Radio Cabinet Repair & Refinishing Made Short, Simple & With Minimal Tools- Part II

Step 5: Glue


(NEED: hide glue, yellow PVA glue, clamps, 3M blue painter’s tape, 120 grit sandpaper, canned air, cheese cloth, white vinegar, razor blades, nitrile or latex gloves, cardboard, clean rags or paper towels)


(OPTIONAL: drill, twist drill bits, tech swabs, finish head brads, pneumatic brad, pin or staple gun, air compressor, nitrile or latex gloves, assorted glue-up tools, wood filler) 


  1. Use hide glue on most wood parts
    1. Can be disassembled later, unlike yellow glue
    2. More forgiving than yellow glue— slower setting
    3. Household iron or heat gun to loosen hide glue
      1. Careful using either of these to not burn parts!
      2. Also, they will destroy any remaining finish on parts
      3. To keep the finish from sticking to the iron, use a piece of heavy paper between the iron and parts with finish on them
  2. Use yellow glue in certain situations
    1. Broken parts that should never come apart
    2. Stubborn parts or joints that don’t hold otherwise
  3. Must clean off dirt, finish and old glue to reglue parts
    1. Use sandpaper for yellow glue, finish and dirt, where the parts meet together
    2. Scrape off glue with a razor blade on flat pieces where the mating surfaces need to be kept flat so that part fits together perfectly
    3. Use cheese cloth dipped in vinegar to remove hide glue as an alternative to sandpaper or a razor blade
    4. Use canned air to clean joints and mating surfaces of dust
  4. Sometimes you have to take the cabinet apart further to fix it
    1. In some cases, the cabinet falling apart completely is better than just some parts coming loose
    2. Getting access to hold parts with clamps might require taking something off so that you can clamp it or get access
  5. Always dry fit parts together before gluing
    1. Do a dry run to see if everything can be assembled quickly enough before the glue skins up
    2. Alternative: glue together smaller sub-assemblies to then glue the assemblies together later
  6. In tough cases, you might need to augment glue with fasteners
    1. Where something was broken at a weak point, a dowel or other fastener might be needed to permanently fix it
    2. Where additional holding can not be done any other way, including clamping
      1. The wood sticks from cotton tech swabs work as a small diameter dowel for weak points
        1. Can be used to hold during gluing
        2. Or can be used to strengthen after the glue dries
          1. If using to hold during gluing, make hole diameter slightly smaller the stick, for a tight fit
          2. If using for strength after the glue dries, make hole slightly larger than diameter
          3. Squirt glue into hole then insert “dowel”
          4. In either case, apply wood filler to hole(s) later after glue dries
      2. Brads, pin nails and cabinet staples are an alternative to hold parts during gluing or permanently
          1. Use them if they were used originally—there was a reason they used them most likely
          2. In cases where clamps can’t be used, dowels won’t work or there is an inherent weakness
          3. Use them sparingly—more is not better
          4. Also, be careful that fasteners are short enough to not blow through the other side of the part!
          5. Avoid using them where they will be visible, will not hold or might damage the parts

      3. Always wear safety glasses while using nail guns
  7. Wearing disposal latex or nitrile gloves keeps glue off of hands and can be removed quickly to touch parts you don’t want glue on
  8. Use cardboard or butcher paper as a drop cloth to keep glue off of your bench and for easy clean up
  9. When gluing, coat both surfaces of the parts to be mated together
    1. A number of tools are available to apply glue to surfaces or to apply in hard to reach glue joints (see sources list)
  10. Only a small amount of glue is needed, don’t use too much, more is NOT better!
  11. Clamp or fasten as quickly as you can before glue skins up
  12. Wipe up any glue squeezed out of joints once clamped or fastened
    1. Yellow PVA glue can NOT be stained and will be obvious once dry and you try to stain it
    2. Hide glue can be stained, but it is still best to remove squeeze out and excess for aesthetic reasons
    3. Use a damp cloth or paper towel to clean up excess/squeeze-out glue from adjoining surfaces
      1. Don’t use too much water though!
        1. Will cause wood to swell, weaken glue joints
        2. Water caused cabinet to fall apart in the first place, after all…
        3. Water dilutes the glue and diluted glue is weaker
  13. Leave clamps on for at least 4 hours, 24 hours is better
  14. If you make a gluing error:
    1. With yellow PVA glue, the glue joint is most likely permanently fastened
      1. A heat gun might release PVA glue, but you might burn parts trying to get it to release
    2. With hide glue, heat will soften the glue and you can try again
    3. © Jason Rogers 2015 May not be sold or reproduced without permission


Sources of Supply: 


The Home Depot

  • 3M ScotchBlue Advanced Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape
  • Titebond II Premium Wood Glue
  • 3M Pro Grade Precision 9 X 11in. 120 grit sandpaper
  • Elmer’s Wood Filler Max Stainable
  • Razor blades (safety-type or utility knife-type)
  • Painter’s rags (assorted types and sizes)
  • Clamps (assorted types and sizes)
  • Finish-head wire brads (assorted lengths)

My favorites:

    • Dewalt 6 in. Medium Trigger Clamps
    • Dewalt 24 in. Large Trigger Clamps
    • Husky 2 in. Metal Spring Clamps with Pivot Tips
    • Bessey 12 in. Clutch Style Bar Clamp
    • Adjustable 10 in. Wood Hand Screw Clamps
  • Ridgid 2-1/8 in. Brad Nailer ($98)
  • Ridgid 1-1/2” Finish Stapler ($99)
  • Porter-Cable 1-3/8 in. x 23 Gauge Pin Nailer ($119)
  • OR: Porter Cable 6 gal Compressor + Finish, Pin and Staple Guns ($269)
  • OR: Porter-Cable 6 gal. 150 PSI Portable Ai Compressor ($149)
  • Drill bits (assorted sizes and brands)
  • Dewalt 3/8 in. Pistol Grip Drill Kit ($60)



  • Household Iron


Rockler Woodworking (Tukwila and Northgate Stores)

  • Titebond Liquid Hide Wood Glue
  • Clamps (assorted types and sizes)
  • Rockler Glue Applicator Set
  • Rockler Silicone Glue Brush
  • Rockler Glue Paddles, 3-Piece Set


Woodcraft Supply (Corson Ave. S. in Seattle)

  • Titebond Liquid Hide Wood Glue
  • Clamps (assorted types and sizes)


Lynnwood Business Costco

  • Cheese Cloth
  • Falcon Brand Dust-Off canned air
  • Nitrile or latex gloves (asstd. brands, types and sizes available)


A Grocery Store Nearest You…

  • White vinegar


© Jason Rogers 2015 May not be sold or reproduced without permission