My second commission – part 4

31/3/2016

This past weekend I finally mustered enough courage to take on the Witpeer stock for the trapezoid leg of this table. You might remember the picture below, which is were I got to with these boards some weeks ago. The Witpeer (meaning white pear) is the light coloured wood at the top of the pile.

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On Friday afternoon I fed them to my electric planer, just to get rid of some of the nasty stuff. Of course the problem is that the planer does not get rid of any wist, bowing or cupping (length wise any).

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They then sat clamped to each other overnight, awaiting the major assault by hand plane the next day.

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Like most of these African wild timbers I mess around with, Witpeer is freaking hard. Therefore, if you have a serious amount of work to do like this, it is best to go into battle with razor sharp cutting edges. Now can you imagine anything better to do with your first cup of coffee on a Saturday morning than sharpening a couple of plane blades.

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First flattening the water stones.

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Then touch up the cutting edges.

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Two planes ready to rock.

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The first board was not too bad as you can see from the reading on my winding sticks.

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The next board unfortunately had at least 5 times more twist, which made me realise that I was a tad optimistic with the two planes I prepared. Clearly I needed to call upon the savage beast that is my shop made scrub plane.

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In the pictures below you can see the telltale scalloped appearance left by it’s heavily cambered blade.

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The extent of the wist in some of the boards necessitated the use of a wedge to stop it from wobbling all over the bench.

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It took the best part of 5 hours of hand planing to work my way through 7 boards on the Saturday morning. By the time I was finished all seven were marked as illustrated in the picture below. The flat (or face) side were marked as usual (bottom in picture) and the opposite side had scribble all over it to help identify when it is completely flat during the process of lazy planing (aka planing with an electric planer).

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Once the lazy planer did it’s damage, the boards looked like this. As you can see, the Witpeer has quite a few areas of visual interest. The cracks will eventually receive Nakashimaesque butterfly keys.

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Just to remind you of were this stock fit into the project I include two pictures of the prototype model. The stock that I am preparing will form one of three layers of timber that will ultimately make up the big solid trapezoid leg. The leg will have an overall thickness of 44 mm (therefore exactly double the thickness of the top of this table) of which this layer will make up 20 mm. It will be the timber you see when looking at the table from the end seen in the second picture.

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At this stage I had to quickly work out the exact measurements of the trapezoid leg using the prototype as my guide. It came to these numbers (in mm of course).

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Once I knew what to aim for I straightened one edge of each board by hand planing and used that as a reference surface to rip the other edge with the help of the table saw.

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After nearly two days I ended up with boards looking like this. This means that I am now just about at the stage were most woodworkers start their project. In other words with straight, square and wind free timber. The only difference is that apart from well prepared stock, I received some blisters and muscles on the house.

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