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GREAT CAULS

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Project by C_PLUS_Woodworker posted 123 days ago 3576 views 110 times favorited 31 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Most of my glue-ups have been cutting or cheese boards or one board glued to another for a “wider” board.

From this site, years ago, I first learned about cauls and have used them effectively for a long time.

I had been using a bunch of different lengths of 4/4 or 8/4 oak covered with shipping tape, but got tired of messing with clamps on both ends. Two person job. The best way I found to “install” those cauls was to put a rubber band around one end of the set of cauls, then hustle and put another rubber band around the other ends, and then start clamping the caul ends on each side. X 3 or 4 cauls……..it was a little bit of a hassle…but worked.

Also, these little 2×2 x ?? cauls would bow in the middle when clamping pressure was applied.

I am now doing a big (for me) piece….... a craftsman style Cherry entry or sofa table…….(not traditional oak, she wants Cherry). It has a 19×50 top and one slightly smaller shelf.

I wanted better cauls. And hopefully, only one person would be required to use them.

Researching and reading-up on cauls was also a very good primer in table-top or panel joinery. Learned a tremendous amount. Pretty much took my nervousness away. I realized I had the equipment and accuracy and the skills to do these panel glue-ups…....and that I need not be as concerned as I was.

Even after 4 years here, I am still very much learning stuff, so I thought I would share a LITTLE of what I learned.

Lots of info about slightly curved cauls designed to apply equal pressure across the glue-up. Almost went that way, but still a two-person job…......for a few minutes.

One of the “rules” I read said “no gaps should be present with just hand pressure holding the boards together”.

None of this 1/8th inch or 1/4 inch gap stuff.

I learned, as it was mentioned often, board edges are ready to be joined according to the rule of “just hand pressure”….when hand pressure showed no…......NO …..gaps

That was my goal and I achieved it.

Putting the cauls on first while holding the boards together greatly reduced the amount of side clamping pressure needed. The cauls should (and did) hold the boards in place while I tightened down the alternating pipe clamps……… both processes letting the glue do its job. No breaking down a line of “setting” glue by tightening or loosening or messing with the clamp pressure over and over to get a tight glue line.

The table plans called for making the top and the shelf last. SCREW THAT ! That was the toughest part for me, so I did them first.

And, I wanted “good” or better cauls.

THESE WORK !!

http://www.woodworkingtips.com/etips/2008/11/13/ws/

I am a little surprised to end up making and using cauls with such easy plans at such an easy site to find using such common material. I had expected to be making some “exotic” cauls, but the more I read, the more these cauls made sense……………at least for me.

The caul plans call for hardwood, but I did think that excessive. Used 1×4 clear Poplar. NO WAY 4 strips of 1×4 Poplar PER CAUL SET are going to bend when clamped “edge to edge”.

And the cauls worked flawlessly.

Middle Cherry board had a very small …....about a ¼ inch bow over the entire 50 inches.

GONE !!!!

Carriage bolts are called for because they are threaded the entire stem, enabling use on any thickness of project.

The carriage bolts slide in or out so that pressure is applied as close to the project as is possible. Perfect positioning of pressure. Probably totally eliminates any bowing of the cauls in the middle, along with the 1×4’s not bending…...resulting in even pressure across the top.

I thought wing knobs stupid…...too much finger pain tightening down the cauls with even “big” wing nuts. So I used regular hex bolts and 2” fender washers on top.

I had to epoxy the carriage bolt heads into the feet, otherwise they just stripped out the feet.

Covered them all with shipping tape prior to use.

About 60% of caul pressure to start with …... then about 60% side clamp pressure, then 5-10 % at a time all around, over and over a few times until caul and clamping pressure was where it should be.

I did several practice runs figuring out the quickest way to get all these cauls and clamps in place so as to not disturb the setting glue.

The bottom cauls are taller than pipe clamps.

I get all the bottom cauls in the correct places on my assembly table by dry-fitting the boards as to where I want the cauls and pipe clamps.

Cauls need no glue protection as they are covered in cellophane and I use green Gorilla 2 inch painters tape on my pipe clamps.

