Toymakers Shop Glueing And Clamping a Dragon While Keeping Feet Aligned

The Final Glue and Clamp For A Handmade Wood Toy Dragon
The Final Glue and Clamp For A Handmade Wood Toy Dragon

 I struggled with this issue for a while before I figured out how to do it. I've had to remove legs and make new ones or sand them flat and even which can make the feet too thin or make them look funny.

The legs wing up crooked because wood glue is slippery, and the pieces want to slide around. Clamps are not perfectly straight, and when clamping irregularly shaped pieces getting everything aligned square can be a challenge.  

So why not use a quick setting glue like cyanoacrylate, for example. I don't use it for several reasons. First, cyanoacrylate sets too quickly, and if I am off just a tiny bit when I place a leg, I can't adjust it. Toy assembly requires a longer working time.

Cyanoacrylate is not as strong as wood glue, and it breaks down slowly. I'm making toys that children will play with, and hopefully, some will become heirlooms. Quick setting glues are weaker and don't last.

Cyanoacrylate is dangerous. It can cause severe burns. A spill in the wrong place can cause some severe damage and a trip to the emergency room. If I spill some wood glue, it makes a mess.

 Cyanoacrylate has a short shelf life. Wood glue can last for many years as long as you don't let it freeze or get too hot.

So finally, here is how I get the feet to align. First, I glue on the first leg in the position I want and let it sit there with no clamps for a few minutes until it begins to get tacky. For Titebond II, this is about five minutes. Now add a clamp and wait at least 20 minutes for the glue to set. You must be sure this leg is positioned correctly because the rest of the legs will reference off the first one.

Before the second leg is added, clamp the existing leg to a straight edge. Use rubber bands spring clamps, or whatever you need. With the clamps in place, glue on the second leg and make sure the foot's bottom is against the straight edge. Wait a few minutes for the glue to get tacky, and add a clamp being sure the bottom of the leg stays flush against the straight edge. Wait for the glue to cure for at least 20 minutes.

Now I can glue on the next two legs. Clamp the first two legs to the straight edge (I use a thin board.) Then position and glue the other two legs using the board to guide you. Wait five minutes and clamp the legs to the body. Using a couple of more clamps, clamp the legs to the board. If you have been careful, all of the legs will be near perfectly aligned.

The process doesn't take much longer, and it is much better than trying to repair a crooked leg. I prep the body, then prep one leg and start the glue-up. While the glue is setting, I prep the next part. If you have a lot of these to do you will stay busy all the time. I like to add all of the parts to one side before I start on the other side. Once the last two legs are clamped in place, I can add the rest of the parts and clamp them up all at once.

Allow the glue to cure before you give it to the kids, Usually 24 to 48 hours. It is probably a good idea to let the glue fully cure before adding paint or a finish.


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