How To Edge Joint

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LancsRick":sslbtti9 said:
I don't doubt you for a minute custard I just can't figure it out in my head! Unless the next board you put in upside down so Amy variance cancels out?
I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons, I take from it that...
Its a project to show that one needs to have components that sit well on edge so you can apply this technique to assembling/marking out components with more accuracy.

I've also noticed the error at the top as is pictured as being more apparent when sitting on edge on bearers, simulating a wider panel, instead of just sitting the work on the bench, or a square against the face.
I've since ditched the titemark style marking gauge for this, (thicknessing tall stiles) and switched to a stainless steel analogue calipers instead just feeling around
and locking it at the lowest spot in the panel, instead of striking a line around the whole panel ...I've only being doing this on door stiles for the next while, but will use this technique in future.
I use the marking gauge for marking mortises now, but the calipers for marking the tenons, getting me within test fitting tolerances.
Another reason to get a nice low angle plane or a wooden try :D
Thanks Custard
VERY many thanks to Custard for a very well-written and meticulously pictured post. That clearly did NOT take just "a few minutes" to produce and is a great service to people like me who have trouble with such "little" jobs - and I suspect quite a few other members here as well!

To the Mods: may I suggest that this is made a sticky?

Custard, the "thanks button" doesn't do you justice - many thanks Sir. =D> =D> =D>
Just4Fun":x1m7eu6b said:
What I do is to put 2 boards side by side in the vice, and plane the 2 together. Then if I don't plane at exactly 90 degrees it doesn't matter because the error on one board has an exactly compensating error on the other board.

I'll sometimes do the same thing, especially when I'm edge jointing saw cut veneers. It certainly can work, but there are some potential pitfalls,

-you need a straight rather than a cambered edge to the iron. Getting a truly straight edge is actually harder than it looks, I suspect most people end up with some small degree of camber even if they don't realise it.

-holding two boards together, so that the top edges are tight against each other isn't always that straightforward. And the longer and wider the boards the greater the problem. In hand tool only workshops you would probably only have one true reference face on each board, which then also has to be taken into account.

-there's every chance if you use this technique that you'll be planing against the grain on at least one of the boards. No problems you may say, just use a closely set cap iron. That's true, but I mentioned earlier how many less experienced woodworkers struggle to commence the cut cleanly. With a closely set cap iron (or a high pitched frog, or a steeply pitched bevel up plane) this problem, of massacring the first inch of the cut, increases exponentially.

There are work arounds for these issues, but I'm just pointing out that this technique isn't the simple, silver bullet solution that its sometimes portrayed as in the books and on YouTube!
Good points Custard.
I'm just pointing out that this technique isn't the simple, silver bullet solution that its sometimes portrayed as in the books and on YouTube!
Nothing ever is, unfortunately. However I am happy that you haven't identified any big issue I have been missing and the workarounds for the problems are all things I have been doing for years. Whether I was taught those workarounds or hit on them by luck is lost in the mists of time.
well that was an interesting read, thanks Custard.

In my day to day working life I do a lot of training, as part of this I train trainers (not the running sort) and over the past few months it has become somewhat apparent to me that the hardest thing to teach someone is something you've been doing for so long that it's second nature to you. I think this is a case in point, where unless you stand back and watch what you are doing for an hour it's impossible to get someone else to understand.

So, thank you for taking the time to explain this in terms that others can understand with clear pictures, I'm sure what would have been a 5 minute job for you to do must have taken an few hours in this circumstance.
What is your recommended clamping approach Custard when gluing boards up? In the past when I have tried this I have ended up with the boards wanting to bow, but is that an issue with my edges having a convex profile, or my clamping technique?
Many thanks for taking the time to post this Custard.

Your generosity makes this site one of my favourites.
LancsRick":3nk7l1ig said:
What is your recommended clamping approach?

You make a very good point, it doesn't matter how good your edge jointing is if the glue-up goes pear shaped!

I guess the first thing to say is that hide glue has a lot of advantages for edge jointing, and you don't even need the original hide glue that you heat up in a double boiler. Easy to use liquid hide glues, like this one, ... ue-ax22595

work just as well for a rubbed joint.

The advantages are you don't need any cramps, you just put one component in your vice and apply a decent wiggly bead of liquid hide glue along it's length, rub the joint together to even out the glue and expel any excess. Soon you feel it start to "bite", then get the two components lined up exactly as you want and leave them in the vice for a few minutes. After that you can take them out of the vice and prop them up in an out of the way location for a couple of hours while the glue cures. It's absolutely 100% strong enough for virtually any furniture making application, squeeze out clean up is dead easy, and if by any chance you're unhappy with the result it's fairly straightforward to undo the glue joint with a damp rag and a steam iron, fix the problem and try again.

Staying with the notion of using your vice as a glue-up aid, there's a trick that's often used in professional workshops for lightly stressed, edge-jointed components, such as panels for frame and panel work, or small tops for occasional tables.

