Gluing up a table top

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I have made a few table tops using butt joints mainly. I usually only glue up 2 boards at a time so if I need a total of 4 boards this takes 3 gluing operations. Does anyone have an opinion on whether or not a biscuit joiner allows you to keep the boards stable and their tops level during a glue up. My goal is to increase the number of boards I can glue at once and reduce the time it takes to level the seams out. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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@comcast.net says...

As a relative beginner (and gadget freak,) I've only used a biscuit jointer (haven't done butt joints,) and it seems to work as advertised in the way you describe. However, I found that it was not idiot-proof, I.e., I had to be very careful aligning my cuts... wasted a bit of wood initially with the "plug and play" attitude. I'm sure more useful feedback is impending, though, from more veterans of both butt joints and biscuit joinery. I have the Dewalt jointer, for what it's worth.
- Al
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"tfk" wrote in message

I was never much of an advocate of biscuit joinery, but after using them to do exactly what you are proposing with table top glue-ups, I became a big fan, to the point that I will rarely do a table top glue-up without using biscuits.
The big attraction for me are strictly the "alignment" benefits of biscuits, particularly in the vertical plane ("tops level", as you say).
They aren't ever perfect, but more perfect than without, IME.
That said, I often make the entire glue-up in one fell swoop using biscuits, then rip that into sections that will run through my 13" planer, then a final glue up with biscuits again, with fewer (most of the time just one or two) glue joints to scrape and level.
If you're so inclined, you can see a rather large table top in the throes of the glue-up process on page 5 of my projects journal below (Mission style Trestle Table).
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Wow, nice site - thanks for putting all that stuff together. Good tip on the miter saw workstation - I was looking for one of those.
- Al
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On 22 Sep 2004 10:47:48 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (tfk) scribbled:

IME, gluing up a bunch of board with biscuits allows some movement up & down and won't necessarily keep it flat (i.e. the glue-up can be cupped or twisted). I also have had some differences in the height of the boards. Maybe it's the biscuits or the biscuit joiner.
In any case, a better solution, IMHO, is to clamp cauls perpendicular to the glue lines, keeping everything nice & flat.
e.g. the bottom picture on: <http://www.lowes.com/lkn?action=howTo&p=Build/GluePanel.html&rn=RightNavFiles/rightNavTools>
or <http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/pages/w00004.asp
Luigi Replace "nonet" with "yukonomics" for real email address www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/antifaq.html www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/humour.html
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Showing your age, Luigi? Me too.
I learned to prepare stock carefully with jointer and planer so that only minor adjustments were necessary after first snugging the clamps. With a glueup I can handle with my small stock of Besseys, even the cauls are unnecessary. I still check with winding sticks, but it's smiles, not frowns they produce now.
Biscuits are great items for plywood joinery and such, but not really required for simple glueups.

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"George" wrote in message

Yep ... a couple of things that "age" is infamous for is being set in your ways, and unwilling to try new techniques. In this case I was glad to overcome the tendency.
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Except, of course, I _have_ used the "new" technique, as well as its predecessors, splines, dowels and tenons for breadboard ends. Just found them unnecessary if the boards are properly prepared.
Would that be a new technique for you?

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"George" wrote in message

Not if you can read.
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For simple glue ups, I'll agree. A little longer, and cauls can help. But as the boards get even longer, even the best preparation won't be enough. That's where biscuits come into their own. GerryG

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I use my biscuit joiner for this purpose and it works well. I Still have to sand or plane a little but not much, and it does make lining the boards up much easier.
-- Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland snipped-for-privacy@charm.net
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Yep - Biscuits help this problem a lot. Be careful in cutting you slots and select best fitting biscuits. Make sure everthing, including biscuits fit well before gluing.
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I don't use biscuit joints for a table top unless it is long (~8'). I try to glue up slightly less than 15" wide, leaving the thickness 1/16" over. I then run through my 15" planer to size, then glue up the rremaining panels to the final width. Unless I have really stable wood, such as 1/4 sawn, I only glue up 6" or less widths.
Preston

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Just remember, as has been posted before, that the biscuits swell due to the water in the glue, and they will shrink back somewhat after a few days. If you sand or scrape the tabletop before they have shrunk back then you'll be left with slight indentations when they're finished shrinking. The biscuit-shaped indentations will be visible if you view the finished top at a glancing angle.
--
Vince Heuring To email, remove the Vince.

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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (tfk) wrote in message

Biscuits will help some, a better alternative is a glue press. I made a wooden version of the Plano Press. Works great, easy to make and costs very little. I have no idea how to post a picture on this site, I could email you a picture and if you know how you could post it for others. mike
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On 22 Sep 2004 10:47:48 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (tfk) wrote:

============================I have not read any of the replies YET....
BUT I do own a PC Biscuit jointer
AND I VERY RARELY USE IT for gluing up table tops .... takes longer then just gluing them up using clamps alone...
I usually do 3 boards at a time... not 2...
Bob Griffiths...
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On 22 Sep 2004 10:47:48 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (tfk) wrote:

As a new convert to biscuit joiners, I'd say that it's the easiest system I've used,short of drilling and inserting a threaded rod into them... Faster, stronger and easier than butt joints and very easy to "mass produce" the biscuit cuts in all the boards at once to either insure good alignment (in the case of the experts here) or an interesting stagger effect for folks like me.. *g*
One thing for sure.. I don't think my dowel points will get much use now that I have the biscuit jointer.. YMMV
Mac
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Is there anyone besides me that has a philosophical problem with using biscuits? To me, having biscuits in a piece of "fine furniture" is like using plywood for the top. Don't get me wrong...I'm no master craftsman (yet). But there's just something wrong in my mind with using pressed wood as part of the construction. I know that no one will ever see it or even know about it unless I tell them, but I'll know. If I needed to increase the strength and/or help with alignment, I guess I'd be inclined to use a cross-grain spline.
todd
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No problem at all, philosophical or otherwise. My brother has been making "Fine Furniture" for a living for over 20 years, He swears by biscuits. If they're good enough for him, they're good enough for me.
--
Al Reid

How will I know when I get there...
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wood
even
increase
a
"Fine Furniture" for a living for over 20 years, He

for me.

To each his own. Maybe my bar for "fine furniture" is set too high.
todd
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