Gluing and Clamping the Roubo top – finally!

Happy holidays!  It’s that time of year again!  Anyone have exciting plans?  We’re busy at work, so I don’t get a lot of time off, but we still had three days of Christmas for our little family – ours and both mine and my wife’s families.   Plenty of fun was had spending time with family.

Last time, I was discussing some of the hurdles that I encountered while ripping and planing square the boards for the top of my Roubo bench.  I mentioned having seen a tip about not prepping more boards than can be glued in a single day.  Unfortunately for me, I was only able to prep one board in a day, if not two days, so I had to do the best I could with leaving them un-glued for a few days.  I did, however, glue the top up in sections, mostly pairs.  The wagon vise sections were sections of three, and there was at least one section in the middle that was four wide when I went to glue up the whole thing.  This made it easier to get things closer to aligned as I was clamping it all together.  In retrospect, I should have gotten them closer than I did – it would have saved a lot of planing on the top as a whole.

Once the sections were all glued up and I was ready to start gluing the whole thing together, I suddenly remembered that I was getting ahead of myself.  Remember the wagon vise that I mentioned in my second post?  I’d almost forgotten to make them!  Those two sections of the bench top needed to be cut down before being assembled with the rest of the top, and I hadn’t done that yet.  Luckily, I remembered before it was all glued up.  So I cut these laminations down by about 19″ on opposing ends (I want a wagon vise on the right end for both sides of the bench) and then went on to gluing everything together.  I came up with the 19″ number because that was how much reach I anticipated having with the screw I was turning and the length of the chop I was making.

One note about gluing (and clamping) that I discovered.  The first class I took at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking was with Michael Fortune, and it was an introduction to woodworking.  He said that he found the clamps at Harbor Freight to be of similar quality to the Jets and Jorgensens, so that’s what I  bought for this project – 30″ bar clamps that were black and blue, with rubberized handles.  They seemed like they worked well enough when I was gluing the separate sections, but they didn’t seem to have as much clamping power when I went to clamp the whole bench top.  Maybe I just got some bad apples, but on some of them, the textured handle started spinning when I tried to tighten them more, and I felt what I can only describe as plastic gears being stripped as I turned the handle.  Could have just been defective clamps, but I had to pull out the two 48″ parallel clamps that I’d bought years ago to feel like I had enough clamping force.

So here we are more than a year from when I started this bench project, and the top is finally all laminated.  No, it didn’t honestly take that whole time to get it done.  A couple months after that class about the pen making (where I learned the overhand ripping from the Schwarz), my youngest daughter was born.  Purely by coincidence, the day after she was born, the lathe that I’d been eyeing was restocked.  So naturally I bought it, and quickly got sidetracked making pens.  Last winter was really cold here in Indiana, too, so I couldn’t do much of anything in the shop for most of the winter.  So that’s all to say that yes, it took me a year to laminate the top of my bench, but it would have taken far less time if I had been working on only that.

I think I’ll leave it there for this entry.  Next time I might take a side trip from my bench progress and talk about the Christmas presents I made- barely finished by Christmas.  Enjoy your holidays, and check back soon!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *