Edge joining boards

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Forum topic by planeBill posted 11-10-2011 03:35 AM 15772 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View planeBill's profile


506 posts in 2403 days

11-10-2011 03:35 AM

What would be your prefered method for edge joinging boards for a dresser top? Top will be 72” x 22” x 1”, Cherry. I have two very wide boards to use for this. Is this in itself a bad idea? I was going to edge join them with dowels, I’ve done this before but not on anything this big. Also, I was going to use some of my system 3 epoxy for this for extra strength.
Good idea? Bad idea? Suggestions? Recommendaions? All are appreciated.

-- I was born at a very young age, as I grew up, I got older.

24 replies so far

View Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)'s profile

Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)

176 posts in 3944 days

#1 posted 11-10-2011 03:52 AM

I would not suggest using two boards that wide. I would rip them and go 4 across so you can alternate the grain and reduce any cupping.

View MontanaBob's profile


830 posts in 2678 days

#2 posted 11-10-2011 04:05 AM

Today I started making the tops for two end tables that are 22” x 25” walnut using two pieces of wide wood…ran them through the paner to 3/4”, then the jointer to get a glue edge….. drilled some pocket holes using the Kreg Jig…used the gorilla glue which has worked real well for me in the past…....clamped it up and after making sure everthing was aligned ran the screws. Started sanding this afternoon….was worried that using wide wood that it may warp, but so far so good…. look forward to others ideas…..Bob

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3130 days

#3 posted 11-10-2011 04:20 AM

My understanding of the conventional wisdom is that you don’t need the dowels and any variety of woodworking glue such as Titebond original would work just fine.

But keeping the edges lined up over a length of 72” might get frustrating. Not so easy to come up with a bunch of clamps you can tighten across the glue line.

An easy thing to do would be to edge joint the boards and use a wing cutter in your router table to run slots down much of the joint, but not to the ends of the boards. Use a spline in the slot. Should keep things aligned just fine. If you are concerned about strength run the grain of the spline perpendicular to the glue line (the spline would be lots of short-ish pieces) or use a strip of plywood.

For clamping be sure to alternate which side of the work the clamp bars are on. And I think conventional wisdom also says that the clamp spacing only needs to be about the same as the width of the boards, about 11” in your case, but I would probably do up to twice that many clamps.

It’ll probably work out just fine if you get the edges jointed nice.

Fun part might be flattening the big top once it’s glued up.

Edit: I would also expect pocket hole screws to work well as MontanaBob said.

-- Greg D.

View thebigvise's profile


191 posts in 2895 days

#4 posted 11-10-2011 04:50 AM

I am an old dowel man myself. I realize that Norm loves biscuits and ebay folks disparage my old Stanley dowel jig as “vintage.” But I’m not making my living making furniture, so the extra time doesn’t bother me. Dowels have never let me down on edge-to-edge glue-ups.

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3890 days

#5 posted 11-10-2011 05:01 AM

I’ve done both ways of edge gluing two boards and edge gluing four or more boards that have been ripped and turned so the rings are opposite each other to avoid cupping. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem with cupping using just two boards for a width as wide as what you are doing. My personal thought is to use the fewest gluing surfaces as possible. There has always been argument whether you should alternate your boards so one has the rings up the other rings down – in the long run I’m of the belief that it doesn’t matter if you properly finish the piece and the wood itself is not wet when you start building. I’d rather have two boards that look nice together with the grain flowing than trying to get 4 boards together trying to make the patterns look good once they are glued.

As far as lining up your edges along that length – dowels would be okay – but why not use cauls with a crown on them to keep your board flat at the seam while it’s drying?

I also agree with Greg that your clamps should alternate one on the bottom the next on the top, the next on the bottom – I’m not sure I’m the one to explain why that’s a good idea – but it always seems to work out better that way for me.

I hope my thoughts make sense … it’s my two cents worth anyway.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View pmayer's profile


1028 posts in 3059 days

#6 posted 11-10-2011 06:16 AM

If the cherry is stable I would use them at that width to preserve the grain. Just joint them with a jointer or router, and use normal woodworking glue. Dowels won’t help, and neither will epoxy. If the boards are not stable you will have problems and there is nothing that dowels or epoxy will do to prevent problems. Dustin’s suggestion will offset a cupping problem if one occurs by alternating the direction of the cup. You will end up with a wavy table top rather than one that will lift one of the legs off the floor which might not be bad if the lumber is not trustworthy. I would let the boards acclimate if they are not already, check them for distortion in all directions, and then use them whole rather than ripping them.

Now, having said all that, one thing that would potentially make me rethink this is if a single seam running right down the middle of the table was distracting. Sometimes it can be depending upon the grain of the boards. If your two boards were cut adjacent to one another in the log, then you could potentially bookmatch them in the table top, in which case the single seam would not be problematic, and the effect could be quite cool. So, if I were confident that the wood was stable, I would optimize the layout for aesthetics.

-- PaulMayer,

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2963 days

#7 posted 11-10-2011 10:30 AM

There’s two camps for this argument. If you rip the boards down and alternate them it will reduce cupping – so your glue up would be inside of tree up/inside down/inside up/inside down.
If you just joint the two boards together, put both boards with inside of tree up. That way if there is shrinkage it will go convex, so it won’t lift a corner. Make sure you put just as much finish on the underneath as on the top of the top and when attaching it to carcase of the dresser, make sure the screws have room to move – use something like table stretcher plates with the elongated hole or use a cleat with slots.
As for alignment, that’s what biscuit jointers were made for. If you don’t have a biscuit jointer, try a biscuit cutter for the router – they don’t cost much and are very accurate.
I’d make this with two wide planks and see. If it buckles after a year or two, you could always take it off and mill slots underneath and reattach it (Like they do with floorboards) – that would flatten it.

