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?
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
Mike G wrote:
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
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.
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 :-)
James Cubby Culbertson wrote:
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