My current project is an end-table with a maple top, two wide pieces edge-glued. I’ve been working on flattening it, using a long sanding block and some 60 grit because the troublesome grain played havoc with my planes. I finally gave up on the planes after tearing one side all to hell and putting some serious divots in the other side. I picked the lesser of the two evils, and scraped all the divots out. Of course, scraping just transformed the badlands into gently rolling hills and valleys. Sanding block time.
Last night, I finally had the top close enough to flat that I decided to take a break and random-orbitize the other side (the bad side), just to get rid of the worst of the tearout. Twenty minutes later, I brushed the dust off this bad side and promptly kicked myself. Well, not literally. But I did kick the workbench. Where the glueline showed on the “good” side as a very slight color shift, it was freakin’ invisible on the “bad” side. I had arranged the two pieces carefully to hide the glue line (and of course, to alternate growth rings), and then completely ignored this arrangement when I chose which side to flatten. I got impatient to finish, and just chose the shortcut, which unfortunately runs directly across the wrong side of my tabletop.
Of course, it’s nothing unsalvageable—just an infuriating waste of hours of hand-sanding. I’m working on the correct side now, and I’ve learned a valuable lesson: pay attention to grain at ALL times, not just during the glue-up. Okay, I’m off to work now. I’ve got a short shift tonight, so in five or six hours, I can get back to hand-sanding. And more hand-sanding. And maybe some light scraping. And then more sanding. And then, maybe, a beer.
-- I hate finishing. I never manage to quit while I'm ahead. --Chris