Step one is to place one component off-centre in your vice,

Step two is to apply the glue then place the second component on top, like this,

Then finally you use one, lightweight cramp in the centre, like this,

Your edge jointing needs to be pretty accurate, with a minute hollow to give you a slightly "sprung" joint, and you also have to have the knack of tightening up a cramp without twisting the components out of line. But if you can do all that, then this is a super fast method. With a fast setting glue like Titebond 1, you can store the glued and cramped components in an out of the way location for 30-40 minutes, and as long as you're careful they'll then be ready for the next stage in your build.

But if you want to do the full monty glue-up then here's how I go about the job. I'm not saying this the best or only way, but it is an approach that consistently delivers first class results for me.

The first thing is that I always use bearers rather than resting the workpiece direct on the sash cramps.

These bearers are either waxed or covered in parcel tape to prevent the glue sticking to them, and they bring two huge advantages. Firstly you can shim them so the bearers form a totally flat plane for the work to sit on, which prevents any twist or wind being introduced at the glue-up stage. Secondly they're sized so they're a bit deeper than the "spines" of your sash cramps. This keeps the work floating above the sash cramps, which makes glue squeeze out removal much easier, plus it also prevents the risk of "iron stain", which is what happens when a timber like Oak, high in tannins, touches steel in the presence of moisture (which most glues will provide plenty of!).

You then do a dry glue-up. You always do a dry glue-up, no matter how experienced you are and how many times you've done the job, this final dress rehearsal is the last chance to check you've everything you need, it's all working properly, and the workpiece lines up exactly as you need.

Next step is to apply a thin layer of glue to both components to ensure they're thoroughly "wetted out"

You then apply cramp pressure, starting in the centre and working out, checking for a bead of squeeze out all the way along as you go,

Now, if you want, you can carefully lift the glued-up assembly off the bearers and check for an even bead of squeeze out underneath,

And the gaps left by the carefully sized bearers mean you have full access for cleaning up squeeze out,

With all the squeeze out removed (on critical jobs I usually do three repetitions of scrubbing with clean, boiling water) you can set the piece back down and do a final check for straight and flat,

Finally, a couple of little wrinkles that may be useful.

Sash cramps rarely apply pressure at exactly the angle you expect. The "shoes" sometimes angle back, or the "spine" bends upwards under pressure. Having cramps top and bottom helps. But sometimes you'll need cramping blocks on the outer edges with a "D" shaped profile, this profile automatically adjusts for out of true sash cramps, and delivers the pressure perpendicular to the joint.

Another point is that I hardly ever use biscuits, dowels, splines, or dowels. I don't believe they add any useful strength and they bring with them a load of hassles. The exception might be if I'm working single handed on a really big job. Then I might use one or at the very most two biscuits, inserted dry, in the centre of the workpiece, and this is purely to assist in alignment. If you've edge jointed properly you really don't need anything else.


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As ever custard the quality of your guidance is brilliant, thank you. Sounds like I may be limiting myself to the final option at present (or second option) as I'm using pva.

I also have clamp envy..
custard":2bt7gjsd said:
Secondly they're sized so they're a bit deeper than the "spines" of your sash cramps. This keeps the work floating above the sash cramps, which makes glue squeeze out removal much easier, plus it also prevents the risk of "iron stain", which is what happens when a timber like Oak, high in tannins, touches steel in the presence of moisture (which most glues will provide plenty of!).

Good tip, found this the hard way glueing up some oak door panels. All that effort to get a super good joint, and it had thin black dashes where the glue touched the clamps #-o
Just found this thread. Absolutely superb Custard, many, many thanks.
I don't make furniture or anything of that sort, but it is nevertheless useful to know what I'm supposed to be doing when edge joining. You must have spent a lot of time putting this post together and, as others have said, the result is worthy of inclusion in a book.
Since it's not a book, do you have a favourite charity to which contributions could be made?
You're welcome Duncan. Despite there being no end of YouTube videos I'm conscious that a lot of the critical information needed to successfully make furniture is either missing or is just plain wrong. So I try and do my bit to lay out the cabinet making practises that work for me. I'm not saying these are the only way or even the best way, but they're methods that I've found deliver good quality results.
Solo Cramps are a good cramp, cheap and with plenty of workshop applications, but they have a tendency to let go under vibration.

Sheesh...honest? I've done almost all my amateur routing with them and never had a problem. I guess, Fate is waiting for that irreplaceable component to teach me this one. :shock:

This technique was one I saw in the boys workshop companion. It was my favourite book as a child! I can't remember ever trying it though!
One technique not mentioned is to attach a fence to your plane to shoot 90 degree joints. Popular in technical schools in the 50s apparently. Actually better for planing angled edges though.
Superb post custard really practical and detailed.
Excellent contribution, Custard. Thanks for taking the time and effort. Loads of useful learning points.
Thanks Custard, that was a really clear, informative and interesting . I normally plane and get good results, even if the boards do occasionally get quite a bit smaller!
I have used a simillar router method and while it was successful I found it to be awkward and surprisingly slow. I must get around to making a template up for the router table with toggle clamps to hold the work.
thanks for taking the time to write this up.

you mention using a D profile on the sash clamps to provide clamping pressure perpendicular to work piece, I've had some success with using dowels.


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