Edge Jointing With A Handplane - Panel Glue Up
One really nice thing about running a project on the blog is that it creates lots of extra ideas for articles. In the Six Board Chest project I needed to edge glue some boards together and I realised it would be worthwhile to take a closer look at the process. The video above shows the process but let's also review what I did. In the photo below you will see two Oak boards I used as an example. No amount of cramping pressure will get those edge to meet up so therefore we need to shoot the edges ready for edge jointing.
I allow extra length and width over and above the finished panel size. This gives me lots of wriggle room and makes the job of joining much less stressful. As a rule of thumb add and extra 2" in length and 1/2" in width.
Take a look at your boards, pick the best faces and match them as well as possible so the grain compliments the final panel. You can skip that if the project is painted! Some people like to alternate the radiating growth rings for reasons of stability. Nothing wrong in that at all but I normally go for the look of the panel and find that this works well for me. Once you have your boards as you want them add a face mark and some reference marks that you can use to bring you back to the right spot during the glue up. I used marker pen to add clarity for the video, a chunky soft carpenters pencil is my normal choice.
This is the key step of shooting edges easily. Pick up the boards folding them outwards so the face marks are on the outside then secure them in the vice, just like the video. I like to use a handplane for shooting the boards. Don't let that put you off, It's really not that bad and the reason is down to how I set the boards int he vice. By securing the boards with the face edges facing out, if the edge is planed a little out of square it makes no difference as the edges compliment each other and stay dead flat when they meet up. For short boards a short plane will work, something like a #5 (this is the plane I use in the video and the plane shown in the front of the picture). Longer edges are more easily done with longer planes.
I set my plane coarse to start so I can remove stock quickly and get the edges close to what I need. A sharp handplane is essential, but if you follow the link that can be easy too :-). When planing the edges try to hollow the the boards in their length. By starting and finishing the plane strokes within the length of the timber this naturally happens. By doing this you will avoid making a hill which is not helpful. By having a slight hollow extra pressure is put on the ends of the joint during clamping which is an added bonus. For the final final step set the plane very fine and take some full length shavings. Remove the boards from the vice and offer them up laying flat on the bench. Don't try and cheat yourself, these need to go together with light pressure, if it's not right repeat the process again.
If you're working on long boards you might want to add biscuits. These help you align the boards and are like an extra pair of hands if you work alone. Don't add too many, just a few to help you line up the boards. Also if you do use biscuits make sure you keep them in far enough from the ends. If they end up to close to the ends you risk exposing them when you trim the panel to length as shown in the photo below. Biscuit jointers are really great for this job. Alternatively you can add dowels or tongues to the edges of the boards instead.
Next comes the glue. Do not be in a rush at this point! Also if you're gluing a few boards together don't get greedy, do your glue up in stages.
Do the boring stuff get everything you need ready, clamps ready and set at the correct width, have your work area clean and tidy. The glue you choose is up to you. I'm using Titebond original for no other reason than I was given a sample pot and I can confirm it works well. There are many many adhesives to choose from. Take advice from a reputable supplier to make sure you have the best adhesive for the job in hand and you are aware of any safety issues. Some adhesives can be very toxic so do your research. Other adhesives may vary in their application, this method works fine for Titebond original glue.
I apply a generous bead of glue to the centre of one of the boards as you can see above. Bring the edges together on the claps and give them a rub, gently forcing them together and getting them into position to meet the reference marks. This rubbing creates a suction between the joint and holds the board steady while you cramp. If you wish you can spread your glue with a brush or a spatula and apply to both edges. However the photo below is of the joint I rubbed, I pulled it apart so you could see the glue evenly covers both sides. Pay attention to the ends of the boards when applying glue and make sure the ends get a nice even coat too.
Once in the clamps apply the pressure only lightly making sure the edges meet nicely and the joint comes up nice and snug and then gently add more force. Don't apply crazy pressure to the joint. If you do you will force out too much glue and potentially distort both panel and clamps. And indicator of a good joint is a gap free meeting edge with a nice little bit of squeeze out evenly along the whole length of the joint. I wipe my excess glue off, some prefer to wait until it is dry to remove. Imagine also that with animal glue and even PVA you can do edge glued boards with just a rub joint which demonstrates just how much force is required.
On softer timbers you might need to protect the edges of your panel with packers shown above. I find I don't often need to do this, adding too much clamping pressure to the point you damage the work can be a sign of a problem.
Once in the clamps follow the instructions on drying times given with your glue. Once dry remove from the clamps and avoid using the work for 24 hours to ensure the glue has fully set.
The panel is now ready for use and should only require some final smoothing with a fine set plane or a finish sander if you prefer.