Glue up sequence for chest construction - ??

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Forum topic by MadGerman posted 10-07-2012 10:57 AM 1336 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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45 posts in 2301 days

10-07-2012 10:57 AM

Hey guys,

It’s me again. I have a few questions about the proper glue up sequence for my blanket chest. The front and rear are made up of three raised panels, while the sides are made up of a single panel.

When gluing it together, is it best or accepted to
1. glue all of the panels together separately
2. after the individual panels are glued, then glue all four together at once

Or is the better way to go to assemble it from the bottom up, i.e.
1. gluing the bottom rails and (all of the vertical) stiles together. Let that dry.
2. insert the raised panels.
3. then glue the top rails on, thus completing the four sides of the “box”.

Something else I was wondering about: do I need to put a plastic sheet on my work table when gluing up these pieces, to prevent them from sticking to my work table?

I’m working in my shop by myself, if that matters in how you answer the above questions.

As always, thanks so much for the help.

5 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5236 posts in 2732 days

#1 posted 10-07-2012 12:00 PM

I’ve only done this the first way you described, the second method sounds a little too complicated for my feeble brain. I typically do not put a plastic sheet under my glue ups. The panels are seldom laying flat on the table, but rather raised up on the clamps (be sure to alternate the sides you put the clamps on, one up…one down, so on). I do put wax paper on the clamp bars under the seams to keep glue off them.

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

View MJCD's profile


582 posts in 2610 days

#2 posted 10-07-2012 02:24 PM

I’ve always been taught, and follow the advice of working from the inside/interior surfaces to the outside surfaces. If the interior surfaces are the same size, then the outside, mating surfaces will be at a constant distance – the overall cabinet dimensions will expand or contract based on the precision of the interior measurements – certainly, other surfaces, like the lid, need to be adjusted. Having said this, precision is its own reward.

For my recent blanket chest, I glued-up the raised panels, ensured the front & back panels were identical in length and width; did the same with the two sides; then attached these to the corner posts – using this approach, the cabinet corners will be square.

At a minimum, I would follow Fred’s advice to protect both your clamps and work top; I haven’t master glue-ups (I have a really tough one today), and I do go overboard on putting a plastic sheet under my glue-ups. I still put too much glue on my joints.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19050 posts in 2806 days

#3 posted 10-07-2012 03:29 PM

I always make the panels first including the frames. I’m not sure how you would build the frames in place.

I’ve got a piece of fabric (Teflon coated stuff) to protect my bench. If I were you I’d grab a good drop cloth. They are not expensive and you’ll fund plastic slides around a lot which I find annoying.

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

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4132 days

#4 posted 10-07-2012 05:55 PM

glue the sub assemblies seperate.

Side assemblies….glue both stiles and rails with floating panel at the same time. prefit and lay them out, if needed pencil an “1” to “1”, “2” to “2”….etc

Same for front and back. Arrows of panels so you get grain direction as planed

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3153 days

#5 posted 10-07-2012 06:22 PM

I followed the second gluing sequence on my blanket chest, gluing one stile at a time with the panel in place. Once all stiles were glued, I then glued the top rail. I did NOT glue the stiles without the panels in place BECAUSE I was using Space Balls to center each panel in its opening and the pressure of these balls would not allow me to glue all stiles at once. Plus, the Space Balls would not allow me to insert panels after the fact because of that pressure. I did however, leave the clamps on previously glued stile(s) as I glued the next stile(s) in sequence. Once all stiles had been glued and dried, I removed the clamps only long enough to glue the top rail and then used the clamps in the same position to hold the rail. I placed a couple of clamps length wise to minimize that separation pressure while I placed/glued the final/top rail. It worked like a champ and allowed me to do this without an additional body in the shop.

BTW, I did try to pre-assemble all three panels of the front, but the pressure of the Space Balls would not allow me to get all panels equally spaced along the rail. I had all rails marked with pencil for proper placement of the stiles.

Oh, I use “contractor’s paper” as a glue-stop on top of my bench. It comes in a long roll and ~36” wide. Just cut to length and tape to bench. The paper is the consistency of a paper grocery bag, if you have never worked with this before now.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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