Shopmade Clamping Station – FineWoodworking


Synopsis: Typically, regardless of how ready you might be, edge-gluing boards for a tabletop results in sub-par outcomes. This clamping station by Alan McIvor helps make panel glue-ups foolproof. It may be used on vast, slim, thick, or skinny boards. It’s straightforward to disassemble for storage, and all of the elements value lower than $100.

Once I was constructing a kitchen desk lately, I edge-glued half a dozen boards to make the highest. It was unwieldy, so I glued up two subassemblies of three boards every, then glued them collectively. I took all the same old precautions, with cautious edge-jointing, clamps above and under the boards, and three pairs of cauls. The outcomes weren’t good. The boards had shifted, the glue had smeared, and I had days
of labor making an attempt to get the panel flat and clear. In the long run, I assumed: There have to be a greater technique to glue up a clear, flat panel! That’s after I designed and made this clamping station for panel glue-ups.

The jig is designed to permit for max flexibility: It may be used for gluing up boards which can be vast or slim, lengthy or brief, thick or skinny. The clamp holders slide aspect to aspect, so clamps will be positioned both shut collectively for slim boards or farther aside for vast boards. The clamp holders can be adjusted up and right down to place the clamp screws precisely on the centerline of the boards, eliminating the necessity to put alternate clamps under and above the panel. The jig can deal with boards starting from 1 ⁄ 2 in. to three in. thick.

Knock-down panel-clamping jig

Whereas able to clamping massive panels, the jig disassembles simply and shops compactly. Manufactured from softwood, it value lower than $100, together with {hardware}.

clamp holder and rail illustrationsrail support, caul holder and caul illustrations

The setup will be assembled in about half-hour and disassembled in about quarter-hour. The disassembled elements take up little or no cupboard space when not in use; I stack the lengthy rails and match all the opposite elements in a field that measures about 1 cubic foot. The usual rails I exploit are 36 in. lengthy; for longer glue-ups I join them end-to-end to a different set of 36-in. rails with dry dowel pins in the long run grain. You could possibly make your normal rails any size you assume could be most helpful.

Making the jig elements

Rail helps

McIvor drills the rail supports to accept plastic saddle inserts
After milling the rail helps, McIvor drills them to simply accept plastic saddle inserts.


T-tracks drawing illustration
Mill the T-tracks. The rails have T-tracks routed into each faces for the clamp holders and the caul holders. McIvor cuts them in two steps, first routing a slot with a straight bit (high), then following with a T-shaped bit (backside).


McIvor epoxies a measuring tape into a shallow groove along the top of both rails
Story of the tape. To simplify aligning the pipe clamp and caul holders, McIvor epoxies a measuring tape right into a shallow groove alongside the highest of each rails.

Clamp holders

Create the adjustment slot and clamp pocket
Create the adjustment slot and clamp pocket. Utilizing stops to restrict journey, McIvor routs a slot within the clamp holder that can allow vertical adjustment. Having beforehand drilled a 1-in.-dia. gap within the clamp assist, he cuts two kerfs on the bandsaw to finish the U-shaped pocket for the pipe clamp.

Caul holders

McIvor glues two slats to a block pre-drilled for the T-bolt
Block and sticks. To make the caul holders, McIvor glues two slats to a block pre-drilled for the T-bolt.

Notched cauls

A group of cauls getting dadoed
A gaggle of cauls getting dadoed. McIvor routs a sequence of dadoes alongside one fringe of his cauls to make it simpler to keep away from contacting gluelines when assembling a panel.

I made the cauls for my jig 3-3 ⁄ 8 in. vast to reduce deflection, so there’s no must camber them. They’re dadoed on the sting that contacts the panel to reduce glue smearing. I shift the cauls to find dadoes above and under the gluelines. This doesn’t remove the necessity to wax the cauls or add packing tape, but it surely does enable for simpler cleanup.

