Saturday, April 5, 2014 Dowel or not to Dowel - that is the question

Ok, so this is the part I've been dreading probably most of all - the glue up. The reason? I'm never sure the edges are going to line up perfectly because that damn glue makes them so slippery.

I've heard there really is no need for dowels or biscuits when gluing because the glue is actually stronger than the wood itself. THAT really sets my mind at ease!

All the pieces and parts are ready (at least as ready as they're going to get). Now it's a matter of putting them together and deciding to go ahead with the dowels. I have a dowel jig that worked on another project I did a very long time ago with pretty good results. Wonder if I might be able to get similar results this time around? Well, gonna give it a try because slippage is not an option here, and the dowels will line things up and hold them in place if done right.

2" long by 1/2" diameter dowels should do the trick. Just remember to mark the pieces all the same when drilling the dowel holes. Otherwise they won't line up and the process will need to be done all over again.

Sure do wish I had more clamps than I actually have! Wait, maybe a ratchet tie-down will work. Give that a try as a last resort.

Each piece and part is going to have to be done individually which will take a lot of time and patience.

Can you believe the glue instructions say to only leave the clamps on for 30 minutes? Don't want to "stress" the glue overnight. Seems like it's just not enough time, but every time I take the clamps off, the glue seems to hold just fine in previous projects.

Well, here we go. First up - one side rail attached to one of the cottonwood center slabs. Get all the glue applied and spread out on both surfaces as uniformly as possible. Slowly tighten the clamps alternating from one to another to help keep the pressure as uniform as possible. Hear some cracking and popping as the two pieces are slowly pushed toward each other. The gap gets smaller and smaller. Finally, they meet, and the glue squished up through the seam. Quick, get a wet paper towel and wipe up the excess as much as possible! Keep tightening until it seems the clamps won't go any further.


30 minutes go by. Still seeing some "liquid" properties of the glue, not sure if it's time to take off the clamps yet. Leave them on for another 15 minutes.

Finally take them off, and side rail attached to one cottonwood center slab!

Repeat for the other side rail and cottonwood slab:

Did I mention, the ratchet tie down idea isn't something I'll use in the future? It's too hard to get it situated just right, and too difficult to ratchet down to an equal pressure to the clamps.

Now for the center rail of juniper. Attach it to one side first. Let cure overnight.

Attach to other side next. Let cure overnight.

Now begin to worry about how to attach the end rails because the 4' pipes used so far aren't long enough to accommodate a 4' long tabletop.

Brain fart! Use what you already have. Don't worry about spending the money to invest in 5' long pipes. Use connectors to "extend" the length of the 4' pipes! DAMN, this might just work!

Well, I did have to invest in two 1/2" pipes 60" long for my smaller clamps. The grips weren't long enough to allow a connector contraption similar to the 3/4" pipes. Oh, well.

Set up:

Thought I might be able to do both ends at once, but the weight of the tabletop was just too much.

One end at a time. Let it cure overnight. Patience, patience, patience.

Now, the other end. Pull it in slowly using equal pressure on all of the clamps.

Both ends - DONE!

Pieces and parts no longer pieces and parts.

Next up - starting to work on the pedestals.