How often do you do large glue ups?

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Forum topic by lateralus819 posted 04-10-2013 09:19 PM 1371 views 1 time favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2070 posts in 978 days

04-10-2013 09:19 PM

So after trying to build a table, I’ve become really discouraged. I feel like whats the point if i have to deal with cupping/warping/twisting on a grand scale. Obviously wood will move, but seems compounded by the size of a table top.

I was just curious when plywood or other means steps in as a substitute? I assume say you were making an entertainment stand, or kitchen cabinets anything of that size.

How many of you opt for ply and then veneer over that?

-- Never confuse mistakes with failure. Kevin

20 replies so far

View madts's profile


1566 posts in 1428 days

#1 posted 04-10-2013 09:24 PM

I only opt for plywood when building a box. Otherwise I use real wood and deal with the cupping, bowing etc.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View kdc68's profile


2394 posts in 1365 days

#2 posted 04-10-2013 09:48 PM


How many of you opt for ply and then veneer over that?

There are many hardwood/softwood veneer plywood choices available…So no need for you to veneer over it…Here’s a helpful link

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View pintodeluxe's profile


4185 posts in 1902 days

#3 posted 04-10-2013 09:50 PM

I frequently do solid wood glueups and can share my method with you.
The 8th picture in this blog described the “I” and “O” method on the jointer for flat glueups…

Other things that help…
1. Use quartersawn lumber whenever possible. It is more likely to stay flat.
2. Use dry lumber in the 6-8% moisture content range.
3. If you are rough milling lumber, do some of the jointing and planing one day and stack and sticker it overnight. The next day, joint and plane it again. This removes any initial cupping or bowing.
4. If you have 4 boards to glue together, start by gluing two together. Then glue those wider planks together in a second glueup. I think this is one of the biggest improvements you can make.
5. Finally, always use clamps top and bottom, and check for flatness with a straightedge.

Don’t give up on hardwood tops. Good luck!

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

View lateralus819's profile


2070 posts in 978 days

#4 posted 04-10-2013 09:59 PM

Thanks for the great advice pinto. I did just as you said in 4. I had to glue roughly 10 4” pieces together and did two slabs, i had to bring them into work to do what i needed but couldnt resume work on it due to an unexpected job of driving for 2 days which spanned over the weekend. When i got back to them they had cupped on me.

-- Never confuse mistakes with failure. Kevin

View JAAune's profile


1261 posts in 1405 days

#5 posted 04-10-2013 10:14 PM

While working on a really large table, I’ve done both a solid top and a plywood torsion box. The torsion box provided the flatness yet permitted the solid wood to expand and contract as needed. Normally I’d not go through all that extra work for a table top but the client wanted the solid slab look and wanted a table about 60”x140” in size. He also provided the wood that he’d purchased specifically for this purpose. It had nice figure and was fairly wide and clear for walnut but it was only 4/4 stock. That wasn’t thick enough for us to use conventional methods to build the top.

Stability was a major issue and the situation required some outside-the-box problem solving. Since the wood was so thin to begin with, we could only take two passes through the planer to smooth the surfaces a little. This was not nearly enough to actually flatten the large boards. After jointing everything with a Festool tracksaw (too long and heavy for the jointer) we edge glued them and did our best to keep the top somewhat flat. After gluing boards on the edge to simulate thickness we hand-planed the top level.

Here is a picture of the table.

Below you can see a co-worker of mine attaching the legs to the torsion box. It’s really a complete table by itself. The walnut top is screwed to that assembly in the middle but the sides are held down with sliding cleats. If you look closely, you’ll see the slots in the end of the torsion box.

Solid wood definitely works. You just have to remember its properties and account for them in the design process.

-- See my work at and

View MrFid's profile


723 posts in 993 days

#6 posted 04-10-2013 10:31 PM

Dry wood helps… that’s the biggest thing. Also, once you have planed and jointed to a HAIR over final size (either by power tools or hand tools), it’s been worth it to me to sticker the pieces and wait another day or two to make sure it’s done its big movements. Then take the last shaving off after all the interior tension has run its course. Patience is a virtue, plus it gives you an excuse to walk away, gather your thoughts and a beer, and return fresh the next day. Also, CAULS!

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View lateralus819's profile


2070 posts in 978 days

#7 posted 04-11-2013 12:06 AM

Yeah i did everything as every says. I bought the lumber, let it sit in my house for 2 weeks, sent it to a friend to joint it, let it sit a few days, glued up 2 big panels, and now they’ve cupped. so essentially if i glue them together I’ll have one bigger cup…

Heh, i wouldnt be so frustrated if i didn’t spend so much on all the material.

I’m trying to think of what i can make out of it all if it doesn’t work out. But I’d really love to get it to work.

-- Never confuse mistakes with failure. Kevin

View AandCstyle's profile


2017 posts in 1346 days

#8 posted 04-11-2013 02:17 AM

Did you leave the panels laying flat on a surface or were they standing or stickered so air could get to both sides? If they were flat on a solid surface you can try flipping them over and waiting a few days to see if they flatten out again. It might be that they lost moisture from only one side and cupped because of that. Another thought is were they planed on both sides? If only on one side, you will get more moisture loss from the freshly milled surface.

I use hardwood veneer plywood on occasion and think it has its place for larger projects. HTH

-- Art

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

5866 posts in 1469 days

#9 posted 04-11-2013 02:27 AM

That was my thought Art, that maybe he laid them on a workbench or table. Might be salvageable.

I use ply one things I don’t plan on passing down to my kids like tv stands, bookcases and kitchen cabinets.


View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

18603 posts in 1427 days

#10 posted 04-11-2013 02:44 AM

Most of what I do is big. Lost a couple battles, but it’s part of the game.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View lateralus819's profile


2070 posts in 978 days

#11 posted 04-11-2013 09:46 AM

They were standing against a wall, air could reach all sides.

-- Never confuse mistakes with failure. Kevin

View lateralus819's profile


2070 posts in 978 days

#12 posted 04-11-2013 09:46 AM

The only thing i did was plane the glue off the joints. Could be it i bet.

-- Never confuse mistakes with failure. Kevin

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Kaleb the Swede

1546 posts in 1058 days

#13 posted 04-11-2013 10:42 AM

Have you tried these guys? My Father in law gave me about four of these and when I did a big glue up these were the most perfect clamps I have every used for something like that.

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View Tony_S's profile


515 posts in 2172 days

#14 posted 04-11-2013 10:47 AM

What type of wood is it, and is it flat sawn or quarter sawn?

Not knowing your experience level, if the material is flat cut, did you alternate the growth rings of each individual piece before glue up?

-- Come Heavy...or don't come at all.

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

718 posts in 1323 days

#15 posted 04-11-2013 01:36 PM

I use clamping cauls. You can make them yourself. I have never had a glue problem if all other requirements were met.
Here are the ones made by Mike Henderson that I copied and use.

-- Jerry

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