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I just got this oiled butcher block counter top yesterday, and I'm planning to on one end glue it to a another part of the same wood, cut shorter.

I have heard that glue won't stick well on oiled wood, is this true? Is there any special kind of glue that works better, or a treatment I can apply to get it to stick better?

The sides will be glued together on the long side, seen on the left in the image below.

I will fasten both pieces of wood to the counter below, so the glue won't be carrying much weight, but it would still be nice if I could get a seamless transition.

Butcher block countertop

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First, if you plan on gluing the end grain edges together, the joint will not be reliable itself. You could cut and insert a spline into both pieces or use biscuits, as is often done in laminated counter-tops. Since the splines would be into unoiled, wood glue adherence will not be a problem.

For any joints into the side grain (your left side face), I would recommend sanding the surface with a course paper or planing approx. 1/16" off of the oiled faces. The oiled surfaces will reject the glue (oil and water don't mix) but the oil does not penetrate very deep and removing the outer surface will provide enough contact surface for effective gluing.

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  • Thanks, I will try this! I am gluing the side grains, so I will go out and get course paper and some glue tomorrow. – Harald H Mar 3 '17 at 22:25
  • @HaraldH Glue surfaces on wood should generally be as smooth as possible, Coarse sanding scratches create a surface much rougher than is ideal for a strong glue joint to form using most glues. Here it may not matter that much because as you say the worktop will be fastened to something below but if you want the join as strong as it can be it would be advisable to sand to a finer grit if you first sand with a coarse paper. Or alternatively scrape or plane the wood, which will remove more material faster (much much faster) and still leave you with a smoother surface. – Graphus Mar 3 '17 at 23:24
  • @Graphus. Oops & Thanks. I forgot to describe that step. – Ashlar Mar 4 '17 at 0:52
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I have heard that glue won't stick well on oiled wood, is this true?

Yes that's right. The oil resists the glue intermingling with the surface wood fibres which prevents the formation of a proper bond with the wood. This is true with all glues, but is particularly a problem with waterbased glues such as PVA (both white and yellow types).

Is there any special kind of glue that works better, or a treatment I can apply to get it to stick better?

Generally you either degrease the wood or you remove some material from the surface to expose fresh wood.

You can degrease by literally washing the wood down with warm soapy water but it's often done these days by wiping down with organic solvents. If you're thorough with either method you will eventually get an oil-free surface suitable for glue, but it's arguably a better idea to physically remove the oil-contaminated wood (ideally by planing it off with a hand plane).

On long-grain surfaces oil won't have soaked very deeply into the wood — even "deep" penetration is merely tenths of a millimetre/hundredths of an inch on long-grain surfaces — but this is still quite a bit of material to remove by sanding which is why it's probably not a viable method. Planing or scraping are far faster and leave a better glue surface anyway.

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