NH_Lignum

How long to leave joints before gluing.

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Hello, folks,

I have a quick question concerning joints and how long you can leave them "dry" before gluing. I have started working on a king size bed frame made of black cherry and am trying to save some time. My workshop (garage) is not heated and seeing as Minnesota weather is still in the 30s at night, I cannot do any gluing. I have thought about doing all the joint work and then putting everything together with no glue while its cold, then glue it all up once the weather gets warmer. My worry is that the wood and joints will change as the weather warms and my work will be wasted. As you can tell, I am very new to jointing in general as most of my experience is with framing and general construction. Would appreciate any advice you can give me! Thanks!

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You could try using epoxy as it cures due to chemical reaction rather than evaporation as PVA glues do. Also glues like Titebond do have temperature limits for curing. Their website gives the technical details and I think it is a minimum of 50 degrees for Titebond Original and 45 degrees for Titebond III. 

West Systems 205 quick hardener cures down to 41 Fahrenheit. So if you can get the air temperature in the shop up to this it might work for you. I sometimes have put the 105 can into a bowl of warm water to make it less viscous when the temperature has been low.

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Thanks for all of the comments and advice. I think the general consensus is to either bring the temp up or wait. Looks like I'm going to be waiting til May. Thanks again!

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You will have more problems due to humidity changes  if not gluing soon after cutting the joinery.  If you wait before gluing you may find that joints need touching up dimension wise  when ready to glue them together. You might want to just rough the joinery, leaving the fine tuning for when you are ready to glue.  Mortise & tenon joints will likely need the most fine tuning for proper fit. I have a temperature and humidity controlled shop, so I don't worry about this, but in your situation, I would likely do everything except the mortise and tenon work and make myself kind of a kit, to be finished and glued whenever the temperatures were better for gluing, or make the kit, and then do the mortise and tenon work just before bringing the kit inside to glue.

Charley 

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I run the heater in the shop pointed directly at the project. Let that go for a few hours then I figure the glue will mostly finish curing on it's own. I've had nothing but bad luck trying to get joints to stay when it's under 50 in there (without some sort of heat.) And I don't know about other people but I've had no better success with West Systems Epoxy in lower temps. 

I've definitely taken my fair share of projects into the basement for glueup.

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41 minutes ago, jplemons said:

So, I guess nothing got built 100 years ago, either?

Roaring fire and hide glue. 

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Look at how long parts of Cremona's high boy were cut and dry fit before they got glued up.  If you cut the joinery while the parts are straight and square and then it warps a tiny bit after the fact the joinery will tend to force it back the way it was before.

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41 minutes ago, krtwood said:

Look at how long parts of Cremona's high boy were cut and dry fit before they got glued up.  If you cut the joinery while the parts are straight and square and then it warps a tiny bit after the fact the joinery will tend to force it back the way it was before.

Cremona’s highboy lumber was air dried in a climate controlled basment and then moved to a climate controlled shop. IMHO this is very different then going from a non heated garage to a climate controlled space

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I would love to work on this thing right now, but also can't afford anything to go wrong. It's one of those better safe than sorry situations. Especially since black cherry wood was probably not as expensive 100 years ago as it is today ;)

Another downside to my situation is that I live in a two bedroom apartment with two toddlers. I can't just stick stuff in the basement and after my last project, my wife isn't going to give up the kitchen table again for 3 days. It's either my 9 x 19 unheated garage or nothing I'm afraid.

Really appreciate all the advice though!

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8 hours ago, NH_Lignum said:

I would love to work on this thing right now, but also can't afford anything to go wrong. It's one of those better safe than sorry situations. Especially since black cherry wood was probably not as expensive 100 years ago as it is today ;)

Another downside to my situation is that I live in a two bedroom apartment with two toddlers. I can't just stick stuff in the basement and after my last project, my wife isn't going to give up the kitchen table again for 3 days. It's either my 9 x 19 unheated garage or nothing I'm afraid.

Really appreciate all the advice though!

I don't know if it's good advice or not. I'm not sure how the temperature swing would effect the wood but you could try heating the garage. A single stall would be pretty easy to bring up to 55-60 and hold it there. Especially these days when the highs are in the 40s

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42 minutes ago, Chestnut said:

I don't know if it's good advice or not. I'm not sure how the temperature swing would effect the wood but you could try heating the garage. A single stall would be pretty easy to bring up to 55-60 and hold it there. Especially these days when the highs are in the 40s

True but it's not a single stall unfortunately. The ceiling is open and connects to 9 other garages. Since heat rises I would have to either make a ceiling or heat the whole building. Neither of which I'm interested in doing.  I may experiment though with a small heater and see how much I can get the top to rise. Maybe it will be enough to get me started in April instead of May.

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3 minutes ago, NH_Lignum said:

True but it's not a single stall unfortunately. The ceiling is open and connects to 9 other garages. Since heat rises I would have to either make a ceiling or heat the whole building. Neither of which I'm interested in doing.  I may experiment though with a small heater and see how much I can get the top to rise. Maybe it will be enough to get me started in April instead of May.

Oh  ... yeah that won't work then.

Earlier i was going to suggest making a cardboard tent around it to keep the heat in but then remembered it was a king sized bed and i don't know how well that would work. Earlier this winter i boxed a piece for staining and stuck an electric heater in the box for 10 hours while everything dried. It worked great.

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When ever I talk about wood movement and humidity, my wife suggests quilting.

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I never left a joint until closing time.  Oh, we are talking about something else?  I use Titebond III for a lot of things.  I found that a lot of time that temperature and humidity played a big part in the glue joint.  I glued cork rings for fishing rod grips and heated the bedroom/shop to about 72 degrees.  This was allowed to set overnight.  Wood was the same thing.  Having a shop and the bedroom as a small shop were a great help.  Good luck in finding a solution.  Suggestions seem to really point  you in the right direction.

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