Gluing up big (40" x 10') table - alignment(biscuits?) - clamp questions - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 09-25-2018, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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Gluing up big (40" x 10') table - alignment(biscuits?) - clamp questions

I am gluing up my first table top. And it is a kind of a monster 40"x10'. I have rough red oak in 5" to 8" rough widths. I have a membership to a wordworking shop with a jointer and planer so I plan on surfacing all the wood this weekend.

They have some decent bar clamps in the shop in the 30"-36" range but nothing over 40". My original plan was to glue it up at the shop but since they dont have big clamps and those pieces might be tough to wrestle i am considering doing the glue up at home. Advantage to that would be that I could take my sweet time(shop fee is hourly. Doing the glue up at home would make it easier to glue it up in small sections or even one piece at a time over a series of days.

*I know biscuits dont do anything for holding power but would you use biscuits, beadlock, dowels or anything similar to help with alignment? A festool domino is out of my budget. I have a bisquit joiner.

*I would love to buy 10 Bessey parallel clamps but that is not in my budget. Would something like these Harbor Freight Bar Clamps get it done https://www.harborfreight.com/48-in-...amp-60540.html. I have pipe clamps as well but figured these might be better. I did plan to make some cauls like in this blog and have plenty of clamps for them. https://www.highlandwoodworking.com/...ril/cauls.html
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post #2 of 17 Old 09-25-2018, 12:30 PM
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other things to consider ....

If you ran the planks through the jointer and planer that's start. Having the correct length clamps is a requirement so using longer pipes would be the cheapest solution. Next issue is a flat surface to glue on. Saw horses can be leveled out and tested for twist. The milled planks will be flat, but they also my be curved on the length, so mating them and testing them would be needed. If you are good at sighting along a length that would help. I have a square aluminum extrusion 10 ft long and it's pretty straight. I use it for a straight edge or a means to test for flat on a long length.

If you are comfortable with the testing methods, then aligning the edges is the next issue. Cauls will work better than biscuits or dowels in my opinion. I made a 7 ft long door much like your table in this thread:

https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/d...1-4-ply-55717/

There was still a lot of planing and sanding involved. Checking for flat across the width and length and diagonally was part of that process.

Cabinet shops and custom door makers will have a wide belt sander which will save hours of work in the final flattening. I would seriously consider making arrangements for that if it were me. Moving the door around will be a challenge because of the length and weight. It may not go around corners easily, if at all. Consider all these aspects of the project before plowing ahead.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #3 of 17 Old 09-25-2018, 12:50 PM
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I agree that you should do the clamping at home.


Whether or not to use biscuits depends upon how confident you are on getting alignment without them. I find them convenient and have sometimes used them for that purpose.



Harbor freight clamps are fine. I have a number in lengths up to 48". I also have 1/2" bar clamps that go over 48".



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post #4 of 17 Old 09-25-2018, 02:24 PM
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Richard,
I am working on an 11' long hickory table top with 6 to 8 inch wide sequential boards from the same cant. I have a nice flat solid 8' work bench so I glued it up at my shop. I used biscuits to help align the long boards. I put one every 18 to 24 inches between every board. (Agree, they add no strength) Knowing it would end up very heavy, over 100 pounds, I knew I would not be able to handle it myself with clamps on it. So when I was ready to glue, I had a helper and we started putting together the boards as I have them marked and laid out to match the grain. I put 6 pipe clamps on the bottom, 6 pipe clamps on the top, alternating them so I could keep it as flat as possible. The results turned out great. I am positive the biscuits greatly improved my ability to get a quality flat glue up. The top was flat and I did not loose to much thickness when sanding it flat. I have to confess, I took the glued assembly to a shop with one of those huge 4' wide sanders and let them run it through. In 5 minutes the whole this was sanded flat to 120 grit. That save me hours of sanding.
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post #5 of 17 Old 09-25-2018, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Zellmer View Post
I am gluing up my first table top. And it is a kind of a monster 40"x10'. I have rough red oak in 5" to 8" rough widths. I have a membership to a wordworking shop with a jointer and planer so I plan on surfacing all the wood this weekend.

They have some decent bar clamps in the shop in the 30"-36" range but nothing over 40". My original plan was to glue it up at the shop but since they dont have big clamps and those pieces might be tough to wrestle i am considering doing the glue up at home. Advantage to that would be that I could take my sweet time(shop fee is hourly. Doing the glue up at home would make it easier to glue it up in small sections or even one piece at a time over a series of days.

*I know biscuits dont do anything for holding power but would you use biscuits, beadlock, dowels or anything similar to help with alignment? A festool domino is out of my budget. I have a bisquit joiner.

For a big table like you’re making I suggest you use blind splines between the joints.
These splines can be cut from 1/4” plywood and they will help on your alignment and they’re much stronger than biscuits. Move in from each en approximately 4” to rout your spline. (This makes it a blind spline because it will never be seen).


