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Thread: Glue up station

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Collegeville PA (30 min west of Philly)
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    680

    Glue up station

    Hello SMC! I hope everyone is weathering these unprecedented times.

    I did a bunch of searches and am not finding what I think I need... perhaps you all can help (as usual) :-)

    In terms of clamps, I have a mish mash of yard sale finds - pipe clamps of various brands and condition. Mostly pony and jorgensen if I remember correctly, and ranging from (I think) 1/2" to 3/4" pipe and in lengths from 2 feet through 50".

    I also have 2 harbor freight aluminum bar clamps. And am finding that with newly upgraded and tuned tools in my shop resulting in easier glue ups (i.e. parts are fitting together with ease), that I've been reaching for these two clamps the most these days. Having only two of them, I usually add some pipe clamps as a second step.

    What I've found recently is that while the HF clamps are probably inferior to my mish mash clamps, it's very nice that they're exact twins of each other, consistent height/flat surface etc., and nice and light to move around. I've read some nice tutorials here on how to strengthen those clamps and am going to give that a try.

    So, here's my plan... (then my question)

    So that I can (financially) get an immediate start, I'm going to round out my collection of HF aluminum bar clamps (and still keep my mish mash).
    In a few years when my kids are a bit older, I would like to gift my entire clamp collection to them and upgrade my own. I'll know more about what I like / don't like by then, the kids will benefit, and I'll get to pick a consistent collection etc.

    Question..

    All that to say this... I like to do my glue ups on a 30" x 60" maple butcher block assembly table on dual locking casters. I can easily move the table around to access all sides, allow clamps to hang off the back side without hitting the wall etc.

    What I'm picturing is some sort of rack, or maybe two rails, that I can affix to the table top that will hold my clamps in place while I'm doing glue ups. Besides holding the clamps, I feel like these can help me create a common/predictable plane so I can ensure flat glue ups (I think that's basically the concept of a caul?), and I can probably pretty easily catch glue drips too.

    My initial design (after a fair amount of googling) is plywood or hardwood rails that would each have a series of notches cut in them to accept the clamps every (say) 6 inches (this would allow 10 clamps down the length of the assembly table). The notches would be cut such that the top of the bar clamp stands slightly proud / above the rail.

    I would probably have 3 rails parallel to each other so that I can use the same rig for 24" and 36" clamps. Maybe a 4th rail can be added when needed for wider glue ups.

    Perhaps the rails could have periodic holes drilled to accept quick clamps for instances where I need to add a straight edge board across the top of the glue up for keeping things straight. Again, I think that's a caul concept if I'm using that term correctly.

    I'm thinking of hanging the contraption from the ceiling near my assembly bench so that I can easily pull it down when needed, and store out of the way otherwise.

    When in use, I would C-clamp the setup to my assembly table with a piece of painters paper protecting the table from glue drips.

    Most times, I finish getting my clamps on and then pickup the panel and clamps and lean against a wall someplace. Gives me an opportunity to scrape glue off the bottom of the panel too.

    Edit: another thought would be to have the rack hinged off the back long side of the assembly table so it hangs harmlessly out of my way when not needed, but swings on top when required.

    Thoughts? I'm sure this has been solved many times, I just couldn't find what I was looking for.
    Last edited by Bob Riefer; 04-05-2020 at 10:56 AM.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  2. #2
    I like to keep it simple. I keep some formica covered wood blocks about 2"x3"x48" to support glueups on top of a melamine bench surface. The blocks are sized so that, depending on orientation, they are about 1/2" below the center heights of my bar clamps. I have a couple dozen Jorgenson aluminum clamps and a dozen heavy duty Jorgensen I beam clamps. The aluminum ones get the most use, the heavy ones come out when I need more pressure or the extra screw length as when assembling large doors. Everything gets waxed regularly so the glue pops off. I use dominos or biscuits for registration. As long as the parts are milled accurately and the clamps (and edge cauls if necessary) are centered in the stock thickness I don't need cauls clamped across the panels.. The support blocks sit on a rack next to the assembly bench. The bench and blocks are flat and the glueups come out flat.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Collegeville PA (30 min west of Philly)
    Posts
    680
    Thanks Kevin! Next time you're doing a glue up, I'd love to see a picture of what you're describing if you think of it.

    Anyone else have inputs on my questions?

    Thanks!!

    Bob R.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    30"x60" is a practical size for most kinds of projects. That's the size of my main bench and there have only been a few times I would have wished for a wider surface. Having a surface that's easy to clean up is nice if it's dedicated to assembly. My one personal thing is that I want my work surfaces to be able to be height variable. There is no one ideal assembly surface height unless one builds exactly the same thing every time. A low surface can support taller things without ceiling interference or needing a step ladder to work on the top of something. A high surface is great for small things so you are not constantly bending over to work. Etc. But that's me...

    When this little pandemic finally passes us by someday, you should come let me demonstrate that to you Bob.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
    Jim is right about adjustable height. At this point my "assembly bench" is a sheet of 1/2" melamine on top of my cnc router spoilboard so fixed height, but prior to that I had a 4"x48"x96" p-lam covered torsion box set on top of two 20"x28"x36" fun boxes. In one configuration I had a 32" high work surface good for flatwork, in another a 24" high bench good for assembling cabinets and installing hardware without working off a stepstool. All the parts were light enough to be set aside for working on the floor if necessary. Flexible is good.

