It’s almost impossible to glue up any large panel like a table top without a clamping system of some sort. To get an even surface, your panels will require clamps and pressure on the sides to set the glue and additional pressure on the top and bottom to prevent joint buckling. It can be a real trick to get it all right, and once everything is glued and clamped down properly there are so many clamps sticking out in every direction that it looks more like an alien mother ship than a woodworking project.
Or, you can just try out Woodcraft’s clamping system.
The system works by applying equal pressure from all four directions: top, bottom, and both sides. Setup begins by attaching the clamps to any length 2 x 2’s which span the width of the project and provide the bottom and top pressure by attaching to the molded plastic strips with the provided screws. The plastic strips are 19-1/2″ long with 12 notches to handle stock widths up to 6″.
Side to side pressure is applied by the crossbar piece of the clamp which consists of a removable metal bar attached to the clamps themselves by a plate and two screws. Once all the clamps are in place, you simply turn a handle to tighten all four sides equally at the same time. Since all four sides are covered by one clamp you’ll save time — by using far fewer clamps — and eliminate the dreaded “buckling effect” to get a straight panel.
System pricing starts around $25 with replacement plastic bars available for around $5 through the Woodcraft website.
Woodcraft Clamping System [Woodcraft]