Cambered Clamping Cauls

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Project by Steve Erwin posted 10-10-2015 02:56 AM 2012 views 8 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m in the early stages of a dining table build, but I already know I’m going to need some clamping cauls for the 40” wide table top. I had some time while waiting for glue to dry, so I decided to make some cambered cauls.

The concept here is that the shallow arc in the cauls, when compressed by clamping pressure at each end, will apply even pressure along the length of the caul. If I were to use flat faced cauls, they have a tendency to bow up in the middle when the ends are clamped. In order to keep all the boards in a table top glue-up flush to one another, even pressure along the cauls is important.

I only really needed 48” long cauls, maybe 3 pairs, but when I started looking at prices, it started to make sense to make more.

A certain company that sells these would have charged me:
$358 for (4) Pairs of 48”
$278 for (4) Pairs of 36”
$190 for (4) Pairs of 24”

= $826 total

Instead, I spent $150 for the lumber and $47 for a Whiteside T-Slot router bit.

= $197 total + 2 or 3 afternoons

More than I intended on spending, but these will come in quite handy during table top glue-ups of any size.

More info can be found on my blog.

-- I've been creating problems to solve since I was born. -

7 comments so far

View cannondale's profile


54 posts in 3364 days

#1 posted 10-10-2015 06:05 AM

Great idea, thanks for sharing. will use this idea sometime.

View AandCstyle's profile


3197 posts in 2557 days

#2 posted 10-10-2015 11:24 AM

Hey, Steve, its been a long time. Nice work on the cauls.

-- Art

View cracknpop's profile


341 posts in 2649 days

#3 posted 10-10-2015 12:33 PM

Nice job Steve. Thanks for sharing. I have a whole stack of 8/4 poplar, may give it a try.

-- Rick - I know I am not perfect, but I will keep pressing on toward the goal of becoming all I am called to be.

View Steve Erwin's profile

Steve Erwin

132 posts in 2352 days

#4 posted 10-10-2015 02:44 PM

Thanks, guys.

@Art – it has been awhile. I took a break for a few months and I have a toddler, so there’s that. :P

@Rick – Looking back, you probably don’t really need it to be a full t-slot. A dado wide enough to fit both feet of your f-clamp would still be an improvement over not having any slots to register the clamps and keep them from sliding around.

Alternatively, you could start with a thinner rip cut (1-5/16” instead of 1-3/4”), run a 1-1/4” wide dado down the center, and then glue on a 5/16” thick piece right over your dado. Then run a narrower dado through the center of that, making a t-slot without the router bit.

Like so:

-- I've been creating problems to solve since I was born. -

View DocSavage45's profile


8755 posts in 3142 days

#5 posted 10-12-2015 06:18 PM

Looks like you’ve got enough now to make your table.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View twoblacklabs's profile


262 posts in 2991 days

#6 posted 10-13-2015 02:07 AM

I like this a lot.

-- If You Haven't Got the Time to Do It Right, When Will You Find the Time to Do It Over?

View Steve Erwin's profile

Steve Erwin

132 posts in 2352 days

#7 posted 05-03-2016 07:07 PM

Hmm…. I think that solution I posted above (with the Yellow SketchUp model) is a mistake. I think the glue joint will prevent the caul from bending, or if it doesn’t, won’t the glue joint just fail?

It’s not a ton of flexion that is required, but it may be too much for the glue to withstand. Do a proof of concept before you go all in. :P And let me know if it works.

-- I've been creating problems to solve since I was born. -

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