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Forum topic by rbterhune posted 01-17-2011 04:57 AM 1514 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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176 posts in 3243 days

01-17-2011 04:57 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question joining milling plane planer tablesaw hats off tip trick glue up panel

I’ve spent probably the last year to year and a half reading, studying, surfing the forums, watching videos, and making stuff for the shop as practice…but I learned today, only 1/3 of the way through my first real project, that even the basics require SUBSTANTIAL skill!

All I was doing was a glue-up of 2 boards to make one about 14” wide. I had done this a couple of times before with reasonable success but I thought I’d practice the trick where you line them up, face to face, to clean up the glue line with a hand plane. Everything seemed to be going great…even with the dry run…but I didn’t check my flatness with a straight edge before adding glue. About 4 minutes in I pull out the straight edge and discover I have a cup in my glue up…at least a 16th…probably a little more. What I learned was that little trick with the handplane only works if you pay attention. I guess my outside edges got planed a little more than the inside edges…this creating a gap on the underside…the top looked perfect in the dry run.

So…after letting it dry, re-ripping, and re-gluing I think I have an o.k. panel…which is to be a side to my bookcase.

After all this I do have a question…how good is good…how close is close enough? I ask because I still see a little daylight under my straight edge on this new panel…1/64th…no more than 1/32. The panel will be attached by dowels to an overhanging top and bottom. I’m sure I can flex the panel is this case but how much would you consider too much? I’m guessing your answers will be that it depends on the project but just for a couple of what-ifs…

If this project was a dovetailed case I’d have to flex that same panel to fit…is that too much stress?

If this project was a frame and panel construction…would a 1/2” solid panel, flexed 1/32 too tight in the corresponding grooves?

Now that I’ve rambled on…thank you to all the craftsmen and craftswomen who make woodworking look easy.


8 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2872 days

#1 posted 01-17-2011 06:55 AM

Thanks for the insights and kind words.

As a general rule, I don’t like to bend wood to my will. General rule. Sometimes one must, but often, in furniture, if you force one joint into compliance you put unique and unplanned for stress on another (or more). And that will come ‘round to nip you in the hindside at some point.

There is a point at which I don’t scrape glue that oozes slightly on the underside of something that will always be right side up—bookcase, for example. So that’s a “flaw” in some people’s vocabulary which I am ok with.

There are mistakes that I have been known to retool as a feature. Often one hears that a craftsman is not one who does perfect work, he is one who knows how to correct his mistakes as he goes.

I might add that a craftsman is one who knows how to work relaxed, thereby eliminating stress and increasing the quality of his work and the subsequent joy at its completion.

You are learning this as you work on this glueup. Each subsequent one you do will be easier to the point where glueups become part of your day to day experience and are a source of satisfaction and pride.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3097 days

#2 posted 01-17-2011 04:14 PM

You ask, “how good is good …how close is close enough?” The answer, of course, is “It depends”.

Today I will build a simple pine and plywood step for our short pastor to stand on behind the pulpit. The way our pulpit is designed, virtually no one will see this. My standard for how good is good enough is quite low. It will be sturdy but I don’t think I will touch it with a sander and pocket hole joints are acceptable (instead of mortise and tenon). I probably will not even bother with wood plugs for the pocket holes.

When I make toys that I give away as gifts for Christmas, my standard is higher, but I see no need for perfection. For example, I will use wood filler to hide a small gap in a joint.

If I am making a special jewelry box for a special person, I’m striving for perfection. I want perfect dovetails, box joints or miter joints. I don’t want to use any wood filler because no wood filler is needed.

I just went through a phase where I was cranking out a lot of Christmas gifts. I was under some time pressure and some of those gifts were not as well done as I would have liked them to be. In reaction to that, I now have a desire to make something where I can take my time and strive for perfection.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3019 days

#3 posted 01-17-2011 06:25 PM

True craftsman have gained that name by paying attention to detail and by watching other craftsman, picking up “tricks of the trade that do work”.
The first post hit it on the head ” A craftsman is not one who does perfect work, he is one who knows how to correct his mistakes as he goes.
Patience is also a bonus !
In regards to question about 1/64 cup in 14” solid panel. This would be accepted in a frame and panel. Solid wood has movement. Typically these panels are not glued in the assembly, to allow for movement. Most of these decisions are up to the person doing the work, what are you comfortable with at the end of the day?
I aim for ALMOST perfection and settle for very good.
If you aim for “good” and settle for “close enough” !!!! at cabinet making school we called that goal ”carpenters.” lol

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Richard's profile


1916 posts in 2712 days

#4 posted 01-17-2011 06:33 PM

If it is an imperfection that will cause extra stress on another part that will as Lee said “come ‘round to nip you in the hindside ” later by way of causing visiable damage or total failure to the project, you want to fix it.
But then if it is a minor cosmetic flaw that mostly only you notice because you spent the time and effort to build it, well you might want to leave it as it is.

After all this is a “hand crafted item” and the minor flaws just give proof that it was made by you and not mass produced at some robotic factory.

View herg1's profile


42 posts in 3735 days

#5 posted 01-17-2011 08:19 PM

I agree with the other fellows, there are times where only you will know there was an error made. I too strive for perfection and somehow never have reached it. Every thing you made or repair will improve your ability and capability, you never really stop learning or improving your skills. When joining two or more pieces together I try to never see daylight between them, every now and then I succeed.

-- Roger1

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3292 days

#6 posted 01-17-2011 08:54 PM

This is why wood is such an interesting media to work with….every piece is one of a kind and every piece has its foibles…..what makes a mastercraftsman is the ability to work with the wood to bring out the beauty in each piece….I am no master craftsman myself….but it is a goal I continue to strive for….and as long as my projects are evolving towards my goal….I am doing what I should…..The most useful teaching aid I have received in my years – has been to practice…practice….practice…...I spend countless hours working with scrap and inexpensive cuts….cutting test joints and fitting them…glueing them..finishing them…..etc….with practice comes the ability to see problems before they become mistakes….it will also save you expensive blow ups down the line. If I am designing a project I will typically practice making it with a piece of cheap pine and plywood to make sure I have the dimensions….the type of joints…...etc….where they should be.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View woody57's profile


650 posts in 3449 days

#7 posted 01-17-2011 10:11 PM

I rarely edge glue boards. I use cabinet grade plywood for the sides, shelfs, top and bottom.

-- Emmett, from Georgia

View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 3243 days

#8 posted 01-18-2011 04:39 AM

Great advice guys…thank you all. Can’t wait to see the rest of your comments.

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