Gluing Various Sized Boards for a Table Top - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 Old 02-16-2016, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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Gluing Various Sized Boards for a Table Top

I've looked around the forum on this problem and I can't seem to find an answer, even though it seems like a simple problem.

I wanted to build a table top from leftover mahogany from the demolition of an office. I cleaned up all wood and are left with various lengths and wanted to get some glue up/joining tips.

Should I be putting in biscuits/dowels? Alternatively, I was thinking about take a nail gun and evenly spread nails to act as biscuits or dowels.

My main question really is what is the best way to glue up butt to butt on a build like this? Is it simply a matter of gluing the edges and then taking a mallet to knock the butts together? It seems strange that you'd clamps the edges but not use clamps to glue the other ends. (See green arrows in image)

Many thanks!
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post #2 of 6 Old 02-16-2016, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Vu
I've looked around the forum on this problem and I can't seem to find an answer, even though it seems like a simple problem. I wanted to build a table top from leftover mahogany from the demolition of an office. I cleaned up all wood and are left with various lengths and wanted to get some glue up/joining tips. Should I be putting in biscuits/dowels? Alternatively, I was thinking about take a nail gun and evenly spread nails to act as biscuits or dowels. My main question really is what is the best way to glue up butt to butt on a build like this? Is it simply a matter of gluing the edges and then taking a mallet to knock the butts together? It seems strange that you'd clamps the edges but not use clamps to glue the other ends. (See green arrows in image) Many thanks!
This is just a common butcher block counter top glue up, should be lots of videos available online.

First off, don't use nails!

Dowels or biscuits aren't necessary to add strength to your glue up, they help in aligning the boards lessening the amount of work necessary to get a flat top, especially for someone not experienced in the process. I wouldn't recommend dowels since they don't allow for sliding the butt ends together. Biscuits have side-to-side adjustability so you can use clamps to squeeze them together if you want, but usually just tapping them together with a mallet is sufficient.

If this is your first time, don't try to do too much at once. Glue 3 or 4 rows together making "sub assemblies", then glue these sub assemblies together. You only have to clamp them together for a few hours so you should be able to get it done in a day. You could even run these smaller assembles through a planer to make finishing easier. Just make sure you scrape or sand off the squeezed out glue since the dried glue can damage your planner blades.

The biggest challenge is flattening the top once it is together. When you get to that stage take some photos so we can see where you are at. There are various techniques to flatten the top, but they are kind of dependent on your success getting the boards aligned and tool availability.
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post #3 of 6 Old 02-16-2016, 11:16 PM
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You don't need dowels or biscuits. With the exception of the outer boards I would just glue and nail it together. The nails will keep the pieces from scooting around while you are clamping it together. This time of year if you work fast you should have enough open time to do the whole top at once. Get some helpers to spread glue for you.
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post #4 of 6 Old 02-17-2016, 01:56 PM
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Good advice from TerryQ & Steve Neul.

It's taken me a while to accept that biscuits serve only to help with alignment, and don't really add any strength. I suspect that with today's glues, the same holds true for dowels.

I've found that using biscuits for a multi-board glue-up can be tricky, and puts pressure on me to work quickly. I don't deal with "quickly" & "pressure" as well as I did when I was younger. Most recently, I glued up 4 boards to make a lid for a blanket chest & used biscuits in the joints. I guess the buiscuits swell up with the glue, and I didn't have as much time as I thought to get everything clamped up. A good whack on the edge of the outer pieces was required to get the joints to completely close up. I used Titebond III Ultimate, FWIW, which should have an adequate working time.

I'm about to glue up several boards for a table top for our new kitchen table, and will not use biscuits. I plan to use crosswise pieces (cauls?) loosely clamped in place to hold the boards in alignment. I'll make an exception if any of the boards are bowed & need a bicuit to enforce alignment. I think this will give me the time I need to ensure that the pieces are lined up, the top is close to square, etc.

Regarding the OP's concerns about butt joints with some of the pieces, I'd suggest a clamp on the length of those pieces before fully tightening the crosswise clamps, to ensure that the butt joints close up well.

And on a general note, especially with a project such as this, you can never have too many clamps!
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post #5 of 6 Old 02-17-2016, 08:15 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TerryQ View Post
This is just a common butcher block counter top glue up, should be lots of videos available online.
I've searched but they only talk about gluing up along the edges. None of these videos mentions the butts of the boards and the proper glue up for that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TerryQ View Post
First off, don't use nails!
Is there a reason to not use nails for alignment after glue up? The company I work for bought custom desks and they used nails to keep the boards aligned. I'm assuming that over time, the potential of warping can occur, so the nails are used to stabilize any changes in form that wood likes take on.

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Originally Posted by Stevedore View Post
Good advice from TerryQ & Steve Neul. ...


... Regarding the OP's concerns about butt joints with some of the pieces, I'd suggest a clamp on the length of those pieces before fully tightening the crosswise clamps, to ensure that the butt joints close up well.

And on a general note, especially with a project such as this, you can never have too many clamps!
Thanks for all the advice. Looks like I'll be looking into buying more clamps. I have a decent amount, but i guess you can't have too many. :)

I'll be sure to take photos and post slowly as I go so to minimize error on my part.

Again, many thanks.
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post #6 of 6 Old 02-18-2016, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Anthony Vu
I've searched but they only talk about gluing up along the edges. None of these videos mentions the butts of the boards and the proper glue up for that. Is there a reason to not use nails for alignment after glue up? The company I work for bought custom desks and they used nails to keep the boards aligned. I'm assuming that over time, the potential of warping can occur, so the nails are used to stabilize any changes in form that wood likes take on. Thanks for all the advice. Looks like I'll be looking into buying more clamps. I have a decent amount, but i guess you can't have too many. :) I'll be sure to take photos and post slowly as I go so to minimize error on my part. Again, many thanks.
There is no strength in end grain glueing, all you are trying to do is close the gap. The most important aspect to getting a nice tight gap is good square cuts on the ends of the boards. I would think that once you get glue on the faces of the boards there will be too much friction to allow clamping from the end to be all that effective in closing the gap anyway, and unnecessary in helping the gap stay closed once the long pieces are glued together.

I would rather use biscuits than nails because once you start using metal fasteners you will have to be careful doing anything with the top. Want to profile the edge? Worry about the nails. Made the top too large and want to cut it down a little? Good luck with the nails. I just think there are better ways to assure alignment than using metal fasteners.

Some have not had good luck with biscuits. Some complain they can't get pieces together once the glue swells the biscuit. Some complain that they cause bumps in the finished top once the biscuits swell. Apparently these users don't know you don't need to glue in biscuits. They only aid in alignment, not in strength, gluing them in doesn't help strengthen the joint.

Personally I have great success making large glue ups using Veritas panel clamps. I know people will complain of the cost since they cost as much as a good cabinet clamp and aren't as versatile, but I have lots of clamps and these are just one more type of clamp that I have found helpful and easy to use. Using the veritas clamps in conjunction with other clamps has given me nearly flawless glue ups without the need of other aids.

http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/pag...81&cat=1,43838
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