Time to Glue-Up the Box

author-gravatar Timmy2Hands Jun 25, 2016

It's time to glue-up the pieces that we have created and then add some splines to reinforce the mitered corners.

In an earlier post we got the sides of the box to this configuration. All of the sides are the same length, all of the miter cuts are 45 degrees, and the box tapes up square.

We also got the top and bottom panels ready to be inserted by adding rebate cuts to the bottom and a raised panel detail to the top. I also added a single coat of finish to these panels, basically to get into the harder to reach places once the box is glued together.

Well, what's stopping us? It's time for the glue-up!

I do my glue-up in much the same way Sean demonstrates in his video.

I line up my pieces in the order they go and apply blue painters tape across them all to act as a hinge, I make sure to get the top and bottom panels in the right orientation as I close things up. You can see here that I have a ruler clamped to the bench top, I use it to butt my pieces against to help with alignment when I add the tape.

Where Sean and I differ slightly is in the application of clamps. Now don't get the wrong idea, I am not applying very much clamping pressure at all with this set-up. In fact I use the clamps to very delicately and precisely hold things exactly where I want them and to apply just enough pressure to close any gaps. A little twist here, a little squeeze there, and I get things just the way I want them.

I leave this set up in the clamps at least over night. (6-12 hours)

When things come out of the clamps they don't always look their best.

You get dried up glue squeeze out.

The panels don't always line up the way you thought they would.

Luckily here the corners match up nicely, but there is a lot of dried glue to deal with.

And even though the bottom will not be seen very often, it needs some attention too.

In my case, I didn't think there was enough of a reveal line, so I'll need to trim another 1/32" of the maple to get the look I like.

After a thorough assessment the first tool I reach for is the trusty card scraper.

I have a full set of different shapes and sizes. I keep them in this nice little walnut holder so I know where they are and I make sure they are always sharp.

The other tools that I will need for this initial clean up are my smoothing plane and shoulder plane.

I spend a good amount of time on each of the six sides of the box at this point.

I make sure that the corners meet each other properly, any areas of tear-out are scraped away, and all the long grain edges are broken.

Once you get things nice and even an silky smooth it's time to get out the pencil and the adjustable square. I've chosen my trusty PEC 6" combo square. 

Mitered corners are not the strongest joints with just glue alone holding them. Although I have had really good luck with these joints in the past, I want to add some splines to this box, for demonstration purposes if nothing else.

I made some marks in the lower right hand corner of the box to show me how far in the groove goes for the raised panel. I then mark a line that just touches the corner of the groove. This is how far in I want my splines to go.

I bring those lines down the sides of the box and then do all of the other corners in the same manner. At this point I also determine how far down I want the lid to go, and draw in that line as well. (in this case 1")

Most table saw blades are 1/8", so you just need to cut some spline material to 1/8" and all is well.

Well not in this case. I'll be using my tenon saw to cut the corners for the splines, so the spline material needs to be the same width as my saw kerf. ( 41 thou in this case)

So I've found out that I can cut thin strips off of a 3/4 panel of walnut and plane them down to the thickness I need and that will give me the spline material I want.

These thin pieces are not easy to hold, I had to clamp one end and plane, and then flip end for end and plane the other side.

You can see here, on the left is what I started with and on the right is what I need for the splines. It's basically veneer thickness at this point.

I cut and planed two 18" long pieces of spline material.

Now it's just a matter of putting the box in the vise and cutting for the splines.

Just like dove tailing, you try not to go past your lines and you want to keep your cuts parallel.

Unless you don't, there is a variation of this technique where you intentionally angle your cuts to represent or give the impression of dove tails. I like mine straight. If I wanted dove tails I would have cut dove tails.

So now we just have to let the glue dry again.

I'm gonna clean up, sweep off the bench, and go have a nice cold adult beverage.

Thanks for following along, If you have any questions about the tools or techniques that I'm using, please feel free to ask in the comments section below. 

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