Next Project

Jun 07 2014

Started a new project. A week or so ago, I got in some white oak. The thick board here is almost 1 1/4″ and the other one is about 7/8″. Left it down in the shop for a week to acclimatize.

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Started yesterday cutting out the first four pieces to rough size and let them sit out for a day before doing any finer work.

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And tonight I rough cut most of the other pieces I’ll need. I came pretty close on the amount of wood I needed. I’ll have some left from offcuts, but other than that, I had one small strip left from the original boards. Whew! Anyway, I’ll let these sit overnight too.

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In the meantime, I got to work on the original four pieces, planing them down to exact size. It was my first extensive use of my new Stanley No. 5 1/2 jack plane, the big one there. I love it. Takes lace-like shavings off that oak.

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Now time to cut some grooves. This is a Record 044 Plough Plane, made in England in the early to mid part of the last century. An elegant tool for a more civilized age. The one I picked up is in great condition and came with a full set of eight cutters in different widths. The cutters themselves were a bit beat up, but I’m reconditioning each one as I need to use it. Today I use the 3/16″.

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There’s an adjustable fence that lets you set how far from the edge of the wood your groove will go. I’ve added an additional wooden piece to the fence to let it ride on the work piece more smoothly. This is optional. I set the fence so that the blade is 1/4″ away.

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And there’s a depth stop which controls how deep the groove will be. It will ride on the surface of the work piece once the blade is down to depth, keeping it from going any further. I set this to 3/16″, so that’s how deep the groove will be.

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Then, you just run the plane over the wood repeatedly until it stops cutting, meaning you have reached your intended depth and have a nice straight groove with an exact width and depth. I cut two grooves on each piece.

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Something about this picture is just very satisfying.

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All cut, with a huge pile of spaghetti shavings.

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That’s it for today. I’ll let the rest of the wood sit overnight and then I’ll need to cut and plane those all to size and cut some more grooves.

By the way, the reason for letting the wood sit for a week in the shop, and then sit overnight after cutting, is for wood movement. Generally, this has to do with moisture content and internal stresses. Moving wood to a new environment, you want it to adjust to the new humidity and temperature. As it adjusts, it could bend, twist, warp, etc. You want it to settle down before cutting.

Also, after you cut a piece of wood, particularly a larger one, it can move. There may be internal stresses that are released when you cut it, causing it to bend. Also, the new open surface may let more moisture leave more quickly, resulting in some movement. So far, this white oak has seemed pretty stable. But I’ll let it sit overnight anyway.

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