Shop-proven Solutions for Gluing and clamping
Tips, helpers, and pointers from WOOD magazine readers aimed at making your shop time more productive.
Minimize glue mess with masking tape
When I'm gluing up assemble-yourself furniture, I use masking tape to keep the glue off of parts that are to be stained. I cover each mortise or dowel socket with masking tape, smooth it down with my thumbs, then cut away the tape over the holes. When I assemble the joint, the glue bubbles out onto the masking tape, not the unfinished wood. After the glue dries, I pull off the tape and start staining.
– David Elmer, Battle Ground, Wash.
A simple stuck-screw remedy
I read a tip in WOOD® magazine about loosening frozen screws using a soldering iron and ice. When I encounter a stuck screw, I first put the screwdriver tip in the slot, apply turning pressure, and gently tap the screwdriver with a mallet as shown at left. If that doesn't work, I'll try the iron, but I've had good luck using this method.
—Will Christen, Elgin, Iowa
Tips from a glue gunslinger
Hotmelt glue makes a strong, quick bond for joints that won't get a lot of stress, but it's also great for holding temporary joints while drilling or matching up things. Because it allows for some play before the glue dries, I've used it for positioning drawer glides. I glue them in place first, then move the drawer in and out to get a good fit.
Hotmelt glue also works great for aligning drawer fronts in a cabinet. After completing the cabinet and installing the drawer boxes, I apply small dabs of hotmelt glue on the fronts and press them onto the boxes. Because the glue is soft until it cools, I have time to adjust the fronts for an even gap around them. Once I'm happy with the look, I remove the drawers from the cabinet and permanently attach their fronts by drilling and screwing from the inside of the box fronts.
—Aleso Gourhan, Oakland, Calif.
Improve clothespin-clamping by extending jaws
Spring-type clothespins make great clamps for small work. But sometimes they'd be even handier if the jaws opened wider for clamping thicker parts. You can extend the jaws by gluing scrapwood or crafts sticks to the clothespin where shown above. Wood-worker's (yellow) glue or epoxy will hold the lengthened jaws in place. Be sure to allow the glue to achieve full strength before putting the clothespin clamps into service.
-- Joseph Loduca Sr., Fenton, Mo.
Protect wood permanently with clamp pads
Pipe clamps will dig right into the wood unless you put some protection between the jaws and the work. Trouble is, you can't hold the pads in place, align the workpieces, and tighten the clamps with just two hands.
If you attach the clamp pads to the jaws, you won't have to fuss with them when your hands are full. Cut pads similar to those shown to fit your particular clamps. You want the large hole to fit the pipes yet allow free movement. Drill holes for #6 or #8 sheet-metal screws where indicated and attach the pads to the clamp jaws. For further protection, glue a leather facing to the clamping area on the pad. The pad design shown offers a bonus, too: The wide bottom allows you to stand the clamps on a bench or sawhorses for easier clamping.
-- Hayden C. Jones, Shenandoah, Iowa
Pipe fittings extend clamp reach
Pipe clamps work best on glue-ups that are wide but not very deep. So what do you do when you need a clamp with longer reach? Thread together 3⁄4 " black-pipe fittings to fabricate a set of sliding extension jaws for a fi" pipe clamp. Pick a nipple length that fits the situation, then thread a tee fitting on one end and a 90° elbow on the other. Make two such jaws. Remove the sliding jaw of the pipe clamp and slip the tee fittings over the pipe with the open ends of the elbows facing inward. Replace the sliding jaw and clamp your project, protecting the wood from the rough iron of the elbows.
—E.E. Reynolds, North Charleston, S.C.
Couplings extend pipe clamps as far as you'd like
Oh no! You're just about ready for a big glue-up project when you discover that your pipe clamps aren't quite long enough. Do you have to buy a whole new rack of pipes just to gain a few inches? Absolutely not. Just buy pipe couplings, instead of new pipes. These couplings come in short lengths and are threaded on the inside. Connect your too-short pipes with the couplings and you'll have more than enough pipe to do the work.
—from the WOOD® magazine shop
Pour a puddle of glue for easy plugging
Neatly applying woodworker's glue to plugs can be tricky. Usually, you just can't dribble a small stream out of the bottle. Instead, pour some glue onto a plastic jar lid or other suitable palette. Then, roll the bottom edge of the plug in the puddle of glue to apply an even coating right where you need it. Glue buttons, Shaker pegs, axle pegs, and other similar parts the same way.
-- Glyn Roberts, Woodruff, Wis.
Grinding compound keeps screwdriver in the slot
While trying to remove a screw that just won't budge, you twist the screwdriver even harder. The sides of the blade ride right up the sides of the slot and pop out--a phenomenon technical types call "camming out," and that you call a major irritation. Solve the problem with a can of valve-grinding compound, an abrasive powder suspended in oil. (Auto-parts stores sell it.) Dip the end of the screwdriver into the compound. The abrasive particles between the screwdriver blade and the screw slot will prevent cam-out, so you can put more oomph on the screwdriver to break that stubborn fastener loose.
-- Gordon Reiter, Ridgeway, Pa.
Masking tape "clamps" glue-fragile parts
Whether by accident or design, sometimes you need to join parts too delicate for clamping. You can't repair a thin scrollsawn piece with an ordinary clamp; it would crush your work. The same is true with a frame of delicate molding. When I'm faced with these tricky tasks, I "clamp" the joint with a piece of masking tape on my bench, sticky side up. I adhere the pieces together and press the joint to the tape. Once the adhesive sets, I simply peel off the tape.
—Chuck Hedlund, WOOD® magazine staff
Like having an extra set of hands
Woodworkers usually work alone, but there are times--such as when trying to assemble large casework--when we just need someone (or something) to help hold things together. I made a set of scrapwood work holders, shown at right, that have proved invaluable in my shop. Essentially, they're small versions of a doormaker's jig, with a base and two uprights. Prop up a panel on edge in the middle of a base and slide the uprights together to hold it while you align, glue, and screw.
Reversing and centering the uprights on a holder gives you a 90° cradle that is 45° from perpendicular. I use a set of holders in this configuration when working on the face of a corner cabinet because they keep the cabinet in a front-up position.
--James LeMaster, Martinsburg, W.Va.