Glue up advice

Last weekend I glued up one of the end panels for a crib I'm working on, and it didn't go well. The panel consists of top and bottom (horizontal) rails and 5 vertical slats. The slats fits into 3/8" wide by 3/8" deep slots in the rails, with spacers placed between each pair of slats. I'm using a plan (http://www3.woodcraft.com/Plans/woodworking/4048.htm -- no affiliation, yada yada yada), and it says "starting with the end panel center slat and working out, glue and the clamp the pieces together, checking for square". I couldn't figure out how that could work--if it's really suggesting that I slide the slats in from the ends, that seemed like it wouldn't work very well with glue involved. So anyway, I ended up getting all the slats & spacers into one rail, and then trying to get everything into the second rail. Well, you can probably guess what happened--the glue started to set sooner than I wanted, the slats were flopping around and didn't want to line up right, things got out of square, I started using the mallet more and more aggressively...and I ended up splitting one of the rails (oops). Fortunately, I had another rail handy (it was meant for the other end, guess I'll have to make another one) and somehow got it to work. Anyway, I think I've learned enough from the experience to (hopefully) get the second end panel together. What really scares me are the side panels, which have 16 slats rather than 5. I know I need to use a glue with a longer open time, and some kind of system using cauls to keep the slats lined up seems to be called for. Does anyone out there have any other advice on how to get a glue up like this to work?
Thanks,
Forrest
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The "joinery" for the slats in your plan is a bit of a modern kludge for not having to cut mortises for the slats. If you had used traditional mortises for the slats, you would not have glued them in.
I would do it in two steps thusly:
Cut your slats just a tad shy so they can be positioned easily when captured between the two rails..
Do the initial glue up of your rails and stiles _with the slats in place_, but leave them loose.
After this assembly dries, position the slats with the spacers ,and glue in the spacers ONLY, not the slats.
This method should result in a relaxed glue up.
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Last update: 9/21/03
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Yeah, I thought about going the mortise & tenon route for the slats, until I realized that that would mean 84 individual mortises and tenons, and I do have a deadline on this project :-)
Good suggestion about letting the slats float--that may be the way to go on the ends. Unfortunately, the slats *need* to be glued on the side panels, because they're the only thing holding the sides together. (Because the sides need to be able to move up and down, they float on a metal rod rather than being fixed to the legs).
Thanks,
Forrest
Swingman wrote:

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On Fri, 28 Nov 2003 16:01:18 GMT, Forrest Chamberlain

Well, how about gluing the slats a few at a time into one rail first, using spacers to, well, space them. Leave the other rail glue-free and use only to clamp. Be extra careful to get the first few slats square; then the spacers should keep the rest square. Once the slats are all glued into the one rail, then glue the other rail on. Since the slats will be stable and spaced correctly from the one end, it shouldn't be too hard to glue the other rail on quickly. Do it all on a flat surface to keep everything in the same flat plane.
HTH,
Paul
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That sounds like a good idea--I think I'll give it a shot on the 2nd end and see if it helps. If it does, I'll try it on the sides as well.
Thanks,
Forrest
Paul Franklin wrote:

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I built a cradle whose sides were made up of a bottom rail and a top rail and a large number of narrow slats separated by spacers and set into slots routed in the edges of the rails.
Once everything was cut to size and dry fitted to be sure that none of the pieces were too thick, I proceeded as follows.
Draw a vertical line across the face of one rail at the exact centre. Draw a vertical line on the face of the first slat. Glue the slat into place, alignin its center mark with the mark on the rail and use a tri-square to be sure that it is vertical. Clamp it into place and let dry.
Then you can place the other slats (and the spacers) by alternation and use spare spacers to keep the slats vertical.
When the first rail assembly is dry, you can add the second rail, using centre marks as before to get it in the right place. Except for the first slat, do not glue the other; let them float. Glue the remaining spacers into place. If the first slat is true and your work out from it towards each end, the others will be true too. I think I had about 30 slats on each side of the cradle.
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Benoit Evans
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One suggestion
Always practice complicated glue ups without glue until you have it down pat.
--
Mike G.
snipped-for-privacy@heirloom-woods.net
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Always good advice. I did practice this one a few times, but apparently not enough :-) What threw me, though (obviously I'm a bit of a newbie) was how much harder it was when there was glue present. W/o glue, everything slid into place pretty easily, and moving the slats an inch here and an inch there was no big deal. With glue in the slots, everything was MUCH less mobile.
Thanks,
Forrest
Mike G wrote:

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A few things that help me when I'm gluing up a large item, like slats for a bed... 1. Practice without glue. Get everything set up and practice placing the parts and clamps etc... prior. It feels kind of silly but it does help (me at least). 2. Get a helper. Having a second set of hands can do wonders on glue ups.
If I visualize your parts correctly, what I've done in the past is to place the slats between the rails and then insert the tenons on the rails into the legs. It helps to have a helper keeping things aligned etc... while doing this. HTH. Cheers, cc
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It does seem to make more sense to let the slats float and have them held in by the legs. This is a little unusual in that the slats are actually holding the side assemblies together, and therefore need to be glued in. SWBO did help me with the first glue-up, but given how the first one went, we'll have to see whether I can get her to help again :-)
Thanks,
Forrest
James Cubby Culbertson wrote:

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On 28 Nov 2003 14:25:29 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@attglobal.net (James Cubby Culbertson) wrote:

I always do this. I can't imagine not doing a dry run first. It's a real mess if there's a bad fit after the glue is applied.
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