I apply the glue (I did use the Titebond II Extended Setting-Time Glue for the very first time.

I hope it is as strong as any of the Types I and II and III.

If anyone has experience with the Extend I would appreciate a comment.

I hustled.

Laid the newly glued boards on the bottom cauls.

Hand pressed them together.

Put the top caul on top of all the bottom cauls with the bolts poking through the top cauls and moved the bolts close(er) to the work piece.

Hand pressed the joints together several times while doing the cauls, just to be sure.

When first “installing” the cauls I use my driver with about 4-5 on the ratchet with a 9/16 deep socket on the tip

Very fast.

Then I do the bar clamps to 60% and then use either a real ratchet with the 9/16 or the handles on the bar clamps to get all clamping done.

Just to get a little pressure going I semi-tightened down every other caul, then every other pipe clamp and then finished the other two cauls and the other two pipe clamps.

I like those little paddle clamps for the ends. Even though I made this Top and Shelf way over-sized as to length, and a little over sized as to width, I still like to get the ends clamped like that.

Then I finished …..... very quickly….......tightening all the clamps and cauls to where I wanted them.

Just great.

I am glad I thought the assembly through and ran a few dry fittings, focusing mainly on the quickest way to get the cauls put together and tightened and in a logical sequence with the pipe clamps.

This process is what I ended up using.

I will post the table when finished, but suffice it to say, the glue-ups came out PERFECT.

I can (theoretically) do glue-ups from 6 inches wide to 36 inches wide.

The caul pictures are just for show. Same with the Cherry boards. No shipping tape, no glue-up of boards. Just for show. But, all ready to go.

I know many of you fellow woodworkers just grab some 2x or 4x pine pieces for cauls, or use something akin to that for cauls…....and they work just fine for you. Maybe I just had a few “wants” along with my “needs”.

Sometimes I don’t know enough to even ask the right question(s). This time I feel I did.

Hopefully this info will be of use to some one at some time.

Bruce.

-- We must all walk our own green mile





31 comments so far

View Jasonjenkins's profile

Jasonjenkins

39 posts in 236 days


#1 posted 123 days ago

Lots of good info here. I have had my eye on some of the edge clamping systems that apply pressure as you tighten them (http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2000321/1858/WoodRiver-Clamping-System.aspx) , but this maybe a just as good/better and cheaper option. PLUS you bring up a good point about 2×2 across a great length and that’s what the system would use. The more I think about your system the more I like it.. Thanks for the info.

-- Growing a full beard is proven to instantly improve your handtool skills...

View squaretree's profile

squaretree

145 posts in 205 days


#2 posted 123 days ago

Jason, I have that system and its great, but I still end up using cauls too. You would need several of those clamps to avoid needing cauls on a longer glue-up (and im too cheap to buy more). I think I will be making a few of these. Very clever.

-- if you can't find me, just follow the extension cord

View bigcreekwoodworker's profile

bigcreekwoodworker

8 posts in 507 days


#3 posted 123 days ago

Those make a lot of sense and look like they work great. Definitely keep that idea in the back pocket.

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10737 posts in 1324 days


#4 posted 123 days ago

Bruce, I sooo need to make those cauls. From your link it appears they are flat on the undersides rather than being convex?

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View bushmaster's profile

bushmaster

170 posts in 916 days


#5 posted 123 days ago

Looks great and certainly needed when using pipe clamps, I use clamps I made myself that clamps both sides at same time as jasonjenkins posted a link to. easy to use and works great, best clamps I have ever used. If interested I will post pictures.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View C_PLUS_Woodworker's profile

C_PLUS_Woodworker

436 posts in 1541 days


#6 posted 123 days ago

Andy, I thought about curving the bottom (or “top”) of either or both of the cauls, but decided to wait and see how they worked.

With 4 of those suckers on a 20 inch wide glue-up, and after using them twice…....Top of table and shelf…......I now see no need for the hassle of doing the curves. Great results is Great results…......Flat is Flat…......right?

Nice to hear from my horse buddy.

