Top is glued up and stable as of this afternoon. Looks reasonably good, all told.
The question now is how to ‘refinish’ the top. Now I know what you’re saying. Just the top, Smitty? What about the rest of the table? Well, I’m going to concentrate on the top and edges of the top for now, and see what happens before complicating my thoughts with turned leg refinishing. So there. It’s the KISS principle at it’s best…
Andy suggested hitting the top with alcohol to test for shellac. Did that, results were limited to a dirty rag only. If there was shellac used, it’s not the only thing remaining. So that didn’t pan out. Rats.
I then decided to go radical. Scraping is not something I’ve done with any success. I mean, I’ve used my #80 on the cabinetmaker’s bench to get grit off that maple work surface, but I wasn’t that impressed with either my ability or the outcome. (Both, really, but I digress.) I didn’t go for the #80 this time, but did reach into the bench cabinet for my high-dollar ‘old hand saw blade cut into squares’ scraper and headed to the tabletop. Why scrape and not sand? Well, I didn’t want to run through all the grits and associated gummy papers (due to the finish being present), AND I wanted to learn a new skill, AND the glue joint had a few high and low spots along the run (should have used biscuits for alignment, maybe?) that a scraper would certainly be able to address. Enough wordiness. To the pictures…
First cut didn’t look bad at all. Scratches deeper than I ever expected, but the scraper was doing it’s thing!
Before too long it was clear that the whole top had to be done, as I was past the point of no return. In the second pic that follows, the #83 scraper ‘plane’ is in the background. Worthless for this application, let me tell you. Maybe I have the blade sized wrong (it’s not an original), but if this was gonna get done I had to do by hand (steady, Al).
I reversed the table so it was braced against my workbench and light from the window could help. The scratches are actually gouges in the right (wrong?) light.
I kept going, but it was clear the scraper needed a fresh edge.
How did I ‘sharpen’ the scraper? It varied until I got consistent results, but here’s the one that got me the furthest between touch ups. First, 400 grit paper on a limestone block (hard and flat) to clean the edge, front and back.
The a couple passes with the clamshell jointer…
... before burnishing straight across, then to each side at a slight (10 degree??) angle.
A fresh edge gets you shavings, not dust.
This patch took two freshenings of the iron to get through.
And here’s the final scraped top, four blisters and two burned thumbs later! :-)
Glamour shots, then, after hitting the top with the ROS and 220 grit paper. Yes, I sanded. I don’t feel good about it, but there’s no way I was planing this thing OR leaving just the scraped surface. So actually I do feel good about it.
I cleaned the top with a series of clean cotton rags (old T shirts are great shop towels…) then wiped it down with mineral spirits to see what it’d look like with a finish. OMG! Very sweet! Sorry, no picture of that ‘til next time.
After getting through this brute force exercise, I feel like I passed a test of sorts with the scraper. It’s a great tool, simple yet effective, and I know how to use one now. Am I an expert? Hardly. But now, whenever the old timers gather ‘round and talk about sore thumbs from scraping, I know what they mean. :-)
As always, thanks for looking!
-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive