Fundamentals: Edge Gluing Boards, ‘Glue it or Lose it’

by Dale on April 23, 2013

There are certain tasks that every woodworker will have to perform on a regular basis. I have decided to address these specific chores in different blogs. This one deals with making narrow boards wider as in making wide table tops, door panels, or for other reasons. It is a chore that is done so often in my shop that I have developed a foolproof simple system that I use almost every week.

It doesn’t require special set-ups or any techniques that the average fifth grader can’t do.MB_fund_IMG_7624

1.) To align the edges even with each other I use bowed or slightly curved cauls on the top and bottom of the boards to be glued together. I will tell you how to make these “cauls” in a later blog. I use these cauls instead of bowels or biscuits, or splines because it is just as strong and is much simpler and faster. I have a set of carpenter horses, which I set up parallel to my jointer. I then set several bowed cauls perpendicular to the horses with the bows facing up. (As shown in the photo)

2.) Next I line up the boards to be glued together on top of these cauls, with the best face up-or however I want it to look after gluing together. I look at color and grain and try to make the lines flow into a nice looking panel.

3.) Then I take the first board and edge joint the right side first. I turn the board so the face is against the fence. After jointing the right side MB_ #1IMG_7619I turn the board so the bottom side is against the fence. Then I set the board back on the cauls and pick-up the next board. The board is right edge down and the face against the fence, left edge down and bottom against fence.  Continuing in this fashion with the rest of the boards needed for the project.

This method makes the final panel flat and any amount out of square the jointer fence has doesn’t matter because it is negated by the next edge being out of square the same amount but in the opposite direction.

4.) After jointing all the mating surfaces I dry fit to make sure all is tight. Now I get more cauls ready to place on the panel after gluing. I usually turn the boards on edge and only apply a nice bead of glue on one edge of each joint. I MB_#2IMG_7620don’t smooth it out or anything else. Just lay the board back down flat and push it against its mating neighbor. After all the edge joints have been glued and pushed together, I place the other bowed cauls on top curve facing down lined up with the one below and clamp then together on each end.

The bow on each caul facing each other puts pressure on the panel boards to line them up.

5.) Now, working quickly I use pipe clamps to draw everything tight. If you line the screw of the pipe clamp with the center of the edge it will put even pressure on the panel, keeping it flat. The bowed cauls also keep it flat. Now need to put clamps on both sides of the panels. I usually use yellow glue for this, regular Titebond, but any brand will work just fine.MB_#3IMG_7621

6.) I leave it in the clamps for about one hour. Then remove the clamps and scrap squeeze out off before final curing.

I have glued many hundreds of panels, tabletops, shelves, etc. for over 35 years and never had any fail. Well one did cause trouble when I used powdered glue that had expired and they all failed, but that was my fault. (Glue it or lose it…)MB_#4IMG_7623

Using enough pipe clamps is essential for a 450 line from the screw on both the sides drawn on the face will put pressure on every joint. This system is fast, easy and inexpensive and works.

If you are enjoying making furniture this tip will help you appreciate the craft even more.

Next time: How to Make the Bowed Cauls, also called Bow Clamps.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Noor October 27, 2015 at 6:36 am

I do metal working, not wood, but I LOVE tools, and there’s a lot of great tnighs woodworkers use that can cross-over to make life better in my shop.Currently, I have a great Craftsman metal-cutting chop saw. It’s extremely heavy, and I keep it on a cart to quickly move it in and out of the shop for cutting.Unfortunately, the cart is a repurposed gas grill base. It’s a pain to use sometimes literally, because there is no handle on it so I have to pick up one end by the sharp edges to wheel it out.I’ve wanted to build a dedicated base for the saw for years, but have always gotten hung up on the wheels/feet. The wheel kit for the router table stands is PERFECT for what I need! It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for, and coincidentally, it’s $49.99!


Dale November 5, 2015 at 12:18 am

We are a bit alike, in that i like to look at trade and sales mags for other trades and look for tools that would crossover into my world. i dont very much metalworking other than some custom hardware that i job out now to a tool and die man. then i do the assembly and patinating the aged look. Good luck with the chopsaw cart, you might put wood handles on it.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: