Clamps: The Secrets to Success
Nothing provokes more stress than a big glue-up. Learning how to properly clamp your work is one of the most critical elements of success. But this raises the question… how much clamping pressure is enough?
To answer the question, Fine Woodworking found Roman Rabiej, a professor in Michigan, who revealed some of the secrets to effective clamping in an archive article. Over the years, he’s done many scientific studies on glue joints, studying glue types, clamping pressure, wood species, etc.
In reality, Rabiej found that most woodworkers are underclamping their joints. While some woodworkers fear over-clamping could starve joints of glue–it’s a myth. You can almost never apply too much force using common woodworking clamps, Rabiej says.
To help hobby and professional woodworkers, the professor came up with three keys to clamping success that answers the following questions: What is the optimum force when clamping soft and hard woods? How many clamps should you use and how should you arrange them? And last, how can you test a sample joint to see if you are getting good results?
If you’re not Arnold Schwarzenegger, you may have a little trouble applying as much force as Rabiej recommends, however he gives some good guidelines to try and live up to. This should help relieve your fears about overclamping.
What about you… what clamping tricks and techniques have you developed over the years to help you assure a successful glue-up?
Put the pressure where you need it. Just as important as the overall clamping force is how it is distributed. Read tips on distributing pressure effectively.
Make sure you have enough clamps for your glue up. For details on the strength of each clamp, check out our test of common woodworking clamps.