I made the jig with construction- grade softwoods. That’s wonderful, however I like to recommend making the rails out of maple for clean, long-wearing T-slots. The Tbolts and clamping knobs can be found from most woodworking tools suppliers, and the price of all of the elements (excluding the clamps) was lower than $100. The design is predicated on the usage of pipe clamps, however the clamp holders might be modified for bar clamps as a substitute.

Assemble the jig and get gluing

To arrange the jig, lay out the rail helps about 24 in. aside on a flat and stage desk or benchtop and clamp them in place. These helps might be clamped to a pair of sawhorses as a substitute; if they’re, they need to be shimmed so all 4 corners are stage. Additionally, in case you plan to make use of the jig on sawhorses, I’d make the rail helps a bit stouter to reduce deflection.

Establishing the jig

McIvor lays his panel boards in place to rough out their spacing, then presses in the saddle inserts
1. Basis. After clamping the rail helps to the meeting desk, McIvor lays his panel boards in place to tough out their spacing, then presses within the saddle inserts.
McIvor slides caul holders into position along the T-slot
2. Caul holders. With the rails in place, McIvor slides caul holders into place alongside the T-slot.
Clamp holders, then cauls
3 & 4. Clamp holders, then cauls. Subsequent, the clamp holders are put in, utilizing the T-slot on the alternative face of the rails. Then the underside cauls are dropped into their holders.
McIvor adjusts the height of the clamp holders so the clamp screws are centered on the thickness of the plank
5. Vertical adjustment. With one of many panel boards laid throughout the underside cauls, McIvor adjusts the peak of the clamp holders so the clamp screws are centered on the thickness of the plank.

Subsequent, insert plastic saddles into the holes within the rail helps, and set the rails within the saddles. Slide Tbolts into the grooves within the rails and fasten the pipe-clamp holders and the caul holders with their respective clamping knobs. I place caul holders at every finish of the panel boards I’ll be gluing and put clamp holders near them. I house different clamp holders between them so the clamps will likely be on roughly 6-in. or 8-in. facilities.

Place the underside cauls of their holders and regulate the holders so the cauls are sq. to the rails. Insert pipe clamps into their holders and shift the holders aspect to aspect, if want be, so the pipes are sq. to the rails and equally spaced.

Lay one of many boards you’ll be gluing onto the underside cauls and lift or decrease the entrance pipe-clamp holders so the clamp screw traces up with the middle of the board’s thickness. Alter the rear clamp holders too, so the pipes are stage entrance to again. Then clamp the holders tight to the rails.

Gluing a panel

McIvor flips them down and gently tightens the pipe clamps
Strain and adhesion. After making use of glue to the sides of the boards, McIvor flips them down and gently tightens the pipe clamps, starting on the middle and dealing outward.
McIvor clamping all the cauls
Clamping all cauls. McIvor positions the highest cauls so their dadoes are aligned with the glue joints after which makes use of F-clamps to carry them in place. Then he’ll end tightening the pipe clamps on the panel.

After placing the remainder of the boards to be glued onto the jig, slide the underside cauls fore and aft so their dadoes are situated beneath the sting joints of the glue-up. Relying on the widths of the panel boards, it is probably not potential to align all the gluelines; simply align as many as you may. Lastly, set the highest cauls throughout the panel boards and ensure there’s enough house to insert the caul clamps.

Now, if all appears good, you’re able to roll on the glue and apply some gentle, uniform strain with the pipe clamps, beginning on the middle. Evenly tighten the F-clamps on the cauls, once more working from the middle to the ends of the panel. Test for panel flatness beneath the tip cauls, after which tighten the pipe clamps all the best way, once more working from the middle out to the ends.

Alan McIvor is a retired pulp and paper engineer and an avid woodworker in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Shopmade Clamping Station spread image

Images: Jonathan Binzen.

Drawings: Dan Thornton.

From High quality Woodworking #300

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