Gluing Stained Wood

Last Updated on August 29, 2022 by Ernest Godia

Glue is a strong adhesive that woodworkers use to hold wood pieces together. 

It’s commonly used in wood projects such as building kitchen cabinets, office desks, chairs, and bookshelves. 

Wood glue creates strong bonds and lasting joints that allow you to avoid the unpleasant sight of nails and screws. However, gluing stained wood is different from gluing bare wood pieces.

In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about gluing stained wood and the necessary steps you can follow to glue your stained wood the right way.

Can You Glue Stained Wood?

Yes. You can glue stained wood even though applying glue on top of the stain doesn’t produce strong enough joints. For glue to stick wood pieces together and form strong joints, it must penetrate the wood pores and fiber structure. 

Stained wood has the wood stain already occupying the pores, making it hard for the glue to bond with the wood.

How To Glue Stained Wood: Summary

To glue stained wood, clean the surface and prepare it for gluing by sanding directly or wiping with a stain-removing solution before sanding. Wipe the sawdust and apply glue on both sides. 

Next, join the pieces together and clamp for 20-30 minutes. Finally, wipe off excess glue while still wet and store the leftover in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Does Wood Glue Work On Stained Wood? 

Yes. Wood glue works on stained wood to help stick wood pieces together. However, the stain greatly reduces its ability to attach to the wood and form strong bonds. 

While standard wood glue works best on bare wood, some special types of wood glue work perfectly well on stained wood. Nonetheless, you must prepare your wood surface adequately to achieve the best results.

Does Super Glue Work On Stained Wood?

Yes. Super Glue works on stained glue but is only suitable for small clamping areas. It instantly forms a tight bond and can tighten wood joints. However, super glue is weaker than standard wood glue and will not do well with larger clamping areas.

What Glue Works Best On Stained Wood?

Examples of glues that work best on stained wood include Gorilla wood glue, Titebond polyurethane glue, and Elmer’s wood glue MAX. Otherwise, most standard wood glues in the market work best on bare wood. 

Titebond Polyurethane Glue

This is the best glue to use on stained wood since it works like epoxy and cures to form strong bonds on any type of wood. It is also solvent-free and 100% water-proof, which enhances its ability to form strong wood joints.

When gluing stained wood with this type of glue, manufacturers recommend application temperatures around 500F or 100C. For the best results, you should also clamp the wood pieces for about 25-30 minutes after gluing. 

While Titebond Polyurethane Glue will perfectly join your wood pieces, its main limitation is expanding as it cures, creating a bubble or foam structure between the attached wood pieces. 

Gorilla Wood Glue

Gorilla wood glue is another type of glue that sticks stained wood pieces together and can work well on softwoods, hardwoods, and natural wood composites. 

This glue is weather-resistant, dries fast, and is suitable for indoor and outdoor applications. It retains its natural color after drying and does not expand to form a bubble like the Titebond polyurethane glue.

One limitation of the Gorilla wood glue is that it takes a long time to cure and may need you to clamp your wood pieces for a longer period after gluing. 

Elmer’s Wood Glue MAX

While the standard Elmer’s wood glue can only work best on bare wood, Elmer’s wood glue MAX is an upgrade that works perfectly on stained wood.

It’s capable of forming tight joints and can be used outdoors due to its weather-resistant nature. In addition, this glue dries fast and requires less clamping time. 

Elmer’s wood glue MAX is loved by many woodworkers since it’s an eco-friendly, non-toxic glue that produces no irritating fumes.

When Should I Stain Before Gluing? 

Though the best practice is to glue your wood before staining, some instances may force you to stain before gluing. They include:

  • Access difficulty after gluing: Some parts of your furniture may be difficult to access and stain after gluing the pieces together. A good example is the interior of closed structures like bookshelves and kitchen cabinets. In this case, it would be easier for you to stain the pieces before assembling them with glue. 
  • Shifting or moving parts: When some parts of your project are designed to move or shift, it would be best to stain the wood pieces before gluing to avoid exposing unstained parts during movement. 
  • Contrasting parts: When your wood project involves staining with contrasting stain colors, it would be better to stain before gluing together to avoid overlapping the wrong stain color on the wrong surface.

If you decide to stain your wood pieces before gluing, use the following procedure to get the best out of it:

  1. Cover the areas you plan to apply glue with painter’s tape to keep them from catching stain.
  2. Evenly stain your exposed wood surfaces
  3. Strip off the tape and let the stain dry
  4. Apply glue and put the wood pieces together
  5. Clamp them for several hours before the glue dries

How To Glue Stained Wood

Stained wood requires special attention when gluing as compared to bare wood. Follow this step-by-step guide to help you achieve the best with your woodworking project:

What You’ll Need To Glue Stained Wood

The following are the tools and materials you’ll need to apply glue on stained wood the correct way:

  • Specialized glue of your choice
  • 120-grit Sandpaper 
  • A stain-removing solution such as mineral spirits
  • Clamp
  • Cotton cloth or paper towel
  • Glue brush
  • Lint-free rag

Instructions for gluing stained wood

Once you collect all the materials you need, follow the instructions below carefully:

Step 1: Prepare the stained wood for gluing

The first step is to prepare the stained wood surface for staining. Clean the surface by wiping it with a damp cotton cloth and letting it dry. 