    "When this little pandemic passes us by" I bet anyone left standing will be ready for a bit of walkabout. Until then... stay safe.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    52,420
    One can use four rectangular boxes to provide at least three different work surface heights. Plywood "x" constructions with sliding half-laps are a similar method to make and infinite number of work surface heights. It doesn't have to be a true adjustable setup like my Noden Adjust-A-Bench setups are. But those various heights can mean the difference between enjoying the job without back pain or not for many of us! It also makes the setup portable and storable for those times when, say, a very tall thing is being assembled and the floor is the best choice for it to sit on.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Collegeville PA (30 min west of Philly)
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    680
    Sorry for delay in replying with a thanks for the ideas! But, thanks!!

    The "hold me over until I can justify better clamps" clamps are on the way. I'll have 4 @ 24", 6 @ 36", and 4 @ 60". All of these are aluminum bar clamps from HF.

    My plan is to strengthen the clamps by inserting hard wood (a member here posted a tutorial on this, which I'll post when I dig it up), build a rack to hold them nearby-yet-out-of-the-way. Edit, here's that link.

    For my existing pipe clamp collection, I'm going to try to optimize what I have... I have about 6 sets of hardware without pipes right now, and then all my others are inconsistent lengths. There are a few mish mash sets of hardware. So, I think the mish mash are going to be taken out of the rotation (perhaps repurposed into a table vice), I'll finally get around to adding pipes to the "on deck" sets of hardware, and I'll look to bring some consistency to lengths etc. while I'm at it.

    Quick ? on that last piece... My thought is that I'll convert to have 4 @ 24", 6 @ 36", and 4 @ 48", 2 @ even longer maybe... and all would be threaded so that I can add extension pipes to make longer lengths. Seem sensible? I figured more at the shorter end of the spectrum since it's easy enough to add extension pipe

    Now, with this much consistency from clamp to clamp, I think that creating a system that will nicely hold the clamps steady and level would be much more effective (as compared to trying to hold my current mish mash).

    Here's what is catching my eye:
    panel glue up station video
    This guy has a similar thought (plus a few other nice tips)




    One more edit... my assembly table is actually 30" x 72" (earlier I stated a smaller size)
    Last edited by Bob Riefer; 04-11-2020 at 12:35 PM.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  8. #8
    I use my assembly table for panel glue-ups, and keep a chunk of cardboard handy to lay on the table to start with. Then I have a stack of cauls, usually use 3 spaced evenly on the cardboard, try my boards for fit on the cauls, and joint any that do not fit correctly prior to gluing. When the fit is good, takes less pressure, and also need another set of cauls for the top side of the panel. I glue the edges of my boards, put them down in order on the cauls, even up the ends of the boards and put one clamp on the panel. Also keep an assortment of small blocks to keep my clamps out of the glue. And more small blocks under the ends of the cauls, to make it easy to get my F clamps in place. Add a second bar clamp to the glue up panel, add upper cauls above the lower ones, and put an F clamp on each end of the pairs of cauls. Takes fewer bar clamps, as you do not need a upper and lower level of clamps to keep the panel flat. Tighten up your clamps, wait about half an hour and you can scrape off the semi dry excess glue. A few more minutes and you can remove your clamps. Do not do any more work to the panel that day, next day the glue will be dry.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Posts
    337
    I use a pneumatic-hydraulic scissor lift table as my glue station. being able to change its height with a valve is really great. its slightly larger than I what I need. it measures 4 x 8, but I think being bigger is better than being too small. you have a place to put your clamp/glue

    I think it was used as Quad Bike service platform.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Collegeville PA (30 min west of Philly)
    Posts
    680
    I ended up building this simple contraption to hold clamps steady, parallel, and on a common plane. Certainly not a new idea, but I took the time to build it nicely.

    Either 3/4 pipe clamp or aluminum bar clamps will both fit nicely, and it's really light/easy to move, so I just store it behind my bench when not in use.

    Had a chance to use it last night and it really did help.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    I've been considering making up a similar clamp stand like that for my auxiliary bench, Bob, particularly for gluing up guitar body blanks including capping them. The rack itself will help with gluing for width and will also elevate the workpiece up off the table for clamping caps of pretty wood on top with cauls. Thanks for reminding me I need to do this! LOL
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Alberta
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    Bob I made up a "rack" quite similar to what you have,except mine is two separate pieces. I drilled holes down the center of a piece of plywood about six inches wide ,then ripped it in half. Then I screwed another strip on the bottom edge to form an inverted capital T shape for stability.I have used these for years,it really helps to have clamps held in the same plane as well as gives room to turn handles on pipe clamps.
    Last edited by Mike Kees; 05-06-2020 at 8:47 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Collegeville PA (30 min west of Philly)
    Posts
    680
    Finished doctoring up HF clamps (inserted wood to each) and mish mash (cut to length, cleaned, threaded). Also built storage from scraps.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

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