6 Edge-Gluing Tricks for flat, mar-free panels

Making wide boards from narrow ones can be tricky. Ironically, the glue that sticks them together can make clamping a slippery mess, and the clamps themselves may accidentally damage the wood. Here are six tips to nip dings, dips, and dark spots in the bud.

1 To prevent a panel from bowing during glue-up, keep the clamping pressure centered on the edge of the workpiece. For thin stock, use scrapwood supports, as shown above, to raise the panel to the clamp’s line of pressure, typically the center of the jaws.

2 An overtightened clamp damages delicate wood, and causes excessive glue squeeze-out and a weakened joint. This often results from counting on your clamps to fix joints that aren’t straight and square to begin with. For edge-glued panels, joint the board’s face first and then square an adjacent edge to the face. During glue-up, when the joint is closed and even, an additional half-turn on the clamps will give you a consistent, light bead of squeeze-out along the length of the joint, like that shown below

Aim for a consistent, light glue bead. This indicates a sufficient amount of glue in the joint. Anything more requires additional cleanup and wastes glue.

3 Hardened glue residue on clamps can dent or scratch your workpiece. Clean or replace clamp pads that have stuck-on glue burrs, and wipe down metal surfaces with mineral spirits.

Clean clamps don’t ding wood surfaces. Mineral spirits cleans most debris from clamps. Scrape off dried glue with a putty knife. Soften stubborn glue with heat and a damp rag.

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