Cutting Board Glue-Up Clamp

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Project by RussInMichigan posted 10-27-2016 09:20 PM 6828 views 17 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Since the demand for cutting boards has grown I figured I’d better make a dedicated clamp to simplify the process.

I could glue up a 13 by 26 board with this jig, but I can only get 12 1/2” wide material through my planer, so I’m not likely to add even that last half inch to a board blank.

I put in 20 bolts clamping bolts, each 3/8”, and it really will apply a lot of force on the blank.

The first image shows the jig with the side cauls and hand wrench. I use the hand wrench very little since it’s so much easier to use my cordless drill to snug up the bolts.

Image two is another perspective giving a better view of the bolts.

Image three shows the end of the main caul which has a steel bar embedded in it.

Image four shows the bits of 3/8” black pipe I inserted into the caul to keep the bolts from tearing into the plywood.

Thanks for looking in Lumberjocks.

15 comments so far

View SteveMI's profile


1167 posts in 4263 days

#1 posted 10-27-2016 09:57 PM

Did you ever look at BowClamps? I don’t do cutting boards, but they are great for clamping panels.,43838

Some people make their own, seen posts on LJ.


View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25723 posts in 4074 days

#2 posted 10-27-2016 10:33 PM

WOW, that is a high pressure fixture!!. it should hold real well!!


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View MyHogany's profile


88 posts in 2405 days

#3 posted 10-27-2016 10:49 PM

Brilliant! Reminds me of an 1800’s french inlay press I saw once. I’m going to make myself one of these.

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 3749 days

#4 posted 10-27-2016 11:03 PM

Steve, I do have some of those I’ve made from hardwoods.

The real appeal of this dedicated jig is that it’s really quick, relative to using individual clamps, to do the glue up and I can apply enormous pressure if I choose. I did a test glue up with two pieces each about 7/8” which were slightly bowed and one had a mild twist, and the resulting glue line was perfect.

I’ve spoken to the Titebond engineers about potentially over clamping and leaving the joint glue starved, but they tell me they don’t think it’s possible with their product to cause that to happen. One of the guys I’ve chatted with is Bob Behnke, Senior Technical Specialist. He tells me that every time they make any change in their formulation, however slight, they glue up test joints using hydraulic presses at pressures not achievable with standard clamps in the workshop, and they see no signs of what we would think of as a “glue starved” joint.

I actually think I’m more likely to cause the jig to tear itself apart than I am to over squeeze a joint. I built it mostly from scraps, and it’s not quite what I would have made had I started with new stock at desired dimensions. But, it seems to have worked well on the two boards I’ve done thus far.


View BurlyBob's profile


8248 posts in 3234 days

#5 posted 10-27-2016 11:14 PM

That’s a very interesting idea.

View JCinVA's profile


232 posts in 1799 days

#6 posted 10-28-2016 12:38 AM

That is a serious setup. Do you clamp the boards to keep them flat, or does the jig design and pressure keep the glue-up flat?

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 3749 days

#7 posted 10-28-2016 10:36 AM

I do apply cauls to keep the boards flat. This works so well that I know there will be a version two. While this one is made from MDF and construction grade lumber The next one will be built from plywood and hardwood, and it will have a means for attaching the flattening cauls without using bar clamps.

Have a fine day.

View GFactor's profile


82 posts in 2568 days

#8 posted 10-28-2016 10:55 AM

Maybe the fact it is 3:45am and I should be sleeping is the reason I am slightly confused. Why do you have two cauls? Or more importantly, why is there one with the bolt holes all the way thru? Maybe to help keep the bolts straight on narrow glue ups? My very tired brain is letting me down right now.

Also the same question as JCinVa. Sure seems with all that lateral pressure, the boards would start to cup. Seems like I have had multiple headaches trying to keep things flat with each board lined up so my planer has little work to do.

I wonder how flipping every other bolt to a vertical position, add the same on the opposite side, along with a caul at each vertical bolt would do. Or maybe use a homemade version of a bow clamp on the vertical bolts instead of a caul.

Better yet, I am going to stop rambling and get some sleep. GO BLUE!


-- To Steal Ideas From One Person is Plagiarism; to Steal From Many is Research…

View lennyk's profile


34 posts in 1800 days

#9 posted 10-28-2016 11:47 AM

Great idea, as an amateur welder I may try to make a similar but out of angle steel
I don’t think I need that many bolts though, I usually only use three clamps on my boards

View Tom's profile


182 posts in 2028 days

#10 posted 10-28-2016 02:59 PM

I saw a guy make this style setup on YouTube. I’ve debated making one; is it that much better than using clamps?

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 3749 days

#11 posted 10-28-2016 03:26 PM

The one caul I mentioned has the steel bar embedded into it for the clamping bolts to press against. The other is now used as a spacer, but began life as a flawed caul. Initially I thought I could allow the bolts to press onto a heavy fender washer, but the bolts actually drove through the 1/8” holes. So, I made a second sturdier one.

When I rough out the materials for my boards I leave them about 1/8” over size, but I cut all the pieces to the same width(including veneers), quite commonly 1 3/8” for a cutting board, as compared to thinner cheese or bread boards. This 1 3/8” dimension ends up in the clamp perpendicular to the base so a flattening caul will apply somewhat uniform pressure across the glued up cutting board blank.

I do like the idea of building in dedicated flattening cauls, too.

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 3749 days

#12 posted 10-28-2016 03:42 PM

You asked if this jig is that much better than using clamps. I think it is. For me it is so much easier to screw in the bolt with my cordless drill or by hand than it is to mess around with many loose clamps. All the bolts are on one side while I must alternate every other clamp handle, side to side, so I can fit my hands in the same space as the clamp handle. Generally, I do not use all the bolts since they are just not needed. But, sometimes the extra force of a few more of the bolts does give me more uniform glue squeeze out and I think it assures a better joint.

My biggest reason for building it was the convenience of not having to mess with so many clamps.

Enjoy your day.

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 3749 days

#13 posted 10-28-2016 03:44 PM

I like your idea of using the angle iron. I do get concerned that the wood will fail and I’ll be forced to build a new one.

View wood2woodknot's profile


109 posts in 2942 days

#14 posted 10-29-2016 05:07 AM

Just thinking…if you’re really finicky about getting equal pressure all along the clamp, try using a drill with an adjustable clutch. You can use the clutch settings to adjust pressure to your choice…. then just “brrrp, brrrp, brrrp” right on down the line.

-- ajh

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 3749 days

#15 posted 10-29-2016 10:26 AM

Thank you for the comment. We are on the same page there. I usually start with the clutch setting quite low. I put in a bolt about in the middle, then I alternate sides until I’ve covered the entire glue up. I wait a couple minutes and do it again with a higher clutch setting. And, if I think it’s needed I do it again at a higher setting.

Your idea works very well.

Enjoy your day.

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