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What are some of your methods for tabletop glue ups?

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Forum topic by Rob posted 04-16-2014 04:13 AM 858 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rob

65 posts in 196 days


04-16-2014 04:13 AM

Topic tags/keywords: resource jig tip question trick walnut planer router chisel biscuit joiner blade clamp jointer plane sander tablesaw milling shaping finishing joining sanding sharpening arts and crafts rustic victorian shaker greene and greene modern traditional tabletops table top glue up panels pipe clamps clamping pressure flat surfacing table

I know this is a very basic step and easy to accomplish. Well, easier than the mortice n tenon that goes into the legs and frame anyway. My usual method, that I’ve always had success with, is a simple system thats probably the most primitive. I simply would rip and cut all my boards to the dimensions I need. Then Simply arrange them on a few pipe clamps, apply cawls, then let dry over night. Next I would always have the daunting step of leveling the table, because no matter how much time I put into my glue ups, there are always at least SOME boards not level, therefor I would have to sand and sand and sand with my Belt Sander, then my ROS, until the stock was level, and my tabletop was perfectly flat. So here’s what has changed. I just purchased a Dewalt DW735 Thickness planer.
I am making the tabletop tommorrow and am planning on trying the following method, to try and bypass the sanding just to level, and only have to finish sand the tabletop.
First off the model I have only acepts 12.5” wide boards, yet my final tabletop dimension is 24”W x 36”L x 1”Thick,,,I am going to do two seperate glue ups of 12” wide…After glue dries, I want to unclamp, and run each 12” panel through the planer, and then do a second glue up, joining the two flattened panels together. My thought is that, doing it this way, I will only have to worry about ONE seam to level out by sanding ( assuming there will be at least a little un-eveness . I have yet to master the art of gluing up boards so perfectly that there is no need to sand to make flat.
So my question is…Will this method produce the results I am after? Or am I missing something ? Is this common practice? Is there a better way to glue up tops where there is minimal sanding to flatten the board? I hafe spent literally days surface sanding tabletops in the past just to get them flat and even. I really want to cut down on my sanding time…Also I should add, I do own a biscuit joiner but have been told biscuits are only really needed if gluing up extra large boards, and also I have heard that the biscuits can sometimes transfer through the wood on top and u will see “bumps” where the biscuits are telegraphing through…
As always, any advice would be greatly appreciated. I am building the entire table of solid walnut, and do not want to make costly mistakes and create unnecessary waste.
Thanks! – Rob

-- Rob, Middletown NJ


19 replies so far

View guitchess's profile

guitchess

82 posts in 2346 days


#1 posted 04-16-2014 05:05 AM

Rob, smaller section glue ups are very common. They are quite handy for reasons exactly as you described. However, in my opinion, a top as small as the 24” x 36” wouldn’t be worth the effort, unless your stock is very narrow.

View mrjinx007's profile

mrjinx007

1386 posts in 405 days


#2 posted 04-16-2014 12:25 PM

I have never had a problem with biscuits especially on a 1” thick solid wood. Just make sure they are slightly lower from the top which will get most of the sanding. The idea of gluing two piece at a time, running them through the planer and joining them together makes sense, however, you will need to flatten the surface some. Try using a hand plane initially running it at a 30-40 degree angle against the grain until you have a flat surface. Then finish the job with the sander. Also, consider that when you are using the belt sander, the top gets hot and may cup on you even though you have alternate the board. You can use a scraper to further minimize having to sand.

-- earthartandfoods.com

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mrjinx007

1386 posts in 405 days


#3 posted 04-16-2014 12:33 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4v5XL7voRM&list=PLKA_Ff0bn9D3v8IhEDFltLO9pq2LPhaZ8
Check this out at about 5 minutes for some visual concepts.

-- earthartandfoods.com

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

1499 posts in 358 days


#4 posted 04-16-2014 12:44 PM

I’ve used biscuits and they do a good job of keeping the edges from sliding against each other. Another consideration is properly jointing the edges of the boards before gluing. My standard procedure is to run them through the jointer, then a single light pass with a handplane to remove the scallops developed by the jointer. If you keep the faces flat during the glue up, but the edges aren’t flat you’ll have glue pockets where there should be wood. The best way to keep the faces flat is to alternate clamps on the top and bottom of the panel and tighten them sequentially while checking the faces to make sure they’re staying flat. This for me has always yielded little if any leveling.

