With campaign-style hardware, there are many choices out there for different budgets and aesthetics. You can go for full-on rustic, sand-cast hardware – this looks great but can be tricky to install because every piece of hardware is slightly different. Or you can opt for modern die-cast hardware – easy to install but a little too-consistent looking to look historically accurate. I have installed both kinds of hardware, and I […]
I had a sick day today. Sitting in bed blowing my nose and resting. It’s especially in reflective times like these I remember how blessed I am to be able to work on such amazing pieces of furniture. Whether it’s an elaborately ornamented high style piece or even a well-built vernacular specimen, I am grateful. Northern New England has such a wonderful abundance of great opportunities for furniture conservators. Even in rural, tucked away Blue Hill, Maine I get these kinds of pieces in the studio. Feeling blessed. Can’t wait to get back to work tomorrow.
Customer David Keeling sent us a nice email and some photos of his Classic Leg Vise-equipped bench this morning. Gorgeous. We love crisp, clean work like this. Below is David's email:
Last year I went to a meeting of the local chapter of the SAPFM, which was fun even though I’m not heavily into period furniture forms. There was a Marquetry demonstration involving a Chevalet, which is a specialized tool for cutting marquetry developed and popularized in France. The presented mentioned having taken several classes at the American School of French Marquetry in San Diego…and the seed was planted.
I’ve been poking around for an interesting woodworking class to take lately, and I came across the “Stage I Boulle Marquetry” class at ASFM and I just signed up for it. I’m looking forward to spending a week learning a new technique. I’m sure I’ll post updates on this class, which will be the first week of October.
Now that the rough/first draft of VIRTUOSO: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley is in the computer I can now focus on those areas of the manuscript that need beefing up. One of those areas was the dearth of description regarding the possible daily activities of Studley in the Poole Piano Company when he was building the tool cabinet and work bench. That information has been very hard to find.
Fortunately I came across a shop in Charlottesville, two hours away, that was dedicated to the restoration, preservation, and care of fine old pianos. Owner Tom Shaw (right) and historical piano specialist Randolph Byrd (left) were a tremendous source of encouragement and information. Their framed poster of the Studley cabinet is jut out of sight on the right.
What made me excited to visit them was the breadth of their activities, plus the fact that Tom’s grandfather was a piano craftsman in Boston beginning in 1907, in other words, a contemporary of Studley’s. Here Tom is proudly showing me his grandfather’s piano tool kit, which his grandfather made himself. It put food on the table, and you can’t ask for much more than that.
The one and only known portrait of Studley depicts him as an “action man” at the Poole Piano Company. His task would have been to assemble a kit like this one (this is for a grand piano, but you get the idea) into a perfectly functioning mechanism that would produce beautiful noise whenever the keys were pressed down.
I even got to see the working of one of the tools identical to Studley’s for adjusting some part of the action mechanism.
One of the final steps before assembling the action is “sighting the hammers” in order to make sure they are aligned and evenly graduated. While this is for a grand piano action, the process for an upright would be conceptually identical.
Gentlemen, thank you for pushing back the boundaries of my ignorance considerably. A copy of the book will wing its way to you when it is available.
Part 4 of a British Introduction to Japanese Planes
Fitting the blade and back iron to the body is a fiddle, but not difficult. What you need is a good bench light and a graphite pencil or graphite stick. The essence is of this is DO NOT CHANGE THE GEOMETRY of the plane body. So as the blade fits into the two side channels, do not pare the upper surface; this is the surface that beds the blade at 41° effective pitch.
Remove the bar under which the back iron fits. You will find that this is just a round wire nail sharpened on one end. Fit the blade by rubbing graphite on the sides and on the back of the blade.
Tap the blade in using a small hammer, tap it out by hitting the top back corner of the wooden body with the hammer, there is a chamfer planed on that corner to allow you hit JUST THERE. Not on the end like European tap-and-try planes.
Pare away the area where the graphite has left an imprint on the plane body and repeat the process. You will find yourself fitting the width first, then paring to allow the back of the blade to sit further down in body of the plane. Allow a nice couple of hours to do this well. If you rush this, the blade will not sit tight and you will not get the polish you want.
