why surface before gluing up panels?

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Forum topic by AaronK posted 10-14-2009 12:38 AM 1652 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1506 posts in 3431 days

10-14-2009 12:38 AM

I’m going to be gluing up panels for the second time ever and starting from rough stock for the first time ever. I was wondering, why bother planing/surfacing the stock to thickness before gluing up? I mean, definitely edge jointing, but the surfaces? I’ll likely have to smooth it all out once it’s glued up anyway, so why not save myself a step?

can anyone explain why to thickness before gluing up panels?

11 replies so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3735 days

#1 posted 10-14-2009 12:41 AM

there really is no good answer that i can think off but honestly i often glue up panels while they are still thick and surface to final dimensions… it gets much better results…. im interested to see what other peoples reasons are

View cstrang's profile


1832 posts in 3135 days

#2 posted 10-14-2009 12:48 AM

The only reason I could offer is because dried glue can be like little rocks and can chip a planer blade easily if any squeez out is present when you fire it through the planer.

-- A hammer dangling from a wall will bang and sound like work when the wind blows the right way.

View lew's profile


12019 posts in 3722 days

#3 posted 10-14-2009 12:56 AM

And the width of the panels vs. the max width of your planer.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3789 days

#4 posted 10-14-2009 01:24 AM

Another reason that I do some dimensioning before glue up is to get a good look at the grain and coloration of the wood. And, I agree with Cstrang’s comment, having a planed surface helps with the glue removal, which should be done with a card scraper or putty knife after the glue sets up.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3735 days

#5 posted 10-14-2009 01:53 AM

true… you want to get a look at the panels… all you need to do is take a little off of it though just maybe skin plane it to see the grain… after that remove the squeeze out because that will mess up your blades the glue making up the actual joint wont

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3252 days

#6 posted 10-14-2009 04:00 AM

Scott covered it pretty well for you. I do my raised panels @ 5/8” thickness, so I usually plane my stock to 3/4”, pick my grain flow and coloration and glue up my panels at that time. Remember what Lew said, it doesn’t work too well if you are gluing up 14” wide panels and you only have a 12” planer. LOL Once I glue my panels and have all the excess glue removed from both sides, I will run my stock down to 5/8”.

-- John @

View Kjuly's profile


308 posts in 3253 days

#7 posted 10-14-2009 01:52 PM

I always surface the lumber before glue up because it is much easier to glue boards that are flat. I joint and plane them to 7/8” before glue up. Trying to glue boards that a cupped can be a headache.

-- Keith, Charlotte, MI

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3447 days

#8 posted 10-14-2009 03:46 PM

I surface the lumber before glue up also. The main reason is my planner isnt usually wide enough to plane it afterwards.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3431 days

#9 posted 10-14-2009 03:55 PM

thanks for all these responses.

I guess the biggest issue is the width of the planer – for the more narrow glue-ups i have in mind this wont be an issue. However, the next issue is the bowing or cupping of stock, which could screw things up a little – but again not so much a problem for the narrower “panels.” Finally, there’s the matter of the grain itself – direction, color, texture. I think what I’ll do is do a very light surfacing to expose the grain and get things reasonably flat/square, then glue up, then finish the rest of the dimensioning.

also, thanks for the heads up about squeeze out!

I’m going to be making a bunch of ornaments, candle holders and magic wine holders for Xmas presents and those “panels” are only about 3” width max, which is how this all came up. anywya, thanks again for the input!

View Aaron Taylor's profile

Aaron Taylor

37 posts in 3116 days

#10 posted 10-14-2009 04:43 PM

I agree with those above. My panels are usually too wide to fit my 13” planer. I would have to have a wide drum or belt sander to make it work for me, which is definitely moving up my wish list. If panel size is not an issue for you then by all means make it easier for yourself and do it after; of course taking care of any squeeze out to save your planer blades.

-- "Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops."--Cary Grant from the movie Arsenic and Old Lace

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3640 days

#11 posted 10-15-2009 12:32 AM

I surface my panels before glue up since I only have a 13’’ planer.

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