How to Gear Up for Glue-Ups
Keep the right stuff on hand and get better results
Synopsis: They key to success for any glue-up is to have the right supplies on hand. If you assemble a kit of cauls and clamps like Michael Fortune suggests, your probability of stress-free glue-ups will increase dramatically.
As I say in “Great Glue-Ups, Guaranteed” (p. 44), glue is a slippery film. And as you’ll see in that article, I use a few types of clamps and a wide variety of cauls to put pressure right where I want it and to keep parts in place. That article covers a variety of specific situations; this one covers the glue-up gear I keep on hand. The beauty of these basic cauls and supplies is that they will handle the vast majority of work you will encounter.
I use common types of clamps. Instead of spending your money on a pricey parallel-jaw models, buy more of the lowtech kind. Then spend your time making cauls. I use a bunch of custom cauls in my work, made from whatever hardwood I can spare, but I keep a variety of common sizes in buckets.
When clamping pieces that are prefinished or will be hard to sand or repair later, I use small pads under the clamp heads. If the jaws don’t have pads already, I tape pieces of wood to the workpiece. You don’t want to be wrestling with little wood pads as you try to position the clamps perfectly and tighten them. I keep a pile of these pads on hand, made from basswood and poplar—softer than the furniture woods I use but strong enough to stand up to the pressure. As for glue, some people pour it into little dishes before spreading it, but I almost always apply it right out of the bottle, and I use my finger, wiping it clean on…