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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Just plane hard work

In this second episode of my live-edge table, I take to the hand planes. This slab is too wide to get through my planer let alone my jointer, so it's time to roll up the sleeves and work up a sweat. I found the slab had a fairly pronounced twist, and I also ran into some trouble finding a good way to clamp it to my bench for planing. So beware to the purists, I do actually have to resort to some key power tools to get the job done. Next time, I'm totally building one of those router jigs that Nick Offerman uses in his shop.

Right click to download the HD version of this video


Christopher Hudson said...

Hi Rob, Great shows so far on the slab tabletop. Yes - the Offerman jig would be nice I'm sure. But lacking that, next time consider a Bosch electric hand planer for the hogging out - and your finishing planes for clean up.

I have both the Bosch 1594K and 3365. I strongly prefer the less expensive 3365 - if you can still find it. The single blade system is superior. My 3365 is Swiss made - not Chinese junk. It is an example where you really don't need to spend Festool bucks for a great tool.

Keep the great clips coming - yours is one of my favorites!


Bill Akins said...

The table top is looking beautiful Rob. Great hand plane work. I was wondering if you had a cambered blade in the #5 but later you talked about making one for the other plane. Looking forward to the finale.

Rob Bois said...

Thanks for the input on the electric planers Chris. I've actually only seen a short demo of the Festool version, but in general don't hear much about these tools in fine woodworking, so good to know there is another option out there.

Vic Hubbard said...

I'll second Chris'admiration of power hand planers. I used a buddy's to get twist out on some of the beams I used in my bench. But, I too will be building the router sled for slabs. I work comfortably in 12", but have several pieces I want to work that are much wider. The sled seems the best solution, by far.

Rob Bois said...

I've gotten quite a few comments here and elsewhere about power planers. I admit I've never owned one, but it seems to me that a power planer still presents the same challenges as using hand planes or even a belt sander. You still need to use winding sticks, a long straight edge, and marking gauge (to get the bottom parallel to the top). On the other hand, the router jig automatically creates a dead flat top and parallel bottom without having to do any manual checking for flat or parallel. Am I missing something about power planers? Are they actually long enough like a jointing plane to create a flat surface across a large slab?

Morton said...

Gah - I couldnt watch it. I've had to flatten five of these types of pieces for my last project and that was ENOUGH. But yeah - same method as you seemed to use, tho I did have a heavily cambered #5 to hog out material ala a scrub plane (cross grain). Problem is you get huge tearout (or can, if you have switching grain like I did). Trade one problem for another.

Anyway - can't wait to see where its going.

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Tom Buhl said...

Hey Rob,
It is fun watching your process on this one.
I sort of winced seeing you lose the crotch area and spending considerable time and losing material before knowing the use this slab will be put to. Perhaps a flat surface is not necessary. Or maybe the top surface needs to be, but depending upon the base design and look, you may not really need underside to be flat and/or co-planar.

If this sort of material is not a frequent happening in your shop, I'd vote for using the tools you are familiar with, even if they are not fast. A hand power planer might be a must have tool, for folks working with large slabs frequently, but they seem too efficient at material removal for my risk threshold unless you take the time to develop a feel for their use.

I recently completed a computer desk using a five-foot slab with width between 11 and 18 inches. It had an interesting bend and as in your case, twist. Problem for me was that it was initially only 1-1/8 inch thick and I wanted to retain as much material as possible. So flat appearance was deemed sufficient. Making my sliding dovetailed cleats for leg structures would have been easier with truly flat and co-planar surfaces but to minimize material loss I muddled through it.

You can check out pix including the before, during and after at:

Thanks for sharing your journey.

Rob Bois said...

Tom, I checked out your desk slab pics. I have some of that sinker mahogany as well. I also got to meet Rich Petty a year or so back, and hope he gets in some more stock soon. I must confess, my slab did actually twist a bit a month or so after I first milled in. And to Mort's point, I couldn't bear busting out the hand planes again. Even with a sharp well-tuned smoother, I was still getting tearout that took longer to sand out than it was worth. So I did finally break down and build Nick Offerman's router jig to re-flatten the top. But I didn't bother also doing the bottom again as I wanted to keep the thickness. I will say, the router jig creates a terrible mess of dust and shavings, but is so much faster, and requires only minimal sanding with 80 grit on the ROS. This will definitely be my method of choice going forward.

Tom Buhl said...

Rob, I have another matching plank (as in computer desk) but will ponder for a while before using it. Nice to look in the closet and smile.

I've built a number of pieces with Rich's material. He featured a few of them on his GALLERY page along with some very flattering copy.

I hope your slab is stable after your second go of it. Glad to hear you are pleased with the router sled approach. Gotta put that in my tool kit, just in case.

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