Monday, January 28, 2013

Four legs

And there they are, four legs, ready to receive the joinery.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Planing the legs, 2

After establishing the two reference faces it is time to thickness the boards to the desired size and cut the board to width.

First mark the thickness all around the board. I had meassured all boards to see which was narrower then the other. I want the legs to be as thick as possible, and 4.4 cm proved to be the best size.

On some boards quite a bit of material needs to be removed, so I picked up an old German scrubplane with a narrow blade with a heavy camber. This removes wood in a hurry, making thick chips. It's best to work across the grain or slightly diagonal. To prevent blowing out the far edge, make a relief camber on that side. Watch out, it's easy to go too deep with this plane.

The scrubplane leaves a terrible surface.

 So the next plane is the foreplane again and finally the jointer to make everything straight and smooth. When you watch the marking lines it is not too difficult to get the surface straight. It's good to check though. This surface isn't a reference edge, so it is not important when it isn't absolutely straight, as long as it looks allright.
The succession of planes for this operation:

And then we need to cut the board to width. With a ripsaw this isn't too much work. Well, it is a workout of course, but I timed myself and it took only 5 minutes. Use a jointerplane again to make the edge nice and straight to the marking line.

One leg is finished now. One other is allready thicknessed, the other two are waiting for a new burst of energy.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Planing the legs, 1

To document the planing of the legs I made a few pictures. Starting out with the stock, rough sawn to a size which is a little over the desired size. It saves a lot of work not to plane more then neccessary, but at this stage you still want some flexibility to choose the best bits of wood.

First planing a face to get a flat surface. I use a foreplane with a cambered blade. I set it rather rank, but not too much. The wood is quit hard, so you want a setting that doesn't wear you out too much. Now it is a matter of removing the rough sawmill cuts and at the same time to remove all bow, cup and twist in the board. First planing across the grain, then diagonally and finally along the grain.

This leaves a very coarse surface because of the cambered iron. So I go after it with the jointer with a straight blade. This straightens the board even more.

All the time while planing with the foreplane and the jointer I check the surface with a straightedge and winding sticks. I do this often, because it is very easy to introduce a convex surface. Here you can see the two winding sticks on top of the board, they are pretty parallel allready.

When the first face is flat, I start to straighten the side of the board, perpendicular to the flat face. Put it in the vise and check the grain direction. It's always best to try as much as possible to plane with the grain. Wallnut isn't a difficult wood to plane, but you don't want to make it more difficult then neccessary. In this picture the best planing direction is left to right.

Straightening the edge and making it perpendicular to the face is a bit of a juggling act. I check the perpendicularity with a small square. Correcting it by offsetting the plane to the right or the left, or even following a diagonal course. I use the fingers of my left hand as a fence to direct the plane.

Finally straightening the edge. I start in the middle, because it is easier to make a concave edge  straight then the other way around. Then recheck the perpendicularity again. Usually that is off again, so I repeat again and again until I am satisfied.

Overall I don't shoot for perfection. It is good enough when it looks right and when the area for the joinery is nicely flat and square. The face and edge that have been planed now will be the reference faces for all further work, so I mark them accordingly.

Next installment is thicknessing the board and straigthening the other edge.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cutting up the bole

Finally I collected enough courage to start cutting into my bole of wallnut timber. Allthough I really want to use a lot of handtools on this project, I started out with a circular saw (whimp!).

First deciding how I am going to cut up these planks. using the nicest ones for the table top and then finding enough dark material for the legs and stretchers. There was a big hole in this tree, so it was quite a puzzle to determine the most economic and pleasing way to collect enough wood.

I used a very simple method. With the board on a sawhorses I would draw out the cut lines. Mark 3.5 cm from the desired line, this being the offset of my circular saw, and clamp a cheap length of particle board on top to guide the saw. Then it was just a matter of cutting the piece. I had to insert wedges in the sawkerf from time to time to prevent the blade being pinched.

After three long afternoons I have now everything cut and out of the way. Time to think about the next step.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A preliminary look under the roughness

Life is a bit hectic at the moment and I don't have much shoptime. But I had to have a peek at how the wood looks under all the rough sawmarks. I was a bit afraid the wood would be very dull looking. But it seems I don't need to worry. Freshly planed with a drop of linseed oil.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

First cut

After walking around this stack of wallnut plancks for half a year, I finally started with the first cut! This is going to be a dining room table. I bought a complete tree from a sawyer in Belgium and brought it home to let it acclimatise in my shop for a little while. That little while took a little longer of course. But now I have squared up the first two. Just getting used to the labor involved in fact.

This is just squaring up the board, removing the waney edge. Cuts like these tend to squeeze up a bit, pinching the saw blade. So I start with a little V groove and have wedges available to keep the cut open when I advance further up the cut. I don't use a fence, just follow a chalk line here. Overall the board doesn't move a lot while sawing, which is good of course.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Years ago, when I just started woodworking I made a sawbench, following the design from Chris Schwarz. Sawing small stuff is easier on the bench with a benchhook, but cutting larger stuff with the handsaws is easier with such a low bench. With really large boards though, just one bench becomes a problem. Especially when ripping stock, you really need two benches. I have improvised with blocks of wood in the past, not an ideal situation.

So, time to do something about this situation, especially now I am looking at that huge stack of big wallnut boards waiting to be cut down.

Of course I could have nailed some 1x4s together, but I decided to make it a bit more fancy with handcut joints. Bridle joints at the bottom, mortice and tennon in the midle and half laps at the top. All made from some maple flooring boards.