Workbench Day 21: More planing…more sweating.

Today was all about the grind.  Just grit your teeth and push through the burning in your arms and hands.  To get going, though I had just had to settle my differences with the onery plane (it caused me to stop prematurely yesterday).  I took my time and examined the thing to see what was amiss, because it wasn’t acting like this when I was planing the individual planks for the top a few weeks ago.

Then I noticed it—the frog had shifted forward, lifting the iron and everything attached to it a few milimeters.  That was allowing wood shavings and chips to get under the blade, reducing performance and making it really hard to get the iron actually out past the sole.  Try as I might, the adjustment screws on this thing are just not all that great (I know I know—it’s not a top of the line plane and this is what I get).  So, what to do?  Wallow in self pity and pine away after a Lie-Neilsen or Veritas plane?  I think not.  Well…maybe just a little.  I mean, they are pretty freaking slick…hey, I can dream, right?

Anyway, I grabbed the bastard mill file (that is just about the perfect name for this thing…mostly because that’s what I called the frog I was grinding down…) and ground that sucker down.  It felt good to release some frustration on this puppy too after yesterday.  So within a few minutes, the adjustable (hah!) frog was flush with the mouth of the sole and the iron was fitting much nicer.   Score one for me.  While I had the file out, I flattened the edge of the chip breaker tood—no since not doing that.  Score two for me.  I put everything back together and BAM, even better than before.   Hat trick.

Back to work, then…Plane the top.  Shhhkrt.  Shhhkrt.  Shhhkrt.  Over and over.  First diagonal one way, then diagonal the other.  Then to the left, then to the right.  Then rinse and repeat.  And repeat.  And repeat.

Ad infiniutm, ad absurdum.

And then celebrate the quickening pace of real results!

So here was the scene after a half hour today of planing the top.  Notice, for the first time, I can’t see an easily defined cup on the left side.  This is a major milestone for me!

Here is a closeup of the top after some diagonal planing with the #4 pretending to be a jack plane.

An hour later, I had good news!  The left and right sides of the bench are now almost totally equal—here is the right side (which only got a few passes with the plane):

If you look closely, the little slice I glued in to the top right corner in this picture is almost gone—the plane nearly erased my mistake from a few weeks ago.

Here is the left at the end of today’s session (HUGE difference compared to when I finished the glue up):

Amazing what sweaty and a hand plane can do…

And here is the left 1/4 mark…

Almost equal to the far left side…this is good progress here.

This is the middle:

Getting better…

And the right 1/4 mark…I think it’s obvious that the middle 1/2 of this bench is now the worst part.  A major improvement from just a few days ago I think.

Finally, here is the right side again, after really hitting it with the plane.

Now we’re cookin’ with gas!

This is now the control point—I want the rest of the bench to be at least as flat as this side is.  It’s really getting there.  I can’t believe it!

And last but not least, here’s a picture of the carnage from today’s session.  Note the nice glossy gleam on the bench (I never noticed that before).  The plane is leaving a nice glassy surface now…love it!

Whew…slaughtered some wood in here today!

I’m seriously debating putting the planing of the top on hold until I make myself a jack or scrub plane just to hog off the high points faster now.   But then again…I feel I’m almost there with the #4 and while I think the top is perfectly usable now (maybe not for real nice projects—not that I have any in the pipeline) I think another day or two and I might just be done with flattening.  I don’t know…the internal debate rages.



About Steven M. Vaught

A native son of Delaware, now living in Illinois, Steven is a writer, family historian, amateur astronomer, sometimes-gardener, woodworker, father to three wonderful children, husband to a wonderful wife, and caretaker of one cheeky vizsla.
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2 Responses to Workbench Day 21: More planing…more sweating.

  1. David says:

    Don’t forget to put the winding sticks on the ends to see if there is any twist as well as checking for flat. The other planes would be a help but it will be much easier to get them made once you have a bench to work on. You have some other tools to make first to enable you to make the planes. You will want a bench hook and shooting board to be specific.

    • I always get carried away when I get excited over stuff like this…you’re right, of course. I did look with the winding sticks just now (since I totally forgot to do so earlier) and there is a tiny amount of twist, but it’s nothing compared to what’s left of the cup.

      Bench hook, shooting board, dogs, dead man, leg vise, planes, better winding sticks…the list goes on and on but I suppose that’s half the fun, right?

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