Can you use angle iron as cauls?

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Forum topic by distrbd posted 10-12-2013 10:16 PM 2560 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2252 posts in 2688 days

10-12-2013 10:16 PM

I always use any scrap piece of pine,plywood as clamping cauls but this morning I was gluing up a table top (40”x18”) and thought why not use the aluminum angle bars that I have, for that purpose,I used 4 of them and they seem to keep the table top flat.
My question is :Do you think these aluminum angle bars(1.1/2”x1.1/2” x20”) have enough resistance to bend when used as cauls?
I didn’t sandwich the table top between the bars ,maybe I should have.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

5 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3889 days

#1 posted 10-12-2013 10:29 PM

I think they are fine but may dent softer woods.

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 3193 days

#2 posted 10-12-2013 10:43 PM

I would think that if the aluminum is thin and soft, you wouldn’t see as wide a dispersion of pressure as you would with thicker pieces of wood. I like to use cauls that are at least 3/4” thick to help spread the clamping pressure somewhat. I imagine they would provide some protection to the wood from the clamps marring the surfaces (again, if the aluminum is thin) but wouldn’t give an advantage for spreading pressure which means you have to use more clamps. If you have some thick, aircraft grade stuff, that would be pretty helpful.

-- Mike

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Dan'um Style

14179 posts in 4225 days

#3 posted 10-13-2013 01:31 AM

aluminum would bend too easy

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View stefang's profile


16222 posts in 3576 days

#4 posted 10-17-2013 03:12 PM

Ideally cauls should have a slightly convex shape to the side against the workpiece. Perhaps 1/16” or less from end to front. That way when the cauls are clamped on each end the pressure will be evenly distributed across your workpiece keeping everything flat. You probably can’t do this with aluminum (from a practical standpoint). Convex cauls can be wrapped in clear tape to prevent glue residue and reused over and over. Well worth the time of preparing them. You can do the cut easily on a bandsaw or hand plane the slight curve.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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16222 posts in 3576 days

#5 posted 10-17-2013 03:13 PM


-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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