The Secret to Gluing A Long Woodworking Miter Joint: Inner Tubes

March 1, 2020


Inner tube scraps, clamps, finesse, and patience are all you need for a clean wooden column with four sides of face grain.


An attribute that really makes this coat tree work as a woodworking project is the fact that it has face grain on four sides. And it's face grain, four sides, because this is a column and the parts for that column all cut on the table saw with 45-degree cuts on each piece.

So now we're ready to glue these things together to make it into one big post.


A couple of critical points in the process:

  • Make sure to use a good glue for this, and the glue I'm talking about is a glue that'll give me plenty of open time. We've got a lot of stuff to work on here. I don't want the glue to get away from me before I'm ready for it.
  • The other thing that's a nice attribute of this glue is that it dries very, very translucent. So, out here on these pointy miters, if anything doesn't come together just perfectly, I'm not going to have a funky line from the glue, because I've got a translucent glue I'm using for it.


Preparing for the woodworking glue up

To get ready for this, what I've done is put some blocks on the bench, I've got masking tape on them, so if I get squeeze-out from the column, I'm not going to glue these parts down to my blocks.

What's going to make everything come together for me here are inner tube strips and then a bunch of clamps. So, the inner tube strips are a very handy thing to have in your shop, and they work great for irregular clamping objects like this one.


Gluing the column miters, wrapping the inner tubes

Here on out, it's just fairly standard fare. Good film of glue on each of the two miters on two of the pieces. Four edges glued, it's go time here. We got everything else brought into place.I have wiggle-room on the end, so I want them to be close but they don't have to be perfect, 'cause they're going to get cut anyway.

This is where the first inner tube is going to come into play. Right here in the center, I'm going to squeeze my miters closed and wrap the inner tube, to keep it there.

And then I'm going to do the same thing, another inner tube on each end. And you gotta kinda... If you squeeze this with your hand you'll feel it slide to a point where the outside corners line up with each other. That's what you wanna do, you gotta manipulate it just a little bit to get the miters closed and where you want them, and then the inner tube will take over from there.


Adjust the fit with individual clamps

Inner tubes alone might not quite finish it. And you can just kinda tell by looking down the corners—if they closed all the way or not. These actually look pretty good. But I'm going to buy some insurance by putting a clamp this way very, very gently, and a clamp this way, very gently, because if I over-squeeze either one of these I'm going to distort it.

I'll get those miters to climb against each other, so I'm going to tighten the horizontal clamp, tighten the vertical clamp, tighten the horizontal, tighten the vertical until everything looks okey and dokey, right about there.

And I'm just going to keep doing that any place down the column here. If you go right to the clamps and you don't do the inner tube, then this has a tendency to just kinda run away from you and it's really, really hard to get everything to come together. So, starting with the inner tubes makes it a whole lot easier.

When this is done, with these mitered corners like this, nobody is ever going to know that you've got four pieces here 'cause the miters came together so nicely.


Clean up the glue squeeze-out

At this point, the glue on the column needs to be allowed to dry. The glue on my bench, I'm going to hurry up and clean that up. It's a water clean up, so I'll get a damp rag, get that all wiped up, and then we just need to wait for the glue to dry, so we can move on to the next step.


—This video is from Franklin Titebond, an advertiser of ProTradeCraft. Titebond's solutions-driven focus has produced an impressively broad line of revolutionary Titebond wood glues, flooring products, and construction adhesives and sealants. See all of Titebond's videos.