Remember that plane bodies expand and contract in width and blades do not, so open the side channels enough to allow for this expansion and contraction. You see so many cracked Kanna where this has not been done correctly.
Getting a good fit for the back iron is difficult as it is hard to see right down by the cutting edge. You will need a narrow chisel to work the slots on either side and a broad chisel for the land between.
The mouth is pretty well determined by the Kanna’s maker; a good maker will set up the mouth so that the blade trims its own mouth and you can then open it a shaving or two. I have a Kanna that did not have such a good mouth so I have fitted a rosewood dovetailed key in front of the blade.
Next we will look at the sole of the plane and taking a shaving or two!
Filed under: Handplanes
I greatly appreciate the notes & emails, etc that I get from readers, students and more. It’s nice to hear that my work inspires some folks to go shave wood. Woodworking has saved many a man’s life (woman’s too…) – and I am glad that my work sometimes gives others a nudge. Likewise, when I hear these things, it inspires me to keep posting my stuff here – someone might get something from it. Co-inspiration.
I’m very late as usual with this post. I owe some of you answers; and had promised to show your stuff to the blog readers. Keep ‘em coming, I like to show this stuff you folks are making. That way, someone else might be inspired to have a go at it. How hard can it be?
In absolutely no particular order – here’s a stool-in-progress from Jason Estes of Iowa. Look at his details; nice chamfers; and square “turned” decoration. Great work, Jason.
Jason had a question about seats = it’s probably too late now (sorry Jason) – but for next time here goes.
“If two boards are used for a seat, are they fastened to each other in any way, or just to the aprons or stiles?”
Alexander & I did them just butted up against each other in the book, but in period work, usually they are glued edge-to-edge, sometimes with registration pins between them. I have seen chest lids done with splines in grooved edges of mating boards. No tongue & groove in chest lids, table tops, etc – they are used in chest bottoms, however.
When I make a wainscot chair seat, I usually edge glue two narrow riven boards together. sometimes w 5/16″ pins between them; maybe 2 in the whole seat.
“If I elect to go with a single board of quartersawn oak, it will likely be kiln-dried – does that require any accommodation, or can it go on like a tree-wet board?”
Nope – if it’s well-quartersawn, it should behave perfectly well.
Sean Fitzgerald (I think I got that right) of parts unknown made a joined & chamfered dish rack…why didn’t I make one of these? Here’s a case I often talk about – my work is 17th-century reproduction, but you can adapt these construction and decoration ideas in new formats; designs, etc – the mortise & tenon is timeless, as is oak.
Here’s a bunch from Matthew LeBlanc – we finally met this past July up in Maine. We had corresponded many times, then finally connected. Matt’s made a slew of stuff – great going. For a teacher to have students like these, I’m a lucky person.
Matt stretched out his stool, made it wider side-to-side. Poplar & sawn oak. If you have no green wood, don’t let that stop you!
Matt also made one of Jennie Alexander’s post & rung chairs – or maybe it’s from Drew Langsner’s book. either way, all the same gene pool. Nice chair. Looks like red oak to me.
And then he sent along this trestle table w carved stretcher. & these were a while ago – I bet he’s kept on going. Nice work, Matt.
Here’s Matthew making a pile of shavings while we were at Lie-Nielsen this summer..
Congratulations to “Remwoodz” – the winner of my extra advance copy of Michael Dunbar’s newly revised book “Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Hand Tools.” And my goodness – 154 comments! I was initially planning to print out the comments, cut them apart and drop them in a fishbowl to choose. But I don’t have that kind of time today (we leave tomorrow morning to drive to Winston-Salem for Woodworking in […]
The post The ‘Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Hand Tools’ Winner Is… appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
To see a list of classes click here:WIA Lectures
Our booth will be representing the American School of French Marquetry, and I hope to attract new students both to my school in San Diego, and also to Marc Adams School of Woodworking, where I will return to teach next fall.
