Wood glue is stronger than most things in the world. Well, that’s a mild exaggeration, but you get the idea. I still don’t understand how it can bind wood so tightly and yet peel off your hands like crepe paper. The legend goes that if you glue two pieces of wood together and try to snap it in half, another area of the wood will break before the glue joint breaks. It’s not so much a legend as it is fact. It really is strong.

The best way to use wood glue was taught to my father by my sister’s grandfather (convoluted, but accurate). He would put a thin layer of glue on both sides of the join and then leave it for a few minutes to get tacky. Then, when the two pieces were clamped together the wood would bond immediately. It’s risky because you don’t have any time to think or re-adjust. When the glue starts to set you’re finished. There’s no back-up plan. If you look hard enough, there’s an intense drama to woodworking.

Stain is the arch enemy of wood glue. It doesn’t like it. It refuses to cling to it. The best way to remove ‘oozing’ wood glue is to wait until it’s nearly set and then scrap it off with a chisel. This is very satisfying. The little beads of glue pop off in all directions. Again, this baffles me. How can it bond something so tightly, and yet ‘pop’ off the surface at the same time? It’s as if the glue knows it has one job. If it’s not bonding two pieces of wood together it just accepts it’s not needed. I like this. It knows itself, on some philosophical level, the glue knows itself.

I feel less enlightened than wood glue.

However, there are some things we can learn from it. Through all of the ups and downs, just remember, the parts of yourself that you had to glue back together are the strongest.


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