Woodworking Tip Of The Week – Gluing Wood

Gluing wood is a very basic process in woodworking, but there are a few things that can help ensure better joints. Pieces that are glued together need to be strong, but they also need to have slim glue lines, and zero gaps. The focus of this guide to gluing wood is to show the best ways to ensure clean crisp glue lines that are very difficult to find.

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Here are a few things to do when gluing wood:

  • Start with flat boards that are milled well, and do not have high and low spots.
  • Apply glue to both sides of the mating faces.
  • Don’t hose the pieces with glue.
  • Clamp evenly, and with a reasonable amount of pressure.
  • Allow the pieces to dry for the full recommended time.

gluing woodThe single best thing you can do when gluing two boards together is to start with well milled pieces of wood. Especially when working with large surface areas, this is crucial. Look over the surfaces of the wood that will be joined. Examine them for defects, and smooth them before gluing.

Invest in a small thickness planer. If a new tool is in the cards, a small thickness planer is great. This is an under appreciated tool for someone who does not have one. Once you have a planer, you will find many uses for it. This tool is great for surfacing wood, jointing, and more. It will make your glue joints thinner and less visible.

If you cannot purchase a thickness planer right away, there are other options. Most woodworking stores and hardwood stores have milling services. For a small fee, boards can be sent into their shop and worked on their professional machines. The process is quick, especially for a couple boards. They will run them through a planer or sander, and the faces will be perfectly flat for gluing.

gluing woodNext, the glue. You need to apply glue to the entire surface ares of both mating faces. This can be a small area, or a large area, depending on the pieces being joined. Gluing wood involves using glue well, and using it properly to ensure the best adhesion and look.

Apply glue to both mating faces, and spread it thinly. Use a glue roller or a finger, and make sure it completely coats the surfaces. Also, make sure not to hose the wood with glue. A little glue goes a long way. As long as there is a thin, wet layer of glue, the product will work perfectly. Gluing wood involves using the right amount of glue, and making sure that it is evenly applied. More is not necessarily better.

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Gluing wood is all about making sure well mating pieces of wood are clamped with the right amount of wood glue.

gluing woodNow, bring the pieces together. Every time I bring the two surfaces together, I slide them back and forth about 1/4″ a couple times, which ensures that both surfaces have an even coating of wood glue. After that, clamps are applied.

Apply clamps one at a time. Each clamp only needs enough pressure to hold in place at this point. Keep adding clamps at regular intervals until several are on the piece. Use as many clamps as possible. A single clamp should not be in charge of a very large area. Using many clamps makes this portion of gluing wood together an easier process.

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Once all the clamps are in place, they need to be tightened down. This is done individually, bringing up the pressure a little each time. Do not tighten to full pressure in one round. Instead, bring each clamp up to full pressure over a few rounds. Tighten each clamp a little, then start over from the first clamp and tighten them more.

Finally, allow the glue to dry fully according to the recommendation of the manufacturer. For most wood glues, this will be 12-24 hours. Resist the urge to remove the pieces from the clamps earlier than that. Allowing a full cure means a smaller chance that the pieces will separate.

Remember these steps when gluing wood, and it will be much easier:

  • Start with flat boards that are milled well, and do not have high and low spots.
  • Apply glue to both sides of the mating faces.
  • Don’t hose the pieces with glue.
  • Clamp evenly, and with a reasonable amount of pressure.
  • Allow the pieces to dry for the full recommended time.

If you have any questions about gluing wood, please leave a comment and I will answer them. Happy building.

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