Marc has graciously sent to the conference one of the chevalets he built for my class. Unfortunately, the classic chevalet doesn't fit into the typical baggage requirements, so having one of his on loan is a great help. Thank you Marc.
We are also selling bottles of Old Brown Glue at our booth. That is assuming the TSA doesn't look at a 49 lb bag of gelled organic glue as a threat. We included in the package the MSDS just in case.
I used to wonder at Don Weber, the "bodger of paint Lick, Kentucky," when he would stay with us. His baggage contained a dozen razor sharp turning tools. I guess if you look authentic, they don't mess with you.
I have had my share of interesting stops by TSA. One I am thinking of was the time I transported 2 kilos of sand, which I paid a good price for in Paris. This particular sand comes from Fontainebleau and is used for burning wood in marquetry. As they ran their hands through the sand, looking for something, they finally asked me, "What is this?" All I could say was "Sand."
But the most memorable and dramatic event was when I arrived from Paris to clear customs in Philadelphia. I had a bag which was 50 pounds. I had purchased a variety of traditional stains, in powder form, as well as kilos of pumice and "soie" which is a silk filtered mineral for French polishing. At the same time, since American pewter is different than traditional French pewter, I had several sheets of 1mm thick pewter lining the sides of the bag.
So, when I was asked to open my bag for inspection, the inspector looked into a bag, lined with lead sheeting and filled with hand made brown paper kilos of different powders. He asked me to empty the bag, and as I lifted each kilo out to place it on the table, different colored powders would leak out. I tried as best as I could to explain why I had placed pewter on the sides of the bag, but he wasn't impressed with my knowledge of traditional marquetry and special materials.
As he reached for the telephone to call a superior my heat sank, thinking my stop over in Philadelphia was going to take longer than I had expected. However at that same instant a 777 had just arrived and there were about 300 people rushing the gate. He just gave up, looked at me sternly, and said, "Pack your bag and go."
I guess it does matter if you look authentic. Hope to see you in Winston Salem!
Choosing the right wood for a project is probably one of the hardest things a woodworker has to do. Typically for myself, the process of elimination comes down to which color and grain pattern. But occasionally I need to consider durability, and that’s when I need a little help.
Recently the folks over at Gate Expectations created two handy infographics to help woodworkers make an informed decision. Check them out!
Use this quick-reference chart to determine which class of durability your timber selection falls into.
I think that sharpening is one of the most important aspects to hand tool woodworking. As my tools become dull, I’ve found that the quality of my work also goes down. So therefore, it’s extremely important that your tools are razor sharp. In this blog tutorial series, we’re going to go over sharpening all edge tools: […]
The post How To Choose a Sharpening Stone, Part 1: Water Stones appeared first on Heritage School of Woodworking Blog.
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Last Saturday I gave a day-long seminar to the Michigan Woodworkers Guild that was a bit of a disaster.
I started with a sharpening demonstration. First thing: I picked up my #1,000-grit waterstone; it slipped from my hand and cracked into a dozen bits on the floor. So I muddied through with a diamond plate.
After lunch, as I was demonstrating full-blind lap dovetails, I nicked my thumb with a chisel – right by the fingernail. As Dr. Gary Assarian noted as he was bandaging me up – there is a lot of vascular activity right there. Boy was he right. I was squirting blood like the Buckingham Fountain.
(The blood-spattered joint went together quite well, thanks for asking.)
Anyway, there were several items I promised I would post links to here on my blog. So here you go:
- The chart on sharpening media that converts everything to microns is here.
- You can read how to grind and hone a fore plane blade here.
- And here is the article on 16th-century try squares.
Thank you Michigan woodworkers; and sorry about the mess.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Woodworking Classes
I had a fantastic time at the Kezurou-Kai hosted by Yann Giguère last weekend at his shop, Mokuchi Studio, in Brooklyn, and thanks to Yann for giving me the opportunity to give a talk. It was a terrific experience to be able to talk about Japanese tools to a crowd that was so knowledgeable about them, and to get feedback and engage in a discussion on these tools and their use.
