Saturday, March 21, 2009

Let the flattening begin!

So, I've got the basic shape together. It's now time to turn this table into a bench.

The first thing is to get the top flat. No matter how precisely you glue up, (at least no matter how precisely I glue up), there will always be boards slightly out of alignment, or some that are bowed and so stick up higher than ones around it. The first step is take all that down to relatively flat, and the fastest way is to plane across the boards, also called traversing. I got through traversing my bench today.

First thing was to sharpen up the blades of a couple of fore planes I have. I haven't used them in quite a while, so I made sure they were nice and sharp. I ended up choosing my recent stanley #6C with a Hock replacement blade. I like to use my #6 for this as it works like a mondo jack plane with more weight behind it, and more length. It's not quite a jointer, but more than a jack. It's all personal preference. I also like to cut dovetails with a larger tenon saw. Go figure.

I first pulled this plane out the night I got this all together and tried a few swipes across.


It was a chore. Now, I don't expect this to be a walk in the park, but it was harder than I thought it should be, which told me I needed to sharpen. That's what I did, and did a bunch of other blades from my long planes (fore and jointer), and my little German scrub plane at the same time.

Next time I tried it, which was this afternoon, it was a whole other story. I was able to take off huge strips of wood, including full-width shavings of cross-grain hard maple that stayed together across several boards. You can see the very specific type of shavings you get from this kind of work.

You can see my little German scrib plane in the background. I tried it out, but it's blade is so small, really meant for taking down the edges of boards, not faces, and I could get much bigger cuts, and thus faster, from my #6 plane.

Here's a closer look at the scrub plane.

And there were a LOT of cuts to be made.

Overall, very satisfying. Next step will be to check for wind with my winding sticks and look for high spots. Then I'll start to transverse again, this time with a finer-set jointer, then I'll start to go down the bench with a even-more-finely-set-jointer, taking out high spots, etc... before finishing with a smoother. I'll probably wait on the smoother until the end. I at least wanted to get the bench pretty flat before fitting the face vise, and yet want to wait on the final smoothing until I've finished everything else. Then I'll do final smooth and decide on any finishing I want to do.

Still a ways to go.

One note, though, that came about during my sharpening, was how impressed I was with the Peugeot Frers. iron in the scrub plane. It is a nice, solid chunk of iron, and that thing sharpened up beautifully, and honed to a mirror finish. You don't need a scrub iron to be that honed sharp, but I put a higher angle on it, 35-degree, and didn't mind spending a tiny bit more time to get it really shining. It's one of the nicest irons I have.

The logo

The blade with the original sharpening profile. I've tried to keep the interesting profile, but I've just sharpened it. This picture is a "before" picture.



  1. Andrew,
    Do you put a curve into your Fore plane irons? Also, did you flatten the bottom of the bench before you fit it to the legs or were you just lucky enough to have it fit flush without any plane work?

  2. As for the bottom of my bench, who cares? I left it untouched, except for the mondo mortises. In a way, it helps remind me of how the top once looked. I'm actually surprised with how flat the top was to begin with. Once I got all of the ridges down, I checked with my winding sticks, and except for a small amount of crown in the middle of one section, the sucker's actually quite flat! I'm very happy about that. So, no, I didn't flatten and it seems to be fine for that. Perhaps I got luckier than I know. :-)

  3. Andrew, not sure if you're still monitoring or writing this blog, but I have a question about the German scrub plane. I recently bought a wooden smoothing plane with the EXACT same maker's mark V. C & Co. Germany and the DRGM symbol. Mine also has a Peugeot Freres iron and chip breaker. I wonder if you know anything about V. C. & Co. I'm trying to research it on the internet and came across your blog entry. But I've found very little else. I have found stuff about Peugeot Freres, but nothing so far about V. C & Co. Do you know anything about them?


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