Maple Trestle Table, Session 8 – Make Your Tools Work for You and Flattening the Top

On the morning of Sunday, April 15th, Morton and I exchanged ideas about trestle tables, spurred on by a recent sketch of a table on which he was working.  That got me yearning to build a trestle table.

I documented my progress live on Twitter which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.  Here is a list of the previous Sessions:

Session 1 – Flat Boards are Boring;
Session 2 – Playing with Slabs;
Session 3 – From Two Slabs to One Table Top;
Session 4 – Clamping Odd Shapes and Sketching on Wood;
Session 5 – Routing Pockets for Battens;
Session 6 – Making Battens and Installing Countertop Connectors; and
Session 7 – Installing Battens and Flattening the Underside.

(If you are not familiar with the format used on Twitter, every update, or “tweet” below starts with a username, being the author of that tweet.  Sometimes, you see two or more usernames in a tweet.  The second (and third, etc) usernames are preceded by a @ symbol and are people to whom the author is talking.  The other symbol you see is #, which serves as a category.  I try to remember to categorize all my tweets pertaining to this project under #flairww.)

FlairWoodworks As I work at surfacing this table top, I am reminded of this forum thread I started 4 years, 14 days ago. #flairww -2:42 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks It is so nice to have a light-weight plane with a radiused iron for bulk stock removal. #flairww -2:43 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks The tops of the sidewalls were wearing on me (InstantRimShot.com) so I rounded them over more with a file. #flairww -2:51 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Oh, the rounded sidewalls are such a nice improvement! And it only took one minute to do each side! #flairww -2:53 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Somehow, my low-angle jack plane, which I bought 4 years ago, hadn’t been modified… even the shiny finish was still on the grips! #flairww-2:58 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Hello rasps and 80-grit sandpaper. Goodbye uncomfortable, finished handle. #flairww -3:08 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I chucked the knob into my drill press and used 80-grit sandpaper to remove the finish. #flairww -3:13 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks To avoid damaging the 1/4″-20 threads, I first spun on two nuts which I then put into the chuck. #flairww -3:14 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I don’t use my Veritas cabinet scraper very often but this is the perfect situation! #flairww -3:46 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks You can’t get much more parallel then that! #flairww -9:46 PM Apr 26th, 2012

luggermatt: @FlairWoodworks That’s ‘close enough’ ;-) looking good too! -9:49 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Thanks, Matthew! #flairww RT @luggermatt: @FlairWoodworks That’s ‘close enough’ ;-) looking good too! -9:50 PM Apr 26th, 2012

luggermatt: @FlairWoodworks Anytime! I enjoy your tweets! -9:53 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Do you need a table? I don’t think it’ll fit on your boat though :) #flairww RT @luggermatt: @FlairWoodworks Anytime! I enjoy your tweets! -9:55 PM Apr 26th, 2012

Tumblewood Very nice. I’m still amazed you didn’t use router rails. Remember, I’m older and lazy to boot.

FlairWoodworks @Tumblewood I’d actually planned on using a router on rails but this seemed easier (but not quicker). #flairww -9:57 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks These are the largest Dominoes available for the Domino DF-500 and they look tiny. #flairww -10:21 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I can use my router to make 1/2″-wide mortises 2-1/2″ deep. #flairww -10:25 PM Apr 26th, 2012

Tumblewood: What do you think now? Still easier?! -10:27 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks It was definitely quicker than building a jig. #flairww RT@Tumblewood: What do you think now? Still easier?! -10:28 PM Apr 26th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @Tumblewood If I had to do it again, I’d do it the same way.#flairww -10:29 PM Apr 26th, 2012

Tumblewood @FlairWoodworks I think you only need them for alignment. If you glueing. Plenty of long grain IMO, or strong enough with the counter bolts. Either way. But points out my hesitation on the 500 vs the 700. Still think the 500 will handle 70% of what I’ll do. They need the M600!! That would be perfect for me!

FlairWoodworks @Tumblewood There is actually not that much long grain surface. #flairww -10:50 PM Apr 26th, 2012

Jumbo mortises and floating tenons are cut next, in Session 9!

Maple Trestle Table, Session 7 – Installing Battens and Flattening the Underside

On the morning of Sunday, April 15th, Morton and I exchanged ideas about trestle tables, spurred on by a recent sketch of a table on which he was working.  That got me yearning to build a trestle table.

I documented my progress live on Twitter which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.  Here is a list of the previous Sessions:

Session 1 – Flat Boards are Boring;
Session 2 – Playing with Slabs;
Session 3 – From Two Slabs to One Table Top;
Session 4 – Clamping Odd Shapes and Sketching on Wood;
Session 5 – Routing Pockets for Battens; and
Session 6 – Making Battens and Installing Countertop Connectors.

(If you are not familiar with the format used on Twitter, every update, or “tweet” below starts with a username, being the author of that tweet.  Sometimes, you see two or more usernames in a tweet.  The second (and third, etc) usernames are preceded by a @ symbol and are people to whom the author is talking.  The other symbol you see is #, which serves as a category.  I try to remember to categorize all my tweets pertaining to this project under #flairww.)

