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Masking Tape jointing

Posted by tony on Apr 4, 2008

I dare say that there are many woodworkers out there that have their own tried and tested ways of assembling multi-sided boxes.

I have seen all sorts of different ways to draw all

the pieces together once glued but I have always found that, unless you have at least six hands, the pieces slip slide all over the place with the glue acting more like a lubricant than a sticky surface.

If we take the idea of say a 5 sided box and try to glue it together then just how many pieces can you control at a time. Bearing in mind that you not only have to have the edges lined up vertically and horizontally but each outer edge of the joint must meet at the correct angle.

If we have the five sides cut sequentially from the same length of timber, the very first advantage we have is, the grain of the timber will flow all round the box with no sudden jump in grain pattern. Secondly, we know that as long as the original length was finished correctly, the height of each piece will be the same. Thirdly, with careful cutting, each length will be the same. Last but not least each angle will be identical because we will have had our saw set to the correct angle. [ 180° divided by the number of sides] in our case it will be 180° ÷ 5 = 36°.

My first step is to fix a known straight edge to the bench which will provide a base for the pieces to rest against. These will be placed, outside face upwards, end to end, in the order in which they were cut from the prepared length ( if you number them as you cut it will stop any mix up) . Make sure they are up tight against the straight edge and that the ends are tightly adjacent to each other. Now we take our roll of masking tape and carefully join each piece to its neighbour until all five are joined in a line. I am normally quite liberal with the tape as we don’t want the pieces to move out of alignment.

Now carefully turn this whole length over so that the inside face is now upwards and, keeping it against our straight edge, we are ready to apply the glue. Follow the instructions for the type of glue you have chosen, I use a good quality Aliphatic Resin Glue, and apply the glue to ALL joints.

Starting from either the left or right hand side of your strip of pieces, we can now ‘roll’ the box together. The tape will tighten as you do this and the joints will really be squeezed together, so much so in fact, that you will find the final joint, where end meets end, will be a bit of a struggle. Finally with a little more tape this joint can be held in place, any surplus glue that will have squeezed out can be wiped away and the box set aside to dry. If you place it on a flat surface this will ensure that the box remains square (not literally because squares only have 4 sides) in engineering terms. If you put a sheet of paper between the box and the surface you wont glue them together, believe me that can be annoying.

Give 24 hours for the glue to set then remove the tape. If you leave masking tape too long the sticky part seems to get even stickier and it is a pain to remove.

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