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Four ways to clamp on the curves

Illustration of jig with 4 set of clamps.

I build a lot of pieces using live-edge slabs. When joining two pieces to make a wide panel, I orient the live edges to the outside. But this presents a clamping problem during glue-up. There’s no flat surface to apply clamps and I don’t want to damage the fragile edges. So I turn to one of these four solutions to guarantee adequate clamping pressure across the glue joint.

The first method, securing clamping blocks near the outer edges of the slabs, leaves no marks. You can clamp the blocks in place as shown. Just make sure the blocks are parallel to one another to prevent the clamps from slipping.

For thick slabs where the undersides will be hidden, I use countertop connectors, available at any home center. The kind I use consist of two threaded connectors that fit into counterbores drilled with a Forstner bit. Tighten the nut on the threaded rod that connects them to draw the joint tight.

For thinner slabs, pocket screws work in a similar fashion. You’ll need to use a portable pocket-hole jig clamped to the slab. Alternate the direction of the pocket holes so the screws draw tight from both directions across the joint. 

If the ends of the slab will eventually be trimmed away, notch the ends to make parallel clamping surfaces. All of these options provide a strong connection and a rock-solid assembly.
—Chris Wong, Pitt Meadows, B.C.

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