Gluing is where a lot of unnecessary extra work gets generated. If the joint is already keyed with a mortice or biscuit, that’s fine, you just have to wipe off the squeezeout with a damp cloth before it sets. But a lot of joints, especially on small boxes, aren’t keyed so there’s the danger of the dreaded clamp drift – it looked fine a moment ago, but now it’s out of line just that little bit, which may or may not be rescuable with the sander but may well require the addition of one of those features that you never intended in the original design but is there only to cover the mistake and look as though you meant it all along.

So the first tip is: watch it like a hawk until it grabs. You don’t need much clamp pressure – too much will squeeze out the glue and weaken the joint. Clamp pressure that is just enough to hold it will be just loose enough for you to slide the faces around until you’re satisfied that it has actually grabbed. In the case of these penholders, i’ve got two pairs glued. After a few minutes i took the clamps off and glued the two pairs together, putting the clamps back for the recommended half-hour clamping time.

Second tip of gluing: get all the clamps you’re going to use within easy reach before you start – this may seem obvious but you need all the hands you’ve got and you don’t want to let go just at the wrong moment to go and get another clamp. Same goes for the utterly essential damp cloth (which mustn’t go anywhere near a cast iron table by the way – they rust in seconds).

Third tip – forget brushes (maybe a small one for getting the glue into a small slot) and smear the glue over the surface with your finger. Got this from Donna LaChance Menke’s book ‘The Ultimate Band Saw Box Book’. This is the best way to get the glue evenly spread, and works for flocking too…more on flocking later, watch this space…

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