-- We must all walk our own green mile

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10737 posts in 1324 days


#7 posted 123 days ago

Thanks Bruce. You’ll be disappointed to learn that my horses are all retired from “active duty”.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View C_PLUS_Woodworker's profile

C_PLUS_Woodworker

436 posts in 1541 days


#8 posted 123 days ago

I failed to mention how I figured out the quickest way to get all these cauls and clamps in place so as to not disturb the setting glue.

The bottom cauls are taller than pipe clamps.

I get all the bottom cauls in the correct places on my assembly table by dry-fitting the boards as to where I want the cauls and pipe clamps. Cauls need no glue protection as they are covered in cellophane and I use green Gorilla 2 inch painters tape on my pipe clamps.

I apply the glue (I did use the Titebond II Extended Setting-Time Glue for the very first time.

I hope it is as strong as any of the Types I and II and III.

If anyone has experience with the Extend I would appreciate a comment.

I hustled.

Laid the newly glued boards on the bottom cauls.

Hand pressed them together.

Put the top caul on top of all the bottom cauls with the bolts poking through the top cauls and moved them close(er) to the work piece.

Hand pressed the joints together several times while doing the cauls, just to be sure.

Just to get a little pressure going I semi-tightened down every other caul, then every other pipe clamp and then finished the other two cauls and the other two pipe clamps.

I like those little paddle clamps for the ends. Even though I made this Top and Shelf way over-sized as to length, and a little over sized as to width, I still like to get the ends clamped like that.

Then I finished …..... very quickly….......tightening all the clamps and cauls to where I wanted them.

Just great.

I am glad I thought the assembly through and ran a few dry fittings, focusing mainly on the quickest way to get the cauls put together and tightened and in a logical sequence with the pipe clamps.

This process is what I ended up using.

If I can I am going to add this to the original post with the photos.

Bruce.

-- We must all walk our own green mile

View C_PLUS_Woodworker's profile

C_PLUS_Woodworker

436 posts in 1541 days


#9 posted 123 days ago

Andy, I am the opposite. All my horses are gone and active…........I am the retired goner.

2 studs and 20 mares plus breeding about 20 “outside mares”.

All those weekly vet visits to monitor follicle size.

Handling those studs….....God I loved that! Bred mares successfully that owners claimed were un-breedable. Just takes a few little tricks and a lot of horse-sense, doesn’t it?

Starting all those foals.

All the stud shows and horse auctions and all the great people.

(Not to be confused with “Horse Shows….......ours were working cow horses)

Roping and Team Penning.

Miss all that like crazy.

In fact, to be truthful, it hurts like a bitch.

-- We must all walk our own green mile

View exelectrician's profile

exelectrician

1537 posts in 1061 days


#10 posted 123 days ago

Thanks for the tip!

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View C_PLUS_Woodworker's profile

C_PLUS_Woodworker

436 posts in 1541 days


#11 posted 123 days ago

I am getting forgetful

When first “installing” the cauls I use my driver with about 4-5 on the ratchet with a 9/16 deep socket on the tip

Very fast.

Then I do the bar clamps to 60% and then use either a real ratchet with the 9/16 or the handles on the bar clamps to get all clamping done.

-- We must all walk our own green mile

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112018 posts in 2211 days


#12 posted 123 days ago

Great Idea Bruce.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

14878 posts in 1822 days


#13 posted 122 days ago

Great idea and well done…. I have been meaning to make some for yrs now…. Maybe you’ll be what I need to get going Thx

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View bubbaw's profile

bubbaw

23 posts in 279 days


#14 posted 122 days ago

I retired from ranching and if it wasn’t for woodworking I would probably be still trying to do bodily injury to myself on a young colt. I like your cauls, will make some for future use. I enjoy making woodworking aids almost as much as the project itself. Thanks for the post.

-- Isaiah 40:31

View Thewoodman2000's profile

Thewoodman2000

557 posts in 604 days


#15 posted 122 days ago

Bruce – you must be some kind of “woodworking god” or something. You do think of everything even down to the small stuff like tape on the clamps to avoid cleaning later. I do thank you for your smarts you share with us!!!

-- (the only thing in there she says is...... saw dust) - James

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