Cutting board glue up nightmare

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Forum topic by antkn33 posted 12-11-2012 06:17 PM 6898 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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55 posts in 3646 days

12-11-2012 06:17 PM

So I am attempting my first cutting board. It is the standard staggered end grain like the woodwhisperer video.
I jointed and planed all my pieces to ensure they were uniform in size. I clamped them up with my Jorgensen Cabinet Master clamps and used cauls on the ends. It looked pretty good when I was finished clamping everything. THough it was difficult to tell exactly because of the squeeze out. However, when I checked on it in the morning, it was very uneven. I am not sure exactly what happened. If the parts slipped or maybe warped slightly. I didn’t move it after clamp up though.
I was able to get the board fairly level after 30 minutes of sanding with 60 grit on a ROS.
Anyone have any tips on keeping the pieces level to one another when the glue is drying?

18 replies so far

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3190 days

#1 posted 12-11-2012 06:22 PM

You might try cauls on the top and bottom too.

Edited to add a better picture.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View a1Jim's profile


117340 posts in 3780 days

#2 posted 12-11-2012 06:23 PM

I’m not familiar with Marc’s video on this but it sounds like you glued it all up at once . Maybe if you glued half or a third at a time you would have better success. Scott’s idea about cauls is a good idea too.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 3195 days

#3 posted 12-11-2012 06:25 PM

You may have applied too much pressure. If you use too much it can force the wood to move out of alignment. There is bound to be some movement and it is unrealistic (at least in my experience) to expect things to come out of the clamps perfectly smooth, you will always have to do some post glue sanding. To aid alignment you could use biscuits when doing the final glue. The biscuits will help keep everything aligned. If you don’t have a biscuit jointer you could also just use some splines although you would see those on the ends of the board. If you used a contrasting wood it might not be bad though. 30 minutes w/ 60 grit paper does seem like an excessive amount of sanding, maybe someone else will weigh in with another solution.

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55 posts in 3646 days

#4 posted 12-11-2012 06:50 PM

I did glue it up all at once. I used cauls on the ends across the cuts.
Those are good suggestions!

View bondogaposis's profile


5094 posts in 2555 days

#5 posted 12-11-2012 08:02 PM

Glue is slippery and it is common for wood to slip as pressure is applied. It might be better to tackle the glue up in stages instead of all once.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 3195 days

#6 posted 12-11-2012 10:28 PM

I think it’s really strange that you had that much of a problem when using cauls. Stupid question but have you checked to make sure your cauls are flat? Maybe next time add more cauls and clamp along the length of the cauls as well as at the ends.

When I make cutting boards I glue them up all at once and have never had any trouble doing it that way.

View AandCstyle's profile


3179 posts in 2460 days

#7 posted 12-12-2012 01:42 AM

I have also read about people applying the glue to the strips, then pinning them in place with a 23G pin nailer (just until the glue sets) and, finally, clamping all the pieces together. The pins (one at each end of the strip) prevent the slippage you experienced. I have never done this, so take it for what it is worth. :)

-- Art

View Biff's profile


126 posts in 2217 days

#8 posted 12-12-2012 01:49 AM

I noticed on the Wood Whisperer video that OP refered to that he hardly uses any clamping pressure. I think because he went to so much effort to make sure all pieces were true that it wasn’t necessary to bear down on the clamps. Most people over tighten the clamps, causing wood to slip out…plus using a variety of clamps makes for unequal pressure application. On the video, he uses a minimum of clamps and they match.

-- Interested in Oregon property? Visit me at

View antkn33's profile


55 posts in 3646 days

#9 posted 12-12-2012 02:51 PM

I actually did joint the cauls. The unevenness was further towards the center of the board.
The more I think about it, the more I think it was too much clamping pressure. I re-watched the WW video, and I didn’t position the clamps like he did either.

View jaidee's profile


51 posts in 2983 days

#10 posted 12-13-2012 04:06 PM

One other thought, it appears that you only clamped the cauls on the ends. Unless your cauls have a convex edge, any pressure at the ends will cause them to bow up in the middle, or at least provide less clamping pressure there than at the ends. That, combined with excessive clamping pressure on your pipe clamps could cause movement before the glue sets. Wood under pressure, like water, follows the path of least resistance. Good luck with the next one!

-- I used to be all thumbs......'til I got a tablesaw!

View Bagtown's profile


1739 posts in 3934 days

#11 posted 12-13-2012 05:58 PM

First time I made an end grain board, I blew it at the clamping stage. I overclamped it to the point of making some very nice firewood.

-- Mike - In Fort McMurray Alberta

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55 posts in 3646 days

#12 posted 12-13-2012 07:31 PM

Yeah, I think I overdid it too. I was able to sand the hell out of it so it is level now. I just don’t want to have to go through that every time.!

View PurpLev's profile


8547 posts in 3852 days

#13 posted 12-13-2012 07:38 PM

if you jointed your cauls, but only clamped them at the ends – they could bow, leaving the center area un-clampped (by the cauls) which would then be free to move out of alignment, especially if you apply a lot of clamping pressure.

you should either make sure your cauls are convex properly and clamp on their ends, or if you use jointed cauls, make sure you clamp all along them.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2490 days

#14 posted 12-13-2012 08:07 PM

I’ve gone to cutting hardwood 5/4 pieces very flat and using them in three places to clamp the wood down flat while I’m gluing them up. There is going to be a little unevenness but nothing like what I had without it. Just a couple thick walnut pieces cut absolutely straight with shipping tape on them to keep them from sticking to the glue.
Try it.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Sam's profile


30 posts in 2559 days

#15 posted 12-14-2012 03:32 AM

Would a thickness planer and the cutting board stabilized on a plywood sled not also work? Once the top is flattened, flip it over and plane the other side (sans plywood), then sand with the ROS.

Is this crazy talk? I’ve been known to speak it from time to time. :)

-- -Sam

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