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What’s hidden in that “Junk” piece of wood??

Posted by is9582 on November 29, 2013 with No Commentsas , , , , , , ,

A couple of nights ago I went out to my shop to update the “clamping” jaw of my dovetail vise. I previously had a 2″ x 2″ piece of Maple running the length of the vise (centered in the vertical plane), as the clamping jaw, and to hold well seemed to require too much force, as it occasionally dented the workpiece. This probably seems obvious to some, as the clamping jaw didn’t reach the top surface of the approximately 8″ tall backing jaw, so it didn’t distribute the forces across much area.

Dovetailing vise, with narrow clamping jaw, shown before making it mobile.

I measured the backing jaw on my vise, and found a piece of 8/4 rough-sawn wood I thought I’d use as the new clamping jaw. I cut it down to approximate length with my hand saw and then proceeded to start planing. The piece I was using had a somewhat significant twist, so I hit the problem areas first, so it sat level on my bench, and was easier to plane without any clamping. Well, it didn’t take too long until I shifted my focus to planing the large face on the first side of the board, and the board started to reveal its hidden features to me.

Partially hand planed board on first side.

Part of what initially caught my attention was the coloration of the wood. It had areas that were pinkish and tan and was showing signs of a little figure here and there. After planing the first side somewhat close to completion, I flipped it over and proceeded with the same process on the opposite side. I was now more curious about the wood’s attributes than I was focused on finalizing this project.

The second side seemed to have more hidden qualities than the first. It seemed that with each section of rough sawing I’d plane away, more figure and interest emerged. It was somewhat like I’d imagine finding what looked like an old black canvas in a frame, only to determine a beautiful picture lay beneath, after removing the layers blocking the view.

Second side sharing it’s formerly hidden qualities.

For whatever reason, I seem to have trouble capturing the level of figure and interest in a board, with a camera. The photos never show the board’s full vibrancy. Just before calling it an evening on this board, I decided to apply a little Danish Oil, just to see how it would pop the figure/grain.

Same board with a little Danish Oil.

Not too surprisingly, the oil really amplified the characteristics of the board in a good way. It is darker while the oil is still wet, but this photo is still somewhat indicative of the final look I might expect, if using this oil in the finishing process. The next day I wanted to see if anything had changed, with the oil now dry. I was very nicely pleased with the slightly lighter coloration, as well as the way the figure seemed to pop even stronger.

Dried oil and figure/grain popping.

After a little research, it seems the wood is Pecan. I’ve never used any Pecan in any of my projects, but seeing the nice light tones and the transformation the Danish Oil made, I may just add it to my wood choice pallet. It has some beautiful characteristics, and if lucky, some awesome textures and figure!

Oh, and even though I’ve already cut this down to the rough size of my clamping jaw, it may just get a reprieve. While it is still just a piece of wood, I may wait for a project that can better show off such a nice figured piece of wood. Luckily, it is still approximately 8/4 in thickness and almost 30″ long, so there are still some possibilities. You just never know what might be hidden underneath some pieces of rough-cut lumber!

Thanks for checking out my blog. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.


Revisiting my first hand plane – and my frustrations!

Posted by is9582 on November 12, 2013 with No Commentsas , , , , ,

I bought my first plane at the local Sears store back around 1985. It’s size is similar to a No. 4, but there’s nothing stamped or cast into the body. At that time, I assumed any plane was as good as the next and I didn’t have the background or experience to know different. Originally, I couldn’t even get a shaving out of it unless I hung the blade like 3″ below the sole! Ok, ok, I’m exaggerating somewhat on that, but I truly couldn’t get a shaving, and then without any middle-ground, I’d fly right past the sought after fine setting and go directly to seriously digging in. What a frustrating time. It’s now easy to see just how much difference it makes, learning to sharpen and setup a plane.

Well, I took the plane apart to clean some dust off of it and to sharpen the iron and I noticed the iron adjusting knob was plastic (as well as the knob and tote). I’d completely forgotten about that and how much harder it was to get a good grip on the adjusting knob. Everything else was somewhat similar to a Stanley plane from the ’50s on, except possibly the steel used for the iron. The iron isn’t marked as to the type of steel, but I assume it’s similar to what Record used in their planes at the time. With the body and iron marked “Made in England”, its probable Record may have made the plane. Anyways, I applied a 10-degree micro-bevel to the standard 25-degree bevel with my 1000 and then 8000-grit stones, as well as using the ruler-trick on the back of the iron. Ok, I guess it turned out a little more sharp than I’d really expected, but it still wasn’t the usual shaving sharp I’m used to.  

After re-assembling the plane, and setting it up as I would my Lie-Nielsen planes, it was time to see just how it would behave when working some wood. One other thing I noticed about this plane during the setup, is how much extra backlash the adjustment mechanism has (just over 3 full revolutions between touches!). I chose a piece of Walnut to use as my test wood, since it is easy to work and I didn’t really have much in the way of expectations for the plane. As I made the first pass across the wood, I was somewhat surprised, when it actually took a somewhat reasonable shaving. Since I wasn’t really expecting much, I guess I didn’t have all of my senses turned on, so I took another few passes to better assess the plane. On the next pass I noticed the iron skipped over the front edge of the board and then engaged. While in the cut, the sound the plane made was a little different than what seems like normal. Just to make sure, I actually grabbed a couple of my Lie-Nielsen planes to compare against. Sure enough, the sound of the Sears plane was similar to what you might hear when you bow a low string on a viola. Just some sort of vibrational undertone to the usual shaving sound, as opposed to the Lie-Nielsen planes where everything is totally solid.

Old Sears plane in the middle flanked by Lie-Nielsen planes.

So, with some extra attention to setup and usage, the old Sears plane CAN do a somewhat reasonable job, especially if there was nothing else available. But, with the extra focus and additional sharpening required to keep it somewhat useable, I find my Lie-Nielsen planes worth their weight in…..!

**One added piece of information that is directly related to the auditory scenario of the Sears plane. I was back out in the shop and thought I’d reset the iron to see just how it would behave, when taking a little heavier shaving. I tried taking some photos of the resulting surface, but the camera didn’t want to cooperate. Interestingly, the surface of the board looked somewhat like it’d just come out of a powered planer, with a faint set of lines running side to side, with a very consistent spacing. Funny, since I usually call on my hand plane to correct that same issue, rather than causing them.  I’ve never actually experienced this from a hand plane before, but it does make sense with the sounds emitted during use, likely relating to a less than optimal mating of the iron/frog surfaces.

Thanks for checking out my blog. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.


Card Scraper preparation – you too can do it

Posted by is9582 on November 11, 2013 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , ,

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