Cauls when using dowles

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Forum topic by jimmyhopps posted 05-01-2014 02:10 PM 884 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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187 posts in 1413 days

05-01-2014 02:10 PM

I am planning a glue up of a ~40” x 6’ table top. I plan to use dowels on this, since I have already purchased a dowling tool. I do not have cuals, but was thinking of making a few from 2×4 according to a few of the designs on LJ’s.

Relatedly, I have a series of hand-me-down pipe clamps, some of which are not 100% straight. Before I drop $200 on a few 90degree clamps, would it impact much if the pipes are not perfectly straight, given the existing dowels, and potentially cuals?

7 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


113725 posts in 2611 days

#1 posted 05-01-2014 02:26 PM

I never use dowels ,biscuits or anything but glue to glue up table tops,glue is stronger than wood.Just use your pipe clamps and alternate clamps on the bottom and on the top. I usually start in the middle.

-- Custom furniture

View johnstoneb's profile


1424 posts in 1207 days

#2 posted 05-01-2014 02:48 PM

If you’re using dowels to keep things in alignment you won’t really need the cauls althogh they won’t hurt.
As a1Jim says you don’t need the dowels for joint strength ( they don’t add much any way). With clamps that aren’t straight you definetely need cauls if you don’t use the dowels.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View NoThanks's profile


799 posts in 563 days

#3 posted 05-01-2014 03:13 PM

I would use the dowels/biscuits and the cauls. The pipes won’t matter if they are straight or not. Just try to line up the material in the center of the clamp pads so that they pull evenly. The dowels will save you a lot of headache trying to line up everything flush before the glue starts to set up. 40” = what, 5-8 boards? Lot of seams to get flush if your doing the glue up all at once. Otherwise, if your doing 3 board sections at a time you might not need dowels.

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1286 posts in 1107 days

#4 posted 05-03-2014 06:34 PM

Iwud4u Properly used the cauls will flush the boards for you.. it is quite easy to to a 5 or 8 board glue up with proper technique, good cauls, and some extend glue doesn’t hurt either ;) I agree with A1 that dowels and other such things are not needed with good cauls and techniqe. This glue up is almost 40” and has 17 boards.

-- Who is John Galt?

View NoThanks's profile


799 posts in 563 days

#5 posted 05-03-2014 07:01 PM

For some reason I was just picturing cauls at both ends.

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1009 posts in 668 days

#6 posted 05-03-2014 07:37 PM

Jimmy, when gluing with pipe clamps, or any clamp that won’t guarantee 90.
You can beat the problem by using dowels against the wood.
Center the dowel on the edge of the wood now clamp.. you will have the clamp pull exactly centered.
So now you don’t pull the panel out of alignment.

See Pic..

-- Jeff NJ

View guitchess's profile


85 posts in 2743 days

#7 posted 05-04-2014 03:34 AM

I would add my vote for the cauls as well. They make life so much easier, especially when using pipe clamps.

A cheap alternative to those expensive clamps you mentioned are the HF aluminum bar clamps.

The Cadillac of clamps, these are not. They do, in my experience, make flat panel glue ups easier than pipe clamps and cauls. I also find it nice that they are light enough to keep a clamped panel from weighing 300lbs, which makes it easier to move out of the way to work on something else. I usually use a mix of these and pipe clamps. These act as the cauls, so external ones aren’t necessary.

I don’t want to start a “thing”, so if you have the money, buy the good ones. If not, give these a try.

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