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View Graem Lourens's profile

How to fix butt joint gaps?

by Graem Lourens
posted 08-08-2016 01:48 PM


26 replies so far

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

1368 posts in 1485 days


#1 posted 08-08-2016 02:35 PM

Graem Lourens,

Using a paste filler, whether wood putty or dust and glue, would be my option of last resort. I frequently fill long gaps using thin shims cut from project lumber. A well-fitting shim, unlike paste fillers, can produce a repair that is nearly invisible and it stays put and will not crack.

The gap to be filled is first cleaned and prepared for shim. A utility knife can often result in a gap wide enough to accept the shim to a consistent deep. The shim is prepared by first cutting a slither of wood from which the project is built to approximate size. The shim is then fine-tuned to fit snugly and deeply in the gap all along the length of gap. I find course grit sand paper works best on what is normally a fairly thin shim sometimes sanding a slight bevel along one edge to make it easier to press it deeply into the gap. Once I have the shim fitting exactly right, I apply glue to the shim and press the shim into the gap as deeply as possible. After the glue has cured, the excess shim is paired away with a chisel and sanded flush.

View GR8HUNTER's profile

GR8HUNTER

6708 posts in 1278 days


#2 posted 08-08-2016 03:22 PM

I say lesson learned ….......just set it out …..when you build next 1 ….....check into biscuit’s …..or drill hole 1 size bigger then dowels …......this way you have some room for glue also …...... good luck to you sir

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View Graem Lourens's profile

Graem Lourens

36 posts in 1233 days


#3 posted 08-09-2016 07:15 AM

Hi.

Thank you a lot for your feedback. I didn’t even consider your idea JBrow, but it seems very simple and effective! I will give that a go, even if i think this will be a very finicky and tedious job to get those shims just right – but we will see, it definitively sounds the most promising to then stain & finish (assuming i don’t make a huge glue-mess)

Concerning the dowels, yes indeed 1 size bigger hole next time. I did see to it that the dowels could be put in and removed by hand, but with so many dowels at once, i totally underestimated the force.

And also learnt that you can never have enough clamps :)

But back to wood filler / paste / putty. Are these products unreliable and are there certain things to be aware of? Maybe somebody that has experimented with it could share a few words so i don’t walk into the pittfalls ahead of me if i do decide to try.

Kind regards, Graem

-- Novice woodworker and passionate astrophotographer https://www.flickr.com/photos/graemlourens/

View Robert's profile

Robert

3571 posts in 2046 days


#4 posted 08-09-2016 10:13 AM

Did you do a dry fit?
Sounds like the glue was seizing on you. Did you try to glue the whole thing up at once or stages?
Any filler needs to be waterproof, as does (did) the glue.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Graem Lourens's profile

Graem Lourens

36 posts in 1233 days


#5 posted 08-09-2016 10:51 AM

Hi.

Yes i did a dry assembly, but to be honest, i did not clamp everything to the tighest, just wanted to see that everything fits, that was a big mistake. I though the gaps would then disappear (nearly all) when clamping. But i had to take belt fasteners (like the ones you use to attach things to your roof of the car) and i never ever could put any kind of real force to those.

I assembled the back rest, and both leg parts (that i could separately glue) first. Let them dry, then all 4 parts came together (not possible to do it in various stages because of the dowels). 2 Sideparts, back rest and seat logs. (don’t know how you call them)

Lesson learnt for sure. Dry assembly has to be exactly as it will be when glued up, and to make those holes for dowels muuuuch looser (and that i need to buy more clamps…. the ones i have nearly broke already, i guess i need some heavy duty pipe clamps for these kind of projects)

Glue is waterproof, yes.

Kind regards, Graem

-- Novice woodworker and passionate astrophotographer https://www.flickr.com/photos/graemlourens/

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2839 posts in 2862 days


#6 posted 08-09-2016 12:03 PM

Gotta have real clamps – you can use simple wooden wedges if you don’t have a real need for the clamps beyond this one time build.

View Graem Lourens's profile

Graem Lourens

36 posts in 1233 days


#7 posted 08-09-2016 12:05 PM

What a great idea… thank you! Very handy if once i have to clamp something longer than my clamps.

I will though be building a ton of furniture in future, so i think i’ll be going for a decent set, but in the meanwhile i’ll gladly try this relatively simple workaround!

