The Dovetail Diaries

The advancement of one man's woodworking skills.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Just Plane Easier Than I Thought It Would Be

I had a problem.  I needed to face joint the 5" side aprons for the Shaker side table, but my small jointer has a capacity of 4 3/8".  Obviously I was going to have to come up with an alternative.  I thought about making a sled from a sheet of 3/4" MDF, shimming the aprons pieces so they didn't rock and then running them through my 12 1/2" portable thickness planer.  The only problem was that I didn't have a piece of MDF large enough and really didn't feel like driving into town and wrestling with a 4' x 8' sheet of 3/4" MDF.

I decided to try my hand at planing one face flat and then running through the thickness planer.  I've never done this before, but I've seen the process done in a podcast from Shannon, The Renaissance Woodworker.  You can watch this in his podcast "RWW 77 A Contemporary Chest of Drawers".  The segment appears near the end of the podcast and he's flattening a panel for the chest of drawers. (Edit: Shannon presents a much more detailed demonstration in "RWW 30 - Thicknessing Stock The Old Fashioned Way", which I just discovered today as I work my way through his podcasts.)

Because I don't have a proper workbench, my biggest challenge was securing the board.  My angled passes were done by holding the board with one hand and pushing the plane with the other.  Obviously not an ideal situation, but effective nonetheless.  My straightedge reference was the table on my tablesaw.

How did it work?  Much better than I thought.    I was extremely nervous about trying this on my first 'fine' woodworking project.

Maybe it was beginner's luck, or maybe handplanes are not as difficult to use as I had imagined.  I know that I won't hesitate to grab one the next time I need to level a board.

Now to find the right workbench and an adequate straightedge...

Update on the epoxy patch:

If you've read the previous posting you'll see that I was planning to use epoxy to patch a crack in one of the table legs.  I ran a test on one of the cutoffs from the leg tapering operation.  As you can see in the photo, even with boiled linseed oil the results were okay, but not great.

I used straight epoxy because I had cleaned up so well that I couldn't find any sawdust to mix with the epoxy.  This evening I remembered to save some from the apron machining so I'll try it again with some sawdust for color.

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