Old pine door/white glue or 'gorilla glue'

jamesbodellApril 15, 2008

I have an old door. Its a 4 panel and about 7/8 inch thick. Its about 100 years old and appears to be hand made. The tenons are held in place with wedges into the motises and the pins holding it together are tapered and non round, not dowels.

Due to broken stiles and cracked panels, I have disasembled the door by drilling out the plugs. To assemble again, I plan to drill with 3/8 drill and replace with dowels (Not store bought, I don't want to see the end grain). I bought a plug cutter.

I plan to cut out the broken styles and "lay in" new wood to hold the panels in place. I plan to stain the door, not paint it.

My question is, does it matter what glue I use? I was planning to use "gorilla glue", not sure the proper name of this type of glue, but I am wondering if I should use a white or carpenter glue instead.

Some people seem to have strong opinions about when to use what glue.


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White glue is moisture sensitive, so don't use that if this is an exterior door. Urethane glues (Gorilla being the most widely known brand) are better at filling gaps if the fit of the parts isn't great, but creates a dark glue line. Yellow glues are excellent so long as your parts fit together well.

I'm a little puzzled by your line about the dowels: "(Not store bought, I don't want to see the end grain). I bought a plug cutter." The grain of the dowel must be perpendicular to the tenon if it's to have any structural value; a dowel cut with the grain running across its short dimension instead of along its length would easily break. If you want to cover the end grain, bury the dowel 1/8" or so below the surface of the door and cover it with a shallow plug.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 4:41PM
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The door was probably put together without glue originally. The pinning is all that is needed. A hole is drilled through the stay then the tenon is inserted and hole is marked. After removing the tenon a hole is drilled 3/16 to 1/8 inch away from the mark. When joint is reassembled there is a tool like an that is inserted into the hole to help start the pin. Next drive the pin all the way through. The mechanical action will force the joint together and is all that is needed to hold it tight.

If the joints are lose just drive out the pins and re-drill a little bit bigger and insert a larger pin. 3/8 is a little to big.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 7:22PM
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Gorilla Glue is terrible at filling gaps. It was the only glue to fail on a recent magazine's glue test when the joints were not squeaky tight. Yes, it will fill the gap, but it is foam and has no structural strength.

Chances are the original was done with hide glue. New hide glue will reactivate the old and make it one. Hide glue is also more creep resistant than PVA (white or yellow glues). The only disadvantage (for this application, it is an advantage for other appplications) is that is neither terribly heat nor moisture resistant, so I would not use it if it is an exterior door. If it is an exterior door, I would probably use TiteBond III or equivalent.

If you decide to use Gorilla Glue anyway, please read the directions. Wet the tenons, use the glue sparingly (less than half what you think you need), and clamp while it cures. If you don't, you will have a terrible mess of foam and open joints.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 7:30PM
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Clarification, I have no intention to glue the tenons together, just repair the cracked/broken wood. I want to put the door together as it was. After some research, I am going to fill gaps with yellow glue mixed with saw dust from the door cuts. I will probably use yellow glue here on out, I did not have any on hand, but its cheap enough.

Its an interior door. No problems with moisture.

The "pins" were tapered, which was intesting.Probably just wedges made by the guy who made the door.

As for my statement about plugs, I just do not want "end grain" showing.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 9:40AM
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Glue mixed with sawdust is a fine idea. I've was taught this technique by my cabinet-maker father and it makes for an invisible and durable repair.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 10:04AM
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"The "pins" were tapered, which was interesting."

On the old stuff the pin were most often hand cut and square, driven into a round hole. Reminds me of an old saying...

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 3:52PM
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Interesting, I think I might put it back together that way and drop the drill and dowel process. Just make some square tapered pegs and knock them in.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 4:30PM
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