Stunning … almost

The coopered door is largely done. Since it is made from five staves, there were four edge joints to plane flat and glue up. If the staves were numbered one through five, left to right, I glued them up in the following order: 1 to 2; 4 to 5; 3 to the 4-5 assembly, then 1-2 assembly to the 3-5 assembly. Did I manage to make that as confusing as possible? Hopefully the pictures will help.

The first photo is of the gluing of staves 1 and 2. The second and third photos are of the final glue-up. In those the glue is between staves 2 and 3.

The first three glue-ups went as well as I could have hoped – the glue line is very tough to find on those. The last glue-up was the toughest because when squeezing in from the edges, the full panel had enough curve to want to pop up, out of the clamps. So clamps were needed to hold the middle of the panel down. Clamping this all tight was an exercise in balancing forces. Clamp in too tight from the sides (the big blue clamps in the photos), or not enough on the downward-facing clamps and the upper edge of the joint would open up. Not enough force from the sides or too much pressure from the top clamps and the under side of the joint would open up.

None of this was a problem on the first three glue-ups. I could just crank down on the blue clamps and trust to the flatness of my edge preparation. The three vertical clamps are in position in the first photo just in case I needed them.

After the final glue-up I removed the door from the clamps as shown in photos two and three and took a few passes with a plane to get a clear view of the glue line. There I saw an inch or so on the front side of that last joint where the glue line is more visible than I’d like. I think it’s not too bad – we’ll see when I get to final prep of the door. Without that one inch of glue line this whole coopered door exercise would have been a stunning success.

In addition to all the technical things I learned – I’ll spare you the gory details of my planes and planing technique, that inch of glue line will teach me something else. I’ve read a number of times about craftsmen looking at their own pieces and always seeing the spots where, in their mind, they messed up. This will certainly be that for me. I’ll see how that goes.


About johnjoiner

Computer nerd by day, Dad and woodworker by night. Woodworking blog at
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One Response to Stunning … almost

  1. Jen says:

    Nope, the photos don’t help. I have no idea what you’re talking about. But the wood looks pretty. 🙂

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