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Lego Table #2: A Tough Day in the Shop

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Blog entry by Eric posted 2129 days ago 1297 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Sketchup Model Part 2 of Lego Table series Part 3: Hand Planing and Hand Sanding »

So yesterday I went to the lumber yard and bought all the wood I expected to need for the lego table. I was pleasantly surprised at the price. I bought 12.5 board feet of kapur (30’ of 1”x4” and 10’ of 1”x3”) for $18.25 and a 4’x8’ sheet of 1/2” plywood for $13.75. I tried to pick boards that were straight and not warped, and at least in that respect, I succeeded.

Today I had some good dedicated shop time. My first task was to cut the boards down to the individual components of the table. As I was doing that, I realized that I had neglected to look for one thing when at the lumber yard – cupping. One board was cupped the entire length.

Since I don’t have a thickness planer, an electric planer nor a belt sander, I dragged my knuckles over to the “workbench” (a 2”x6” resting across my japanese sawing trestles) and tried to “knock off the high spots” as I hear people like The Schwarz say. Easier said than done. To the extent that I feel skilled in sawing, I feel that same amount of ineptitude in planing. I guess it doesn’t help that I don’t have a workbench. It also doesn’t help that my irons haven’t been honed in a while.

So I got frustrated. Frustrated that my blades are dull. Frustrated that I don’t know how to flatten a board. Frustrated that flattening a board is kind of important sometimes. Okay, often. Frustrated that this quick-and-dirty build of a lego table might take months.

But then I chilled out and decided to take a long view of my progress in the craft. Hand plane skills don’t come overnight. I need to think of this as part of the journey. I am considering whether or not to go buy another board to save me time in building this project. That would, however, still leave me needing to learn how to flatten a board. So maybe I’ll stick it out.

In the meantime, I now know how I’m going to spend the last of my Tool Fund money: I’m going to get a replacement plane iron/chipbreaker set. I think it will really help me be less anxious about planing. My #4 and #5 planes both use the same size irons, so I’ll be able to interchange them as needed. And I’ll be able to turn my existing irons into specialty blades. Maybe one will be slightly cambered (as will probably the Hock be), and the other I’ll turn into a scrub plane iron. I think I heard one of Matt’s podcasts talking about that.

Kind of a rambly post today, but that’s how I feel. A bit discouraged, but at the same time determined to get through it.

P.S. Oh – here’s a pic of the parts. Notice the yellow sapwood on what will be the legs. I chose that board partly because it was so straight, but also because, what the hey, let’s see how this ends up looking!

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com



7 comments so far

View lew's profile

lew

10006 posts in 2392 days


#1 posted 2129 days ago

Hang in there, Eric! We all have days like this.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2458 days


#2 posted 2129 days ago

Frustration is a fundamental part of the learning process when we are trying to develop a new skill or learn to use an unfamiliar tool. But, in situations like yours, the initial frustration is well worth the end result. Once you “hone” your planing skilsl you will have increased your inventory of hand skills.

Keep us posted on your workbench progress.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View dsb1829's profile

dsb1829

367 posts in 2264 days


#3 posted 2128 days ago

I typically find my frustration leads to new tools. New tools lead to setup time and more frustration. But at some point you begin to break out of the fog. For me it happened this weekend (about 5 months of heavy hobby investment). I focused on a project, building the base for my new dining table. As the individual tasks were completed each gave a sense of accomplishment. Just a few months ago I couldn’t sharpen a plane, much less use one to remove tool marks and taper legs. I found myself with a big grin as the fluffy shavings piled out the mouth of my 90 year old smoother. It was such a joy to have things start to click. Hang in there.

S4S is a bit of a misnomer at the lumber yard. Maybe there should be 2 grades of it (like ready to use and needs work). Some of the s4s at the home center locations is terrible. It is cupped, bowed, warped, and twisted. You would be better off chopping it into kindling and saving yourself the aggravation.

From the tool fund it looks like you are heading to the neanderthal side. Not a bad place to be. I often find far more satisfaction in getting tasks done with only the hand tools. I also view it as a way to pass forward this knowledge to future generations. Good luck.

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

View Eric's profile

Eric

873 posts in 2420 days


#4 posted 2127 days ago

Thanks for the encouragement, guys.

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com

View Texasgaloot's profile

Texasgaloot

464 posts in 2337 days


#5 posted 2126 days ago

Eric—

Sorry I haven’t had the time to reply in a timely manner. I’m also sorry for the frustration—been there, done that! I’ve been playing in sawdust almost as long as Matt has been alive (don’t tell him I said that.) It seems like in every project I can recall except for a handful, there has been a point where I have said words to the effect of, “Holy Cr*p! I can’t finish this thing! I don’t have the _” Words for the blank vary with the mood: tools, skill, material, skill, time, skill, money… did I say skill? I’m not going to say that anything magic happened, because I still have a few unfinished projects I’ve started floating around, but otoh the vast majority of my projects perseverance as seen me through. Set the tools down and come back tomorrow knowing my feelings are normal.

This is happy news for me, really. Another convert for “the cause” of Neanderwoodworking!

Mack (“The Wood Shepherd”)

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View 8iowa's profile

8iowa

1489 posts in 2398 days


#6 posted 2126 days ago

eric:

Sometimes things happen for the best. Sharpening up your hand planes and planing skills is a big positive. I think the hand plane is undergoing a “re-discovery” by many woodworkers.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View woodworm's profile

woodworm

14125 posts in 2227 days


#7 posted 2126 days ago

Looking at the picture, I think the cupped boards is correctible, since it’s not associated with a “twist”.
Draw lines on the board end at the lowest point for both sides, if the remaining thickness is usable for your project go ahead with hand planning. If the thickness of stock to be removed is something like 1/4” IMHO is not worth doing.
I have done that when making my workbench, and I got to take a week rest.
Alternativelly, rip them into two halves (get the service from a sawmill, in your case) then the flattening work would be much easier.

Good luck.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

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