The New Traditional Woodworker Project #1--Long overdue appliance: Let the edge planing begin!

  • Advertise with us
Project by Brad posted 09-01-2011 09:43 PM 3189 views 3 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
The New Traditional Woodworker Project #1--Long overdue appliance: Let the edge planing begin!
The New Traditional Woodworker Project #1--Long overdue appliance: Let the edge planing begin! No picture No picture No picture No picture No picture
Zoom Pictures

In a previous post, I blogged about crafting a 4' x 8' raised vegetable bed. One of the challenges of that project was getting the side boards to mate tightly enough to prevent soil from spilling out between them. That involved a lot of edge planing on 8’ boards. Putting one end in a vice and resting the other end on a peg fit into my workbench worked ok. But it was as awkward as my first junior high-school dance. The tail of the board fishtailed and I didn’t feel secure in my footwork along the length of the board.

And while that wasn’t the first project that’s left me wanting for a better way to joint longer boards, I suffered through. Suffered that is, until I picked up a copy of Jim Tolpin’s The New Traditional Woodworker, a tomb dedicated to working wood with hand tools.

Pages 135-140 conveniently included well-photographed instructions on how to build an edge planing stop.

Building my latest appliance
On my next visit to a local specialty wood store, I picked up a hefty chunk of 6/4 poplar. This is what it became after a couple of hours work.

Yes hours. The process was more complicated for me than I originally thought and some of that time was spent fashioning a drawing bow (p. 167) to lay out the decorative curve.

I began by sizing the stock to 14 3/4” wide by 16” long taking care to orient the grain perpendicular to the vice which will hold the ledger strip. That will help the appliance handle the force and shear of edge planing.

After that, I six-squared the stock according to the handy instructions outlined in the book. From there I cut the dado and rabbet on my router table.

Don’t judge me.

I love my hand tools in a deep and meaningful way. But I’m not a purist. Still, I would gladly have made these cuts by hand if I owned a router plane…and a backsaw with a depth stop…and a crank-necked chisel…and a shoulder plane—all tools Tolpin uses to cut and tune dados and rabbets.

With the dado done, I laid out the decorative arc using a freshly-finished drawing bow. I cut as much waste as I could with my rehabbed #4 Disston backsaw. Then I got a chance to use my dad’s hand-me-down drawknife to shave off more waste. That operation was followed by a block plane, then a sanding block.

Truthfully, this part of the project took the longest for me. Do any of you have a better process for cutting arcs?

Then came the fun part. To reinforce the open wedge area, I drilled ½” holes on each side with a hand brace. (see above photo) I enjoyed the challenge of drilling straight holes 6” deep. These I filled with ½” oak dowels, leaving them a bit proud so I could plane them flush later.

Next, I laid out and cut the straight edge to the wedge. Then I laid out and cut the compound cut on the angled length of the wedge. You see, to prevent the wedge from riding up the side of the appliance, I had to saw a small undercut angle of about 3 degrees. That was tricky. Frankly, I didn’t do a very good job, but a few minutes with a block plane helped make the angled cut somewhat consistent along its length.

This was followed by fashioning a wedge to fit into the newly formed notch. Apparently you can’t use the waste freshly cut from the notch because the grain runs in the same direction as the face of the edge stop. For that reason, it won’t stand up to vigorous planing.

So I cut a wedge from a 2×4 with its grain running perpendicular to the grain of the appliance. From there I chiseled a recess into the wedge so my mallet can catch it to secure the workpiece. I did my best with a block plane to mate the undercut surfaces of the wedge and notch, but you can see by the picture that there’s still a bit of a gap.

Tolpin says to bevel all the edges and I think this makes the piece look nicer. It’s so big and beefy that even a small bevel gives it a more refined look.

Three coats of BLO and my shiny new edge plane stop was ready for a test.

Set up and testing
One end is supported by the ledger clamped in the bench vise while the opposite end rests against a bench dog.

A scrap left over from my saw bench project offered to help test its plane stop cousin. I fit it in and secured it by tapping the wedge into place. It held firm. No jiggle…no movement at all.

From the first stroke with a #7, the stop performed flawlessly. No fishtailing, no rocking, no nothing.

My engineer’s square rendered the final verdict, ruling that the planing stop was worth the time and effort. It now sits under my bench next to my shooting board and bench hook. A useful, merry band of three they all make.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

9 comments so far

View Bertha's profile


13525 posts in 2689 days

#1 posted 09-01-2011 09:44 PM

I loved this, the surfaces, the joinery, the tools.
But I have no idea what I’m looking at!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View shipwright's profile


7980 posts in 2794 days

#2 posted 09-01-2011 09:55 PM

In shipyards where wooden boats are built in the traditional method (carvel) there is usually a long bench with a vee block like this one (only much less elegant) nailed permanently at one end. In carvel construction every plank in a hull must be very accurately planed on both edges. I will attest after planing many miles of them that this is a great way to hold the piece.

Yours is very elegant.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

553 posts in 2994 days

#3 posted 09-01-2011 10:24 PM

Hey Al, I go through life not knowingly what I am looking at. You will get use to it.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3111 days

#4 posted 09-01-2011 11:49 PM

very elegant v clamp :-)
thank´s for sharing


View ptweedy's profile


75 posts in 3389 days

#5 posted 09-02-2011 12:20 AM

how about backing up about 4’ so that the fixture and the bench and the work piece can be seen in relation to each other. When I built a v block I used two lavers of 3/4 plywood so that it was very unlikely to break during use. Not nearly as pretty as yours however. beauitful job.

View jcees's profile


1058 posts in 3795 days

#6 posted 09-02-2011 05:32 AM

Years ago I happened across a once commercial made “crochet” for the bench top that is exactly what you have made here. Mine’s made of cast iron and works like a charm. I’ve jointed 8’ long by 8 in. wide stock on edge without incident. If I broke it tomorrow I’d make another by the end of the day just as you have.

Nice one.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Brad's profile


1139 posts in 2736 days

#7 posted 09-10-2011 05:36 AM

It doesn’t surprise me jcees that cast-iron ones were made. Mine has been such a help in the shop I figure that woodworkers in in days gone by had their own.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 2423 days

#8 posted 12-02-2011 09:45 PM

dont know what I enjoy more about your posts, the photos or your absorbing writing – You do this for a living dont you? Oh! and your wedge thing, is a work of art.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3147 days

#9 posted 09-06-2012 04:00 PM

Very cool. I love Toplin’s book.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics