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The assembly and glue-up phase is a critical step of any woodworking project. To ensure the quality and integrity of the finished piece, you should take a number of factors into account:
The Basics: • Dry-fit first: Avoid nightmares by first assembling a project without glue. • Assemble a project in parts: Wide panels or complex furniture parts often must be glued up in stages. • Use the right glue: Choose an adhesive appropriate to the application.
Dry-fit first The worst thing that can happen in the assembly and glue-up phase of a project is to apply glue to two parts only to find out that they don’t align or don’t fit properly. This mistake is easy to avoid if you first dry-fit your parts. In addition to identifying problems ahead of time, you can also ensure that you have the proper clamps to accommodate the task.
Assemble a project in parts A small table is a good example of a project that must be assembled in stages. In order for all the parts to go together square and level, it often is best to glue up small parts, then assemble the smaller parts into a whole. For example, it’s wise to assemble the legs in pairs, and then join the pairs with stretchers in the second step of assembly. Depending on your project complexity, you’ll want to map out a game plan before you apply the first drop of glue.
Use the right glue The length of time before glue sets after it is applied to joining parts is referred to as “open time.” Every adhesive has an open time, and each product is different. Being aware of open time is essential in the assembly and glue-up phase of a project because it determines how long you have to work. Large-scale projects with many small parts benefit from adhesives with long open times, such as 90-minute epoxy, because they provide a large window to get all your ducks in a row.
Different adhesives have different uses. Outdoor projects, for example, will benefit from different adhesives than projects meant for the indoors.
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