nightstand bedside table #5: Planing the top and shelf panels

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Blog entry by coloradoclimber posted 01-26-2009 02:04 AM 1567 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Cutting the Pieces and Dry Fitting Part 5 of nightstand bedside table series Part 6: Finished »

Even though I clamped and cauled the top and shelf during the glue up there was still a slight offset between the panels, maybe around a 64th or so, maybe a little less.

I machine planed the panels before the glue up so the panels were pretty flat and reasonably smooth.

I like the tactile quality of a planed surface more so than a sanded surface so the offset and the desired for a planed finish combined to lead me to hand plane the finished top.

Hand planing the top turned out to be a bigger hassle than I anticipated. There was a low spot in the middle along the glue line so more planing was required than I hoped for going in. The grain reverses in multiple places so tear out was a problem. I ended up planing mostly cross grain with a jack to flatten the panel. I followed up with a smoother using a 50 degree blade (pretty high angle) and the smallest mouth opening / cut I could make. I tried heavier cuts and lower angle blades but I would get tear out every time. That was with freshly honed blades sharp enough to shave with.

The result of the high angle blade and the infinitesimal cuts was a surface smooth as glass with no tear out but it took a LOT of passes. I mean a LOT. Here’s one pile of shavings from smoothing one side. You could pick pretty much any one of these shaving and see through it, they were all that fine. I made about three piles of shavings like this and didn’t reduce the thickness of the top or shelf by more than a 32nd. These were a pile of wispy shavings.

Here’s how the shelf looked almost done. You can still see some of the plane marks but most of the tear out was cleaned up by now.

Here’s the top finished.

5 comments so far

View AaronK's profile


1436 posts in 2887 days

#1 posted 01-26-2009 02:51 AM

i love that sparkle. if it looks that good in the pictures, in person it must be brilliant.

View motthunter's profile


2142 posts in 3222 days

#2 posted 01-26-2009 03:27 AM

how great. beautiful sheen

-- making sawdust....

View John in SD's profile

John in SD

140 posts in 3236 days

#3 posted 01-26-2009 06:55 PM

That tops looks great… those planes too

-- Life used to be soooo much simpler!!!!

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 3491 days

#4 posted 01-27-2009 07:29 AM

Thanks for the comments. I’m pretty happy with the shine on it. I may be wrong but I’ve been happier with a finished surface that is plane cut rather than sanded. I’ve read that sanded surface can achieve the same finish as a cut surface but for me I dont really like sanding and I’m sure I quit before I get to nearly the same surface I can get with a sharp plane.

Those are nice planes. I own a small handful of planes, stanleys, baileys, cliftons, craftsmans, lie nielsen, and veritas. For a bench plane I really like these veritas bevel up planes. They are very well made, handle nicely, and produce and excellent surface.

View Chris 's profile


1877 posts in 3414 days

#5 posted 01-27-2009 03:12 PM

That is some REALLY beautiful walnut. What did you use for a finish? Your color matched wonderfully in the finished top as well. Very nicely done Sir!

BTW Care to disclose your wood source? :)

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

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