Monday, March 23, 2009

Let the flattening continue!

Ok, so not the most inspired title.

I got another hour in the shop yesterday morning (nice light in my workshop in the morning). I pulled out my winding sticks (nice little aluminum jobs from Lee Valley) and checked my bench. I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that except for a tiny bit of crown in the middle of the bench in one place, it's pretty darned flat and true. Or, I'm just lousy at figuring this stuff out. (always a possibility).

I began the day with the bench looking like this.

Because I use my foreplane for light jointing work, I've never really put a curve in the blade or relieved the corners enough. I think that's something on my list of things to do, next time I sharpen. You can see the places where the edges of the blade dig in on my traversing strokes. It's not a huge deal, as I'm not too worried about finish of the top, I'm more concerned with flat and true. (there's one board in particular where I keep getting tearout going crossways, but it's not really worrying me like it would if this was fine furniture I was building)

The next step was to go down the top again, still traversing, with a more finely set jointer plane. I got out one of my favorites, an old "B" (Birmingham) plane. This is such a nice plane. It's about the size of a #7 and has always done a great job.

I worked my way down the top making sure I overlapped my courses. I found that sometimes I'd get to one area and the plane would hardly bite at all. For those areas I'd either work in from the right (I was going right to left down the bench) more slowly, taking more overlapping passes, or work in from the left going backwards, and eventually I'd be taking the full-width passes I was looking for. Again, this can be a whole lot more work than you want if you don't wax the sole of the plane. I use an old candle. It works.

Here's a picture part way down. You can kind of see how much rougher the surface is below the plane than above it. There are still marks from the jointer plane to be see, but that comes next. Overall, it's a much smoother surface. (and, yes, that's the tearout I'm talking about)

The next step, and the last I was able to do yesterday, was to then start to go down the bench at an angle. I got out my foreplane again and started up at the corner and worked my way down the bench. Again, I made sure I was getting full-width cuts that overlapped. You can see that the shavings are a bit different. You can get longer, ribbon-like shavings at this point. What's interesting is that the raking light really makes the bench look much more textured than you can feel. It feels quite smooth at this point, but the light shows up the texture better.

After this I checked again with my winding sticks and things are looking quite good. Next time I'll start going down the top with my jointer to take out the ripples.

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