The high point of the Kezurou-Kai was the planing contest, but to characterize this event as being all about gauze-like shavings would be like saying the Woodworking Shows are all about $1 router bits. Sure, $1 router bits are there at the show, and some people go to the Woodworking Shows specifically to buy $1 router bits, but there’s so much more.
The best part of the day was meeting and reconnecting with other folks that were also interested in Japanese tools and woodworking, including (but not limited to) Phil Fuentes, Jay Speetjens, Jim Blauvelt, Harrelson Stanley, and Andrew Hunter. I really hope that Yann is able to make this a regular event. I know that I’ll be in support of it, as well as others who were there.
So what did you miss? Just this.
Yann (left) welcoming the attendees as the day got underway.
Yann demonstrating marking a log for milling and cutting into slabs. Here he’s making kerf cuts in preparation for the next step.
Yann using an axe and a chona to remove waste from a log in the process of establishing a flat face.
Of course, there was a gigantic Japanese plane, called an okanna. Jim brought it along for people to try. Here’s Phil putting it to work, with Jim spotting the shaving, and the shaving that he got.
Yann made the super long nagadai kanna on the right. It’s 29” long, and was specially made for a project that required flattening a particularly long workpiece. For scale, there’s a regular kanna and a regular nagadai kanna next to it.
Yann had said that he planned on cutting down his super long nagadai kanna to a more normal length after that job was done, but never got around to it. Jim took care of that for him as a favor.
Spot the interlopers. (Confession: they’re mine. I brought them as props for my talk.)
Of course, eventually we had the planing contest.
These are the shavings from the folks that participated in the planing contest. There was a surprise entry from the Kimberly-Clark corporation, second from the right, hence the title of this post.
Jay won the planing contest, and won the prize, a 3” wide Tasai chisel with a hammered finish. These pictures can only approximate how wonderful this chisel looks in person.
Afterwards, we enjoyed some terrific ramen at Shinobi Ramen, only one block away from Yann’s shop.
Again, it was an incredibly great day. Here’s hoping it happens again next year.
Really, I’m not try to drag out my Adamstown visit. There are just that many unique things that deserve attention that I am avoiding a large inclusive photo dump. And I always wanted to do a blog with “circa” in the title. I like that word.
There were two unique items that I feel deserve their own blog. The first is the:
This is a portable, folding chair used by the traveling dentist. It was designed to fold and be carried in the back of the buggy.
Not only did the chair fold but the seat height was adjustable.
I am sure this chair was a marvel for the time, but consider how stable it was when it was occupied by a 300 lb. man during an extraction without anesthetics. I feel sure there were 300 lb. men in 1900. And they might have had bad teeth.
The other device is:
This is described as “A Dr. C. H. Williams railroad lantern for testing color sense or blindness in railroad workers. Made by Peter Gray & Sons, Boston, Massachusetts, circa 1895.”
It consisted of a metal box with a wheel with 18 colored discs, three light bulbs and a rheostat.
There are several links for this lantern including this one from the University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection.
The Official Proceedings, Volume 17, of the Western Railway Club has a description here.
Next, Painted Chests.
In March we announced that we'd be replacing our Cocobolo knobs with DymondWood, an acrylic-infused and pressure-laminated plywood product that looks very much like Cocobolo, but has none of the drawbacks of rare rosewoods.
But it turns out that DymondWood is now rarer than Cocobolo. Sadly, the company that manufactured DymondWood completely burned to the ground a couple weeks ago. Rutland Plywood of Rutland Town, VT, was totally lost in a 5-alarm fire on August 21.
Right now we're not sure what we'll be replacing the DymondWood knobs with. With cocobolo now on the CITES list, we're not keen on replacing the knobs with anything in the Dalbergia family. And plain acrylics or plastics just don't cut the mustard for us. After true rosewood, and the excellent DymondWood, everything else seems like a downgrade. And to our knowledge, no one is making a DymondWood-like product.
Next week we'll be turning some samples in various woods (likely acrylic infused) to see what might fit. We'll be shipping Glide M leg vises and Tail Vises with what remaining DymondWood stock we have. We estimate we'll be out in about two months at best.
