Bench Top Lamination without Lamentation
by Patrick Harper - Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust
This was the first time I’ve ever attempted a large bench top lamination. To say that I was a bit nervous would be an understatement. What if I experienced delamination? What if I couldn’t get the boards aligned properly? What if I ended up with miscellaneous items accidentally glued to my laminated assembly? In the end, my fears were put to rest, and careful planning resulted in a successful lamination.
With the individual boards ripped to width, I just need to finish milling them. Most of the boards were quartersawn with little cupping or twist. I didn’t see much benefit in jointing a face, so I just ran both sides through my lunch box planer. I marked grain direction on the edge of each board, so that I could ensure the grain would run in the same direction for the entire assembly. Next, I did a dry run to figure out the best location for each board. I wanted the outside boards to bow inwards, so that I would end up with a spring joint. I also wanted to make sure that I could close up any gaps by hand.
After a deliberate rehearsal, It was time to get started. I double checked to make sure that everything was in its right place. I made sure that my workbench and floor surfaces were protected. Then, I laid out several clamps, placed my boards on top, and made sure they were in the correct order. Next, I wiped down the surface of each board with acetone. This will remove any resin and help the glue penetrate better. Using a small 6″ paint roller, I carefully rolled on Titebond Extend wood glue on one face of each board. I carefully aligned the boards and started clamping down the outermost clamps. I proceeded to add clamps every 6″ or so, alternating top to bottom. I ended up using 12 clamps total. The only thing left, was to wait.
I decided to leave the assembly in clamps for approximately 24 hours. I was terrified that I would release the final clamp, only to have the assembly explode in a shower of splinters and sawdust. Fortunately for me, this was not the case. Everything held up very well. The glue lines are nice and tight on both sides.
There are only two things I will do differently for the next assembly. I will apply glue to both faces of every joint, and I will scrape the excess glue off before it fully hardens.
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