Kind regards, Graem

-- Novice woodworker and passionate astrophotographer https://www.flickr.com/photos/graemlourens/

View jeffswildwood's profile

jeffswildwood

4193 posts in 2542 days


#8 posted 08-09-2016 12:08 PM

First congratulations on a beautiful bench. I like the design! As for the gaps, unless they are big, I agree with Tony (GR8HUNTER). Lesson learned, stain and seal and put it out and enjoy it! Next time make your adjustments.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View Graem Lourens's profile

Graem Lourens

36 posts in 1233 days


#9 posted 08-09-2016 12:11 PM

Hi Jeff.

Thank you very much for your feedback.

I can not take credit for the design. I saw this bench in a park around here, sat on it for a while, loved it, came back a few days later with a measuring tape and a laptop and 3d sketched it.

But its dead simple to make, and the next one will feature half lap joints or mortise and tenons, not sure yet what road to go down first. (need to try them all to pick my favorite!, really depends on the tools at hand i guess)

Kind regards, Graem

-- Novice woodworker and passionate astrophotographer https://www.flickr.com/photos/graemlourens/

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

1386 posts in 2518 days


#10 posted 08-09-2016 12:54 PM

A bit more on using dowels. Don’t go overboard on making the holes larger. A snug fit without binding is what you want. Your comment “to make those holes for dowels muuuuch looser” suggests that you might be headed too far in the loose fitting direction.

You need to allow somewhere for the excess glue to squeeze out. If you put a bunch of glue in the hole and then insert a fairly snug fitting dowel the glue gets pushed to the bottom of the hole and that’s as far as the dowel can go. You can purchase dowels that are scored along their length or simply use a utility knife or other tool to score your own making channels for the glue to flow through. The total depth of the two holes should be a bit more than the dowel so that it doesn’t bottom out.

View Graem Lourens's profile

Graem Lourens

36 posts in 1233 days


#11 posted 08-09-2016 01:11 PM

Hi Kazooman.

Yes, you’re absolutely right. And i do know i’ll have to be careful not going too far, but using the same drill size as the dowel is, didn’t work for me it seems. I’ll go one size bigger and see if that does the trick.

The dowels that i have, they have the scores along the side, so perfect for glue-squeeze-out.
I think that if i could have done the glueing in smaller parts (i’d have to design it differently) it would have been no problem, but getting the force for 28 dowels including a snug fit, was just over-enthusiastic :)

Kind regards, Graem

-- Novice woodworker and passionate astrophotographer https://www.flickr.com/photos/graemlourens/

View distrbd's profile

distrbd

2252 posts in 3012 days


#12 posted 08-09-2016 02:07 PM

Another possibility for having those gaps is, you probably did not drill the holes deep enough ,it’s always better to measure and compare the depth of the holes with the length of the dowels. I always drill 1/16” deeper than what’s needed.
If you are planning to use dowels in your future projects I highly recommend shaving 15-20 spare dowels to make them narrower so they can easily fit in the holes, keep them in a sealed jar, use them for dry fitting/ testing your project before the final glue-up.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 1268 days


#13 posted 08-09-2016 02:21 PM

Gr8hunter has it, lesson learned. Also you built that from pine to sit out in the weather, it will shrink and you will have gaps anyway fixing them now is pointless. Its a very nice bench. Next time I would consider using a wood better suited for exterior applications like cedar or something, even then outside furniture uses slightly different approach to joinery techniques than inside to allow for the extreme changes in temp and humidity.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View Graem Lourens's profile

Graem Lourens

36 posts in 1233 days


#14 posted 08-09-2016 02:56 PM

While reading about using dowels, i did read that one should drill slightly deeper than the dowel, and i made sure that was the case everywhere.

The hint of the slightly smaller dowels for dry fitting is a very good hint, thank you! You guys are flooding me with great insights, i really appreciate it.

Concerning the wood. As it really as a practise object i didn’t want to use any good wood, and furthermore i’m still looking for a good local dealer here in Warsaw.

Kind regards, Graem

-- Novice woodworker and passionate astrophotographer https://www.flickr.com/photos/graemlourens/

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 1268 days


#15 posted 08-09-2016 03:10 PM

Well its a very nice practice piece. Are you in Poland or U.S.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View Graem Lourens's profile

Graem Lourens

36 posts in 1233 days


#16 posted 08-09-2016 03:12 PM

I’m currently living in Poland. Just found out you guys also have a ‘Warsaw’ that was new to me!

