I am currently building a small shelf out of Alder and some mystery white wood to house some of my finer tools so that I do not have to go into my larger cabinet to get them all the time. This is part of a larger initiative to keep my sharp tools sharp and accessible, as someone who only uses hand tools most of the time this is about as critical to my work-flow as paying the power bill before someone fires up their table saw. Roughly six hours got me to this point.
I really did not take any picture up to this point because my plan was to finish the project in about 8 hours and taking pictures slows me down (I am a bit of a camera nut), Working with a stolen 15 minutes here and there I was able to get the back panel fitted, which brings us to the reason for this post (but first a picture of the chaos…er work on my bench)
The back panel is made out of the aforementioned white mystery wood. It’s not poplar as I first though. It’s soft straight grained, smells awful, and is an absolute mystery to plane. It tears out in patches for no apparent reason, when I take a fine cut the result is crap, when I take a rough cut that would leave other woods pockmarked…glassy smooth???? One problem came from this wood and one from limitation of my tools.
I had already plowed the groove to receive the back panel using my Stanley 45 (shelves) and used my 1/4 chisel for the sides since it was a stop cut. Next came cutting the opposite sides of the joint into the back panel. The sides were simple scribe lines saw cuts, chisel a bit for clean up, done. The top and bottom is where I ran into trouble. I only own a 1/4 inch blade for my Stanley, and the rabbet that I needed to create was just a bit to deep for that. I did not feel confident that I could make two cuts accurately as I would eliminate my registration surface with the first cut, I ended up coming up with a faster way. I set my plane to cut to depth on the farthest right side of the joint (establishing the depth and side of the joint).
I then made a scribe line to the same depth as the plow with my marking gauge (a very deep scribe line using the A2 tool steel blade.).At this point I was able to push the extra piece into the joint and SNAP, right to the scribe line. A little work with a router plane cleaned up any inconsistency.
The bottom of the panel is a bit more complex since I have to make room for knots to be accessed through the back (for storage of planes). I made scribe lines and worked a bevel by hand with a smoother and a block plane. If I planed the bevel to the point that it would fit in the groove all the way I would have lost too much thickness, so I made small rabbet with my plow plane. Despite the deep scribe line I left, I got all this stringy crap coming off the back of the joint. I could have left it, this being the back of the cabinet, but I had an idea. I set my marking gauge to the depth of the worst of the tear-out and used my tool to shave away a nice clean edge.
A nice fit…happy shavings.
Aside, I almost always capitalize the names of wood that I am working with. I think of them as people…I’m strange, deal with it..
-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan