I'm fully familiar with gluing up planks for width such as table tops,
but I was wondering about gluing up planks for thickness. I'm sure
they still exist, but it's been a long time since I've seen hardwood
planks 1-1/2" thickness for sale.
Considering the cost of thicker hardwood, I'm wondering about gluing
up 3/4" planks to increase thickness. Have you any experience with
that? If so, how invisible do the edge glue lines turn out?
I know I can add a layer or more of plywood and use some veneer edging
to give the same appearance, but I'm considering something that's all
I've done that quite a bit on table legs, and also on chair rails, where
it's often hard to get the thickness required to cut a suitable arc
without compromising the integrity of the wood due to grain direction.
I've yet to have a problem.
I've also "laminated" the sides of casework with two thicknesses of wood
with what I think is success, but it may take another 100 years to prove
About the only caveat I would recomment is to consider trying to match
the "cut" of the wood ... i.e, flat, rift, quarter, etc.
Mind you, this is my experience and I like to experiment, but in that
experience, as long as you stay "long grain to long grain", with roughly
the same dimensional instability characteristic of your stock, you
should be fine.
This should keep you in the ballpark on the latter:
What I'm more concerned with is how visible are the glue lines? Sure,
it makes sense to match grain with grain, but if hypothetically I
glued up 3 x 3/4" planks and if needed, ran the edge through a
jointer, is the resulting 2-1/4" edge likely to look like one solid
piece? And if that piece was stained, would it continue to look like
one solid piece or would the possibility of stain soaking in amplify
those glue lines?
You be the judge ... of the four legs shown in this photo, three of them
have glue lines, on the sides facing the camera lens, that are almost a
Your skill/care in doing the joinery, and your choice of grain matching
will be no different than if you were doing a glue-up for a table top of
Sorry about the photos ... took them before light this morning in an
area of the kitchen that is not all that light at the best of times, and
on my blackberry's camera.
I've glued up boards to make thicker ones many times. The glue line was
never noticeable - or even visible - but I never stain things so can't say
about that. I doubt it would be though.
There *is* one caveat about doing it though...wait a week or so before
sanding. The reason is this...
Say you are gluing up 2" wide strips to make a 2" board. That's a lot of
glue and - if you are using a water base glue - a lot of water. The glue
and water is soaked up by the wood, the wood expands. Next day the glue is
dry and you sand the surface nice and smooth. Trouble is, the wood along
the glue line has dried more than the wood farther away from the glue line
and after it eventually dries you'll wind if with very slight ridges at the
The effect seems to be worse with denser wood. For example, I made all our
interior doors out of butternut. The 1 1/2" rails and stiles were glued up
from 3/4" x 1 1/2" strips, no problem with ridges. I also made a desk for
my wife from hickory; the top was glued up from 3/4" x 1 1/4" strips. One
can't see any glue line ridges but they are there, I can feel them - very
slightly - with my finger. It is possible that lack of ridges on the door
pieces is because they dried longer (I was making a bunch) before sanding
rather than the wood species.
You are going to have to experiment and see if it is acceptable to you. I
have pieces that are glued up to make thicker stock. On one end it looks
like a solid piece of wood. Going down to the the other end the grain on
one board changes and brings out the differences of the two boards.
Still I think the difference is a non issue most of the time. I really do
not mind if you can tell if there were two or more boards used to make up
the needed thickness.
And you can always trim the edge of the glued up panels with a solid one
piece board to cover the joint line.
You can make one edge nearly invisible by book matching. Say you need
a 1 1/2 thk by 3 " wide board.
Rip a 6" wid board and roll one side over on top of the other. The
edges where you ripped it are mirror images of each other and the
joint is usually nearly invisible.
As an added benefit, on the far side at least they are both from the
same board so color maych and stain absorbtion (density) should be
pretty much the same.
I do this a lot.
Great tip on the sanding after the water is out of the glue. This is
really bad when you use biscuits. I have seen them telegraph clearly
along a joint on panel glue-ups when you sand it flat while the wood
is still swelled at the buiscuit locations.
Built several tables from white oak that had tapered legs and required
1-3/4" square blanks.
Glued up 3 pieces of 3/4" stock, then ran them thru planer to get
1-3/4" square blanks.
Reversed grain on adjacent pieces.
Tapered to size on T/S, sanded and finished with BLO.
Person who got them was happy.
I was told a long time ago to glue up wide flatsawn planks with the same
sides in the middle. ie heart-to-heart or bark-to-bark. This supposedly
matches the expansions and, more importantly, the cupping cancels each
other and the planks stay flatter over time and humidity changes. I've
always followed this and have had excellent results and no long term
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