There are many ways, like cauls and good clamps, that will help with panel
glue-up alignment. Most importantly, particularly when you're working with
expensive wood, is a practice glue-up during which you take care to study
and implement anything that will get the job done.
One of my methods to assist in alignment, along with a careful and practiced
tecnique with a _quality_ biscuit jointer, is use of these little clamping
assists across the glue joints as seen in the link below:
http://www.e-woodshop.net/Jigs.htm (scroll down to "I-Beam Supports/Clamp
Assists", second picture with description)
Another way is break the task into smaller and more managable sections, do
those perfectly, then glue these already leveled sections together.
In the "Trestle Table" section of the below page is a description of what it
took to get this 100 pound plus glue-up perfectly flat.
http://www.e-woodshop.net/Projects5.htm (scroll to "3/20/04" section, where
the table top is being glued up)
Look carefully and you can see the use of the clamp assists mentioned above,
along with 'whatever it takes to get the job done' techniques that were
worked out beforehand, like jointed flat "cauls" beneath the top, and use
of a handy "paperweight".
IOW, the more practice, planning and thought you put behind it, the more
sucessful the endeavor.
I don't use biscuits or dowels. Clamps and cauls work for me.
I recently learned to plane both edges with a hand plane (#6 or #7), and it
My cs will make a glue line cut with a Forrest blade.
Another tip I've used is that a few grains of sand in the glue line (4-5
grains, not much) will lock the edges up when applying clamp pressure.
I've used a biscuit jointer for edging several times, and I find that
the slightest slip or shake of the hand translates into the
workpiece. As a result, I would say I get a perfectly aligned edge
only about 60% of the time, and the other times I have to compensate
somehow (either by sanding the edge flat, or removing an offending
buscuit and using clamps to align).
I have never once had a problem with splining though. From my very
first attempt, I have gotten perfect results every time. I use an
interchangable arbor with a 1/4" cutter, so my piece slides flat on
the router table (or I slide my router on the surface for really big
pieces). The router always slides on the 'good' surface, which means
the grove is the exact same distance from the good surface on both
pieces, and as long as you use tight splines, the two pieces will
allign perfectly with 0 error. The only way you would get missaligned
pieces using this method is if the router leaves the surface of your
piece, your piece leaves the surface of the router table, or the depth
of the bit changes -- none of which are likely to happen.
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