Editor's Note: The following is the first article in a series
of two. Look for the next installment on clamping in an upcoming
For many woodworkers, glue-up and assembly can be unnecessarily
stressful. There are several reasons for this. First, time is
not on the gluer's side. Common yellow glue has approximately
five minutes of open assembly time, leaving little leeway to
think and act once the glue is wiped on. Second, glue-up is often
irreversible. There are some exceptions, but for the most part
it's a one-shot deal. Third, freshly applied glue is slippery
and joints and parts can easily slide out of alignment. Fourth,
when glue squeeze-out cures, it can be difficult to remove.
And when cured squeeze-out goes undetected, it's a potential
finish wrecker. Finally, because wood never stops moving, improper
glue placement that doesn't allow for seasonal wood movement
is an invitation for cracks and splits to happen.
important to have a glue-up strategy. I begin with dry fitting.
I lay down all the project parts in their proper order and visualize
where the glue will go and what clamping tools and accessories
I will need. After labelling the parts (using lines or numbers)
in their proper orientation, I decide if the assembly
should be glued in small sections (subassemblies) first. I proceed
with dry clamping to identify any problem areas or tool shortages.
||The gluing process should start with dry fitting all of the parts.
Gather Your Glue Supplies
general woodworking purposes, PVA glue is the common choice.
When using it, there are two ways to gain open time to work
on the assembly. The first is to use a product that sets slowly.
Hide glue, white glue and 2002 GF glue are some examples. Each
leaves an open time of approximately 15 minutes. Alternatively,
you can extend the glue's open time by diluting it according
to the manufacturer's guidelines. For example, if you thin Titebond®
yellow glue by 5% (1 part water to 20 parts glue), you'll have
about 50% more open time.
terms of applicators, there's an array of choices that includes
the tip of the glue bottle, brushes, finishing nails, cotton
swabs, credit cards, paint rollers, toothbrushes, your finger,
Gluing is a messy job, so I keep a bucket of water and some
rags handy. I also installed a retractable vinyl window shade
on my workbench to protect the work surface.