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5378 posts in 1869 days


#5 posted 04-16-2014 12:49 PM

Biscuits have their place, and this is one of them. They really do help with alignment…

I usually do my glue ups with newspaper between the glue up and the cauls, typically all I have to do once dry is take a scraper and clean off any squeeze out glue, and stuck on newspaper…

I really ought to switch to wax paper.

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

5437 posts in 2013 days


#6 posted 04-16-2014 12:53 PM

I flatten, straighten, and thickness all boards to get them as uniform as possible, set the clamps on a level surface, then glue the edges and clamp them. Now’s the time I check for the boards being even, and make any necessary adjustments.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

1274 posts in 1007 days


#7 posted 04-16-2014 01:31 PM

I’ve only done 3 glue-ups that were wider than my planer (they were 18” wide, 3/4” thick). I used cauls made from 2×4’s (edges jointed) wrapped in wax paper. I tighten the cauls lightly, so they’re in place but the boards can still slide between them as I clamp the panel up. Then I tighten all the clamps, on both the cauls and the panel. If the edges of the boards are jointed well and you alternate the orientation of your clamps on the panel, you won’t need much pressure from the cauls to keep things in line, but they will certainly be worth using.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Rob's profile

Rob

65 posts in 196 days


#8 posted 04-16-2014 04:56 PM

Thanks for th replies so far. I don’t own a jointer, but I agree that jointing perfect edges are essential. I do however own a power hand planer. I don’t really like it for glue ups. It’s nice for roughing some stock, like beveiling or tapering legs or whatever, but not for this.

-This is the reason I just say screw it and get my lumber S3S, so at least I have a reference side, to rip a straight line on my table saw (side note, just purchased and assembled Icra 5000 Miter Sled…AWESOME. I will do a review someday I guess)...
But anyway My stock is now as is 1 and 1/16th inches thick.I would like to keep as much thickness as possible. The lumberyard I go to does a decent job of roughing the boards to S3S for me, but they obviously still need some more milling. They are really faced up almost perfect though, so jointng on the table saw was the only thing I really had to do. I used ultra fine tooth (is that bad for ripping? I know it’s not meant for it, but its a perfect smooth cut)
-So I was planning on lining boards up with biscuits, glue up edges, use cauls obviously, and try to get it perfect the first glue up. THEN i will run the 2 seperate panels through the planer, so I will be only taking off minimal depth, and staying as close as possible to my 1” I want. If I pass the boards through BEFORE glue up and AFTER glue up, I am afraid I will be nowhere close to where I want to be…
—JINX Im watching that vid in a few. Maybe it will change my opinion?

Oh, and I should prob start a new thread in a diff forum topic for this, but screw it, I have your ears now…
I bought the Dewalt dw735 Planer, as I mentioned already, and It has ZERO directions for adjusting it. Usually DW products come right out the box fine tuned, and dummy proof (which is awesome for me) haha, But I took it out of the box, adjusted the depth, stuck a piece of maybe 4-5” stock in, about 2 feet long, and the top that has the cutter heads is like, tilted! It looks completely tilted to one side on an angle almost. But the base is fine, I fixed it to a table I built specifically for this…But just the top piece tilts!...I turned it on anyway (told you…im a dummy) and it pulled the wood throgh with ease, and came out the other end FINISHED. the result was AMAZING, and Im, impressed that a 400 dollar planer could work so well….but whats with the tilting??? Anyone know? I looked it up on DW website and got nothing. I tried Google, and again, nothing…What the hell?!

Thanks guys,
-Rob

-- Rob, Middletown NJ

View Rob's profile

Rob

65 posts in 196 days


#9 posted 04-16-2014 05:01 PM

Ah and Guitchess,
I hear you…It’s def not that big, but it is a multi layered coffee tabhle, so I have to actually make TWO table tops…I made the first one already, and to get it flat took FOREVER. I didnt use the belt saw…Just my ROS and some 80 Grit. Didnt wanna go lower. Last time i went down to 60 and 40 and the results were just not good…Price to pay if a newbie I guess?
But yeah it took me literally like 3 hours just to flatten EACH SIDE. So 6 hours of sanding a 24×36” Walnut table top JUST TO FLATTEN…And when u sand that much with 80 grit, it takes A LOT of sanding in the upper grits to cover up…all in all just a huge pain, and I’m trying to avoid that again. I understand sanding is part of it and NO ONE enjoys it, but I think that I could def cut down the sanding time now with my planer…

-- Rob, Middletown NJ

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

1499 posts in 358 days


#10 posted 04-16-2014 05:19 PM

Before I had a jointer, I used a hand power plane and I know what you mean about trying to use it to joint quality edges, very frustrating. As for the ultra fine tooth blade, those usually work best for clean cross cuts with minimal tear out. Most glue line rip blades actually don’t have that many teeth, as most ripping blades don’t. If you’re getting good results with the fine toothed blade then I wouldn’t mess with what works. Sounds like the only negative is it’ll cost you more to have it sharpened than a true ripping blade due to the tooth count. You can also substitute a router and straight edge for a jointer with surprisingly good results if you’ve got a sharp bit and a good straight edge.

