Glue the panels or leave loose?

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Forum topic by sphayden posted 07-23-2012 02:03 AM 3050 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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36 posts in 1535 days

07-23-2012 02:03 AM

Topic tags/keywords: frame and panel

I’m making a bed headboard, it’s a frame-and-panel design. There are 1” mortise and tenon joints in each corner and a center stile with a tenon that fits into the groove for the panels. Should I glue the panels also, or just glue the joints? Will it be strong enough if I just glue the joints?

14 replies so far

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2315 days

#1 posted 07-23-2012 02:19 AM

In frame and panel construction, the panels should be able to “float” to minimize problems due to expansion and contraction.

In my personal experience, solid wood panels (i.e. raised) should definitely float, The majority of my flat panel doors are made with 1/4” (5.2mm if you insist) and I don’t concern myself too much about them. Plywood won’t expand and contract as much as solid wood.

When I glue up any frame and panel, I use a dab of glue in the center of the top and bottom rails to keep the panel from shifting if/as the stiles expand and contract.

If your panels fit loosley in the frames, use some space balls so they won’t rattle. Rattling is bad enough in a door, but would be truly annoying in a bed headboard.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Grandpa's profile


3251 posts in 1922 days

#2 posted 07-23-2012 02:22 AM

The joinst should be strong enough. If you glue the panels they normally swell with humidity changes and push the joints apart. Leave the panels loose. Make some little silicone caulk drops about the size of BB’s. After they cure insert them into the grooves then install the panels. These will stop the rattle but they will compress if needed. Use then on at least 2 adjacent sides of the panels. Good luck with the bed. Post some pics when finished.

View pintodeluxe's profile


4550 posts in 2060 days

#3 posted 07-23-2012 02:25 AM

If you glue a panel at all, just glue a dab in the center of the panel. Do this at the top and at the bottom. This will keep the panel centered, and let the sides expand and contract. If you glue a solid wood panel in a frame, it will crack.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 2430 days

#4 posted 07-23-2012 02:29 AM

Same as above, don’t glue them, make sure they are slightly undersized and use silicone spacers to keep the panels from rattling. I’ve also seen panels with a drop of glue in the center of the panel top and bottom assuming the grain in the panel runs up and down, it allows the panel to expand but the panel stays centered.

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

3397 posts in 1808 days

#5 posted 07-23-2012 02:31 AM

One thing you can do to not ever have aloose panel is to use the little rubber balls or some of the very thin strips of rubber in the all around the panel.


-- Please help me help other Vets click..> is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View kizerpea's profile


746 posts in 1614 days

#6 posted 07-23-2012 11:54 AM

dont glue the panels..if u do .you will be in the den watching tv, an u will here a gun shot pow.thats the head board expanding.


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2098 posts in 1435 days

#7 posted 07-23-2012 04:21 PM

Yup, the whole purpose of frame and panel is to allow for movement with humidity changes. Gluing the panels would go against the whole thinking that makes frame and panel a successful design.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 3338 days

#8 posted 07-23-2012 04:29 PM

I’ve not seen this mention but a few dabs of silicone calking, in each side of the panel has worked well for me.

-- Nicky

View rance's profile (online now)


4215 posts in 2407 days

#9 posted 07-23-2012 05:10 PM

Plywood panels: Glue them

Solid wood panels: Let em float

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View BigYin's profile


297 posts in 1663 days

#10 posted 07-23-2012 05:18 PM

I like 3/8 self adhesive foam strips to stop rattles. (some of the double glazing industry uses it)

-- ... Never Apologise For Being Right ...

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3513 posts in 1740 days

#11 posted 07-23-2012 06:26 PM

Quote rance:”Plywood panels: Glue them

Solid wood panels: Let em float”

That’s the practice I’ve always followed…works well.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View MrRon's profile


3612 posts in 2490 days

#12 posted 07-23-2012 11:18 PM

If the joints are correctly made, plywood panels shouldn’t need to be glued. They should be treated the same as a solid wood panel; float.

View sphayden's profile


36 posts in 1535 days

#13 posted 07-24-2012 12:34 AM

Wow, thanks everybody for the input. I’m using 1/2” oak plywood for the panels, the good stuff from the plywood supplier (only three layers total). I’m going to go with the majority opinion and not glue them. That is what I would have to do if I had solid panels. Plus, I want to prove to myself how strong those mortise and tenon joints are. I will put the silicone beads in the grooves. Great idea.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 1734 days

#14 posted 07-24-2012 12:41 AM

Umm…. 3 layers in a half inch? I have luaun that has more layers than that.

I would expect 5 layers minimum and maybe 7.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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