In the above video, and in the below 10 steps, I teach one of the most basic and essential skills in traditional woodworking: how to square, flatten, & dimension your own rough lumber into finished boards.
To build quality traditional furniture, you need to start with perfectly flat and square lumber. Some people achieve this with power jointers, planers, and table saws. While the electrical power route is more economical for a commercial woodworking workshop, I prefer the safety, exercise, quiet, and historical feeling that comes from dimensioning my boards by hand. Plus, it just makes you feel cool.
Sure it takes a little longer, but why did you get into woodworking in the first place? To hurry and build a bunch of stuff, or to enjoy yourself? It’s therapeutic to take some things slowly. And with practice, squaring lumber by hand won’t take all that long…ask your ancestors.
TOOLS THAT YOU’LL NEED
Even though I have a nice tool buying guide (here), I’m still often asked for links to the tools that I use in my videos, so here they are:WORKBENCH:
- Lie-Nielsen Low Angle Rabbet Block Plane
- Vintage Stanley No. 5 Jack Plane
- Vintage Stanley No. 4 Smoothing Plane
- Vintage Stanley No. 4 1/2 Smoothing Plane
- Vintage Stanley No. 7 Jointer Plane
- Vintage Stanley No. 6 Fore Plane
- Vintage Stanley No. 8 Jointer Plane
- Vintage Wooden Jointer Plane
- Vintage Disston No. 16 Cross Cut Panel Saw
- Vintage Disston No. D-8 Rip Panel Saw
- Vintage Millers Falls Miter box and miter saw
- Starrett 6-inch combination square
- Vintage metal try square
- Veritas Wheel Marking Gauge
- Lie-Nielsen panel gauge
- Wooden Straight Edge (see my tutorial)
- Staedtler Mars 780 Technical Mechanical Pencil
- Winding sticks (don’t buy…make your own)
- Vintage Metal Try Square
STEP 1: CUT THE BOARD TO ROUGH DIMENSIONS
Use a longer try square (12″ +) to mark your rough board’s approximate length.
Then use a Cross Cut panel saw to cut your rough board to rough length (across the grain). Keep in mind that this isn’t your final length. You’re just removing any messy wood, and getting to a manageable length; somewhat close to what you’ll eventually arrive at.
You can also use a Rip Panel saw to rip the board lengthwise (along the grain) to get a manageable width, if needed. Here’s an old chart that shows the difference between Cross-cut saw teeth and Rip saw teeth:
STEP 2: FLATTEN A REFERENCE FACE WITH HANDPLANES
Place the board between the bench dogs with the arced side facing up, to avoid rocking. You may need to use shims if your board is in really bad shape. Use a scrub plane or a jack plane with a cambered iron (8 degree camber/arc). This plane is going to be doing rough work, so don’t worry about tuning it extensively.
If you have an extreme arc in the board, plane down the length of the board, removing the high center:
Before planning across the grain, bevel the edge that is farthest away from you, to prevent major tear out:
Then plane across the grain, from one end to the other.
Adjust your plane so that your shavings are as big as possible, while still being able to move the plane.
You can also take some diagonal passes both ways, to aid with flattening:
Tilt your jack plane on its edge and drag it along the board to get a rough idea of your progress toward flatness:
STEP 3: TEST FOR TWISTING WITH WINDING STICKS
Set a pair of winding sticks (pronounced “why-nding”) parallel to each other on opposite ends of your board and site along the winding sticks. The winding sticks will make any twisting appear more exaggerated, showing you which corners need to be lowered.
Having dark ends or bars on one winding stick makes twist easier to spot. You don’t even need to make fancy winding sticks, but can simply use two straight pieces of wood that are the same size.
Use your pencil to mark the high corners. Because of how boards twist, the high corners will usually be opposite each other.
STEP 4: REMOVE THE TWIST AND FLATTEN THE FACE
Place your straight edge on the high corners to verify how much wood needs to be removed.