View thebigvise's profile


191 posts in 2895 days

#8 posted 11-10-2011 03:20 PM

I certainly agree that dowels, or any other technique/material, cannot stop wood from moving. It’s really just a way to line up the edges. No doubt, biscuits are much faster.

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3068 days

#9 posted 11-10-2011 06:07 PM

If you have good clean edges, I see no reason for dowels, biscuits or anything else. Glue alone will do the job. Titebond is as good as any and better than most. Titebond II is sufficient but Titebond III gives you more open time and it is waterproof.

The only reason for dowels or biscuits is to help with alignment and that may, or may not, be a concern for you. These things will not add any strength.

Regarding using 2 wide boards or ripping them to get narrower boards – - That is dependent on the stability of the wood. I’d go with 2 wide boards if I thought the wood was very stable and unlikely to cup.

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

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3313 days

#10 posted 11-10-2011 08:08 PM

Has anyone ever used plastic resin glue for such a project? The kind you mix up yourself. Slow set time would help with the lineup for long boards. Just curious.

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View Viking's profile


880 posts in 3189 days

#11 posted 11-10-2011 08:20 PM

I have used both biscuits and Kreg pocket screws. I think biscuits help alignment but, you will need to clamp the boards. PH screws pull the boards together so, eliminate need for clamps. Clean, jointed edges make both work well.

I have never had great results with dowels ….. but, that is probably just me.

Good luck!

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View Don W's profile

Don W

18707 posts in 2562 days

#12 posted 11-10-2011 08:38 PM

Well, everyone has there own opinion, so here is mine. I love wide boards. If they are dry, I’d use them as is. If they are not dry, I’d get them dry and use them as is. One of the nicest tables I’ve ever seen was a black walnut antique, 36” wide x 6 1/2 foot long, solid 5/4, one piece. 100 years or more and still flat. With a $3500 price tag, its just a memory though.

I’ve typically use dowels for door frames, because they do help with strength. For this I would either just glue or use biscuits to help keep the alignment. If the boards are really flat and straight, you shouldn’t need anything.

I’d joint with my #8 plane. I can get a better fit than with my jointer and its said to make a stronger joint (although I’m not 100% sure I buy into that)

I only have pipe clamps, so that’s what I’d use. Clamp top and bottom, about every 2 foot, so a clamp is every 12” apart.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4928 posts in 3954 days

#13 posted 11-10-2011 08:42 PM

If you’re set on using the wide boards, I would take ‘em inside the area where they will live for several days to let ‘em stabilize to the environment (heat/moisture, etc.). I also finish both sides of any wide top build-up just to minimize movement after theproject is built.
I use biscuits for alignment, and Gorilla PVA or Titebond III glue. Both are good. Open time is important for a glue up this size.


View planeBill's profile


506 posts in 2403 days

#14 posted 11-11-2011 05:27 AM

Wow! thanks for all of the advice. Seems to be a common theme running through the majority of them, that being that TB glues will work just fine and there is no need for dowels. Well, I followed half. I used TB3 and dowels. The dowels were just to help me keep things all lined up and they did just fine and took about 10 minutes to drill the 16 holes and glue/tap them in. Used my high dollar Harbor Freight dowel jig for them. I may have gotten really lucky when I bought that thing because it is as accurate as I guess any other jig could be. It puts them right in the center of the board everytime. My edges of my TWO boards were jointed previously and the wood had been setting in my shop for about a month. It had been setting in my woodmans shop for who knows how long before that. It used a single width piece 17’ wide for the cherry nightstand that I posted in the projects section and it has moved nary bit. It is just as flat as the day I put it together and it is from the same tree as the wood I am using for the dresser top so I am pretty confident about the stability of the wood. The nightstand has been in the house for about 7 weeks now and is still good. All of the wood I have used for my bed, nightstand, and the dresser is all from the same tree.
I didn’t really want to use my boatbuilding epoxy for anything but my boat but I was willing to.
I gotta say I was real happy with the glue up today. It came out very satisfactorily.
I have few conventional furniture making tool as most of my woodworking has been rather unconventional by lumberjocks standards. What I mean is that none of my projects required tools like biscuit jointers, routers, table saws, dial calipers and so on. So, I do not have many of these tools. They may have made them easier. I am usually required to be quite creative in my approach and methods. I have aquired some of the essential tools and seem to be getting by, for now.
I am gratefull for all of the advice and was even able to put some of it to use during the glue up today and I am sure that it helped me have a successfull day. Thank you all.
I always put an equal finish on all surfaces of everything I build, must be a boatbuilding thing.
I am glad that I didn’t rip the boards as I had initially inended to do. This top is gonna look fantastical.

I forgot to add ” This is a great place”.

-- I was born at a very young age, as I grew up, I got older.

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3045 days

#15 posted 11-11-2011 06:24 AM


As Don and a couple others said, glue alone will do the job; ordinary woodworking glue. Wide boards are not a problem, they are an asset. As to alternating rings to avoid cupping, not necessary and complete and utter misinformation that has become “true” after millenia of repetition. Bob Flexner has debunked this repeatedly. Wood cups toward moisture no matter orientation. Wooden decks cup toward the top surface where the water is no matter ring direction which is random on all decks. Antique table tops cupped toward the top because they were washed down after use and the top surface was wet. Once again, ring orientation was random. Most of the experts now recommend orienting the boards for the best look and don’t worry about cupping because it doesn’t matter. Especially with cherry; a very stable wood.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

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