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Help please on first glue up for workbench top & lumber selection

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Forum topic by johndeereb posted 01-19-2017 09:23 PM 1995 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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johndeereb

57 posts in 1053 days


01-19-2017 09:23 PM

I am looking to make my first workbench top. I have some beech available to me locally, and it’s 3” thick rough cut. I would like to make a top 4” thick with legs and stretchers very thick too. I’ve never done glue ups before and I’ve read a lot here but any tips are appreciated. I got titebond 3 glue and the top will be 21”x60”. I have about 8 pipe clamps.

How tight should I make the clamps? I’ve read varying things online about how tight to make the clamps? Should I made them as tight as I can or not so much?

Is beech the best bet for a top? I don’t have hard maple available but they have white oak, red oak also. Since they only have 3” thick I’m not sure yet what to use for the legs. Whether I should use oak or if it would look a lot different from the top. It’s for a gift for my father, so I would like it to look nice.


13 replies so far

View DirtyMike's profile

DirtyMike

637 posts in 741 days


#1 posted 01-19-2017 09:31 PM

8 pipe clamps is probably just enough for a glue up that size, I would use cauls to get even pressue on the sides and top. clamping pressure should be turned up to 11. The most important thing is to ensure your edges are ready for glue up. work time for the glue is crucial, that 15 minutes goes by fast on a big glue up. I suggest making some glue up helpers out of pvc pipe like Mtm wood uses. lay everything out and use a roller to apply glue. good luck

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

514 posts in 588 days


#2 posted 01-19-2017 10:37 PM

Beech would work, as would white oak. I wouldn’t use red oak. I used Ash for mine, and I used 4×4 untreated pine (now painted) for the support structure.

I’d get or borrow a few more clamps. Never hurts to have more. Yes, use cauls.

Do a dry clamp-up just to make sure all the to-be-glued surfaces mate well prior to the glue-up. I applied glue with a disposable paint brush with shortened bristles, and I didn’t do all of the gluing at one time.

View woodenwarrior's profile

woodenwarrior

218 posts in 2034 days


#3 posted 01-19-2017 11:54 PM

Are you going to be running the glued up laminations through a planer? If so, look at making three sub glue ups and then gluing them together (trying to run two or more glue ups that thick and long through the planer will be a bear, trust me I’ve tried it.). If you want a lifetime lamination, you MUST ensure your laminations are perfectly jointed with absolutely flat faces. I second what has been said already, 8 clamps should be enough but if you have access to more, use them. I use a 4 in roller with a disposable paint tray to spread my glue on planks that big. You’re going to be playing beat the clock so make it as easy and quick as possible. When you do your glue ups, alternate your clamps above and below the assemblies to help ensure even pressure. You asked about how tight the clamps should be. You don’t want to make your clamps too tight or you will risk the assembly bowing on you. Tighten your clamps until you get an even line of glue squeeze out along the entire length of the assembly (glue squeeze out is good). Try your best to keep all of the laminations flush using a tape covered board clamped above and below the assembly. It will make planing and flattening the top a thousand times easier. When the glue begins to set up and get rubbery (after an hour or two) use a putty knife to scrape off the bead of glue. Lastly, even though it seems like a lost effort, do a dry run with the clamps and the laminations to make sure you have everything set up the way you want prior to gluing. Like I said, you’re going to be playing beat the clock and you don’t want to screw around with clamps at that point. If you have other questions, give a yell.

-- Do or do not...there is no try - Master Yoda

View Bob5103's profile

Bob5103

81 posts in 673 days


#4 posted 01-19-2017 11:55 PM

My bench is beech, it was easy to work with and has held up to the abuse I put it through.

View johndeereb's profile

johndeereb

57 posts in 1053 days


#5 posted 01-20-2017 06:44 PM

Thanks for the replies. I had the lumber mill joint and plane them, since I only have a plainer and I’m honestly not that great with hand planes yet. I do have a pretty good plainer, Dewalt 13”.

