Gluing and clamping is the tricky part of woodworking and many a woodworker has ruined projects because they it didn’t do it correctly. The key to getting the gluing part right is to put in the same amount of meticulous care in gluing as you give to selecting and preparing your material.
Don’t let the apparent simplicity of gluing wood fool you into thinking that gluing is just a matter of applying glue to join pieces of wood together… Using the glue and clamps on the wood that has already passed under the jointer is also about meticulous measurements. And thus when you select your wood and the rest of the ‘ingredients’ for your woodworking project you need to start by measuring and marking out the parts.
Phil and Pam via Compfight cc
If you’re wondering why you need the clamps? Gluing pieces of wooden planks together is not a problem – but to have the planks aligned perfectly you will need them to be joined together till the glue dries. Since you cannot keep holding the pieces together for the entire duration, unless you use clamps, you will not have parts that align and shoulders that are spot-on…but then again, if you do not use the clamps correctly you might have twists in the wood.
To give you a fair idea of how gluing and clamping is done accurately, you can take a look at the following video. The presenter is making a tabletop in parts…and yes he admits that it takes time, but he also claims that as a result the process is carried out with a greater degree of accuracy. Even if you are not taking up a tabletop project, you could still look up the tips on the correct way to glue and clamp wood. So, to do a quick recap of the video points to keep in mind when using glue and clamps:
Keeping the boards aligned during the glue up is important.
Keeping the top overall flat is equally important or you might end up with a botched project.
Start with flat straight and square boards for the maximum amount of flatness of the table surface.
Check and recheck that the wood is planed and flat – use the square down each edge just as is shown in the video.
Make sure the edges are straight too. If your board has a crown, it needs to go under the jointer again.
Break it down – work on one or two boards at a time to maximize accuracy.
Learn how using ‘biscuits’ along the edges helps the wood stay flush against each other. This helps to align the joints seamlessly.
Apply the glue with a roller – it’s faster.
Depending on the wood, you can use clamps both above and below the wood to distribute the pressure evenly.
Now that you have a fair idea on how to use gluing and clamping for your own pet projects, it’s time to try out the tips you just learnt. Good luck!