I'm working on a large box bench (80 inches long). Based on a family member's recommendation, I stained the wood first before planning to glue the wood trim on. Now that I found out that gluing stained wood won't provide a strong joint, I am at a loss on what to do to recover from this mistake.

Can I get away with just gluing the trim pieces on to the bench? After all, it's just aesthetic.

If not, what is the proper way to go about fixing this?

The surface of the bench is pine plywood. The trim is 1x4 poplar boards.

  • Without photos or diagrams it's pretty hard to give a detailed answer, but I'd probably just cut a super-shallow rabbet where you want the trim to go. Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 23:42
  • Search for "stain glue" for previous Q&A. In general, your choice is see if it holds, use mechanical fasteners to help, or remove the finish where the surface are intending to mate. Remember that PVA glue is best bare wood with the thinnest layer between the surfaces.
    – user5572
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 0:29
  • Hi, welcome to SE. Just sand the relevant surfaces if you want to improve the glue joint! You don't need to remove all the stain for this to be effective, but you may find 95% of it comes off with surprising ease since stain penetration is often shockingly shallow. You should probably include some fasteners anyway, even a few pin nails/small brads are worth doing. Also, if you can't provide firm clamping along the entire 80" length it would be best not to use a PVA-type glue. Epoxy is a good alternative here, just the cheap stuff is totally fine for this.
    – Graphus
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 11:21
  • Possible duplicate: Can you apply wood with glue over stained areas?
    – Caleb
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


Can I get away with just gluing the trim pieces on to the bench? After all, it's just aesthetic.

I'd try it. PVA wood glue that you're probably using is pretty strong stuff, and while it may be true that stain can reduce the strength of the bond, it probably won't reduce the strength enough to matter. Trim generally has a very large gluing area relative to the volume of wood that you're attaching, and that area will likely more than compensate for whatever loss in bond strength the stain causes.

Lightly sanding both surfaces before gluing will help to remove any stain residue from the surface and a bit of bare wood that'll help the glue bond.

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