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Forum topic by Glenn posted 03-11-2010 07:33 PM 1479 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Glenn's profile


141 posts in 3622 days

03-11-2010 07:33 PM

I’ve been working on this stationary box with hidden splines (a la Doug Stowe) off and on for months. It was coming along great. I could tell the wood (ash) was absolutely beautiful even without a finish. Then, yesterday evening, I busted it apart while trying to force a glue up. I know, I know… I shouldn’t have used the rubber mallet, but the glue was setting and the thing wouldn’t go together. It had a top which floats in a groove in the sides, which I couldn’t get to seat properly and while banging on it, the top ripped off the top strip of the sides starting at the groove. I hate it when something like this happens. Now I’ve got to start over. Bad choice on my part, I guess…

-- Glenn, Arkansas

15 replies so far

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4109 days

#1 posted 03-11-2010 08:06 PM

Glenn – sorry about your setback. I’ve had the same kind of problems, but I’ve found that dry-fitting can help me plan the assembly steps and identify any fit problems before I’m racing the clock in a glue-up. I did one set of doors using glue that had an eight-minute open time. I practiced the assembly process about half-a-dozen times to get the assembly time under eight minutes before assembling with glue.

Better luck with your next attempt, and be sure to post photos when the project is complete!

-- -- --

View patron's profile


13641 posts in 3576 days

#2 posted 03-11-2010 08:15 PM

sorry for this ,
dry fitting is the only way to see if all the pieces go together right .
also allow just a smidge for the glue , being liquid ,
it doesn’t compress ,and does have a certain thickness .

and as stated by peter ,
get to know the sequence before glue .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Glenn's profile


141 posts in 3622 days

#3 posted 03-11-2010 08:44 PM

well i’ll be… i did do a dry fit, but i never thought of doing it over and over again like it was a skill to get the time down below a certain level. i’ll have to give that a try next time…

-- Glenn, Arkansas

View BOB67CAM's profile


269 posts in 3307 days

#4 posted 03-11-2010 09:12 PM

it always seems to amaze me at how fast a glue-up can go south, if guessing id say a majority of my swearing sessions would be during that time but i think ill be more diligent with peters plan, i usally play around to get it together 1 time and it never occurred to me to do a few test fits to see what issues arise during the process, thats peter

-- if you dont have it, build it, especially when its a stupid idea

View Triman's profile


50 posts in 3817 days

#5 posted 03-11-2010 09:13 PM

Just an FYI – You may be able to salvage your work. If it’s just the top 1/2 inch or so, just flip it on it’s side, throw it on the tablesaw, and rip off the top 1/2 inch or so, one side at a time. The box will be more shallow, but I’ve salvaged a couple of boxes this way.

-- Bruce, San Jose, Ca

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3820 days

#6 posted 03-11-2010 09:17 PM

It is very frustrating did you use naughty ,naughty, words or keep very calm LOL, anyway we’ve all been there.Sorry to hear of this hope you get straight back on the horse again and keep the challenges to what they are .I.E see things as a challenge not a problem Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Glenn's profile


141 posts in 3622 days

#7 posted 03-11-2010 10:05 PM

no, i let out a stream of phrases so vile i had to walk out on the driveway, look around and make sure nobody heard me (like my kids for example). i was so aggravated, i had to close up shop for the evening. i might try triman’s solution, but i had already routed a series of grooves on the inside to hold tray holder strips, etc., so it might not work. if not, i’ll have to cut some more sides after i go back to the lumber store (100 miles away) to get more ash since i used my last piece on this one last box. isn’t that the way it always is?

-- Glenn, Arkansas

View Glenn's profile


141 posts in 3622 days

#8 posted 03-12-2010 03:22 AM

shopguryl, now that’s an excellent idea. i always think of woodworking as a subtractive process—sawing, sanding, otherwise removing wood—that i forget about adding it back with glue. i’ll have to see if i can get that to work so that it fits with the overall design. the lighter ash box carcass has bloodwood accents such as hidden splines and lid pull. maybe a bloodwood strip around the top will look nice. i’ll have to play around with it next time i’m out in the garage. thanks!

