Edge-glued butt joints are much easier to clamp with these simple shop jigs.
Oh, to have lived during the days when our country was covered in virgin stands of forest... Imagine what it must have been like to work with boards that were two feet wide or wider on a daily basis! But, sadly, those days are long gone. We're left to contend with narrower stock, and if you use much solid lumber, you probably glue up panels and wider workpieces for nearly every project you build. That means lots of edge-glued butt joints - and plenty of clamping.
These simple clamp stands will help take the hassle out of panel glue-ups. They consist of just four parts: a vertical upright attached to two end braces and a base. The stands are intended to act as spacers underneath the boards so you can install any style of clamps evenly and quickly below the panel. The stands in these photos are made of shop leftovers - some black melamine and a few strips of laminate-covered countertop. Feel free to use whatever sheet goods or lumber scraps you have on hand. Don't bother to make them pretty; these jigs are made for workaday abuse, not for show. Let's build a pair right now.
Step 1: Rip and crosscut two workpieces for the vertical uprights. Make them 4 in. wide and 36 in. long. That way, the stands will accommodate panels up to 3 ft. across.
Step 2: Tilt your table saw blade to 45° and bevel-rip the corners off of one long edge of each upright (see Photo 1). Adjust your blade height and rip fence settings to leave about 1/4 in. of "flat" along this edge. The narrow flat area is what actually supports the panel.
Step 3: Rip a pair of 4-in.-wide bases for your stands. Make them 40 1/4 in. long. Drill a hole through each base, 2 in. in from one end, so you can hang your stands on the wall. Use a jigsaw, and then a disc sander, to shape the drilled ends with a 2-in. radius (see Photo 2).
Step 4: Make four narrow end braces that are 4 in. long and 2 1/2 in. wide. Round over the corners of one long edge.
Step 5: Begin assembling your new clamp stands by brad-nailing one end brace flush with the square end of the bases. Center the vertical upright on the base and flush against the end brace. Tack it in place. Now clamp each stand in a bench vise and secure all the joints with 1 1/2-in. screws driven into countersunk pilot holes (see Photo 3).
Step 6: Screw the second end brace to the opposite end of the uprights and to the base (see Photo 4).
Step 7: Obviously, these stands will come into regular contact with wet glue squeeze-out ... and you don't want them to end up glued to your workpieces! To prevent that from happening, run a strip of wide packing or duct tape along the beveled edge (see Photo 5). Wet glue will wipe right off the tape. If you use a brightly colored tape, it will also help you see whether your panel is cupping or twisting under clamping pressure. You can use the top edge of the stands as you would a straightedge.
Step 8: Put those stands to use! Arrange them on your workbench perpendicular to the length of your panel and 6 in. or so in from the ends of the workpieces. You can even tip the mating parts of each butt joint up on their edges on the stands to spread the glue. Once all the joints are "wet" and rubbed together, apply clamps, alternating them above and below. Clean away the squeeze-out, and then carefully flip the panel to the other face to clean up the second side.
Thanks to these simple jigs, edge-glued butt joints will probably go together faster than ever before. You may even wonder how you got along without them!