With all the hard work that goes into breakout and joinery, you certainly don’t want things to go wrong during the assembly stage. Here are a few tips to ensure a smooth transition to finishing.
1. Joints Can Help With Location
Joints and fasteners that allow no movement between mating parts (dowels, Dominos, tenons, etc.) can locate workpieces very accurately and ease the assembly process. Biscuits work well in one direction but allow a bit of play side-to-side. This can be a good or bad thing. While they can be very strong, simple edge joints are very poor when it comes to locating the two parts together precisely. Consider what you will need during assembly and incorporate it into the piece.
2. Sand Before Assembly When Needed
Getting at certain surfaces once the parts have been assembled can be nearly impossible. Sanding before assembly can make life easier in the long run.
3. Prefinish Some Parts
Small parts in an intricate assembly can be very hard to finish. Taping exposed joinery surfaces and applying a finish before assembly can be a great approach, resulting in a nicer finished product.
There are times when it’s absolutely impossible to apply glue and assemble all the joints in one project before the glue sets up. Making subassemblies is a great way to get around this. I’ve used upwards of eight subassemblies to bring together certain pieces of furniture before. It might take longer, but there’s a much lower chance of ruining the entire piece.
5. Don’t Wait Too Long
Wood expands, contracts and warps with time. Though it’s rare, perfect joinery one day can be impossible joinery a month down the road. Assemble your project as soon as possible after machining joinery.