Clamping Miters?

Article - September 28, 2009

Trent has a question about clamps:

I am working on a set of cabinet doors with mitered corners and I am wondering what you have found to be the best clamps? I am not having much luck with the glue process using a set of cheap corner clamps that I picked up praying that they would work. I am new to wood working and have not put together a collection of good clamps but I have no problem spending the money to get anything that works like they are supposed to. I hope you have time to respond it would be very much appreciated.

P.S. I love your web site and it has been very helpful and entertaining.

And this was my response:

Bessey VarioHey Trent. I have never been a fan of those dedicated corner clamps. I just never get good results. For me, I get the best results doing a two part process. First off, I like to use a biscuit, dowel, or domino at each joint whenever possible. This helps keep the pieces from moving vertically during the glueup and takes a lot of the stress out of the equation. Not to mention it makes the mitered joint stronger. After adding glue, I use a band clamp to pull everything together. This is the one I use is made by Bessey (pictured left).

Once the frame is secure, I put the whole assembly on a set of clamps. I place two in one direction and two in the other direction, keeping them as close to the corners as possible. Using clamping pressure, I can then tweak the fit so that everything is lined up perfectly. Sometimes I use an additional clamp vertically on the joints themselves to make sure the pieces are sitting flush with one another (a nice alternative to using biscuits as I mentioned previously).

extendIf you can, try to use a slower setting glue like Titebond Extend or 30 minute epoxy for this. The joint will be stronger and you’ll have plenty of working time. Most times its the fact that we’re rushing that makes miter glueups so difficult. Hope that helps. Good luck.