Setting Up For Clamping

Block misaligned

1 Aligning the cramps

Apply adhesive evenly to both parts of each joint. Assemble the frame, ensuring that the cramps are perfectly aligned with their respective rails, and gradually tighten the jaws to close the joints. Wipe off excess adhesive squeezed from the joints, using a damp cloth.

2 Making pinch rods

You can check the accuracy of a small frame with a try square at each corner, but for larger ones, measure the diagonals to ensure they are identical. Make a pair of pinch rods from thin strips of wood, planing a bevel on one end of each rod. Holding the rods back to back, slide them sideways until they fit diagonally across the frame, with a bevelled end tucked into each corner.

2 Making pinch rods

When gluing up any assembly, it pays to prepare the work area and rehearse the procedure in advance. This avoids delays that could lead to complications, especially when using a fast-setting adhesive. Assemble the parts without glue, to work out how many cramps you need and to allow you to adjust them to fit the work. You will find a helper most useful when clamping large or complicated assemblies.

It isn't necessary to glue every joint at once. For example, glue the legs and end rails of a table frame first; when these are set, glue the side rails between them. (See page 26 for clamping a solid-wood panel, using edge-to-edge butt joints.)

Block aligned


The majority of frame and carcass joints need clamping in order to hold the assembly square until the adhesive sets. Prepare a pair of sash or pipe cramps, adjusting them so that the assembled frame fits between the jaws, allowing for softwood blocks to protect the work from the metal cramp heads. Carefully position the blocks to align with each joint - a misplaced or undersize block can distort the joint and bruise the wood.

1 Aligning the cramps move cramps

Clamping Machine Cutting

move cramps

3 Checking for square

3 Checking for square

Holding the pinch rods together firmly, lift them out of the frame and check to see if they fit the other diagonal exactly. If the diagonals are different, slacken the cramps and set them at a slight angle to pull the frame square, then check the diagonals again.

move cramps move cramps

3 Checking for square

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