Next, sand the areas you want to glue using medium to coarse-grit sandpaper. 

Ensure the wood is completely dry before sanding it, and avoid sanding areas that won’t come in contact with the glue. 

After sanding, wipe off the sawdust using a paintbrush or damp cotton rag and let it dry again before gluing. 

Alternatively, before sanding, you can wipe the stain off the parts you intend to glue first with a stain-removing solution, such as mineral spirits. Apply the solution to the surface using a lint-free rag and let it sit for about two minutes before rubbing it off with the same rag. 

Let the surface dry before sanding lightly with the 120-grit sandpaper. Once you wipe off the sawdust, your wood is ready for gluing.

Cleaning is essential for reducing the amount of stain on the surfaces you intend to glue. It helps increase the surface area for glue to attach to the wood.

Step 2: Apply the wood glue

After preparing the surfaces, it’s time to apply glue to both surfaces to be joined together. Apply a thin layer of glue on both surfaces and spread it evenly using a glue brush. 

While you’d normally apply glue only on one side with bare wood, you’ll need to glue both sides when working with stained wood.

Step 3: Clamp the pieces together 

After applying glue and spreading it evenly on the surfaces, join the two wood pieces together, and clamp for 20-30 minutes to allow the glue to dry.

Clamping pressure encourages firm bonding, which happens slower with stained wood than with bare wood surfaces. The bond will get stronger with time.

Step 4: Wipe excess glue

Once the wood pieces are joined together, you’ll notice excess glue around the attachment point. 

Use a cotton rag or paper towel to remove the excess glue from the wood while still wet. Removing the excess glue after it has dried can weaken the bond. Allow the glue to dry and cure overnight while the pieces are still clamped.

Step 5: Store any leftover glue in a cool, dark place

When you finish gluing and have some leftover wood glue, store it properly in a cool, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight. UV rays from direct sunlight can react with the leftover glue and damage it.

How To Remove Excess Glue From Stained Wood

Excess glue protruding from wood joints can disrupt the flawless appearance of your stained pieces of furniture. Once you apply glue and join wood pieces, the best practice is to wipe off the excess glue immediately before it dries. 

You can wipe excess glue using a cotton rag or paper towel. However, if it has started to harden, you can scrape it off using a plastic scraper or a putty knife.

If you forgot to wipe off until the glue dried, you could remove it by scraping using a cabinet scraper. Be careful not to disrupt the wood joint while removing excess dried glue.

Can I Stain Wood Again After Gluing?

Yes. You can stain wood again after gluing, but you need to remove all the excess glue first. If you stain without removing excess glue, the areas covered with excess glue will stain lighter than other areas. 

This is because the glue will block the stain from reaching and penetrating wood pores.

gluing stained wood

FAQs on Gluing Stained Wood

What is the best glue to use on stained wood?

The best glue to use on stained wood surfaces is Titebond polyurethane glue. This glue works like epoxy and forms strong bonds on wood joints, thereby attaching wood pieces firmly together. 

It is solvent-free and 100% water-proof, which enhances its ability to form strong wood joints. However, Titebond Polyurethane Glue requires moisture to cure and expands as it cures, creating a bubble or foam between the attached wood pieces. 

Will Gorilla Wood Glue stick to stained wood?

Absolutely! Gorilla wood glue sticks to stained wood and is one of the best glues to join stained wood pieces together. It works well on softwoods, hardwoods, and natural wood composites and forms tight bonds between wood joints. 

Gorilla wood glue is weather-resistant, dries fast, and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications. However, this type of glue takes longer to cure than other glue types like the Titebond polyurethane wood glue.

Does wood glue stick to polyurethane?

No. Wood glue does not stick to polyurethane. It’s, therefore, not a good idea to try to attach polyurethane-finished wood surfaces using wood glue. 

If your wood project involves joining finished wood pieces, the best practice is to strip off the finish using a chemical stripper before applying wood glue.

Final Thoughts On Gluing Stained Wood

While gluing stained wood can be challenging, using the right wood glue and following the correct procedure can guarantee success.

With this detailed guide, you can join your stained wood pieces without the hassle of nailing and screwing and attain some beautifully finished wooden structures.

Did you enjoy this tutorial? Let us know what you think in the comments. Also, feel free to share this tutorial with your fellow woodworkers to let them learn more about gluing stained wood with less hassle.

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