Speeding Up Gluing Time

The right glue and clamping system can speed production, and a radio-frequency setup can be even faster. February 13, 2013

I have just started to go into manufacture of dovetail drawers in a big way over here in the UK, and the biggest hurdle for me is how long it takes to glue up. Typically it would involve gluing up 2 or 3 strips of oak 20" long, 4" wide. I need to repeat this operation 4 times for each drawer so if a client wants, say, 10 drawers, that is the best part of a day just to glue up! At the moment I use 3 sash cramps per length and then have to wait half a day for the glue to cure. Is there an automated machine out there to increase production? What glue would you recommend to achieve minimal curing time? Thanks, from a frustrated UK manufacturer.

Forum Responses
(Adhesives Forum)
From contributor L:
So it sounds like you are building a drawer that is about 12" tall. If you are in production, you need to get a clamp carrier and use a faster drying glue. Most yellow glues are more than adequate for drawers and will be dry within an hour.

Or you can get a Woodwelder. It is a hand held microwave gun. You aim it at the glue joint and it will cook the glue to dry it. You can tack weld several spots on a board and it will hold. After a while the rest of the glue will dry normally.

From contributor M:
I agree with contributor L on the clamp carrier. You can use an 8' unit with as many sections as you need to meet your production. You can fill each section with panels and spin it out of the way to keep going. By the time it comes around, panels can be removed and clamp refilled. Panels can be removed but should not be further processed until glue is completely cured. If you prepare a couple days production in advance, you can have a couple guys load the clamp carrier at the end of the day and come in the next morning and begin processing.

From contributor J:
Pizzi offers a wide variety of gluing systems from small, portable tank units with various nozzles to dedicated gluing machines. The 9033 and 9048 machines would probably speed up your operation the most given the precise glue delivery.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for your advice. I hadn't seen a clamp carrier before and it is absolutely perfect for the job. Can you be more specific on the fast grab glue? I understand that yellow glue is polyurethane - is that correct? I'm not sure whether a PVA is better than a PUA?

From contributor J:
Yellow glue is a PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue. Polyurethane glue (PUR - polyurethane reactive) typically has a longer open time than PVA glue.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Do not be confused by the color. Some yellow glues have high instant tack; some do not. White glues can have a coloring added so that they are yellow.

In your case, if you use Titebond I or II, you should be able to remove the clamp within 20 minutes and the piece will stay together. The full strength of the joint will develop over 24 hours, but if the pieces of wood that you are gluing do not have stress, after 20 minutes, there will be enough strength to hold together without additional clamping pressure. This will allow you to work a bit faster without having to use the excellent clamp carrier.

From contributor B:
You can put you clamp carrier inside a shelter and heat it. Depends on the outside air temp if this would be necessary. I take panels out after 20 minutes as Gene suggested. I try to leave them until the next day, but if in a hurry I'll start processing. Still try to wait for final sanding until after fully cured. I scrape the excess glue off before it has cured.

From contributor R:
Use the right kind of glue. Titebond has a glue that will get you out of clamps in 15 minutes. I think it is called high tack assembly?

From contributor J:
The WorkRite Wood Welder is also a great choice for this application. It is a radio frequency machine that sets water-based adhesives in about 5-8 seconds and allows you to pull the work piece out of the clamps. I understand that the full strength of the glue is achieved in the normal time, but the set time is nearly instant this way.