Perfect table top glue ups

Willemjm

Willem
Corporate Member
Waiting for glue to dry, giving time to quickly post this for those who have not done many tops.

My preferences:

The pictures illustrate each point.

1.) I prefer narrow rather than wide boards, as they provide opportunity to get rid of pre and post warping with climate changes. These were around 4 1/4” wide. The top is 60” x 40”

2.) Boards need to be milled perfectly flat, the reason I always buy lumber rough and then face joint, plane and rip as well as edge joint giving perfectly flat and square boards right before glue up.

3.) I use nothing for alignment and use Titebond 3 as it gives a little more time to align my joints by hand. Without (2) above this could get real difficult, but with the flat and square lumber it is real easy. Four pipe clamps are enough and just firm tightening, no forcing things together.

4.) The one picture shows the tree growth ring orientation which will help keep the top flat with seasonal wood movement.

5.) With this project my board alignment was close enough to need a little bit of card scraper clean-up only.

2636B667-6EB1-4581-91A4-885884BA3A97.jpeg
6896594C-3157-407E-8DE0-9B7127F4B9DF.jpeg
65800142-2386-42DB-B4A4-403E5F7BE716.jpeg
 

chris_goris

Chris
Senior User
Nice work Willem!. Im currently working on one thats 2x 94 x 52 Black walnut. A kitchen island top. I too am working with narrower stock, nothing over 8" width . It will have a large tombstone curve on the 94 long side and I plan on milling a large profile on the perimeter in the shaper. For the profile, I need to build a roller table to support it as I feed with the powerfeed. Oh how I love a good challenge!.
 

bowman

Board of Directors, Events Director
Neal
Staff member
Corporate Member
Thanks for the write-up. I'm ready to start one from hard maple that will measure roughly 30 x 48, approximately 1" thick.
 

cyclopentadiene

Update your profile with your name
User
Chris
Did you all a really large jointer to your new shop?

I have struggled in the past getting a straight edge on very long pieces. I am not sure if it is my jointer , poor technique or both.
More recent builds i have used my Festool track saw to get one straight edge then rippid on the table saw for the other edge. This seems to work on long pieces over 6’ long

Fortunately i do not build many items that long
 

Willemjm

Willem
Corporate Member
Nice work Willem!. Im currently working on one thats 2x 94 x 52 Black walnut. A kitchen island top. I too am working with narrower stock, nothing over 8" width . It will have a large tombstone curve on the 94 long side and I plan on milling a large profile on the perimeter in the shaper. For the profile, I need to build a roller table to support it as I feed with the powerfeed. Oh how I love a good challenge!.
You going to need a buddy to handle that weight. I have two roller stands permanent in my shop table saw and bandsaw outfeeds. They come in handy sometimes.
 

DSWalker

David
Corporate Member
Four pipe clamps are enough and just firm tightening, no forcing things together.
I've wondered about this at times. I always clamp as much as I can and tighten down as hard as possible.

Is it possible to over tighten?
 

Willemjm

Willem
Corporate Member
I've wondered about this at times. I always clamp as much as I can and tighten down as hard as possible.

Is it possible to over tighten?
If you have to use a lot of clamping force to close your joint lines, something is out of square and you will have a stressed joint. That could develop a crack later. Then with the nature of pipe clamps, too much clamping force bows the pipe holding the clamp ends, the result is crushing the joint at the concave side and opening it on convex side. Your glue up will not be flat.
 

kelLOGg

Bob
Senior User
I usually use dowel pins when I'm edge gluing because I find it essential if one of the boards has a slight bend in it. Is there any other advantage to dowels (or biscuits)? Do they add strength?
 

zdorsch

Zach
Senior User
The current wisdom seems to say that dowels and biscuits are unnecessary given the strength of modern adhesives.

I like biscuits to help align boards during glue up, but I haven’t used them in a while for a table top. I may use them for my upcoming workbench build to help align 8-9 ft x 11 in x 2 in boards though.

I like dowels for room doors, but haven’t found them necessary for cabinet doors or table tops.

I usually use dowel pins when I'm edge gluing because I find it essential if one of the boards has a slight bend in it. Is there any other advantage to dowels (or biscuits)? Do they add strength?
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
I usually use dowel pins when I'm edge gluing because I find it essential if one of the boards has a slight bend in it. Is there any other advantage to dowels (or biscuits)? Do they add strength?
I've been told (and read) that dowels and biscuits are purely for alignment and not strength. I think that that "alignment" means keeping vertical surfaces of the boards in nearly the same plane.
 

Willemjm

Willem
Corporate Member
I usually use dowel pins when I'm edge gluing because I find it essential if one of the boards has a slight bend in it. Is there any other advantage to dowels (or biscuits)? Do they add strength?
If your boards are not true or with a slight bend, the method I posted will not be the best. Rather than dowels or biscuits use a different clamping system, such as cauls or something like I post in this picture below. That will be a lot easier, less work and more accurate.

image.jpg
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
If your boards are not true or with a slight bend, the method I posted will not be the best. Rather than dowels or biscuits use a different clamping system, such as cauls or something like I post in this picture below. That will be a lot easier, less work and more accurate.

View attachment 188257

Interesting picture. Can you explain more about what these are and their design? Were did you get them? Thanks.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
I've wondered about this at times. I always clamp as much as I can and tighten down as hard as possible.

Is it possible to over tighten?
Probably. I've read that some glue squeeze out is good, but over tightening the clamps can create a glue starved joint which is weaker and may separate.
 

Our Sponsors

LATEST FOR SALE LISTINGS

Top