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Cramping & Gluing Up the Coffee Table Top.

Always cramp up on a flat and level surface.

I use p.v.a. adhesive which starts to set in about 20 minutes and for that reason I make sure all the below preparations are done before I start.

Set out the bottom end cramps first, (the cramps are alternated one underneath and one on top), lay the planks face up on the cramps and set the cramps to a width to take the boards plus a thin strip of waste wood on either side to prevent the edges of the top being dented.
Set the rest of the cramps to the right length & put aside. You are now ready for gluing up your coffee table top.

Stand the planks on their sides on the bottom cramps and coat the edges with p.v.a. with a glue brush, lay the planks flat in the right order and do up the cramps one at a time starting from one end, making sure that the top face of the boards are level at the joints across the line of the cramp, (even though the boards have been planed flat they will sometimes take on a slight bow overnight especially if you have taken more off one side than the other whilst thicknessing). You can achieve this at the ends by using G cramps and blocks of wood at each joint but make sure you take them off immediately after cramping or the glue oozing out of the joint will stick them to the surface of the table. To level the joints not at the ends you may have to use a heavy weight on a plank, hand pressure, or even, if there is anyone to help, get some one to stand on a plank during cramping to force it down level.

If you have access to a biscuit jointer using it for the joints between planks will not only strengthen the joints, but will help keep the top faces level and cut down on the amount of time taken for the flattening.

Do not over tighten the cramps, they need to be done up firmly enough to pull the joints together but over tightening will only pull the cramp and the top into a bow.
Wipe off the excess glue from the joints with a damp cloth and leave for a couple of hours before removing the cramps. The coffee table top is now ready for flattening.

This can be done in a variety of ways. There are different types of panel sanders which can be used to sand and flatten a coffee table top or in a smaller workshop it may have to be done by hand either using a belt sander or a smoothing plane. ( You can get some information about this at this section of the website: Flattening the top ).

Once flattened and coarse sanded the top can be cut to final size, the ends and sides coarse sanded, a moulding routed on if desired, and then finished as described earlier in the information sheet.

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