Caleb and Phil are a great help in the class, helping with glue-ups and guiding where they can. Gluing up is of course the point of no return and yet, if you know anything about rock climbing, you shouldn’t climb what you can’t reverse. At least that’s how it was in my younger days climbing. Gluing up mortise and tenons can be very much irreversible and knowing if you can take them back apart after they are glued comes only by experience. Joint ‘freeze’ happens to the best of us and this usually occurs with synchronised combination of a tight joint, wood expansion through applying water-based glues and warmed up glue surfaces caused by the friction as the tighter joint comes together sets the joint before the shoulders fully seat or even well before that point. Knowing when to beat and when to retreat is no longer an option so what to do when you feel completely incapable of striking any harder for fear of making irreparable damage? Joint seize is another issue that parallels the ‘freeze’. This is simply a question of a too-tight joint that has been pressed beyond retreat and cannot be moved forward by mere clamping or hammer blows and cannot be separated. I am dealing here with joint freeze caused during glue up.

First off, you must move fast. Hopefully you have your clamps at the ready. Try to use two clamps on either side of the joint  but leaving enough room for a soft faced hammer or a hammer and a block of wood. Tighten the clamps as tightly as you can and when they tighten no more strike the part to be moved. The combination of the clamps and the hammer blow should move the part and the important thing is to keep striking and not give up. I have never know a stubborn joint not move using this method. Also, it’s a good idea on most mortise and tenon joints to run a bead of glue around the rim of the hole so that as the tenon enters, the glue serves as a lubricant to ease the entry and prevent glue freeze.

1 Comment

  1. Chris S. on 28 March 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Paul,

    I noticed that your build videos (as far as I can tell) have always involved the use of white or yellow glue exclusively. In relation to your post above, is there a reason you would not advocate the use of protein based glues (liquid hide/hot hide adhesives)?

    The longer open time and transparency to finishes would seem an advantage in most cases over using a PVA, and it can be reversed if a repair needed to be made or a mistake reversed.



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