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Fast Fix for Glue Smudges

Dried Glue Smudge If you notice stain not “taking” in a particular spot, the key is to address the problem quickly before the stain sets.

Quick Fix — After wiping the smudged area (Fig. 1), take a scraper and rake it gently over the area to remove glue residue (Fig. 2). If you’re working in a tight space, then use a sharp chisel to scrape the wood fibers. Just hold the chisel with the bevel facing away from you, and gently pull it toward you.

After scraping, use 180-grit sandpaper to sand the area. Then, gently sand a small portion of the stained wood around that area. This creates a seamless transition between stained and unstained wood, so any color differences won’t be noticeable (Fig. 3). Finally, carefully wipe away dust, and continue applying stain (Fig. 4).

Prevention — To prevent this from happening in the future, try dry-assembling the project first, and then taping off any areas where squeeze-out may occur before gluing it up. Another tip is to rub the project down with mineral spirits and check it with a light before staining it. This will make clear any areas where finish might not take. And finally, always scrape glue squeeze-out first, then sand, before you stain.

Fig. 1 Fig. 1: First, remove as much of the wet stain from the wood as possible with a clean rag.

Fig. 2 Fig. 2: Next, use a scraper to remove the glue residue, scraping down to bare wood.

Fig. 3 Fig. 3: Hand-sand the spot, and also gently sand the stained area around it for a seamless transition.

Fig. 4 Fig. 4: After wiping away dust, resume applying stain to the project for a flawless, smudge-free finish.

Good woodworking,

Wyatt Myers
Online Editor, Workbench

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