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"It starts with knowledge..." is more than a motto to us- it's how we do business. Our first goal is to share some of what we have learned about our trade with you.
Gluing & Clamping
Gluing is a necessary step in modern solid-wood woodworking, and a bit of a science all on its own. With all the different glue types available, it's easy to be overwhelmed, or to assume they're all more or less the same.
Selecting the right glue is based on the material being glued, and the environment the finished piece will be placed into. This is the science of glue- and it's best left to the experts. Luckily, there are experts available who can help you determine the right choice. In our experience, some of the right people to speak to include:
PVA Glue - The Industry Standard
For solid wood applications, the glue normally used is PVA (polyvinyl acetate). This glue is white or yellow in color, and can be found in wood shops across the world. Many glue systems are specified to dispense a specific type of glue including PVA and PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Be sure to check with gluing dispensing system manufacturer.
Less is More
Over-gluing is the most common problem in the glue process. Too much glue actually weakens the strength of the joint; think of glue as a conduit for the wood fibers to bind to each other. When force acts on the joint, it acts on three different things: The strength of the wood fibers, the bond of the wood to the glue, the bond of the glue to other glue particles. If the fibers are only touching glue, and not each other, the joint's strength now depends on the strength of the glue, not the wood. If excess glue is squeezed out of the joint to dry on the surface after clamping, the odds are good that too much was used.
Gluing tanks with sensitive pressure control allow for better control, and less waste. They ensure an even distribution, without the natural variation in amount used that you might get with a hand bottle.
The wood fibers we just read about don't come together on their own; even with the glue, they need to be pressed together tightly to form a bond that will last. That's where clamping comes in. Like machining and gluing, clamping is an essential part of modern woodworking.
The main difference between working with hand clamps or more industrial-sized clamping systems (often called 'Presses') is time. For an individual job, hand clamps are likely enough to get the job done, but when working with a standardized product line, having a set-up fine-tuned exactly to the dimensions of your window or door saves a significant amount of time, both in getting the workpiece clamped, and the length of time it's pressed for. For most shops, having a mix of both is the ideal solution- having some flexibility for smaller or unique pieces, while maintaining the capability to work in volume.
Industrial clamps come in both manual and mechanical versions, with the right choice based on budget, project size, and pressure required. Often the pressure required to adequately clamp something is based on the thickness of stock- the thicker the material, the more pressure is required.
Mechanical Fixing Systems
An alternative to gluing and clamping, a tested mechanical fixing system can be employed in a window design. Mechanical fixing systems are metal components inserted into the frame via drilling, with a self-centering connecting bar and a securely fitted hub for the screw to fasten to. These types of systems provide a tight fastening and can integrate into the frame's hardware systems for an even greater fit and connection.