Door Gluing and Clamping Techniques

Leave the doors in the clamps while they set, or pin nail and remove? Here's a sampling of the various ways cabinetmakers make time with door assembly. December 27, 2007

Do you clamp and leave until dry, or do you clamp, square, pin nail, remove? Personally not a big fan of nails - seems kind of cheap to me. For those of you who say "buy all your doors," I usually do, but not when I'm not super busy. I'm all set up to make them in house.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
I go in circles. I clamp up a door, put it aside, keep doing it until I run out of clamps. By that time the first is dry enough to come out of the clamps, clamp up a new one and continue until I'm done. Takes me about 6 minutes to get the parts, apply the glue, assemble and align, check and make square. So I need 10 sets of clamps to let them dry for an hour, which is longer than needed with TiteBond II.

From contributor V:
We use a Ridder 3-headed shaper station. Then a pneumatic clamp system to put them together. Put them in clamps and shoot with micro pins, take out and do another. Micro pins are really small, so not much to see from the nail aspect.

From contributor I:
For inset doors, we clamp and pin nail and allow to sit for a few minutes, then we take them to the cabinet and shim them into the opening and let dry. I have found that taking shims and wedging them between the door and frame gives us sufficient clamping pressure and the door then dries to the correct reveal in the opening, which greatly reduces the time it takes to adjust reveals in the end.

From contributor F:
What gauge and length are your nails?

From contributor S:
I do all my gluing up before the doors are planed, sanded, and cut to size. I have three pairs of Plano vertical clamps, which will keep the door flat while gluing up. Usually I can put two in a clamp at the same time, unless really wide. Several of the drawer fronts. I use these in pairs, but will add a Bessey clamp in the middle if they are long doors.
So I try to glue them up as fast as I can - don't short on glue, so it runs out of the joints when clamped down. I like to leave them in the clamp an hour or so, then pull them and scrape off the excess glue - rubbery then - with an old chisel. Since I can at most do six doors at a time, I'll be doing something else in between.

From contributor H:
We use 2 36x72 Ritter clamp tables to assemble our doors and we use Dorus Express white glue. It is a fast-set glue that only requires 7 minutes under pressure to set up. By the time you have assembled the 4th door, the first one is set and ready to come out of the clamps, no pins required.

From contributor V:
23 gauge 5/8" length. When we shoot them they are in the pneumatic table. We take them out as soon as we shoot them. Clean up any glue. Run them through the sander for the rails and stiles. Send them on to finishing department.

From contributor J:
Same a contributor L - lots of clamps, and 30 minute drying time.

From contributor R:
This is backwards, but I pin nail first for alignment - it's so much easier than trying to keep perfect - then I clamp them (leave on about an hour - different weather a little longer).

From contributor B:
Where in the world can I find this Dorus Express glue? I have looked online and with my suppliers and no luck.

From contributor H:
I get mine through my local Louis and Co. They are part of the Wurth group and are almost everywhere in the US. My sales rep said that Franklin made a similar product. The glue is expensive. It is about three times more expensive than yellow glue, but the way my shop is set up, I really couldn't build doors without it. We build about 300-500 doors a week.

From contributor W:
600 plus doors a day here. 3M jetweld works well up to about 90 degrees ambient temp, then it takes too long to set up. Approximate 20 second set time is about right when using a door clamp. It's about 10 times stronger than a hot glue. Gun is $500 or so. Maple doesn't always want to close up the joints, though, so I started looking for an alternative to yellow glue and pin nails. Franklin makes Assembly High Tack, which we tried, and on a warm day it set up in about 2 minutes. They tried to tell me this was the same as Original Titebond, but we tried that, and it's baloney. Try ordering through your local supplier. Franklin has a minimum order of $250, so that would be too much for a small shop. Just comes in 5 gallon pails.

From contributor V:
We are looking at using a hand held RF for panels and door assembly but not sure about the whole thing yet.

From contributor U:
I have a Woodwelder for doors. We use a JLT clamp with TB glue and 5 seconds per joint with the handheld RF gun. By the time the next set of parts is ready, the door can come out of the clamps if you don't drop it. 4 minutes per door.