*I would love to buy 10 Bessey parallel clamps but that is not in my budget. Would something like these Harbor Freight Bar Clamps get it done https://www.harborfreight.com/48-in-...amp-60540.html. I have pipe clamps as well but figured these might be better. I did plan to make some cauls like in this blog and have plenty of clamps for them. https://www.highlandwoodworking.com/...ril/cauls.html
You may be able to borrow or rent some good bar clamps.
I would not even start a project like this without the proper clamps. For 10’ length you will need at least 15 clamps because you want to put clamps on both sides to prevent warping the top.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #6 of 17 Old 09-25-2018, 08:04 PM
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You could make some clamps using 2X4's and wedges, kind of like this.
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post #7 of 17 Old 09-25-2018, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
...
If you are comfortable with the testing methods, then aligning the edges is the next issue. Cauls will work better than biscuits or dowels in my opinion. I made a 7 ft long door much like your table in this thread:
Would the cauls replace the biscuits? I was thinking biscuits to align the edges and the cauls to keep everything on the same plane is it dries.. Is that wrong?

that is a really good idea to pay someone to sand it down.
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post #8 of 17 Old 09-25-2018, 10:28 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Toolman50 View Post
You may be able to borrow or rent some good bar clamps.
I would not even start a project like this without the proper clamps. For 10’ length you will need at least 15 clamps because you want to put clamps on both sides to prevent warping the top.
I was thinking about looking for a place to rents better clamps but that doesnt seem to be the thing at least when checking google.. I am in NJ
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post #9 of 17 Old 09-26-2018, 12:50 AM
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the thing with biscuits ....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Zellmer View Post
Would the cauls replace the biscuits? I was thinking biscuits to align the edges and the cauls to keep everything on the same plane is it dries.. Is that wrong?

that is a really good idea to pay someone to sand it down.

Since you are running all your stock through the thickness planer, you won't have an issue with biscuits. It won't matter which face is up when making your slots unless you want to orient the grain in opposing pattern. Woodworker56 used them successfully and I have also. When the material is slightly different thicknesses, that's when you have to watch for "good face up" orientation.

If you don't have a proper set of cauls, biscuits will work fine. You would need several pairs for your project. Each pair has a slightly curved inner surface such that when clamped, it pus pressure on the pieces progressively out from center. They are pretty specialized devices, not that common for good ones and they would need to have a spread of at least 48" between the draw bolts or clamps:
https://www.finewoodworking.com/2011...great-glue-ups

https://www.highlandwoodworking.com/...ril/cauls.html

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #10 of 17 Old 09-26-2018, 07:14 AM Thread Starter
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Since you are running all your stock through the thickness planer, you won't have an issue with biscuits. It won't matter which face is up when making your slots unless you want to orient the grain in opposing pattern. Woodworker56 used them successfully and I have also. When the material is slightly different thicknesses, that's when you have to watch for "good face up" orientation.

If you don't have a proper set of cauls, biscuits will work fine. You would need several pairs for your project. Each pair has a slightly curved inner surface such that when clamped, it pus pressure on the pieces progressively out from center. They are pretty specialized devices, not that common for good ones and they would need to have a spread of at least 48" between the draw bolts or clamps:
https://www.finewoodworking.com/2011...great-glue-ups

https://www.highlandwoodworking.com/...ril/cauls.html
I saw this bottom article on shop make cauls and that is what I was thinking of doing if it was worth the effort.
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post #11 of 17 Old 09-26-2018, 07:24 AM Thread Starter
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My big problem for the glue up is likely going to be that I dont have a good assembly table. I have a centepede portable workbench but it is only as level as the surface you put it on. https://boratool.com/centipede-tool-k200-work-support

I was thinking of making a torsion box to sit on top of that but maybe that is not necessary. I could really piss the wife off and put down some ram board and set up the centepede in the living room where the floor is really level. :)
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post #12 of 17 Old 09-26-2018, 09:46 AM
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Understand this ...

The only thing that matters is that your assembly surface be "flat" no twists. It need not be level with the floor or anything else. However, let's start with a single saw horse on the floor. If you set a level across it, note the location of the bubble. If you set the next horse 5 ft away, you should have the bubble in the same location. Now, you want any supports or workpieces, you lay on top need to be at the same attitude. They need not be "level", just identical. You are trying to make a support surface that is flat without any twist.

