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Adjustble Panel Cauls

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When gluing up a solid-wood panel, one of the challenges is keeping it flat while the clamps are tightened down. For a long time, my solution to this problem was to clamp cauls across the panel. But on too many occasions this "jury rig" method turned out to be awkward and generally unsatisfactory. So I determined to come up with an improvement.

The result is the set of adjustable panel cauls you see at work in the photo above. The construction details are shown in the drawings below. Each caul consists of two hardwood "beams" that sandwich the panel. A slot running down the middle of each beam accommodates the adjustable clamping mechanism that connects the two beams. This is simply a carriage bolt that passes through a foot and is tightened down with a large, plastic wing nut.

Exploded View

Using the cauls is pretty straightforward, but there are a couple of fine points I should mention. You don't want to inadvertantly glue the cauls to the panel. To avoid this, you can place wax paper between the beams and the panel or wax the edges of the beams. Then snug the carriage bolts up close to the panel before tightening the wing nuts. This will better focus the pressure across the panel.

Have a nice weekend,
Ted Raife
Editor, Woodsmith

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