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    Rudiments of Tabletop Glue-Up

    One of the glue-ups you’ll do most often is butt-jointing a few boards together to make a wider panel, whether for a tabletop or door or whatever.

    As we said in the article on glue-ups, 3/4-in. pipe clamps are the best tool for the job. There are other, more expensive clamps, like parallel-jaw clamps, but pipe clamps give more pressure, and are much more affordable. You’ll also need a few smaller clamps to press down on the joints to keep the boards level with each other. If they aren’t, you’ll have to sand those steps away later, which can take hours.

    Tabletop layout

    The first step is to lay out your boards and arrange them for best appearance. When you are happy draw a big triangle on them to remember how they go together.

    Jointing an edge

    You also need to mill all the boards flat and straight. Even if you buy your boards pre-milled, you need to be sure the edges are straight and square.

    Tabletop glue up

    Tighten the pipe clamps one by one, starting at the end of the panel, and feel free to bang on individual boards with a rubber mallet or dead-blow hammer to bring the joints flush as you work your way across.

    Panel glue up

    Put the same number of pipe clamps above and below the panel to even out the pressure and keep the panel flat, and use extra clamps at the ends to make sure the joints are level there too.

    Squeeze out clean up

    Scrape off the glue before it dries completely. After it is dry, plane and/or sand the tabletop to get it ready for finishing.

    Photos: Mark Schofield and Asa Christiana