Edge-grain glue up from shorts?

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Forum topic by William Shelley posted 10-29-2017 02:58 AM 531 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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William Shelley

609 posts in 2246 days

10-29-2017 02:58 AM

Hi all

I have some projects lined up where I’m going to be using some rather dodgy American Chestnut lumber that was stored poorly and thus has a lot of defects to cut around. I’m going to be using this for 1-3/4 or 2-1/4” thick table tops, made from strips ripped and then face glued together. However, because I have to cut around a lot of problems in the wood, there will be a lot of butt joints where short pieces join.

I did one small 11” x 36” top so far, and I had to do the glue-up in multiple passes because where I had more than one piece per row, I had to use a pipe clamp to pull the butt-joints tight. It turned out okay but the labor was excessive.

What I’m trying to figure out is how this is done in an efficient manner that yields good results. I’ve seen countertops for sale by Ikea for example that are made from what looks like scraps or offcuts of Maple. Obviously they probably have some specialized presses and large industrial jigs and machines to do this.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

4 replies so far

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1676 days

#1 posted 10-29-2017 03:05 AM

Probably could use a shaper.


View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4425 days

#2 posted 10-29-2017 03:24 AM

Check out this finger jointer:

There are also automatic crosscut saws that detect
knots and cut the parts in between to random
lengths for finger jointing.

I doubt you’ll find finger jointing very enjoyable.
I’ve had good results doweling end-to-end joints.
Without something holding the ends together
the wood swims around when you glue up layers
to make a wide board and there are gaps. My
work bench is made this way and the gaps are
not a hindrance but for a nice table they would
not look good.

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

609 posts in 2246 days

#3 posted 10-29-2017 03:30 AM

Ok thanks. I guess I’m more interested in refining my process than in specific tools, although I’m thinking that a finger jointing bit for my router might be a good investment.

To put it simply: should I butt-join short boards FIRST, into the lengths I need, and then face glue them into the end result? OR, should I be doing the face glue AND the butt joining at the same time?

Dowels sound good too, If I had a Domino, I’d probably have already solved this problem. I do have a biscuit joiner. Would #0 biscuits hold well enough to keep the butt joints together long enough to get all the pieces glued up in the sandwich?

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4425 days

#4 posted 10-29-2017 03:40 AM

I think to get the best results you’ll need to
plane lengths of butt jointed material to remove
minor variations in thickness and offsets that
occur in the joints. If the biscuits are glued
in I think they would mostly hold the butt
jointed boards together well enough to get
through the planer and glue up. The advantage
of dowels is they have a friction fit and the parts
stay aligned. Biscuit joints you would have to
clamp from the ends, which seems kind of

I think you can skip end clamping with finger
joints too. They will probably look pretty tight
but you’ll spend a lot of time getting the glue
into all the fingers. With dowels or biscuits I
think there would be a lot less glue mess.

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