Varnish/ gluing wood order

On cut plywood, should I glue than varnish or varnish than glue?

Varnishing first would be doing it flat, easier, but would prevent good gluing.

Gluing first allows better joint, but I then have to do varnishing in 3D and any glue spills won’t react similarly.

You need bare wood to get a good glue joint (as you mention). If you finish first, you just need to protect the wood that will be part of a glue joint with painters tape or something. Sometimes this is easy to do and sometimes it is nearly impossible.

Most of the time, I finish after glue and work to minimize glue squeeze out (you can also protect the wood with tape in this case as well to catch the glue) but I have had projects that finishing first was definitely easier.

If you want a bunch more opinions, here’s a decent link:


My issue is that using painter tape on my current wood ( high sanding birch plywood) when I remove the paint it makes the surface fuzzy with small wood needle that I need to sand again. Same has any moisture. So cleaning my wood glue with water ( usual trick) attacks the finish. I decided to try glue then varnish but I have doubts it will be enjoyable with the nooks and crannies.

Yeah - sometimes there just isn’t a good choice. :frowning:

Removing tape from the wood that is to be glued might be ok since you wouldn’t need to sand it again - a bit of roughness wouldn’t hurt the glue joint…

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I glue first, and use a drinking straw for collecting squeeze out. Works pretty well.

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You drink the varnish/glue out of a straw :scream:

Or just has a tool? Not clear.




I got tired of eating gruel every morning so now I switch it up from time to time with gluel.


I made some boxes last month where I dyed one side of the plywood and then use water based polyurethane so that the color was not muddied. The other side was raw wood. I then cut so that the colored side was on the outside of the piece. The finger joints were quite tight, so a couple of drops of CA resin meant for wood keeps it together. The I used Danish oil on the inside so it could be wiped off from the colored side. This methods worked well for these boxes.


Great tip! Thank you!

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