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  1. #1
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    May 2019
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    Default Gluing my own hardwood benchtops

    Hi Guys,

    I need to make or buy 4x 2.1mm long benchtops, two 600mm wide and two 700mm wide. The cost for the dressed blackbutt timber is roughly half the price of the glulam benchtop made from the same material and by the same company selling the timber. I'm therefore considering doing the job myself, but want to first double-check what's involved, as I've only glued together smaller table tops usually out of pine which is more compressible and generally more forgiving.

    Besides using plenty of clamps and the right glue for hardwood and waterproofness (e.g. titebond 3 or polyurethane), what else do I need to consider. Obviously the faces to be glued need to be (almost) perfectly square to create a gapeless seem and strong joint, and I'll likely need to constraint the benchtop across it's width to keep it flat, but anything else, or that about it?

    If the edge faces aren't straight ot square enough, is it possible to use a router to joint if one doesn't have a jointer?

    Any tips or advice is much appreciated.

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  3. #2
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    Default

    If the timber is properly dressed all round (opposing faces parallel and all corners 90 degrees) it should be doable. Titebond 3 would be ideal.

    How thick are the boards going to be? if there is a lot of boards needed to make up the width then consider laminating together in lots of 3 to 4 at a time then laminate the laminated blocks together the next day to ensure you don't extend the open time of the glue.

    There is still likely to be a bit of variation in height among boards somewhere along the process so you still may need to level the completed glued up slab. Are you handy with a plane? If not you will sooon find out why the already laminated product is so much more expensive.
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  4. #3
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    Default

    As a rule, don't expect to be able to join "dressed" timber without re-dressing it. They dress it and then it sits on the rack for months; it's unlikely to be straight, smooth or square enough to just use as is.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    Queensland, Australia
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    Default

    Sorry, should have mentioned. The boards will be 90mm to 140mm wide. So should only need 5 to 8 boards per benchtop depending on board width.

    If I had to re-dress the boards, I'm assuming I'd need at least a thicknesser to do it properly?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Sydney
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    Default

    Here's some internet* wisdom**
    Part1 Glueup Part2

    *access fees may apply
    **with varying degrees of actual wisdom (but personally I don't mind their style and content seems legit)

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Default

    Couple of issues with the glueup video (aside from the table saw with zero safety equipment )...

    "While you want to mill your lumber as flat as possible, it's just not realistic to think you're going to get these long, thick planks as straight as an arrow"
    This is why you dress the timber you buy. He's using timber bought dressed from the yard, which probably wasn't straight to start with because they just throw rough sawn boards through a planer without jointing a face first. It it perfectly realistic to think that your timber will be straight after you machine it; depending on the length of your jointer tables, it's reasonable to expect anything under 2m long to be pretty much dead flat and anything over 3m to only have a few mm of bend.

    Machining prior to glueup also makes everything afterwards easier because your panel is going to be straight and at a consistent thickness, so your sanding time is reduced.

    "Believe it or not, it isn't difficult to force a bow out of a thick hardwood board like this"
    Yeah...when your hardwood is Walnut. I promise you he wouldn't be saying that if he tried the same trick with 2" Blackbutt. You might bend a few mm out over a 3m length, but short stuff is staying exactly where you found it. At my old work we did all our big glueups on the floor and we'd pretty regularly need to stand on a board to flatten it enough to clamp, sometimes even needed 2 guys standing on the really large section stuff.

    I'm not saying it doesn't work, but I don't think it's the ideal way to deal with the problem unless you have a particularly bent board that you can't dress flat.

    End rant.

    Other than that, the rest of the video sounds pretty much on the money.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
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    Shepparton
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    172

    Default

    no you don't need a thickener if you have a router there are lots of videos on how to join the edges with a router. As for the top for a small cost you would be better off getting them dressed at a machine shop.

  9. #8
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    If you were to do your own machining, you probably need a jointer and a thicknesser so that you one edge and one face straight flat and at right angles with the jointer, then get the second face parallel to the first with the thicknesser, and the second edge parallel with the first either by batch thicknessing a number of boards fastened together and run on edge, or trimmed on a well set up table saw.

    As suggested you could do the jointing and thicknessing with a router and jigs, butnot get a perfectly smooth finish.

    If you have a thicknesser, you can use a sled to get the first face flat and straight, then thickness conventionally to get the second face flat and parallel to the first, but you would be reliant on jigs for a table saw or router table to get the first edge straight and at right angles to the face.

    Whatever approach you take, you need the gear and something way cheaper to practice on before you start on your final timber, the DIY economy benefit soon disappears if you need to buy a second lot of material because something new to you didn't work first time round.
    I used to be an engineer, I'm not an engineer any more, but on the really good days I can remember when I was.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by malb View Post
    the DIY economy benefit soon disappears if you need to buy a second lot of material because something new to you didn't work first time round.
    This should be at the entrance to every hardware store.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    Bris
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Wardrop View Post
    Any tips or advice is much appreciated.

    I'm relatively new to woodworking so take the following tip/advice with a grain of salt: When you edge join boards, unless they are quarter sawn, alternate their orientation in such a way so that the cupping of adjacent boards cancel each other out instead of having a multiplying effect. Look at the end grain and note the growth rings to determine which way each board will tend to cup.

  12. #11
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    Nov 2016
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    Bris
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    Quote Originally Posted by KahoyKutter View Post
    I'm relatively new to woodworking so take the following tip/advice with a grain of salt: When you edge join boards, unless they are quarter sawn, alternate their orientation in such a way so that the cupping of adjacent boards cancel each other out instead of having a multiplying effect. Look at the end grain and note the growth rings to determine which way each board will tend to cup.

    Wouldn't you know it, a day after writing the previous post, Matt Estlea posts a video explaining exactly what I'm talking about. It's about 6:35 minutes in and he's making a box lid but the principle still applies. In fact, the wider the panel, or benchtop as in your case, the more susceptible it is to cupping.

  13. #12
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    I’d suggest just buying the pre-made bench tops. Your project sounds significant with 8 metres of benches so buy them and focus on the rest. Is the material exactly the same in pre-made vs loose boards ? Ie the company is not selling off the planks that they didn’t find suitable for gluing up into a bench top ?
    You boys like Mexico ?

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