Spreading Glue for Laminate Panel Pressing

Advice about hand application of adhesives for fabricating laminated panels. June 5, 2007

Those of you who press your own panels, what do you use to apply your glue? We are looking at a small press, something like the Joos Junior, to enable us to turn small jobs more quickly. We would be using vertical grade laminate. What are the minimum requirements to prevent telegraphing? Spray, paint roller, glue spreader?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor Y:
At all the places that I've worked, we've used paint rollers, both for PVA and contact cement. Just make a box with a closable lid that holds a paint pan to keep the roller from drying up.

From the original questioner:
Contributor Y, that is how we are doing it now (in vacuum bag), but small pieces of the nap of the roller tend to cause multiple dimples to telegraph through when using vertical grade, so we use horizontal for in-house layups. The goal is to eliminate the dimples and go vertical.

From contributor T:
Are you using foam rollers? We are along W Franklin's cold press glue it's not as heavy bodied (thinner) as regular PVA. Do you use a platen on top? We use 1/4 MDF vertical. No problem yet.

From the original questioner:
Thanks - that answers my question. Currently we are using a 3/8" nap roller. I'll try the foam and glue you mentioned the next time we do a lay-up.

From contributor L:
We use a roller cover that is designed for adhesive: #RC 118 9" made by Linzer/American. We buy them through Solo Brush Co. The nap is short and doesn't shed, easy cleanup.

From contributor K:
I have a Klebo glue dispenser/spreader bought from Vacuum Pressing Systems that works well for PVA - it's a notched trowel mounted on a quart canister with an adjustable orifice. The glue goes on evenly and quickly. I keep a slit wet sponge on the trowel in between sessions, and clean up with warm water at the end of the day. I've never used it for contact, but it's supposed to work for that as well. Cost about $80, as I recall. If you don't like the ridges, knock them down with a thin foam roller that you can wrap in waxed paper in between sessions for reuse.

From contributor J:
How do you handle outside edges with the Klebo spreader? I bought one to use with contact cement and it didn't seem practical to slide the wooden stick on and off the trowel to do edges.

From contributor R:
If you are planning to spend money on laminate lay-up, you would be better off looking at a top and bottom glue spreader (Black Brothers, Quick, Midwest Automation - there are many good brands) combined with a good pinch roller. Using fast tack PVA glue we do up to 100 panels in a shift with two men and the total investment is less that even a small hot press. We dry stack the panels overnight and cut the next morning. If we have a small run we roll by hand, and we use contact only if we need to cut immediately after lay-up.

Buying the press without the glue spreader is impractical anyway, because spreading the glue is what takes time. I am now starting to think about investing a little more in automation, but still not planning on getting a press.