Hand Tools Archive

Gluing drawer bottoms

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
A beginning woodworker was visiting the shop last week and I put him to work gluing up the 6 drawer bottoms for the bedside dressers. While I have no quibble with assembling thin panels with gobs of tape, I don't find it necessary to accomplish this task any different from any other panel.

The bottoms were 1/4" thick x 16" wide western cedar. They were assembled with a bottom clamp on each end and a top clamp across the middle. I offer this technique for consideration of its simplicity. It works in the coached hands of a beginner.

The bottom clamps at each end are snugged as the panel components are coaxed into alignment. The top clamp is applied tight against the top, and snugged, to prevent the panel from bowing up. Sequentially, the clamps are tightened to bring uniform pressure to the joints.

Panel gluing is all about applying sufficient pressure to squeeze excess glue out of the joint. A firm snug is sufficient for a 1/4" panel, not a tight crank of the clamp screw like for a full thickness panel.

The top clamp is essential. A miscommunication led to the helper removing the top clamp during assembly. The panel bowed up and the joints separated. Not a problem to start over, except add sufficient additional glue to the joint to re-wet the surfaces. This reassembled joint will take substantially longer to cure because the wood adjacent to the joint is now wet from round 1 glue.

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