Kind regards, Graem

-- Novice woodworker and passionate astrophotographer https://www.flickr.com/photos/graemlourens/

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 1268 days


#17 posted 08-09-2016 03:21 PM

Yea we have several city’s or towns named Warsaw. Indiana, Missouri had a lot of Polish settlers they both have a Warsaw. WE have a town named for every other city on the European continent aswell lol.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View canadianchips's profile

canadianchips

2632 posts in 3562 days


#18 posted 08-09-2016 03:27 PM

If you are staining this, putty’s , fillers will always be seen. Try to fit tighter when finishing with stain.
Option on this one might be paint. You can use epoxy filler and cover with paint !
Glue and sawdust will also leave a different color.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View marshallmosby56's profile

marshallmosby56

18 posts in 1245 days


#19 posted 08-12-2016 05:51 PM

Considering the environment your beautiful bench as I must say, is going to be in having a lot of moisture, dust etc, the best bet would be to use silicon sealants. You can check online for those and learn about the same as they come from different manufacturers and so it would be better to choose the one best suited for your DIY project.

-- :)

View Graem Lourens's profile

Graem Lourens

36 posts in 1233 days


#20 posted 08-16-2016 08:38 AM

Hi Everybody.

A late update: You guys got me thinking a lot, and i decided to take my time and experiment on test pieces.

- I tried glue & sawdust, not very easy, and its like endgrain, it soaks up all that stain, way more than the normal wood.
- I bought various putty’s / fillers and currently waiting for them to try, but as the gaps are considerable, its a multi-stage process (putty does shrink in size) and i don’t think that staining will work well.

The last comment brought me to the idea i’ll probably follow: I’ll finish the bench as is, and seal the cracks afterwards with colorless silicone that will work for outside usage and bond to the finish well. It will not optically ‘close’ the cracks, but it will prevent moisture of creeking in there, and for me thats more important. On the second bench i’ll be more careful and will see if i can get it perfect this time :)

Thx again for all your insights, i really do appreciate the time every one of you took to give your opinions.

Kind regards, Graem

-- Novice woodworker and passionate astrophotographer https://www.flickr.com/photos/graemlourens/

View 000's profile

000

2859 posts in 1464 days


#21 posted 08-16-2016 01:19 PM

I wouldn’t use silicone. I would use DAP Dynafex 230. Regular caulk that you get at the big box store.
Silicone is too messy and turns funky after a year or so. The Dap is (they claim) 100% waterproof and is made for Exterior Windows and Door Trim. Water cleanup, And it comes in colors that may be close to your finish?
https://www.dap.com/dap-products-ph/dynaflex-230-premium-indooroutdoor-sealant/

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 1268 days


#22 posted 08-16-2016 09:57 PM

Jbay is right.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

3081 posts in 2590 days


#23 posted 08-19-2016 12:39 AM

Another approach: If the gaps are sufficient, use a hacksaw blade to saw through all of your dowels (or at least the problematic ones) and start over. Better than a hacksaw blade would be an oscillating multi tool. I’m quite fond of Harbor Freight’s version, even if it is the cheapest you can buy. Best deal on blades is from Grizzly.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Cooler's profile

Cooler

299 posts in 1408 days


#24 posted 08-19-2016 02:25 PM

I suspect that your problem was “hydraulic pressure”. The wet glue creates as seal for the air behind it and it works like a shock absorber. What I do is take a knife to the dowel and make a lengthwise slice to allow the air to escape. Or I use manufactured dowels with the grooves already done.

I would use one of these: http://www.craftsmanspace.com/sites/default/files/free-knowledge-articles/wooden_dowels.jpg

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

View Graem Lourens's profile

Graem Lourens

36 posts in 1233 days


#25 posted 08-23-2016 05:54 AM

Thx a lot for your comments.

@Cooler, i did use the dowels you have in your link at the right side. But the fit was so tight (now i know much too tight) that with the glue i had the mentioned hydraulic pressure problem.

I’m preparing for an identic second bench and will see if this time i get it just right.

But i’m not surprised i had gaps. I was not able to joint these logs at all (none of them), i only had a planer, and my mitre saw station was balacing wood on wacky elements. I’m currently moving to my brand new shop and will now be busy for at least 2 months just building support furniture, and then going back to projects :)

Kind regards, Graem

-- Novice woodworker and passionate astrophotographer https://www.flickr.com/photos/graemlourens/

View marshallmosby56's profile

marshallmosby56

18 posts in 1245 days


#26 posted 08-25-2016 07:28 PM

Checked out DAP Dynafex work. Really impressed. Thanks for making me wiser.

-- :)

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