When my mom died last year we tried to throw nothing in the garbage. We gave away everything to neighbors, friends and the local shelters. She would have wanted it that way. But no one wanted this white plastic shower caddy.
So I took it, even though I don’t like plastic.
I turned it into our Assembly Caddy™, and I’m surprised how much I like it (Megan doesn’t care for it, but oh well).
The caddy holds almost all the tools we need for typical and odd glue-ups. So whenever I or a student are ready to assemble, I grab the caddy and go to work without much thought. Here is what is in it (and why).
- Glue (liquid hide, yellow and cyanoacrylate)
- Glue brushes to apply glue
- Toothbrushes to remove glue
- Palette knife, syringe and dental floss to sneak glue into tight/odd spots
- Small paper cups to hold glue during application
- Galvanized bucket for water to clean excess glue
- Wax paper to prevent glue squeeze-out from sticking to the bench.
Important Tip: Speed is Everything
One aspect of gluing up panels that many beginners don’t know is that you should glue up your panel immediately after dressing the edges. It doesn’t matter whether you use a handplane or an electric jointer.
How fast? I shoot for about 5 minutes. If it has been 30 minutes since I jointed the edges, I’ll rejoint them.
Wood moves after it is cut. There can be tension in the board or a wettish interior. As soon as you expose that fresh edge, it will start to react with the air in your shop.
In an edge joint, surface area is everything. Even tiny amounts of movement can reduce the strength of the joint. I have seen this problem first-hand with woodworkers who joint all their edges one day and come back the next day to assemble them. The joints are rarely perfect (or even decent).
— Christopher Schwarz
21 thoughts on “Glue Fast, my Young One. Glue…Convenient?”
I’ve been playing around at woodworking all my life but I’m still hearing new gems of information regularly. This is the first time I’ve heard about fast glue-up after jointing, but it makes sense and I will be adjusting my routine accordingly. Thanks
Love the glue caddy idea. I usually make a mental list of what I need before glue ups and inevitably, forget something and then it’s a mad scramble. Anything to take some of the stress out of that operation is a good thing. It’s always fun to watch a real pro glue up, especially with a chair, it’s like a perfect dance of movements vs frantic jumping around and swearing with hammer in hand! Thanks.
Do you heat the OBG before applying and if so how do you do it?
I’ve found an old 3.5″ floppy disk to be a good glue spreader for large surfaces. And I keep a supply of plastic tabs from produce bags to spread smaller flat areas.
We have a “Hold-Heet” electric glue pot. Fill the interior pot with water, drop the bottle in (yes, OBG requires warming – the maker recommends 140°F-160°F) and wait a 1/2-hour or so.
Yes. We heat it in our glue pot.
It almost always needs warming. I put mine in a pan of warm or hot water, depending on the shop temperature. It’s possible it would flow by itself on a hot summer day, but I tend not to glue up on the hottest and muggiest days.
I’ve found that in the absence of an electric glue pot, water as hot as it gets from the faucet, renewed a couple of times during the 30 minutes that I usually wait, and then one last time just before glue-up starts, gives a nice, liquid glue that is easy to apply and has a sufficient open time, at least for my needs so far. I’m definitely looking at getting an electric glue pot, though.
Instead of paper cups, my favoured container from which to apply glue is instead a Weck canning jar of a suitable size and shape (also pre-heated with and kept in hot water during glue-up) – the glass is very easy to clean up after use. And they are also very good for mixing up milk paint in. More expensive per piece than paper cups, but unless dropped on a concrete floor should last pretty much forever.
As for the fresh joint precept, I must claim the refuge of my (relative) beginner status, ’cause that thought had never crossed my mind! It will henceforth, though, even if I have been lucky up until now not to have that particular omission play any tricks on me, or at least not any that I’d noticed.
The paper cups seem wasteful, I know. For what it’s worth, these cups are uncoated and are recycled/composted. The only time I use them is when gluing up a complex assembly (such as a chair) that might have 40 mortises. I fold the rim of the cup to pour exactly the amount of glue I need and apply it with accuracy.
When I have a small glue-up, I turn my morning coffee cup over and pool some glue there.
Apologies if that came across the wrong way – I did not at all intend to accuse you of being wasteful! I use similar cups (and have used much worse) for other types of glue, such as epoxy, where residue cannot be simply cleaned off/up. I just meant it as a general tip to say that for OBG and milk paint and similar stuff, I’ve found the Weck pots really nice to use.
Of course, glass is glass, but what makes the Weck pots, and specifically what they call mold jars superior in my eyes compared to standard jam or mustard or whatever jars is the shape. They are widest at the mouth, but not much less wide at the bottom, so very stable; there’s no inside corner just under the mouth, like on a regular jar, nor any threads for a lid, so they are quite smooth with no hard-to-clean places; theres full access for both stirring sticks and brushes; and the lids (if you need to put a lid on it) are not threaded but kept in place with clips, so much easier to re-open even if something’s gone sticky on you. And they come in **many* sizes!
Again, no criticism intended, just sharing.
I know for certain you weren’t criticizing me. But several people have rang/rung/ringed my bell in the past about the paper cups, and I thought it would be good to explain how they are used.
And now to look at some Weck pots….!
The cool thing about OBG is, you can make it “variable.” Warming it in hotter water gives you more working time. For a simple job,cooler glue makes it get tacky quicker. It’s not quite a rub joint as with hot hide glue, but it’s similar.
Everyone in my household KNOWS not to bother dad if he’s doing glue-ups. I do not tarry when there’s boards/assemblies or clamps involved. Living in the hot hell of the South, glues and finishes do not follow the times suggested on the labels.
when I do glue ups on panels, I joint them and glue them up asap and I save the glue ups for the last project of the day. that way I don’t need to move anything around, and they are ready to go the next morning. Remember always dry fit with clamps then take apart and add glue. I really like the caddy I may put one together for my shop.
That is a great tip about gluing up edges right after dressing them. Thanks!
There’ll be a YouTuber with a video shortly titled:”my take on a Assembly Caddy” with dovetails and ebony accents
Frank Howarth has one already:
Great idea. I’m always running back and forth to get what I need.
Has anyone, to your knowledge, tested the comparable efficacy of fresh or old jointed edges? As oxidation of any surface is going to effect bonding, regardless of materials. We know full well it effects alloys, and some stones significantly but what about wood. Is the oxidation or change in geometry of the surface enough to actually significantly effect bonding strength in wood? This would be a fascinating aspect of wood craft to examine…Thanks for sharing this insight…
Good advice. I don’t know anything about oxidation, but I can guarantee from experience that wood moves FAST. A couple of hours is all that your perfectly planes boards need in order to go wonky.
Wow. Last night, I planed down the four edges of a 3 piece walnut table top with the intention of gluing them tonight after work. All square! I worked hard to get them all perfect. After reading this, I thought I’d check them again. Not square. Out comes the #7. I’d have been scratching my head and cussing up a storm. A different, longer evening than I’d planned. Thanks!
Plastic caddy, plastic glue: perfect!
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