Techniques for joining materials, especially optical materials such as glass to structural materials such as metals, or to other optical materials, while maintaining their surface and optical properties are essential for a wide range of industrial applications. Adhesive bonding is commonly used but leads to many issues including optical surface contamination and outgassing. It is possible to generate welds using an ultra-short pulsed laser process, whereby two flat material surfaces are brought into close contact and the laser is focused through the optical material onto the interface. Highly localised melting and rapid resolidification form a strong bond between the two surfaces whilst avoiding significant heating of the surrounding material, which is important for joining materials with different thermal expansion coefficients. Previous reports on ultrafast laser welding have identified a requirement for the surface separation gap to be less than 500nm in order to avoid cracking or ablation at the interface. We have investigated techniques for increasing this gap (to reduce weld fit-up problems), and tested by bonding two surfaces with a weld-controlled gap. These gaps were generated either by a series of etched grooves on the surface of one of the substrates, or by using a cylindrical lens as a substrate. By careful optimisation of parameters such as laser power, process speed and focal position, we were able to demonstrate successful welding with a gap of up to 3μm.