FlairWoodworks Today I bought some 5/16″ x 2-1/2″ bolts and washers to fasten the battens to the bottom of the table top. #flairww -6:49 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks To sink oval holes to allow for expansion and contraction, I’m drilling overlapping holes at the drill press. #flairww -7:03 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m drilling two holes with a 1-1/16″ diameter saw-tooth bit, 1/2″ apart. #flairww -7:07 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks For consistency, I use a fence and stop block. #flairww -7:10 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks For the second hole, I insert a 1/2″ spacer between the stop and workpiece. #flairww -7:12 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks To bore clearance holes for the bolts, I’ve switched to a 3/8″ brad-point bit and drilled the two end holes. #flairww -7:20 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Then I drill out the waste in the middle. #flairww -7:22 PM Apr 24th, 2012

I recorded this video showing how I bore an elongated hole.  (Duration – 0:59)

FlairWoodworks The holes are all drilled so my next step is to mark where to drill pilot holes in the slabs using a transfer punch. #flairww -7:32 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve been using an electric drill plugged into a ceiling mount more often and my cordless drill less often as of late. #flairww -7:43 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I used a socket adapter in the drill to drive the bolts and a ratchet to tighten them. #flairww -7:48 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks With the countertop connectors and battens installed, I can finally move the top without losing alignment. #flairww -7:56 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks While thinking about what to do next, I picked up my jack plane and worked on surfacing the underside. #flairww -8:06 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I think I’ll stop for dinner break. #flairww -8:06 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m back in the shop and I’m going to see if I can smooth the underside of the table tonight. #flairww -9:35 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m making good progress but I need to resharpen my plane blade. It’s an O1 blade, by the way. #flairww -9:51 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks After a bit of work on my 1200x diamond stone and a little stropping, I’m back to work. #flairww -9:53 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks One good thing about surfacing wood by hand is that you get a good feel for how it works before you get to the smoothing stage. #flairww-10:21 PM Apr 24th, 2012

Tumblewood That is looking extremely cool, Chris!! -10:22 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Thanks, Vic! #flairww RT @Tumblewood: That is looking extremely cool, Chris!! -10:24 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @Tumblewood I’m not sure about the long-term consequences of making the top in two pieces, instead of gluing them. Any thoughts? #flairww -10:25 PM Apr 24th, 2012

gvmcmillan @FlairWoodworks @Tumblewood What about how laminate countertops are joined underneath? Might allow for wood movement if not glued #flairww -10:29 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @gvmcmillan But laminate countertops are usually glued to particle board which does not move much. @Tumblewood #flairww -10:32 PM Apr 24th, 2012

gvmcmillan @FlairWoodworks True, but I was thinking you could use that system without the glue to allow for the movement. #flairww -10:33 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @gvmcmillan Glue the slabs to particleboard? I don’t follow. I already have installed countertop connector bolts. #flairww -10:34 PM Apr 24th, 2012

gvmcmillan @FlairWoodworks Whoops, I guess I missed that. #flairww -10:36 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks That was in Session 5. [Actually, the countertop connectors appeared in Session 6.] RT @gvmcmillan:@FlairWoodworks Whoops, I guess I missed that. #flairww -10:39 PM Apr 24th, 2012

gvmcmillan @FlairWoodworks Right. I went back and looked just now. I think long-term consequences should be better than glue, no? -10:41 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Half done! Half of the bottom, that is. #flairww -10:50 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @gvmcmillan I’m unsure. At the moment, I think glue would be better long term so that the seams stay level. #flairww -10:52 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I wish I could turn the table top around so I could more easily plane the other half. #flairww -10:53 PM Apr 24th, 2012

gvmcmillan @FlairWoodworks What about something like a biscuit joint to do that? #flairww -10:56 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks And glue? I don’t think biscuits add strength RT @gvmcmillan: @FlairWoodworks What about something like a biscuit joint to do that?#flairww -10:58 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks By the way, I’m planing mostly at a 30-90 degree angle to the grain. #flairww -11:01 PM Apr 24th, 2012

gvmcmillan @FlairWoodworks Yes. But not the whole seam. Kinda like gluing a large mortise & tenon joint – just glue an inch in the middle. #flairww -11:07 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @gvmcmillan I’m not sure that would help… #flairww -11:08 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Ahhhh! Water! #flairww -11:10 PM Apr 24th, 2012

gvmcmillan @FlairWoodworks Ok, what about these?  #flairww -11:11 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Ha ha ha… That’s what I’ve installed! RT @gvmcmillan:@FlairWoodworks Ok, what about these#flairww -11:11 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @gvmcmillan I’m confident that those connectors can keep the joint together but it’s the veritcal alignment that worries me. #flairww-11:12 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @gvmcmillan I may try building the table without glue first. I can always glue it together later. #flairww -11:13 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @gvmcmillan Whoops. I haven’t yet posted Session 6 in which I installed those countertop connectors. #flairww -11:15 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m about 3/4 done. Just this section remains… on this side.#flairww -11:19 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m really surprised that I haven’t had to resharpen the plane blade yet. I might finish the bottom without resharpening! #flairww -11:27 PM Apr 24th, 2012

