The Ultimate Easy Jig for Flat & Square Glue-Ups

Quick Jigs for Flat and Square Glue-ups

 In Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs

Anyone who has glued up a few doors knows how frustrating it can be attempting to build assemblies that turn out both flat and square. As I’m working on a cabinet article for the April issue of the magazine, I’m happy to have a few quick jigs on hand that make the process much less nerve wracking.

The jigs are nothing more than a section of melamine outfitted with two plywood or hardwood fences screwed in place at a perfect right angle to each other. For the doors, I simply apply glue to the joints and set the assembly in place against the fences. Clamps are then applied so that they span from the outside of each fence to the opposite side of the workpiece. Because the fences are square, the door is guaranteed to be square.

In addition to helping ensure that the assembly is square, I also can clamp the door down to the jig’s surface, using it as a caul, to make sure the door stays flat. I’ve built similar jigs out of plywood, but the melamine tends to stay flatter over time, and the slick surface makes glue removal a snap (if you do go with plywood, make sure to wax all the surfaces).

I use these same jigs to glue up doors of all sizes, small boxes, drawers and countless other projects in my shop. With a little planning and the use of shaped glue-up pads (and/or fences), these same and similar jigs work well on curved assemblies.

After a particularly frustrating glue-up years ago, I spent $20 on a sheet of melamine and made a stack of these jigs in various sizes. Having them on hand has saved me tons of time and frustration over the years.

By the way, we came out with “55 Best Shop-made Jigs” last year. It’s a great CD that is packed full of jigs for your shop.  Click here to buy the CD now, which is currently on sale for $14.99.

Matthew Teague

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Showing 8 comments
  • pauls

    “and the slick surface makes glue removal a snap”

    So what glue do you use to attach the fences to the melamine?

    • Matthew Teague
      Matthew Teague

      I just scratched up the surface under the fences with rough grit sandpaper and then used epoxy. Seemed to work fine.

  • MarkSchreiber

    This jig can also be useful when assembling drawer boxes. Just flip the drawer upside down when inserting or attaching the bottom.

  • plane jack

    Your jig for squaring doors during glue-up looks really handy.  May I ask, how does it work for mitered joints?  Do they slip? 
    I make braced plywood panels for painting and use miters for their appearance.  If your jig works for miters it would really make my glue-ups easier.
    I use dowels for 1.5″ stock and over but generally I just use glue (and maybe a staple) for smaller thinner braces.

    • Matthew Teague
      Matthew Teague

      It works great for miter’s actually. I use them on table bases that have a loose-tenoned miter joint between the legs and the table support (hard to picture, but . . . ) and it’s always worked great. It becomes even more important that you cut the miters perfectly, but dry-fitting a few scrap pieces on the jig lets you know what blade adjustments you need to make before cutting the actual workpieces. Depending on the configuration of the joint and the shape of the parts you may need to cut clamping blocks to fit particular situations. But, yes, they do help with miters a great deal.

      As long as you attach your fences securely, you won’t have any trouble with slipping—I learned this the hard way, so add a few extra screws and glue as well when you attach them.

  • JVarde

    Nice. How thick is the melamine?


    • Matthew Teague
      Matthew Teague

      Mine are made from 3/4 in. thick melamine and they’ve lasted a few years now without warping.

  • Jonathan Szczepanski

    Great idea Matt. Thanks!


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