Gluing Up Wood Panels with Butt Joints & Biscuits Video Screenshot

The butt joint (taking narrower pieces and gluing them up into a wider panel) is a fundamental woodworking joint when building with solid wood. In this video, you'll learn the basic process for gluing boards together to make a larger wood panel.

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Gluing Up Wood Panels with Butt Joints & Biscuits - Video Transcript

If you're going to be doing any kind of solid wood woodworking, the first step you're going to do in terms of glue ups is a butt joint. That's taking narrower pieces and gluing them up into a wider panel. In this case, we started out with rough sawn walnut, we surfaced two sides flat and parallel to each other at a one-inch thickness, and then we jointed each edge so there are 90 degrees to the faces and perfectly straight so that we could later glue and clamp them together.

Before you begin any butt joint, what you need to do is compose the panel. What I mean by that is, look at your wood and find out the most attractive way to put it together. In this case, I've got two gray boards that are kind of gray or colored and one that has more purple highlights. I put the gray boards on the outside and the purple one in the middle and I think that's going to be great.

The next thing I need to do is to figure out how the various panels that we need will be harvested out of this piece. Now, we're going to use waterfall construction, which means the grain is going to flow up one side across the top panel and down the other side. I need at least 20 inches for the downside panel, and I've got that and that's what this mark here is for. Now, we need a 44 inch center panel. I've got that here.

One cool thing, a great tip is that if you're working in walnut, regular pencil marks don't show so well. You can use chalk, or in this case, I'm going to use a chalk marker. How cool is that? You can really see that on your panel. Now I've got the second mark made. Now, the next thing I'm going to do is an old trick, it's just called a carpenter's triangle, which is just a way to realign these boards after they've been separated. I'll always be able to put them in the proper sequence when I'm taking apart to do some machining.

Last bit of marking I did at this point was mark locations where I can cut slots for biscuit joints. Why would I need biscuit joints on this? It doesn't add any strength, what it does is it helps me align these boards as I'm gluing them up. You can see this one's got a little bit of a crown, this one goes down in the opposite direction. With this kind of a long butt joint, biscuits are a really helpful thing in doing the glue up. Now I'm going to pop this clamp off and I'm going to get ready to cut some biscuit slots.

The last step before applying glue and clamping it up for a final assembly is to do a dry assembly like I've done here with the biscuits in place, clamps on the surface. It's really difficult to reverse a glue up, so it's an important step to take. For an indoor furniture piece like this one, Titebond original is the perfect formula. To get a proper glue joint you need to apply a thin coat of glue to both joining edges.

To help keep the panel flat, I position clamps on both phases of the glue up. In a large glue up like this one I prefer the glue to cure for several hours. To make my life easier, I scrape off the squeeze out when the glue gets rubbery. That covers the basics of using a butt joint to create a large panel. It's one of the most important joints in woodworking. I'm Rob Johnstone from Woodworker's Journal, keep on making sawdust.