Wood Countertop question...

Lynch Home ServicesMay 12, 2009

I have to join a seam of my 1 1/2" thick oak countertops, the grain is running same way on both pieces. Can I just glue this up normally- I'll use a few biscuits and wood glue and clamp it for a day. (I've never glued up a piece this thick)

It's only a 7"x 25" piece that needs to be glued to the 6' long top (to make an L).


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I don't see any problem, but I would probably not use "biscuits for alignment." (I think that's what the flannel guy on TV says, or is it "add some pneumatic brads while the glue sets up?") IMHO, biscuits are just one more thing to go wrong. I like to be able to wrestle the joint into position, particularly if there is any difference in straightness between the two pieces. Biscuits may just interfere with that. (Before you ask, yes, I use biscuits and have 4 machines).

A properly executed edge grain glue joint will be stronger than the surrounding wood, so biscuits are not adding any strength.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 2:20PM
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Biscuits are basically an alignment aid as the actual strength they provide is basically in the additional glue area. I use biscuits from the large normal sizes---0, 10, and 20. I also use smaller mini biscuits, R1, R2, and R3.

In each case, the biscuits are used simply as an alignment aid---to keep joint movement minimal. Biscuits will not stop joint movement, just minimize it.

Ok, to your countertop---it sounds as if you will be doing an end grain butt joint. That is the weakest of all joints, biscuitsa will help with the alignment of the two pieces but not the strength of that joint. I would recommend using additional fastening pieces---as in the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Countertop connector

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 9:55PM
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Lynch Home Services

Thanks guys- I did end up using the biscuits as it turns out. I had to leave before I saw any responses, so I doubled up on the #20's using 6 total. I know a lot of guys don't think much of biscuits, I personally like using them and do think they actually make a stronger joint. It was not an end grain butt joint, it was an edge grain joint. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 9:54AM
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I use biscuits all the time, have experienced all the issues described here. Here are a couple of things I figured out:

The biscuits swell with moisture. Keep them in an airtight container. Save the packets of dessicant from pill bottles, new clothes pockets, etc (you know the little things that look like a packet of rock salt labeled "DO NOT EAT"). Put the dessicant packets in the airtight container where you store the biscuits. This helps with the swelling.

When you use biscuits, dry fit all of them before applying glue. Do not use any that have to be forced in. They have swollen from moisture.

When cutting the slots, make sure the edge of the board you are working on is hanging over the edge of the work bench. Also make sure you seat the fence securely against the top of the work piece as you cut each slot. Most alignment problems are caused by the bottom of the plate joiner riding against the top of the workbench, where dust and debris are prone to collect.

If joining solid wood to ply, cut all the slots in the plywood material first, then rasie the plate joiner fence by a hair (less than 1/64") to cut the slots in the hardwood. This way when you glue up, the hardwood surface will be just slightly proud of the plywood, giving you something to sand.

Sometimes the glue wants to make the boards slip out of alignment as you clamp. Kreg face frame clamps can help correct this. Butcher paper between the clamp and wood prevents the metal and glue from causing a dark stain.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 1:10PM
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A quick fix for those swelled biscuits that you cannot use---nuke 'em in the microwave for a minute or so.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 1:37PM
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