Looking for Tips for Small Panel Glue Ups (many panels)

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Forum topic by toddbeaulieu posted 01-05-2014 03:01 PM 1033 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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779 posts in 2427 days

01-05-2014 03:01 PM

Does anyone have any suggestions on gluing up 12 small panels?

I’m making three simple chests (based on Terry Fergusun's project) for the nieces from thin maple strips. These are 7/16” thick x 1.5” wide x 17” long strips of maple. The strips are skewed for the “fingers” that protrude.

Gluing up a panel on the assembly table is kind of a PITA because of the spacers to ensure the shorter strips are perfectly aligned and cauls to ensure all strips are flat, but gluing twelve? I’d rather not be working on these for three days!

I futzed with trying maple cauls under/above the strips and straight registration “fences” for 90 degree reference. Waxed paper. After half an hour I’m no closer to finding a reasonable approach that I can get through these, setting each one aside as I go. Might be hard to tell, but there are 3/4” spacer blocks inline with every other strip on the left edge, up against the guide. That’s another little detail that adds to the frustration.

I found this setup below that seems like a reasonable baseline. If I end up doing more small panels I think some sort of registration jig with clamp/caul cutouts might be the answer. Something where I could put some waxed paper down, load up the strips, place the cauls in the slots, clamp them, more clamps width-wise and then simply lift everything out of the jig.

BTW, here’s what I was hoping to avoid … a single glue up’s got all those clamps and the table tied up…

I’d love to hear your ideas! Thanks!

5 replies so far

View toddbeaulieu's profile


779 posts in 2427 days

#1 posted 01-06-2014 04:45 PM

Well I ended up doing this slowly, a few panels at a time. It turned out that I only needed the spacer blocks for the first panel, which I then left in place throughout the glue up. I used that panel’s fingers to start the next panel, building 2-3 out to the right at any given time. After a couple of hours I’d take the new panels off, plane them as little as possible to get the glue off and level the boards (never seem to get perfect alignment) and then stick in a stack, clamped down for flatness until I’m ready for them.

I do think there are possible jigs in my future for small panel glue ups.

View RockyTopScott's profile


1184 posts in 2902 days

#2 posted 01-06-2014 05:54 PM

I really like your assembly table.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View pintodeluxe's profile


4827 posts in 2236 days

#3 posted 01-06-2014 05:59 PM

I thought I was looking at my own shop for a minute there. I have a red table just like that.
I like your method of taking your time. If you quickly clamped all 12 of them at once, and had to remake half of them, it wouldn’t save time in the end.
There is always some other work to be done while the glue dries.

I have made components with a similar shape, but the parts interlocked with dados, so the glueup was straightforward.

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

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

350 posts in 1530 days

#4 posted 01-06-2014 06:37 PM

Just a thought, bit you could use a dowel-it brand dowel jig to align all of the boards in your panel instead of cauls. This is what I do for large panel glue ups like kitchen table tops. It goes pretty quick and gives me flat panels. It may not be much faster than what you did though.

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View toddbeaulieu's profile


779 posts in 2427 days

#5 posted 01-06-2014 07:08 PM

Scott, I absolutely love my table. I use it way more than my bench. You can find information about it in my posted project. I highly recommend the design.

Pinto, you’re right. While I wanted to slam ‘em all out and let ‘em dry I started in on making handles and it worked out just fine.

Nicholas, you know … I never use dowels. I think I have an old biscuit cutter somewhere that I should look for. I think you’re right. I should really consider looking into alignment aids like that. I also have a nice slot cutter bit set for the router table that I could use.

Thanks all.

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