Gluing has started in earnest!
And before I say anything more - A big thanks to Peter for the discussion about the glues. The Titebond Original is the best for this. The end “grain” of the MDF suck up moisture like crazy and I could see that the quicker drying glues being really difficult to work with for this part of the project. The Original gave me the time I needed to spread the glue and to get things into place, without rushing.
As I noted, I am gluing the cabinet in steps; the first being the top and bottom panels to the sides. To ensure the fit up to the the front panel, I used the front panel as the “form” for gluing the sides, top and bottom. I loosely wrapped the ends of the front panel with binding film and used an extra piece of wood to ensure it was loose enough to form around the rabbit cut. I also made sure the film was not pinched between panels. I did this after the panels were dry fit by lifting the panels at the end to be glued, as unit, and away from the front panel and the film. Then set it all back in place. There are 2 layers of film and the material is stretchy enough to form nicely around the rabbit without taking up space.
In the dry fit up I traced the bottom and top panel outline onto the side panels so I would know how far to spread the glue on the side panels.
This is the side panel with glue on the ends and on the interior where it meets with the bottom/top panel.
I did the same tracing of the outline of the side panels onto the top/bottom panels where the rabbit cut is. The top/bottom panels also had glue applied to the surfaces that will meet up with the side panels. While this seems like a lot of glue, a lot gets sucked up by the MDF while getting the glue applied every it is needed.
I only glued one end at a time. The other end was dry clamped to hold things together. As noted prior, I modified clamps to act as rests for the long clamps. These are used on the dry end so they are ready for clamping the glued ends.
With the side panels splayed outward a little, the end panel with glue on it slid easily into place. I then put on the small clamps, lightly tightened. Then came the long end clamps.
A mistake I made at this point was to not make sure the end panel was fully aligned with the side panels. As a result one corner of the end panel was slightly higher than the corresponding corner of the side panel. The pieces are off only slightly, but it could have been easily corrected if I had remembered to check it before fully tightening the clamps. I had seen this in the dry fitups and just forgot to check. Once the clamps where tightened, it was game over for realigning things.
I also didn’t like the amount I needed to tighten the clamps and concluded I needed another level of clamps. Here I am gluing the other end of the cabinet with 3 sets of clamps.
Is there such a thing as too many clamps...
It seems that the MDF is flexible enough that it works well to have the clamps only 6 to 8 inches apart. Not sure if others found this, but for me it took a lot less tightening of the clamps to get the glued pieces in place.
The binding film worked well and the front was easily removed once the glue had set over night.
And this is the end showing where the glue drizzled down on the binding film.
I did try to clean up the wet glue, but I was unable to clean if off adequately. On the outside, the clamps are in the way and on the inside it doesn’t matter. Where it shows up in the rabbited area, the dried glue is easily removed with a chisel.
Another thing I found was a slight step in the rabbited area. It is barely visible at the end of the arrow.
This occurred because the saw height was slightly low when I did the trim cut. I had first routed the panel and then did a trim cut on the table saw. I didn’t realize when I first noticed it, way back when, that it would interfere with assembly. It did. Easy to clean up with the chisel...
I am a big fan of these silicon rubber gluing brushes. This was the result of not cleaning the brush and cup while the glue was still wet, and leaving it to setup over night..
They cleaned up easily, anyway...
As it is, they work really well for me for spreading the glue.