Router Table Top Glue-up Question - Router Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-03-2014, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
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Default Router Table Top Glue-up Question

Ok, so I will be gluing up my first router table top using two sheets of MDF. Simple question: what type of clamps are the best for clamping two sheets of MDF together? I've read that parallel clamps are the best for keeping things square, but I'm not sure that clamping two sheets together requires a parallel clamp. I'm think that F-style clamps, probably the 6" length, is satisfactory. The only real advantage that I see of the parallel clamp for this application is that the clamp will also act as a foot to hold the sheets off of the surface during curing.

Another question: do I have to clamp the sheets to a flat surface or can I clamp the sheets between the jaws and still maintain a flat top when all done?

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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-03-2014, 06:07 PM
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Greg, for gluing up sheet goods you can set cans of paint or anything heavy on them and just use the clamps for alignment.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-03-2014, 06:18 PM
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-04-2014, 07:47 AM
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Greg, It is important to assure that both faces you are going to glue are absolutely smooth. If they are identical in size you can build-up something to "confine" them - so that they will stay together, otherwise they are quite likely to slip apart. Use a plastic trash bag to make sure your glue-runout doesn't cause problems. Glue overspills on the MDF can be easily sanded away after the glue has hardened, but in some cases (without the trash bag), it could have bonded to something you did not intend to become part of your overall assembly.

I come from the "engineering world" and in design, we have no choice but to look at "worst case situations". This is often referred to as EXAGGERATION FOR CLARITY, now; pretend there is a marble between your two pieces of MDF - this will help you visualize why your two faces need to be perfectly smooth. Furthermore, this will help you realize WHY you need pressure in the middle (as Mike suggested above) and a good, solid, smooth surface to work from.

I hope this helps!
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-04-2014, 07:56 AM
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Hi Greg, why are you gluing them? Could you not run screws up through the bottom one into the top one? If you do, don't forget to predrill the holes (the hole should be slightly larger than the screw threads) then counter sink for the screw heads. Malcolm / Kentucky USA
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-04-2014, 09:03 AM
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I can't help feeling that gluing would result in a more rigid structure overall - or would there be no difference in this application? Just asking.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-04-2014, 09:15 AM
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Hi Greg
As said make certain they are both smooth so they bond all over. I would clamp them together using cauls to be certain they have clamping force distributed thru out the sheets.
I would also make them slightly over sized and trim them to size after wards so everything is perfectly flush. Even cutting pieces on a good table saw and then gluing them together don't always come out perfectly flush - at least for me.

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-04-2014, 10:56 AM
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Hi Greg - I wondered the same thing when I built my new router table in December (still working on the cabinet). I'm building a variation of Norm Abrams table. I decided to use screws as my "clamps" and this turned out to be a good choice. I cut both sheets of MDF (I used 1/2" and 3/4" to end up with a 1 1/4" top) roughly to size making sure I had a perfect factory edge along one side. I drew out the layout of the router table insert plate, slots for the bolts to secure the fence, and a miter track on the 1/2" MDF side (back or bottom of table). I then dry clamped this together and drilled my screw pilot holes about 4 inches apart and then countersunk each pilot hole (I used 1" screws) taking care to stay away from the insert, slot and miter location.

This was probably overkill (probably used almost 100 screws!) but I ended up with a very strong and flat table top after I laminated the top and added 3/4" oak stripping around all edges. I used biscuits to install the oak edging.

I'm using the top now for some projects I have to get done and am working on the finished cabinet which will eventually hold the top and all of my bits, jigs and hold down. Good luck to you and welcome to the forum! These guys are the best and I have learned a lot here.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-04-2014, 08:05 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the great advice........greatly appreciated!

I plan to use Titebond II glue and a bunch of F-clamps. I only have a few, so I will be picking up some of these.........probably Bessey Tradesman F-clamps. I will use cauls or at least some propane tanks to clamp the middle down. I'm not planning on using screws as the clamps. I will definitely protect the work surface with plastic or something.

One thing I plan on doing to make sure the top is square is to start with slightly over-sized panels and offset one panel in both directions leaving the factory edge of one of the panels proud. This way I can run those edges along the table saw fence ensuring a square cut on the other two sides and then use the cut sides to cut the other two sides square and parallel at the proper size.

I will be laminating both sides in Formica or equivalent. I plan on edge banding in oak, but may make the banding a bit wider and insert T-tracks into them. I am thinking of rabbeting the top and bottom of the router top and grooving the banding to give extra glue area and support.

BTW, I will be using an Hitachi M12V router with a Woodpecker PlungeLift.

Couple of questions:

- as long as I wipe the MDF panels down before gluing is this sufficient to provide a smooth surface for gluing or do I have to sand the surfaces?

- how much pressure do I need to apply? I don't want to squeeze all of the glue out.

- Know of any sales going on for Bessey F-clamps?

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-04-2014, 08:35 PM
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I did mine like Super cat & screwed the 2 pieces of MDF together, I gave both mating surfaces a light sanding before gluing.
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