There are several types of glues that will provide satisfactory results, in fact many glues now commonly available will make joints stronger than the wood itself. Waterproof carpenter’s glue, or yellow glue (Polyvinyl acetates ((PVA)) or aliphatic resins) like Titebond II Extend, and Titebond III, have reasonable working time, and work well for most domestic, and many exotic woods. Woods with high resin content like Teak, Cocobolo, and Lignum Vitae are problematic and need an epoxy (West System, System Three), or Resorcinol (Weldwood) type glue, and generally need to have extra surface preparation, with either a solvent wipe, or using a primer, to get proper adhesion. Cyanoacrylate (Crazy Glue) works pretty well with a few wood species, but has limited working time and is too expensive for anything other than repair, or small assemblies. One part Polyurethane glues (Gorilla Glue, Franklin) will also work, are water resistant, easy to remove dried glue (except on your fingers—wear gloves) but may suffer from “creep”, or the tendency for the glued pieces to move when under constant pressure, and/or when subjected to heat, like being left in an automobile on a hot summer day (which will soften glues like carpenters glue also). Plastic Resin (urea formaldehyde) and Recorcinal glue are two part glues, which are powders that need to be mixed with either water, or an activator or catalyst. They are waterproof, offer strong adhesion, work with oily woods, have low creep, and moderate working times. Hide glue, white glue (Elmer’s), silicone based glues (Goop), and contact adhesive should not be used due to their limited water resistance and/or lower bonding ability. Some people do have allergic reactions to some types of adhesives like epoxy, Recorcinal, and cyanoacrylate, so that’s another reason to stay with aliphatic resin, plus it’s water cleanup instead of solvent. Don’t use old glue, or when the temperature is too hot or too cold (usually 55-85 degrees (15C-30C)).

       You need to work quickly and have an adhesive with adequate working time (10-15 minutes) to allow assembly of the landing net frame before the glue sets, and when doing frames with more than 5 laminations you may have to do them in stages, or have assistance with spreading the glue and clamping. All mating surfaces need to be clean, and best results are with freshly milled or planed surfaces. A thin layer of glue should be spread on all mating surfaces. Titebond II & III, and similar glues have very good initial tack strength, so care needs to be taken that the laminations are accurately placed when put together, or the laminated strips may end up being staggered with the edges misaligned. A few firm taps with a hammer and block of wood will help align the laminations while the initial spring clamps hold them in place. Slight irregularities and any excess glue squeeze out will be removed when shaping and sanding the frame. I use lots of spring clamps to temporarily hold the glued strips in place until the C-clamps can be applied. Start the clamping at the top of the net frame and work toward the handle, alternating the clamps on each side.

       The handle will normally be glued at the same time as the frame, and needs to be precisely aligned and clamped in place to prevent it from shifting position before the frame laminations are applied. I typically use anywhere from 30-40 C-clamps for an average size landing net frame and handle glue up with about a 2” (50mm) spacing. 3” & 4” (75mm-100mm) C-clamps work well for clamping the frame, and I have a several 6” (150mm), 8” (200mm) & 10” (250mm), clamps that are used for clamping the frame laminations to the handle (the larger clamps are not needed for more pressure, but rather because the longer handles allow for easier application when using clamps in close proximity, by alternating smaller and larger clamps next to each other, and alternating the handles on each side—see pictures above). When clamping the net handle and frame laminations together, you may also need to use additional cauls that are shaped to fit the curves in the handle edges, in order to get even pressure distribution from the clamps, and give the clamps a “square” or perpendicular surface to clamp against, or they will just slide out of position when set against a curved surface; these can be short pieces used in addition to the thinner caul on the outside of the frame laminations. If you save the waste pieces from making the handle they should fit well.

       You may be able to borrow the larger clamps, and make home made clamps with carriage bolts and blocks of wood, as they only need to be 1” - 1 1/4” (25mm– 30mm) deep to fit the form. Fewer clamps may be used with thicker 1/2” - 3/4” (12mm-20mm) thick cauls, or thick blocks of wood used to evenly distribute the clamping pressure and prevent imprinting of the clamp on the outer surface of the landing net frame laminations. I use a caul made of one piece of 5/16” - 3/8” (8mm-10mm) thick Ash, that’s been previously steamed and bent around the same form that I’m using, just like the thinner laminations used for the gluing, along with many clamps (because I have the luxury of a couple hundred clamps available, and dozens of forms). Having lots of clamps allows me to get lots of flexibility when gluing many different shapes and construction methods for the net frames. I use inexpensive 2” (75mm) clear polyethylene plastic packaging tape on the caul and form, to prevent the glue from sticking, or waxing the surfaces with paste wax will help also.

       Having another person assist makes it much easier, and it only then requires just a few minutes to complete the process. It is also possible to apply too much pressure with the clamps and squeeze the glue out of the joints, causing the frame to delaminate later. Too much clamping pressure can also cause the laminations to creep or slide out of alignment if the sides of the form are not perpendicular to the pressure from the clamps. Firm hand pressure is all that’s needed. Don’t try use the clamps with heavy pressure to force the laminations together, or close gaps in tight curves. The pre-bent strips do not have to exactly match the form’s outline, but should be close because moderate pressure should be all that’s needed to bring all the surfaces into contact. Doing a trial run in order to check the time to assemble, and to make sure you have sufficient clamps available, will go a long way to ensuring success.




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These pages were last updated 3 April 2008

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Pictures of clamps and forms used to glue fly fishing landing net frames.Pictures of clamps and forms used to glue fly fishing landing net frames.

How to build a custom wood fly fishing landing net