I built a 30" X 10 ft torsion box, and that ain't no quick and easy project. I use it for an assembly table and out feed table on my tablesaws, so it's got to be flat.
https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/t...sizing-104889/

If you do want a torsion box, plan on using it for your bench top after the table is finished, otherwise, it's a bit of overkill in my opinion. For the length you are making this table I would use 3 sawhorses 4 ft in length. They should all be checked for being in the same plane horizontally on both the length and width. You can shim the legs to create a uniformly flat surface. A 6 ft carpenter's level would work and they are reasonably priced at Home Depot. Lacking that you can use a string and spacer technique, but's rather involved.
Woodwhisperer uses this technique at 12:00 into this video;

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #13 of 17 Old 09-26-2018, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Zellmer View Post
My big problem for the glue up is likely going to be that I dont have a good assembly table. I have a centepede portable workbench but it is only as level as the surface you put it on. https://boratool.com/centipede-tool-k200-work-support

I was thinking of making a torsion box to sit on top of that but maybe that is not necessary. I could really piss the wife off and put down some ram board and set up the centepede in the living room where the floor is really level. :)

"but it is only as level as the surface you put it on." "Level" is not the criteria that you are looking for. "Flat" is what you want for an assembly surface. People who work in their garages know this. Most(all?) garage floors slope towards the front.


Your Centipede support should provide a flat surface is you put a 1/2" or 3/4" sheet on plywood on top of it.


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post #14 of 17 Old 09-26-2018, 02:17 PM Thread Starter
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"but it is only as level as the surface you put it on." "Level" is not the criteria that you are looking for. "Flat" is what you want for an assembly surface. People who work in their garages know this. Most(all?) garage floors slope towards the front.


Your Centipede support should provide a flat surface is you put a 1/2" or 3/4" sheet on plywood on top of it.


George
Correct I meant flat. I did find a few places where my centipede wasnt flat when I was using it as a work bench last week. But I think it is because I have some crap on the garage floor that is keeping all the legs fully expanding. Maybe I can play with it a bit more before I build a torsion box.
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post #15 of 17 Old 09-26-2018, 09:29 PM
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A 4 X 8 piece of plywood will never be flat enough

Plywood is just not flat enough to build a a table on. It's also 2 ft too short. It's also too flimsy. Why not listen to someone who has actually built what you are intending to make? If your top ends up with a twist, you'll never get rid of it.

4 ft levels are cheap enough you could buy two of them and not have to switch back and forth to check you supports. Just make sure they tread the same when you buy them. You will always need them for projects later on. I probably have 3 of them, about 5 - 2fts and a 6 ft one.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #16 of 17 Old 09-27-2018, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
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Plywood is just not flat enough to build a a table on. It's also 2 ft too short. It's also too flimsy. Why not listen to someone who has actually built what you are intending to make? If your top ends up with a twist, you'll never get rid of it.

4 ft levels are cheap enough you could buy two of them and not have to switch back and forth to check you supports. Just make sure they tread the same when you buy them. You will always need them for projects later on. I probably have 3 of them, about 5 - 2fts and a 6 ft one.
The info you posted above was very helpful. I have plenty of levels, I also have a really nice 360 laser that will shot a 360 degree line all one plane that I could use to level out 3 saw horses and get them dead on the same plane. I agree, assembling a 10 foot table on a 8 foot top is not optimal. If I were to use 3 saw horses and get them all on the same plane are you saying build the top right on that or run some boards on top of these saw horses to support the clamps. That seems like it would offer more support but it is also just another point of contact that i need to make sure it is dead on flat. thanks for all your help.. I am trying to consume everything you are posting.
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post #17 of 17 Old 09-27-2018, 12:51 AM
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Build right on the saw horses

Your planks can be used to determine if the horses are planer on the long length. Set the straightest one on edge and then "level" it out on both ends of all 3 horses. Depending on the design of the horses, you can shim the top board or shim the legs at the bottom. Using saw horses allows you to clamp on the top as well as the bottom to keep the pressure uniform. That's what I did on my door make from planks. You don't want to have to flip this piece over with a bunch of clamps on one side.

For this project, I'd make a saw horse that is adjustable on the top brace, rather than shimming the feet.You may only need one of these depending on your floor surface. I've never seen one, but I think if you just add a 2 x 2 and hinge it at one end, that's all you need. Simply drive wedges in the open end to change the angle of the top. Tape it all around when you are satisfied. There are more complex ways to change the angle, using an adjusting bolt up from the bottom, but keep it simple. Remember, 3 points determine a plane, but now you have 3 lines and that complicates things just a bit.


Glue will drip out onto the floor, so be prepared to catch it or wipe it up soon afterwards. You should also have a helper for this operation. If you are using biscuits for alignment, it can easily turn to panic if there's an issue in assembly. Dry fitting before gluing will assure an easier time at glue up. Remember the sequence of the boards by writing the order on a piece of tape. A proper glue bottle is also needed to get the glue on uniformly. A roller wheel will help.
Watch some You Tubes on this process for more tips.



The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 09-27-2018 at 01:02 AM.
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