Small Panel Gluing Jig for $25

Introduction: Small Panel Gluing Jig for $25

If you're looking for a solution for scrap wood, this might be it. I built this jig to glue up my sleigh bed scraps. Why waste good wood? The big-boy panel jigs run $179 (for the one pictured below). I've seen other jigs for around $50 utilizing more or less the same principle, but this is cheaper, and therefore better! What to do with the small panels after you're finished? Why, build a miniature pirate chest, of course!.

It's ugly, but it works great!

Step 1: Gather Materials

Home Depot/Lowes carry laminated Particleboard (3/4"). The size of the jig will vary as desired. Check the Cull box in the back! Make sure you get laminated (glossy) and not primed. The glue will stick to primed material.

1/4" - 20 X 2" screws (24 required)
1/4" - 20 Cross Dowels McMaster Carr ( part 90835A210) sells these cheaper than Lowes {$1.30ea} (Home Depot doesn't have them). Ace Hardware had them for $0.60ea if you need immediate gratification. Make sure they are at least 16mm in length, you will need enough to grip the jig on both sides of the screw that goes through the middle.

10mm drill bit
Drill Press (or steady hand)

Step 2: Cut and Drill Boards

Rip/Saw the board to the desired length (9" X 12-1/4"). They don't need to be perfect (only the holes need to line up). Again, my jig was designed around the end product using the $2 or cull boards I had. It can be as large as you want.

Drilling the jig will require a bit of precision. I cheated and used a CNC, but there simple ways get the same results without spending a boatload on a machine. Here are two options.

The simplest:
After you have the boards cut, stack them (5 high - 4 panels plus top). Clamp them together with C clamps or a vice. Mark your holes across the lined up edge at 5" intervals roughly 1" from the edge. Drill through all of the boards at once as squarely as possible.

Mark the remaining holes using the same edge measured for the first set. Drill through the second set of holes the same way as the first. If your holes are inaccurate, the board will still work, but cannot be flipped or rotated as they can be if the are all perfectly spaced.

The slightly more complex:
You could of course build a jig to build the jig. Using a piece of hardboard or scrap you can mark the pattern, drill and use it as a template of each piece and the required holes.

Step 3: Assemble/Use

The assembly is pretty simple. A cross dowel goes in each hole with a screw in each cross dowel. The top of one cross dowel fits into the bottom of the one above.

When gluing the panels, spread the glue lightly but evenly across the surfaces. It will work equally well with standard wood glue or polyurethane (gorilla) glue. If you notice the the panels stick to the jig, get a little Pledge(furniture polish) or wax between gluing sessions. I only noticed this with the polyurethane. Wood glue seems to chip right off.

Before you set the next layer of the jig onto the last, make sure the screws are hand tight. When you press the next level down, it will keep the panel from lifting up so it can be tightened properly. Keep stacking the panels up one after the next until all four panels are set in place. Set the top in place and press down. Tighten all of the screws with a screwdriver or drill until everything is tight.

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, I know this is old, but I love this - I too saw that type of commercial clamp and have been pondering on making my own. I do a lot of small laminating projects, and clamping them all at the same time with bar clamps and such gets tiresome and takes up a lot of space. I'm gonna try making something like this soon - thanks for the inspiration.

    spark master
    spark master

    10 years ago on Step 3

    Is the whole point of this to squeeze the strips together , then because of longht of the hardware you stack them, then if you need you can put a weight or strap down the center for vertical pressure as well?

    Since I have very few toys to play with (wood worker toys) I used a sorta peg board ish system with a flat piece of wood a stip of steel L 90 (think shelf legs) with a strip of hard wood. I used cam like piece of wood and wood screws to get my cams close enough then turned the cam. Another I jury rigged was closer to this it was two strips one had threaded rod coupling glued into it in 3 places the other strip had in correct positions a dimple drilled in and a washer set in the hole I put long 1/4 20 bolts through the part with the rod couplings then took another one put it on the end of each of the 3 bolts. then screwed in a pan head 1/4 20 bolt. Screwd in till they bottom out then tightened up. To adjust you could either screw down either of the two strips (90 with wood strip or the part the bolts screw through. I chose to move the 90 or more often I simpl put a block of wood betwix them. I used waxed pare with every thing and so no glue was an issue.

    This is far nicer and stackable. But I had a couple hundred rod couplings and steel all around me, freebies. Also I used high grade bolts not threaded rod to apply pressure (as is done here) since they flex less, if at all.

    But how did you make the curved top? I glued them to each other over a form with rubberbands, but my pieces were ugly so I tried bending the thin laminates over the glued up item, then glued them in place? I did not understand steam bending then....


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 3

    The curved top is put together using the 1/8" cove and bead router bits that are used to assemble strip built canoes/kayaks. There is a rabbet along the inside of the curve and the pieces are placed, glued and braded in place. This creates a sold top with no visible gaps.

    The benefit of the particular jig is that is ensures the surfaces are aligned and no significant sanding/planing of the parts has to be done afterwards. I was using it to glue up scrap material from other projects. I could glue up enough in one setup to have the panels ready for a new box each time.


    14 years ago on Introduction

    Nice work! Now I can get rid of some of those scraps! Have you had any problems with the chip board? Like the dowels pulling out etc.?


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    The holes are really tight on my jig (maybe too tight) so there has been a little chipping around the edges. The laminate is pretty thick, so it isn't too much of a concern. I've used is about 5 times thus far (20 panels) with no real problems. A little dab of Pledge and a wipe down nearly eliminates the possibility of the laminate gluing to the panels. You could probably get better results adding a laminate to plywood or a board, but then you have to add contact cement and whatever shirt you're wearing at the time to the mix. I can't ever get away clean from contact cement!