My last post on this project was in mid Sept. before we left for Sweden. We got home in the first days of October and I took a week to rest up after the long drive. Then I got a bad cold and it has kept me out of the shop until late last week. I still have it, but I’m at least able to work a couple of hours a day now.
WORKING ON THE TOP
You might recall that I wanted to hand plane the fir top, and that I first had to get rid of the larger knots before planing. In my last blog I showed how I did that with a hole saw and a Forstner bit. That worked very well and the planes were able to cope well with the small remaining knots.
I used my new #6 fore plane for the main flattening and then the Stanley/Bailey #4 for the smoothing. I put a slight camber on both irons before starting and that really helped a lot. I have never planed such a large piece before, so it was a learning experience for me. My biggest problem was the limited space I had to work in, and I had to flip the board end for end to work the other side. That thing is heavy!! I also tried to use winding sticks to check for twist, but I also found this difficult as I am still having some problems with my eyes. This meant that I had to pretty much wing it. I am happy with the final result. It is pretty darn flat, so it should be a good table for assembling projects, doing my marquetry work and even using it for a planing bench if I wish. Here’s the result after sanding it yesterday starting with 80 grit and working my way up to 180.
I did enjoy the hand planing, but plugging the holes wasn’t too much fun. I cut the plugs with my scroll saw from 2” thick face grain fir. That worked quite well and I got 3 plugs from each cutout. I just hammered the plugs in with glue and cut them off slightly proud of the surface with a sharp chisel. The hard part is that there were around 50 holes to plug, so a lot of scroll sawing.
I think that the most sensible way to flatten a top like this would be with a router planer setup. Then it wouldn’t be necessary to remove the knots. I couldn’t use a router planer due to limited work space, it would be a lot faster and easier, but pretty dusty and noisy.
after finishing the sanding yesterday, I started to clean up the shop in preparation for painting the bench base and the chest of drawers that will occupy the open space to the right under the bench. After that I plan to paint the rest of my shop cabinet doors the same color. I am using green like the little chest of drawers to the right in the next photo. I will be using Danish oil on the bench top. I figure that the resins in the Danish oil mix will give more protection than using just pure oil and it will still be just as easy to renew the top finish from time to time.
I still have a long way to go in my shop improvement projects, but I’m pretty happy about getting this new bench as it will give me a large work surface that I have been lacking thus far. I may have to leave off the improvements for awhile after I get the painting done so I can do some Christmas projects for friends and family.
And lastly, the pumpkin my son in Sweden carved for Halloween. Now if I can just get him carving some of that Linde wood I left with him last year. He said he felt a little guilty using the chip carving knife I gave him to carve the pumpkin with, lol.
Thanks for reading!
-- Mike, an American living in Norway.