Use a longer fore plane (No. 6) or jointer plane (No. 7 or No. 8) to remove the high corners and check your progress with a straight edge.
If you are getting “tear-out”, that means that you are planing against the grain. Flip your board around and plane in the other direction.
Below are several options for handplanes for flattening the board’s face (from left to right): A Stanley No. 6 “Fore Plane”, a Stanley No. 7 “Jointer Plane”, a Stanley No. 8 “Jointer Plane”, and an 18th century style wooden jointer plane (I built it, so it’s my favorite!):
Your shavings will still be somewhat heavy in this step, but not nearly as heavy as with the scrub plane / jack plane.
Just don’t remove too much on the corners or you’ll have to lower the rest of the board to match your new low corners. Once the straight edge lies flat across the previously-higher corners, move onto flattening the rest of the panel face.
The longer handplane will uniformly bring the surface downward, skipping all the valleys that a smaller handplane would fall into. As you’re planing be conscious about not introducing a lengthwise arc.HANDPLANING 101:
Here’s how to avoid getting “valleys” in the middle of your board when planing: When your handplane starts on the board, keep the downward pressure on the front knob of the handplane only:
When your handplane is in the middle of the board push downward on both the front knob and the rear handle:
When the front of your handplane moves over the edge of the board, remove the downward pressure from the front knob, and only push downward on the rear handle. For practice you can even remove your hand from the front knob:
Use diagonal passes, then lengthwise passes, periodically using a straight edge and your winding sticks to check your progress toward perfect flatness.
When you’re getting full length and full width shavings, and your board’s face starts to look flat and smooth, then you’ll know that the board is about ready.
The straight edge should show no gaps no matter which way you turn it on the board’s face.
STEP 5: SMOOTH THE REFERENCE FACE WITH A SMOOTHING PLANE
Use a finely tuned smoothing plane (like the below Stanley No. 4 or No. 4 ½ handplane) and take a few passes lengthwise to give a better-than-sandpaper surface to your reference face.
You will want to produce very thin and fine shavings in this step, referred to as “gossamer” shavings (like a silk scarf).
A slightly cambered (i.e. arced) iron (i.e. blade) will prevent “plane tracks” and give you a glassy surface. When I say “slightly” I mean “barely”. Chris Schwarz has the best tutorial on tuning & sharpening handplanes on his DVD: “Super-Tune a Handplane”. You can buy it here or here.
Now that your reference face is perfectly flat & smooth, make a traditional squiggly mark to notate the reference face:
STEP 6: JOINT THE REFERENCE EDGE WITH A JOINTER PLANE
You will use a long jointer plane to “joint” (i.e. true-up or flatten) the first edge of your board, to provide a perfect 90 degree angle between the reference face and edge. You can either use a metal jointer plane, like the Stanley No. 7 or Stanley No. 8 jointer planes, or a quality wooden jointer plane.
Place the board in your workbench vice, with the reference face toward you.
The process used to joint a board’s edge is essentially the same as I used to flatten the reference face in step 4. The main difference is how you hold the plane. To achieve a reference edge that is 90 degrees to the reference face, pinch the jointer plane with your thumb and index finger, and use your other 3 fingers (hopefully you still have that many digits…I’m talking to you table saw users) as a fence to maintain the 90 degree angle:
Push the handplane lengthwise, producing moderately thick shavings, until the board’s edge is flat. Adjust your plane so that your shavings are ejecting from the middle of the jointer plane.
You’ll gauge the flatness by placing your straight edge on the board’s edge:
Look under the straight edge to see if there are any gaps. It is common to create a valley from improper planing techniques. Just refer back to step 4 for a review on how to avoid valleys:
Periodically use a small combination square or try square to check for the 90 degree angle along the entire edge of the board. Don’t ruin your combination square by dragging it, but just take incremental measurements.
Use your pencil to mark where your high spots are:
Then tilt your jointer plane to take down the high spots with a pass or two, then take another full pass or two. Then recheck until the entire edge is square to the reference face.