Should I rough the boards up with coarse sandpaper first?

How tight is too tight for the clamps? Like not tightening as hard as I can, but close to it? Or should I just watch for the even glue edge and stop when I have it? I watched a video with Paul Sellers but he was using pine.

View brtech's profile

brtech

1006 posts in 2762 days


#6 posted 01-20-2017 07:06 PM

Don’t bother roughing up the boards. They should be fine coming off the lumber mill’s planer.

The clamps really ought to be pretty tight. Yes, you can overdo it, but you usually have to be working hard to do that. You really do want them tight, so it should take some effort on the handle. Don’t go so hard you are thinking you could snap the metal. “Even line of glue squeeze out” isn’t a good measure on my glue-ups, because it depends on how even the glue distribution is on the surfaces, and since you have to be working fast, it’s hard for me to get that even. I’m striving for enough glue to get a good bond, not too much to make a horrible mess.

Second the idea of glue up in stages. I wouldn’t try to glue more than 4 joints in one stage. Make 5 board subassemblies and then glue the subassemblies together. 8 clamps on a 60” top is a clamp every 7.something inches, and that’s enough. Alternate, as was stated above.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

8333 posts in 1325 days


#7 posted 01-20-2017 07:34 PM

The wider the boards to be glue the fewer the clamps. If you are ripping it into 4” strips I’d get more clamps.

You have to go off the reservation with clamps to get a glue starved joint. Just what I’ve seen.

How this helps

http://woodgears.ca/joint_strength/glue_methods.html

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View johndeereb's profile

johndeereb

57 posts in 1053 days


#8 posted 01-20-2017 11:07 PM

1 other question, please, It is quarter sawn, many have the grain almost straight up and down the 4 inch way. Some have a curve in the grain. I know to alternate the curve, so it curves to the right, then the left etc. (not have them all the same way). Would it be better on the ends to have a curve a certain direction, or keep the straightest ones there?

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1169 posts in 2370 days


#9 posted 01-21-2017 02:17 AM

On a top that size and assuming a good glue up, grain orientation won’t make any difference from a functional/performance view.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View paratrooper34's profile

paratrooper34

915 posts in 2791 days


#10 posted 01-21-2017 03:15 AM

Beech is an excellent choice for a bench top. It has been used in that capacity for centuries. The Ulmia bench I have is made of beech and it takes wear and tear very nicely.

-- Mike

View Bernie's profile

Bernie

422 posts in 2676 days


#11 posted 01-22-2017 03:11 PM

Johndeereb – I’m not on board with what you are trying to do. I read your original post and I envision you starting out with a bench top that is already assembled at 3” thick and you want to add another inch to it… Am I correct in this or am I the only one misunderstanding you?

If I am correct, you need to stop now because you can not glue another inch onto an assembled bench. The original bench will have wood movement across its’ surface as will the new added inch.

Of course… if I’m miss reading your original post, then the answer to my comment would be “DUH what?”

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View WillliamMSP's profile

WillliamMSP

1084 posts in 1444 days


#12 posted 01-22-2017 03:19 PM



Johndeereb – I m not on board with what you are trying to do. I read your original post and I envision you starting out with a bench top that is already assembled at 3” thick and you want to add another inch to it… Am I correct in this or am I the only one misunderstanding you?

If I am correct, you need to stop now because you can not glue another inch onto an assembled bench. The original bench will have wood movement across its surface as will the new added inch.

Of course… if I m miss reading your original post, then the answer to my comment would be “DUH what?”

- Bernie

I’m reading it as he’s got access to 12/4 stock and wants to rip it down to ~4” wide strips, turn them on their sides and laminate those together.

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

View johndeereb's profile

johndeereb

57 posts in 1053 days


#13 posted 01-22-2017 07:13 PM

yes, I have 12/4 stock ripped down to 4” strips, turned on side and glued together. Thanks for checking Bernie, I’ve done a lot of goofy things!

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