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Silent Screwing technique - edge-joining boards without clamps

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Project by woodworkdude posted 01-22-2021 02:40 PM 1880 views 2 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My late father taught me this technique for joining boards by the long edges, using ‘silent’ screws.

One can join several boards together sequentially, if for instance, one is making a table top.
One does not then need clamps for the actual joining, just while performing the technique.
It makes for a very strong joint – screws and glue together.

Process:
True up the edges of the boards to be joined, so that when placed with the edges to be joined together, there are no gaps, and it is as you wish it to be when finished. I use a jack plane for this.

Decide, depending on the length of the boards, how many screws you will need. It is best to place the first ones about 5 cm (two inches) from each end of the board and then one every 20 cm, (8 inches) between. It is not critical, you can place as many as you wish – do not place too few. For boards about one meter, (three feet approx.) long, I would place five screws.

Size the screws to the wood thickness – thicker boards, heavier screws. Consider using stainless-steel screws for heavy boards. Note for Oak – use brass screws – steel with be eaten through in a year.

Clamp the boards together, with the mating surfaces uppermost. Offset one of the boards a short distance, as shown in photo 1.

Mark across both boards with a pencil as shown. Mark a line in the middle of the thickness of the boards as shown. One of them serves to show where the screw will go, while the other must be the same length as the offset.

Drill a sequence of holes along the offset line. The diameter must be the thickness of the shank of the screw, plus a small amount for clearance.

Re-drill the hole on the cross line – the diameter must be that of the head of the screw, plus a small amount for clearance – ( see Photo 2). So, now you have what looks like a keyhole. Drill a pilot hole at the mark on the other board.

Repeat for all the holes.

Note: For really hard woods, (Oak, Wenge, Panga Panga , Iron wood etc) make the clearance amounts greater, but not so as to exceed the diameter of the screw head, since then the whole technique will not work. Greater clearance will make it easier to mate to boards finally, without bending the screw shanks.
Insert screws where the lines cross – (see photo 3.)

Offer up the board with the screws to the one with the slots and check the fit. The boards should mate nicely with no gaps

Use a hammer and a piece of scrap wood to drive the upper board, so that the butt edges line up. I will refer to this part as ‘latching’ from now on – (see photo 4.)

Check the fit again – the boards should mate nicely with no gaps. Adjust fit if necessary at this point.
If all fits well, unlatch the boards.

Tighten each screw a quarter turn. This will give a close fit when the boards are latched once again.

Apply glue to the mating surfaces and re-latch, using the hammer and the scrap piece of wood as before – (see photo 5.)
Wipe off the excess glue and allow to set.

I hope that you find this technique useful – have fun!!





13 comments so far

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

2873 posts in 3645 days


#1 posted 01-22-2021 03:38 PM

Thanks for this.

Another great idea. I’m glad your father taught you, and you are teaching others.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View Buck_Thorne's profile

Buck_Thorne

136 posts in 2078 days


#2 posted 01-22-2021 03:39 PM

So, keyhole slots, with the screw heads being a wedge that draws the boards tightly together. Is that the idea?

View woodworkdude's profile

woodworkdude

5 posts in 38 days


#3 posted 01-22-2021 04:42 PM

Hi there Buck_Thorne, Thanks for the question.
Yes – when you ‘latch’ the boards dry, (i.e. without glue), the edge of the screw head ‘carves’ a groove into the wood within the slot.

Then when you glue up, give the screws a quarter turn to the right before re-latching, to take up any wear that may have crept in during the dry latching, (and un-latching in order to apply the glue.)

Best wishes !
James

View woodworkdude's profile

woodworkdude

5 posts in 38 days


#4 posted 01-22-2021 04:43 PM

Ocelot, Hi
Nice one !!
Many thanks for the nice comment.
Best wishes
James

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

4299 posts in 3355 days


#5 posted 01-22-2021 04:45 PM

+1 – Buck

Took me a minute to realize that was how this works. Clever idea.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Gary's profile

Gary

70 posts in 3269 days


#6 posted 01-22-2021 05:08 PM

Clever! And clearly written instructions! Bravo!

-- Cheers -- g

View woodworkdude's profile

woodworkdude

5 posts in 38 days


#7 posted 01-22-2021 07:45 PM

Hi Gary, thanks for your nice comments.
Take care,
James

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

1632 posts in 3042 days


#8 posted 01-22-2021 08:20 PM

That’s a nice trick!
Of course if anyone resaws that board they’ll get a surprise!

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Oldtool's profile

Oldtool

3164 posts in 3197 days


#9 posted 01-23-2021 01:34 AM

Interesting approach to gluing boards, very unique.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

1099 posts in 2299 days


#10 posted 01-23-2021 05:56 PM



That s a nice trick!
Of course if anyone resaws that board they ll get a surprise!

- Underdog

Nice technique. Who said one can never have enough clamps.

I was thinking the same thing as Under Dog. If someone in the future recycles those boards they’ll run out and buy a metal detector. :-)

-- James E McIntyre

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

6487 posts in 1827 days


#11 posted 01-24-2021 05:14 PM

Love the innovation and the ingenuity behind this concept. The story is out of left field. The concept is so innovative that it needs a spot on it’s own and your old man was a genuine genious… to have learned the technique is an accomplishment to yourself.

Please forgive me, however, to be the devils advocate, with clamps, biscuit joiners, Fe$tool Dominos, doweling jigs and Titebond 3 (that really doesn’t require”jointing”) why would anyone other than dedicated hand tools tragics, undertake this hit and miss option.

I truly apologise… some jerk had to eventually say this.

But then again, I have clamps out of my butt and a Domino to boot… and a biscuit joiner… and a doweling jig.. and…

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View Buck_Thorne's profile

Buck_Thorne

136 posts in 2078 days


#12 posted 01-26-2021 04:53 AM

Screws cost a little bit less than your Domino, Duck.

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

6487 posts in 1827 days


#13 posted 01-26-2021 07:20 AM



Screws cost a little bit less than your Domino, Duck.
- Buck_Thorne

May be ok in more competent hands than mine, but aligning the screws cost time, which at my age, is a dirtload more expensive than Dominos.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

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