When you first get started, this process can take a little while to figure out, but you’ll eventually be able to quickly achieve a true edge that is square to the reference face. You can also look into making an “edge shooting board” to speed things up when truing edges. I haven’t had much luck with the fence attachments for handplanes. Use your pencil to make a traditional “V” mark on the edge to indicate that this is the reference edge:
Now you will see a perfect 90 degree angle, from which you will circumscribe the other faces & edges.
STEP 7: CREATE A PARALLEL EDGE WITH A PANEL GAUGUE
Use an accurate panel gauge to make the next edge parallel to your freshly trued reference edge.
I’ve found that antique panel gauges are rarely accurate or stable, so I purchased this excellent new panel gauge at Highland Woodworking. You can also make one, but it’s tough to beat something as stable as this one:
Set the width of the panel gauge to your required width, lock in the measurement (with the screw or wedge), and run the cutting edge to make your perfectly parallel mark. This mark is where you will cut or plane down to.
My panel gauge has a slot for a pencil on the opposite end of the handle…just flip it around. Since I’m not cutting on this line (it’s just a visual guide), I prefer the pencil end.
STEP 8: TRUE UP THE SECOND EDGE
If the line you just scribed with your panel gauge is very close to the rough edge, then you can simply use a jointer plane to bring down the small amount of wood.
If you find that you have too much wood to remove (and don’t want to spend all day planing down to the line with your jointer plane) you have two alternate options:
(1) Use a jack plane to quickly remove most of the waste wood, and then finish with the jointer plane:
(2) If you have too much waste, even for a jack plane to remove, then use a rip panel saw to get close to your line, then finish up with a jointer plane:
CAUTION: If your board’s width is critical, then make certain to NOT get too close to your line with the jack plane or rip saw. Get close, and then use your jointer to finish the job. Just remember that you may need some extra wood to get the edge square:
Now you should have two jointed edges that will be perfect for gluing together.
STEP 9: FLATTEN THE FINAL BOARD FACE
Now that your reference face and both edges are flat and square to each other, use a marking gauge to scribe your final board thickness. Set the marking gauge against your reference face and scribe the thickness onto both edges and ends:
I like to follow the marks with a pencil to make them more visible for when I use the handplanes in the next step:
Now you have a line drawn around the parameter of the board.
Use a scrub plane (or jack plane), a jointer plane, and a smoothing plane to flatten & smooth the last face, according to the instructions in steps 2 through 5. But this time you will have the added advantage of guidelines to let you know when you are getting close. But I still use the straight edge and winding sticks to measure my progress:
STEP 10: CUT THE ENDS TO FINAL LENGTH
You should now have two perfect faces and two perfect edges. All that remains is two ends that are square to the faces and edges.
First set a larger try square against your reference edge and scribe your first end’s cut line on your reference face with a fine pencil. Just make sure your try square is actually square. Usually try squares have at least one edge that is true. Refer to my “marking & measuring” buying guide (here) to see how to test a try square for “squareness”.
I have found that my miter box and miter box saw are the best solution to creating perfect ends. Make sure that your board’s reference edge is pressed up against the miter box fence, adjust the miter box to cut a 90 degree cut (use your pencil line to ensure the miter box is set correctly), and saw away!
This may take awhile, depending on how wide and thick your board is. If I have several fatty boards to cut, then I wear a glove on my sawing hand to prevent a blister.
If your board is too wide to fit in a miter box, then use a cross cut panel saw to saw close to your line and use a very sharp low-angle block plane to get right down to the line:
Just make sure that you plane from both directions toward the middle to avoid planing over the edge. If you don’t heed my advice, the end grain will splinter off the edge of the board.
Use a large try square (or framing square) to look for any high or low spots, and continue to use the block plane to make the end become square to the edge and face:
Now use a folding rule or a tape measure to determine your final length. Follow the above process for measuring and cutting the second and final end. Now you should have 6 square & flat surfaces, and a very useful board for gluing-up and building beautiful traditional furniture.
This process may seem overwhelming, but it really speeds up after you’ve dimensioned a few boards. Sometimes it’s even faster than setting up & tuning the big power tools!
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