Better way needed to laminate boards

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Forum topic by Paul Pomerleau posted 01-17-2011 06:22 PM 2372 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Paul Pomerleau

309 posts in 2691 days

01-17-2011 06:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question laminate press

I had this in a blog, but it was suggested that I might get more response here.
I recently just made my first band saw box and one of the problems that I had was trying to get all the boards glued together without any small gaps between them, specifically around the edges.
I realize that I was using 1” thick softwood (pine and cedar) which probably doesn’t help much, but I must have used every clamp at my disposal and old planks to sandwich it together while using all the force I could muster, and I still had tiny gaps around the edges.
I had put them through my thickness planer first to make them nice and smooth.
I’m new at the woodworking game and maybe I just don’t know all the tricks, but there has to be a better way.
I’m thinking a hydraulic press…
It doesn’t have to be a big one, but would have to have steel plates on both sides so there is no twisting and simply use a small bottleneck jack that most of us probably have several in the garage.
Putting a ton or ton-and-a-half pressure on the boards would probably do it.
With 20,000+ members on this site or so, I’m sure I’m not the first one to think of this, so is there a trick I’m missing or what?
And if this is a great idea, remember there is a patent pending on it :)

-- Close to Ottawa Ontario Canada

7 replies so far

View Cory's profile


760 posts in 3417 days

#1 posted 01-17-2011 06:44 PM

Paul, I’m no expert but I think your problem is in stock preparation. Just planing a board doesn’t make it flat. Any imperfections in the board are mirrored while planing. So a warped board might be smooth, but it won’t be flat. You need to face joint your boards before glue up. That can be done on a jointer or on your planer with a sled. Once you’ve got truly flat boards, the glue up will be easy with only a handful of clamps and moderate pressure.

I hope this helps.

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View Loren's profile


10385 posts in 3645 days

#2 posted 01-17-2011 07:13 PM

I concur with Cory. In theory (and to the eye) you may see boards coming
out of your planer consistent in thickness and flat enough to use. They
may be flat enough for making most things, but laminating solid wood
is a different ball-game and requires more accurate flatness.

In industrial settings hydraulic or pneumatic clamps are used for this sort
of thing. Also “wood welders”. Even with flat boards, lots of pressure
is used for thick laminations.

In building guitars I became familiar with the “sanding board” which is a
piece of flat MDF with strips of sanding belt glued to it. Elbow grease
powers the workpiece in circular patterns on the board to make the
surface flat, sort of like lapping the bottom of a plane. I recommend
you build such a board and flatten your laminate parts on it – or at
least make the board and try a couple of joints with it and see if you
like the result.

View ksSlim's profile


1276 posts in 2887 days

#3 posted 01-17-2011 07:44 PM

Some stock will move a lot after you remove the “skin” during jointing or planer work. Depending on how the plank was cut, rift, flat or quarter sawn, it will move differently. Do a prelim stock prep, sticker, wait a couple of days to a week, final stock prep, then glue up. Multiple layers of stock, in a glue up, usually are done in more than one glue/clamp setting. For a 6 layer block, do 2 seperate 3 layer glue ups. After dry time, check for flat, rejoint if necessary, then glue 2 blocks together.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Paul Pomerleau's profile

Paul Pomerleau

309 posts in 2691 days

#4 posted 01-17-2011 08:01 PM

Hey, that’s a great idea… I never though about 2 separate 3 layer glue ups.
That might have been better than trying to do all boards together as is what I did.
I’m definitely going to try that on my next project.
Also, I am going to have to ensure more flatness on the boards.
Thanks to all.

So, uhmmm, no one is in favor of my patent pending 1.5 ton hydraulic press laminator ??

-- Close to Ottawa Ontario Canada

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3879 days

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

Hey Paul,

Nope, the 1.5 ton will only mask a deeper problem. When you prepare the wood as flat, very little clamping pressure is needed.

Although that press laminator could come in useful for some other projects…......

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3267 days

#6 posted 01-17-2011 08:29 PM

I agree that the stock must be prepared more flatter to get rid of the voids in the glue up – I also divide my glue ups so that I can plane layers in between (If I am doing 6 layers….I will do 3 2 layers…press them then run them through the planer…then put together 2 of the 2 layers….etc). I also use a homemade press for squeezing the woods together….it is made out of 5 square pieces of 3/4 in ply – then 4 threaded rods are put through each corner with washers and nuts to hold them in place….I put the laminate on top of one of the pieces….then put two on top of it…..I then put a 5 ton jack between the top plywood layers and the two on top of the laminate…then pump the jack so it presses down on the glue up…. once you have sufficient pressure from the jack you can then tighten the nuts on the threaded rods to keep equal pressure on the laminate. I can take pics of the jig if you are interested.

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

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2994 days

#7 posted 01-17-2011 08:51 PM

I’m in favor of your press idea. Part of the success of a good glue up is squeezing it together. Just putting glue on two pieces and setting them together doesn’t seem to have the same strength as squeezing the glue into the board with pressure. If you have access to plates and iron, GO FOR IT ! Especially if you plan on making more glue up projects. A cheap version of a press stand comes on sale at Princess Auto.
I use my jointer for preparing pieces. I can feel the cut better than running it through my thickness planer. (I am limited to 6”wide though) When we made doors at cabinet shop we used a 3ft x 7ft press to glue the skins on. Life was good !

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

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