gvmcmillan @FlairWoodworks Yeah, that way you can see if it moves. You don’t think a hardwood biscuit joint would stop it shifting vertically? #flairww-11:38 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @gvmcmillan If the slabs want to move, I think that only a good glue joint can keep them aligned. #flairww -11:40 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks @gvmcmillan Actually, now you’ve got me thinking. Perhaps a beefy tongue and groove would work. #flairww -11:40 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I just sharpened my plane blade again. It wasn’t too bad, but was starting to get dull. #flairww -11:52 PM Apr 24th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’m slowing down… and working up an appetite. #flairww -12:11 AM Apr 25th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Would ya just look at this! The bottom’s nearly finished.#flairww -12:21 AM Apr 25th, 2012

FlairWoodworks The surface is planed as smooth as it’s going to be tonight. I need to flip it over and do the other side. #flairww -12:40 AM Apr 25th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Yikes! I just broke a sawhorse! I didn’t drop the top – the weight was just too much, apparently. #flairww -12:45 AM Apr 25th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Despite the sawhorse breaking, it was not difficult for me to flip the top by myself. #flairww -1:00 AM Apr 25th, 2012

FlairWoodworks I reglued the sawhorse’s foot and put it back into service supporting the top. #flairww -1:01 AM Apr 25th, 2012

FlairWoodworks Time for a break. Actually, I’m going to get something to eat, then go to bed. #flairww -1:03 AM Apr 25th, 2012

Tumblewood I think it’s ultimately a good thing. Allows adjustment and easier portability. RT @FlairWoodworks:@Tumblewood I’m not sure about the long-term consequences of making the top in two pieces, instead of gluing them. Any thoughts? #flairww -6:12 AM, April 25, 2012

Tumblewood I can’t think of a negative. -6:12 AM, April 25, 2012

Tumblewood Too much weight + lateral force. RT @FlairWoodworks: Yikes! I just broke a sawhorse! I didn’t drop the top – the weight was just too much, apparently. #flairww -6:23 AM, April 25, 2012

That was a good amount of work for one evening and a good workout.  In Session 8 I flattened the top.

I would appreciate it if you left a comment.

Hand Planes

First, some more woodworking poetry.  Pretty soon, I’ll have enough to fill a book!

One plane, two planes,
Three planes, four.
I work until
My arms are sore.

Today, I spent a good part of the day at Coquitlam Lee Valley showroom (where I work part-time) for their Plane Days event.  I talked to lots of interesting people and made lots of shavings.  The day went by quickly but I didn’t have enough time to flatten the 5′-long slab of maple I brought into the shop.  Oh well.  I’ve got two more days to work on it!  Besides, that’s not why I’m there.

I thought I’d share a couple basic tips to get the most out of your hand planes.

  1. Learn how to sharpen and keep the blades sharp!  Don’t overcomplicate sharpening.  Sharp is sharp.  (And dull is dull.)
  2. Check your bench height.  If your bench is too high, you will have a hard time providing sufficient downwards pressure on the plane to get a good cut.  And you will get tired quickly.  Too low, and your back will let you know the next day.
  3. Use your whole body – not just your arms.
  4. Find a way to secure the stock to the bench.  Dogs, clamps, planing stops and vises all work.  Also, make sure your bench is sturdy enough that you don’t have to chase it around either.
  5. If your work rocks on the bench, use a wedge to keep it steady while you flatten one face.  If your bench rocks, shim it.
  6. Be mindful of the sharp edges created while planing.  Two freshly-planed surfaces make a sharp point that can easily cut you!
  7. Watch the grain!  If you are unsure of which direction to plane, set the plane for a light cut and try a test pass.  You will be able to feel when you are going with the grain and when you are going against it.  You can often avoid severe tearout by planing diagonally or across the grain, but you won’t get as smooth a cut as going with the grain either.
  8. Know when to stop.  Don’t get carried away and plane until you are left with a toothpick.  Also, don’t plane into the bench.  My coworkers often warn me of this.
  9. Lower cutting angles are easier to push.  Higher cutting angles are less likely to cause tearout.  A plane with a sharp blade, tight mouth and light cut will produce a good surface in most situations.
  10. Keep your blades sharp.  That’s important.

Folding Hex Key Sets

Most of my machinery require a hex key for certain adjustments. I use these folding hex key sets and secured a belt clip onto the back with a short machine screw. With these, it is easy to keep a whole set together, and the unit is much harder to lose in a pile of sawdust than a single hex key. I also keep one hex key with my bandsaw which has its short leg ground to half the normal length to better access the bearings below the table. It lives on a magnet attached to the saw.