thing but with bigger ports? I can imagine there has to be some way to regulate how much glue is associated with one trigger pull. I would love to have one of those in my door department with a foot switch so you could keep both hands on the stick.

JLT used to offer something for gluing copes on doors. It operated like the plate spreader that contributors A and B used. You machined a stick profile out of UHMW, then immersed it into the glue bath. I haven't seen JLT advertise this in a while. I wonder how well they work for gluing door copes?

From contributor R:
For cost purposes, I suggest building your own system like this. First, buy an inexpensive pot that can take 60 p.s.i. or more from Sears, for example, and buy just the pistol from Colonial Saw. Once you have the pistol, go to the hardware store and buy flexible hose that can take the same pressure as the tank and fits the end of the pistol firmly. You would need about 15 - 20 feet of hose. The tank should take 60 p.s.i. The unit I have uses an inner-tube type fitting to fill the pressure, but any method you can come up with to pressurize the pot and seal it with a valve so you can disconnect it to make it portable will work.

Once you have it working, the pistol regulates the glue by turning a nut on the back end to change the tip port to be more open or less open. You then squeeze the lever handle to dispense. When you let go, it closes. You can also purchase a device called "one shot glue system" that regulates how long the pistol stays open by using pneumatics to open and close it. This also can be regulated for how long you want it to leave the tip open.

You can set the pistol up as a stationary tool that you move the work piece through in order to glue it. And yes, I think you can even use a foot peddle to control the flow. You can have custom made glue tip profiles to match your stick profile to glue it, also. To answer your original question for edge gluing, I have a tip that is about 1" wide that has a series of 1/32" diameter holes about 1/8" apart and you drag it down one edge of each board and it lays a nice coating of glue across the whole edge of the board and you're ready to clamp. Truly, once you have used one, you won't want to do without it!

From the original questioner:
Thanks a lot! That's just the kind of answer I was hoping for.

From contributor R:
If you do purchase this glue gun, be sure to also buy the attachment to fit on a utility sink faucet so you can attach the different glue tips on to the faucet to flush them out. It's well worth the cost.

From contributor S:
I am cleaning my office and came across a glue bottle cap/spreader that was left here by my Fastcap distributor. I've never used it, but it looks like a good low tech, easy to use, or remove from the bottle if you don't want to use it, solution. "Breeze Tip."