Glueing up a Table Top


khill
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hey all I recently glued up a table top and afterward noticed I didn't quite get the three panels lined up. Two of them are perfect and one is off. It's how we were shown in the few classes I have taken but I'm wondering why do it all at once. Wouldn't it be easier to make sure they all line up if you did first two of them and then the third. The only thing I can think of is time. I was just wondering what others out there thought, is there a reason other then time to do them all at once?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey all I recently glued up a table top and afterward noticed I didn't quite get the three panels lined up. Two of them are perfect and one is off. It's how we were shown in the few classes I have taken but I'm wondering why do it all at once. Wouldn't it be easier to make sure they all line up if you did first two of them and then the third. The only thing I can think of is time. I was just wondering what others out there thought, is there a reason other then time to do them all at once?

As far as I am concerned, it is all a matter of personal preference. If I really want it to be perfect, I would do them one at a time.. If you wanted to do all three at the same time, try using things like a biscuit jointer. Or if you have more money to throw around, you could use things like a DowelMax, or a Festool Domino. Those will help insure accuracy dramatically.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always do two at a time. It may not be the way "professionals" do it in on TV and in videos, but I usually get things right. There have been times when I caught potential problems before they happened because I assembled my tops in steps. True, it takes longer, but I am retired and one thing I have is lots of time - every day is Saturday. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Kyle,

This may sound like a cop out to your question, but I don't ever plan on my glue ups coming out perfect, just to much stress and anxiety try for managable. Plan your project components oversize in all dimensions and sneak up on the finish size. Rough finish size your pieces and let them sit a day, check for movement and cull out these troublemakers for use somewhere else. Even with the use of biscuits and dowels you may be dissatisfied with results do not set yourself up for disappointment.. Just before glue-up joint and thickness plane closer to finish dimension and glue-up manageable portions ( at this point about 1/16 + heavier thickness wise than finished dimension) .

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use a biscuit joiner and my joints still dont come out perfect. If you want them perfect then do 2 at a time otherwise figure you will be doing a little sanding to get things smooothed out on top. As long as the joints are not really out of wack a little sanding shouldent be too time consuming. (More time in the shop is always a good thing)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use a biscuit joiner and my joints still dont come out perfect. If you want them perfect then do 2 at a time otherwise figure you will be doing a little sanding to get things smooothed out on top. As long as the joints are not really out of wack a little sanding shouldent be too time consuming. (More time in the shop is always a good thing)

Seconded; even with a biscuit joiner, my large panel glue-ups won't come out perfect, and I don't expect them to. I usually knock then down with a #5 plane setup as a smoother, and then sand them to match the rest of the tabletop.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I made up a set of convex cauls that I use to align the pieces. I tighten the cauls first then pull the boards together with clamps. Four caul pairs seem to handle up to about 60" long assemblies.

I have been using this method to glue up as many as 5 pieces at a time. The results are flat enough so a couple of passes thru the drum sander finishes the job.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Seconded; even with a biscuit joiner, my large panel glue-ups won't come out perfect, and I don't expect them to. I usually knock then down with a #5 plane setup as a smoother, and then sand them to match the rest of the tabletop.

Yep, same here. I do think biscuits help, but it won't be perfect, but it's not so difficult to get them all aligned, even with my lousy planes (hate them).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Woodcraft sells a cool clamp that applies both inward pressure and downward pressure at the same time, designed for getting panel glue-ups flush (or at least more flush). I went to buy some but they only had one left, and I had a deadline so I haven't tried them yet but I would like to. I just had to glue up six panels 30" wide, so most had at least five boards each and it would have come in real handy. I am fairly good at doing three boards at once using just touch to get the faces flush. I definitely get better results the fewer boards I do at once, but time is certainly a major factor. In any case, I'll have to check out the panel clamps at some point, but can't vouch for them yet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can make cauls to line up the seams. Coating them with masking or packing tape will prevent them getting glued to the work. I've heard good things about Bow Clamps, which are cambered cauls which claim to provide even pressure over the entire length. You can make your own cambered cauls, but I imagine that it would take a lot of trial and error to get the right camber.

Hmm, if you have a dead flat workbench (maybe covered with wax paper to prevent gluing the piece to the bench) that would keep the top alligned. Then you can use hold-downs or just weights to hold the piece flat against the surface of the bench. I heard of using shotgun pellets in cloth bags as "gravity clamps". Also weight-training weights. Maybe some cauls to put downward pressure near the center of the piece instead of weights. Then clamp side to side as usual.

These are ideas - I haven't tried them myself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like BowClamps and routinely use them for panel glue-ups. Now Rob has several to do; I would have run out of BowClamps. Also, I do what Beechwood said: my assembly table top is waxed (well, could use a refresh...) so i put the boards there, BowClamp on each side, 2 clamps to squeeze the boards together, and usually can just press boards down against the table while squeezing to get them together. The assembly table is presumably dead-flat. I use them for a lot of other special clamping situations and love them for the even distribution of pressure. Highly recommended.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Actually, making good cauls is relatively easy. I make mine out of knotless sections of 2x stock (yes, it is possible to find 2x4's with 2-3 feet clear). I split the board and dress it square.

I then attach the pair of cauls with a screw at the midpoint. Make sure the hole for the shank clears the threads on one piece and that the head and point end up 1/4 from the surfaces. As I tighten the screw, I place spacers between the ends of the cauls so they bow apart at the ends. I use about 1/4" for a 24" caul set.

I then run each side thru the jointer until the bowed edges are flat. When the screw is removed, these edges become convex and have the curve that will flatten out again when the caul is clamped.

I add a strip of clear packing tape on the convex sides to repel glue. You can either use clamps or bolts to tighten the ends. I prefer 1/4" x 5" carriage bolts at each end of the caul, but clamps are more adaptable if you are gluing up various widths. Finally, a sheet of wax paper between the bottom caul and the workpiece gathers up most of the glue drips and protects the clamps.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I heard of using shotgun pellets in cloth bags as "gravity clamps". Also weight-training weights. Maybe some cauls to put downward pressure near the center of the piece instead of weights. Then clamp side to side as usual.

These are ideas - I haven't tried them myself.

In a pinch, I've used several 5 gallon buckets filled with water.

Joe

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually, making good cauls is relatively easy. I make mine out of knotless sections of 2x stock (yes, it is possible to find 2x4's with 2-3 feet clear). I split the board and dress it square.

-snip-

I add a strip of clear packing tape on the convex sides to repel glue. You can either use clamps or bolts to tighten the ends. I prefer 1/4" x 5" carriage bolts at each end of the caul, but clamps are more adaptable if you are gluing up various widths. Finally, a sheet of wax paper between the bottom caul and the workpiece gathers up most of the glue drips and protects the clamps.

Love that idea; definitely going to do that to add some longer cauls. I actually get clear QS 2x4s fairly easily; last time the borg unstrapped a pallet of 2x4s, I snapped up 12 clear QS ones.

As a side note, the BowClamps are made of 8/4 hard maple so they definitely have more pressure over their length. These 2x4 cauls, though, will still be plenty useful. Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share