Full Chisel Blog

December 7, 2008

Putting it all together

Now after all of the work it took to make the replacement sash, I had to glue it all together.

Sash apart

There are 23 individual pieces of wood, the rails and styles and the mullions or sash bars.  I could count the joints but that would be too much work.

Mullion detail

The joinery is fairly simple, after I looked at the original.  The cross pieces were cut to the size of the rabbit on the reverse side and the notch was coped on the front or narrow edge to accommodate the cross pieces.  both the width of the wood remaining between the rabbits and the width of the sash mullions on the front are the same size, so the notch starts at the saw cut and goes back at the proper angle.

Well with all of those joints to glue together at one time, it was a challenge.  Had this been an exterior sash, there would be no glue involved.  The original remaining sash appears to have been glued, so I glued this one together.  Now that is a challenge because there are a lot of surfaces to get glued at one time.

Lacking a heated glue room, I used liquid hide glue and chose to glue it up in a cooler shop to extend the open time.  It was around 60 degrees (F) during the glue up.  The liquid hide glue was warmed to about 70 degrees just to make it a little less viscous. 

Now come glue time things get a bit sticky.  Prior to glue up there are countless hours of preparing everything to fit.  Careful planning and marking each piece with infallible markings to get things in their proper place at the same time.  With all of these parts it is important to get part A to part B and so on well through the alphabet.  With this type of assembly there are no ‘do overs’.

Now the logistics are interesting, the rails need to be a bit flexible to allow the vertical sash bars (mullions, wait what are muttons?).  This is an interlocking piece that requires precision for all of the parts to go together in a neat and proper manner.

The actual gluing process is easy as long as you make sure there is glue on all contacting surfaces, in this case there are a large number of contacting surfaces, if my old math serves me well better than two score.  With a few deep breaths, proper offerings and a prayer or two and I was ready to proceed.

Using a Lee Valley bristle glue brush, I applied liquid hide glue to all contacting surfaces starting on one side and gluing both rails into one style.  I started on the off side so I wouldn’t have to reach over the work (and get glue all over me [I was wearing an apron]) then started putting together all of these parts.

Did I panic, I had every opportunity and almost did as I was pounding on the final style, aligning up all those last little parts without damaging anything as the main framework came together.  That happened rather quickly and I spun the sash around and looked at the front and everything looked fine, the panic subsided.

I could adjust a couple of the cross pieces for better horizontal alignment and tap a few to get them to the same plane on the front (the money side) any excess of width of the sash bars are on the back side and don’t show.  I did add three bar clamps, one on each end to hold the rail and style frame and one in the center, that did little but after I observed its inefficients, I left it until the frame had dried.

I did check on the diagonal to insure its squareness and as near as my eye can see it was so.  The overall length is longer than necessary and the width will need to be planed down as it is slightly wider than necessary.  This will remove any mallet marks, although I did put pieces of scrap wood before smacking it with a hammer or mallet.

Then things were good again, I cleaned off the excess glue with a wet cloth and the excess sweat with a dry cloth.  I was happy with the outcome and there was little I could do at that point if I weren’t.  I could have heated a joint to adjust a badly aligned part, that wasn’t necessary, but an option with hide glue.





  1. Real nice Stephen! I’ve had a door like this on my wnat to do list for awhile but nothing to put it on so it’s been on the back burner. I think the liquid hide glue excels in applications like this where you want that slower set to allow adjustment of the countless joints. I like hot hide glue a lot but in an application like this, I wouldn’t have trusted myself to use it even if the shop temperature had been optimum.

    Comment by Bob Rozaieski — December 10, 2008 @ 7:04 am

  2. Bob,

    I enjoyed making the sash door and plan to make a small cabinet with a glass door for storing chemicals, just to be able to make some more. If I had a 90 degree glue room I would have used hot hide glue.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — December 10, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

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