View Tim_456's profile

Tim_456

159 posts in 2233 days


#11 posted 04-16-2014 05:34 PM

Rob, if you don’t have a jointer I would recommend lining up your pieces in the finished order and then rip all of the “left” sides with your fence on the right side of the blade and then take each piece and rip the “right” side of the board with your fence on the left side of the blade. This will make each joint the complimentary angle and will make each joint very very tight. I don’t rely on the “factory” edge as errors can sometimes add up rather than be eliminated.

The next thing I would recommend is using parallel jaw clamps. When I went to those, even though they are pricey, most of my problems went away.

Other than that, I would recommend making joint cauls that are placed 90degs to the joint with a little cut-out so it doesn’t get glued to the panel. these help with alignment (I don’t use biscuits) but require a few more clamps.

My 2 cents :D

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

1274 posts in 1007 days


#12 posted 04-16-2014 08:08 PM

If your hand planer (I’m assuming it’s one of those powered hand planers, not a normal manual hand plane) leaves a surface ready for glue-up, but you’re just concerned about getting them square, you don’t need to get them perfectly square. Take two consecutive boards, and fold them up like a book. Now plane both adjoining edge like a book. If you’re off by a little bit, it won’t matter, because when you fold them out again, they’ll match up. If you’re using a hand plane, same technique applies. This has worked well for me.

Like Tim said, you don’t need biscuits for alignment if you’re using cauls. I stopped using them when I started using cauls because it was unnecessary. My results with cauls and no biscuits were better than my results with biscuits and no cauls. And the same as my results with biscuits and cauls.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View guitchess's profile

guitchess

82 posts in 2346 days


#13 posted 04-17-2014 03:36 AM

Rob,

That seems like an inordinate amount of time to level a panel glue up. I’m too impatient for that. I would be finding a different route. I don’t recall you mentioning a belt sander, but I would highly recommend it. Care must be taken, but it is the fastest yet cheap/available method. The chess board below took about 15 min with a 120 belt on a cheap Black and Decker belt sander. From here I will step down to 80 grit on the ROS to start the finish sanding process.

I’m kind of glad this thread went in the jointing direction. Because I’ve done 15 panel glue ups in the last few days, and I have a little info that may prove useful.

For years I have lamented not having a jointer. I would let projects that I wanted to build sit in the blueprint stage because I didn’t have an efficient way to make perfect panels. Now, I doubt I will ever buy one. I was watching a Charles Neil video one day and he talked about the importance of “whittling down” to a finished measurement. He made the point that as stock is removed from a board, internal pressures shift, causing the cut to not be as straight as it should be.

I may be late to the party, but this simple procedure has tripled my accuracy. It has proved exceptionally fruitful when jointing panel stock. I recently made a chess board. Eight 2 1/4” strips glued together two separate times and all perfectly square and without a jointer.

Even if I had a jointer, this method is still faster. Each board in the panel gets ripped four times, only removing 1/16”, putting the freshly ripped edge against the rip fence. Perfect edge, perfect joint.

I am using low to mid price equipment. A General contractor style table saw with a Irwin Marples blade(I love this blade-can’t be beat for $40).

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

1274 posts in 1007 days


#14 posted 04-17-2014 12:29 PM

Nice lookin’ chess board. Using low to mid-price equipment? Maybe there is hope for me, someday…

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View redSLED's profile

redSLED

687 posts in 530 days


#15 posted 04-17-2014 12:39 PM

Lots of good points already mentioned. Ensure your table saw blade is exactly square. Smaller section glue ups. Equal number and same pipe/parallel clamps on top and bottom. And do not overtighten. I have considered making wide spline inserts to glue in between boards but not sure if this would make a difference with flattening down the glue up – and the extra time involved may not be worth it – perhaps someone has some feedback on this.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

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