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A poor man's panel clamp/veneer press

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Forum topic by Gene Howe posted 05-23-2011 05:15 PM 7993 views 11 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Gene Howe

6044 posts in 2175 days


05-23-2011 05:15 PM

I’m a cheap old son of a gun. This system is almost foolproof, and costs far less than others.
The green monsters are 1 5/8X1 5/8 perforated Unistrut sections. Buying them at my electrical wholesale house, each 36” clamp costs ten bucks, plus the bolts and washers. In a larger city, the cost may be even less.
Pictured are clamps using 4” bolts and washers, used to insure flatness in the glue up. When face gluing, I use 5” or 6” bolts.
Shorter lengths of Unistrut are used for veneer pressing.
The maximum thickness of a glue up is limited only by the length of the bolts used.
Not as elegant as others, but, as I said…I’m Cheap!
!
This next picture (don’t know why it didn’t show up in the post….guess you have to click it) shows the method Unistrut uses to accept the bolts. The “nut” is captured by the Unistrut lip. A spring under the “nut” holds it in place. since the bottom piece is perforated also, I laid in a strip of hardboard to keep the spring from entering the perforation.
https://s3.amazonaws.com/lumberjocks.com/llnlf92.jpg!

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton


25 replies so far

View Gerry's profile

Gerry

253 posts in 1987 days


#1 posted 05-23-2011 07:47 PM

Hi Gene.

Brilliant! IMHO, cheap is a good thing. Makes us use our brains! BTW, what are you building?

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

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1439 days


#2 posted 05-23-2011 08:26 PM

This is great. I’m considering using your idea for a panel glue-upper. I’m also considering adapting Rick’s cawl suggestion. I figure with a bit of planing, I can crown a thin piece of wood and glue it to the bars. This is great. I said that already, I suppose.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

6044 posts in 2175 days


#3 posted 05-23-2011 09:00 PM

Hi Rick,
I use cauls/battens, also. However, I much prefer these things. I just find them easier to use. When needed, I do insert crowned shims, but they are seldom required.
For face glue ups, a lot more pressure can be exerted with a ratchet wrench than with my tired old hands on woodworking clamps.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2698 posts in 2033 days


#4 posted 05-23-2011 09:26 PM

Great idea Gene

Thanks

-- She thought I hung the moon--now she just thinks I did it wrong

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

6044 posts in 2175 days


#5 posted 05-24-2011 02:35 PM

Hi Anji,

I’m honored to have my contraption even slightly compared to Mr. Frid’s ideas!!!

To date, the four clamps I use have negated the need for pads or crowned cauls on panels. Most of my panels are either walnut, maple, red oak or QSWO. I would use pads for softer woods.
If pads were needed for veneering, or large marquetry, I’d use a piece of 3/4 Baltic birch plywood with waxed paper between it and the work. I’ve done small veneering jobs, 18X18 being the largest, and have had success with using three of the clamps and no pads. The veneers were 1/4” solid wood, though.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Deltawood's profile

Deltawood

39 posts in 1943 days


#6 posted 05-24-2011 03:03 PM

I’ll have a couple of pairs in my garage by the end of the week. Great idea, thanks for sharing.

-- - If it ain't broke, don't lend it!

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

6044 posts in 2175 days


#7 posted 05-24-2011 04:03 PM

Deltawood,
You might check out the 7/8 deep ones. Lighter, cheaper, and the nut doesn’t need the spring on the bottom.
The 7/8 seems to be stiff enough for anything 24”- 36” wide as long as the bolts are as close to the panel edge as practical.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

6044 posts in 2175 days


#8 posted 05-24-2011 04:08 PM

Gerry,
The blanks are for a series of wall mirror/coat hanger/plant holder thingies.
Here’s a couple of pics of the templates. I use an over arm router to cut ‘em out.
The last pic is the template for the plant holder.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Richard's profile

Richard

1103 posts in 1437 days


#9 posted 05-25-2011 01:41 AM

Unistrut is one of the neatest things around, you can use it to build a ton of different things and it looks like you just found another thing to use it for.

View shelly_b's profile

shelly_b

848 posts in 864 days


#10 posted 02-21-2013 10:51 AM

I just wanted to say thankyou!! I have been searching the web for a couple days trying to find and easier/faster way to glue up panels without spending a whole paycheck, and I beleive this is it! Awesome idea, and I can’t wait to try it:)

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

6044 posts in 2175 days


#11 posted 02-21-2013 04:03 PM

Go for it Shelly_b.

If you are just doing one or two smaller pieces, Rick Ls method of clamps and cauls is the way to go. But, when I’m doing several large panels (24X24 or so) I don’t want to be fiddling with all the clamps and cauls necessary.

When I’m doing a run of 6-10 or so glue ups, I keep 6 sets of the UniStrut clamps set up on a long bench. After loosening the bolts but, before I take the dried panels out, I insert pieces of scrap, a bit thicker than the panels, between the pieces of UniStrut to hold them apart for the next set. Just insert the panels, pull the scraps and put the socket wrench to work. Makes the job a lot easier and faster.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View camps764's profile

camps764

816 posts in 1106 days


#12 posted 02-21-2013 04:38 PM

Will be using this moving forward! Looks great…and I’ve got some buddies that will probably have uni-strut scrap laying around from job sites…THANKS!

-- Steve. Visit my website http://www.campbellwoodworking.com

View Arron's profile

Arron

13 posts in 770 days


#13 posted 02-21-2013 06:30 PM

Great idea Gene. I’ve seen endless variations on this and the caul press but I like yours because the nuts/bolts wont get lost and I can wrench-tighten in an unobstructed manner. For me, I have to be able to tighten with a wrench – no longer able to abuse my poor hands.

I can add a couple of things to what is discussed here.
When pressing veneer I use melamine coated pineboard for the cauls. Pva glues wont stick to it so I dont need the waxed paper etc.
If you dont have crowned battens (say because you want to use steel ones) just fold up an old newspaper a few times and put under the centre of the batten if you think pressure in the middle will be inadequate.

Cheers
Arron

-- Sydney, Australia, www.bespokeboxes.com.au

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

6044 posts in 2175 days


#14 posted 02-23-2013 10:18 PM

Hi Arron,
Thanks for the news paper tip. That’s a great idea.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View shelly_b's profile

shelly_b

848 posts in 864 days


#15 posted 02-26-2013 06:38 AM

I am about to glue up some panels that will be about 6ft long, so this will be a big help! I thought it was going to be a big chore either making cauls and trying to keep them in place or beating it to death lol but this seems like it will make it much easier. They arent very wide, so I’m not worried about crowning or bowing in metal. I was just worried I wouldn’t have enought clamps. Thanks for the other tips too Gene!

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