Friday, 7 January 2011

Its All In The Details, Sans The Detail Planes, That Is...

Things are coming along with my wife’s plant shelving unit. Not as quickly as I would like it to, but at least things are heading in the right direction.

I now have both sides completed, and son-of-a-gun if they don’t match. I have always found this to be the hardest part of building anything; when you get one side done, you have to match it. I would save myself a lot of grief with this if I worked like Rob over on the woodbloke blog. He makes scale models and does tremendous research before he even buys the materials. Often, as with this project, I don’t work from a plan. I just come up with a concept and start at it. I know that if I spent a little time creating plans, I could cut all the pieces in one go and they would all be the same. Knowing and doing is two different things, though. I just think that working things through as I go along is a lot more fun. I work one side until I get it the way I want it, and then I shoot myself in the foot making the match.

The first order of business was dressing the stock.  Using a scraper, I got rid of the squeezed out glue and realized that I would have to do very little planing. In fact, I only had to touch the plane to it in two or three places. The whole thing was cleaned up with a card scraper. I purchased a Veritas Scraper Set some time ago and I love the thing, especially the holder. I can take out a hunk of skin working with cotton balls, so anything that minimizes the chance of blood ending up on the wood is a good thing for me. While the set is a winner for me, the card holder is the bonus. It makes holding the scraper blade so much easier, especially for these large jobs.

Once I had the faces smooth, I cut the piece to length. The shelves are made from a glue-up of two 1” x 6” pieces, so the final width was 10 ¾”, which is the width I made the sides. As a result, I did not have to do any ripping on them.

I then shot the ends using my temporary shooting board with my 15” Veritas Low-Angle Jack. I have no idea how I lived without this appliance for so long, but I’m very happy to have it now. The dark areas in the image above are sweat stains, by the way.

I shot the long edges with a Stanley No.7, and I was ready to do the detail.

The detail on the shelf edge is a perfect example of why I don’t work with plans. In my drawing, I placed a three-bead reed along each edge of the shelves, but all the other details are single beads. As I looked among the Stanley No.66 Beader blades, I realized that the design would probably be more unified if the shelf edges matched the other shadow lines. I ended up putting the reeding blade back and using a single ¼” beading blade.

I started out adding a bead to the outer edges. I then wanted to remove the ¼” space between so I pulled out the little Veritas Miniature Shoulder Plane and the set of Veritas Detail Rabbet Planes. Now these little planes are really well made and I am sure in the hands of someone a heck of a lot more capable with tools than myself, they are probably an incredible advantage to a shop, but, man, I had a hell of a time with them.

The Miniature Shoulder has a blade adjuster on it, so setting the blade was very easy. Getting that blade to remove the oak in anything that resembled a reasonable amount of time, however, was another story. With a sole that is ¼” wide by 2 ½” long and only weighing in at 1.7 ounces, it was like trying to remove wood with a feather. I knew at the time I was asking a lot of this little plane. Maybe on a smaller project, one that does not involve hardwood, I might have stood a better chance. It didn’t take long to realize that there was no way the day was going to be long enough for me to plow out that space using that tool.

I then turned to the Veritas ¼” Detail Rabbet plane. At 3”, these planes are a little longer with a bit more heft to them, but they are awkward little buggers to hold. Because of their height, they are also difficult to keep square to the stock. Being a tad lighter than what was needed, it wasn't going to remove stock in a hurry either. The biggest issue I had with them, though, was setting up the blade. There is no adjustment and the only way to work it is to set it using two fingers and doing so by feel, not the easiest way for a raw amateur to set a plane blade.  I also noticed that after two runs down the 52” length, the plane was uncomfortably warm in my hand, damn near hot, actually.

I said the heck with the lot of them (ok, so maybe a little stronger than that), and went to the Veritas Miniature Plow Plane, which is what I should have started with in the first place. It was much more controllable and removed what I wanted in about 4 minutes flat. I finished it all off with a quick sand and I was done for the day.

Thankfully, only two of the four shelves require this treatment, the other two having square faced edges.

Tomorrow, I’ll start trying to match it.