-- Glenn, Arkansas

View bigike's profile


4055 posts in 3523 days

#9 posted 03-12-2010 03:43 AM

take it easy, woodworking is suposed to be fun and relaxing.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 3291 days

#10 posted 03-12-2010 02:27 PM

Hi double n Glenn,
I feel your pain. I made 6 drawers with 1/4” finger joints last weekend. Without thinking much about it I grabbed my yellow glue and started the glue up. Thankfully I got drawer 1 together before the glue set. I changed to slower setting white glue for the rest of them. Lots of good advice above, but sometimes just using slow set glue is critical to give us the time to make adjustments. Like you I’ve never thought of (or even heard of) dry fitting as rehearsals to hasten assembly. I don’t have the quote, but someone has certainly said that woodworking is all about fixing our mistakes. Good luck.

-- Glen

View Glenn's profile


141 posts in 3622 days

#11 posted 03-12-2010 08:53 PM

Many thanks to everyone! I feel like I’m on the road to recovery. If it hadn’t been for you, I probably would have thrown the whole lot in the trash and started over. But, I have carefully sawn the top 1/4” or so of cracked/split wood off the sides, clamped them together and planed them smooth and even. Now I plan to glue a strip of contrasting bloodwood to the tops of the sides to replace what I’ve removed and make a groove for the floating top panel. The bloodwood strip will echo the bloodwood miter splines which will become visible when I saw the top from the sides, resulting in a box that might even be more attractive than the original version. Thanks again for encouraging me to explore this route!

-- Glenn, Arkansas

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4453 days

#12 posted 03-12-2010 09:17 PM

Way to go, Glenn. They are not disasters… they are opportunities for design enhancements. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 3476 days

#13 posted 03-12-2010 11:04 PM

Glenn, I’m happy that you have been successful in solving the issue. Also, the caring and sharing of the lumberjocks is great, as well as their support.
Glue up is the moment of truth when assembling the project. I, too, have learned about doing it dry first, organizing my clamps, and making sure there is enough room for the glue and the expansion it causes.

I’ve just gone through a similar experience with a tiger maple and cherry jewelry box I was making for my daughter-in-law’s birthday. In the PLAN, the drawer depth dimensions written were 1/8” longer than the case depth. They apparently did not take the 1/4 inch rabbet for the case back into consideration when they did their dimensioning.
So, I was faced with either rebuilding the drawers, or finding a way to cut them down. Happily, I have a 24 inch Flatmaster drum sander from Stockroom Supply. that I was able to use to carefully remove 3/32” on each face of the drawer, using a fence to maintain square, and it worked out. I then glued the finish drawer faces to the boxes, and voila! You cannot tell that there was ever a problem. It looks great, and AGAIN I’ve learned what not to do…... Beliieve me, I feel your pain!

Just in case this may be of help, my cabinet maker friend and woodworking mentor in Bisbee, AZ has given me a phrase that has helped me through many of these “learning” experiences. ” A really good and succesful woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3560 days

#14 posted 03-12-2010 11:14 PM

Glenn, I just did the same thing last weekend. I also curse quite loudly. Dry fit looked good – glue up – then I thought I should tighten it just a tad more…. crack!

I am also going to see what a little glue and polishing will do. But it cracked along the mitered edge. I could always alter the thing and attach legs and give it a whole new look. Who knows. I’ll certainly post it when I finally finish.

I was all excited to try wipe-on poly too….

View Rob Drown's profile

Rob Drown

800 posts in 4068 days

#15 posted 03-12-2010 11:33 PM

Last week I was gluing together a hand cut dovetail carcase and one corner was tight and would not close up. The glue was setting up. I heated the corner with a heat gun and was able to get it to tighten up. Heat softens pva glue and cold slows the process. We all feel your pain.

-- The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. Confucius, 经过艰苦的努力的梦想可以成真

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