Last of the summer joinery

It has been challenging to get any real shop time since late August. First the workshop door (an “up and over” garage type) failed and I was locked out for two weeks while I waited for an engineer to instal new parts and service the mechanism. As soon as that was done, work pressures at the day job meant that I was chained firmly to my desk for a couple of weeks. But ggainst all odds, the joinery for the boarded bookcase is now cut and I did a dry assembly of the casework today.

The final elements of joinery were the rabbets for kick and top rail. These require a slightly different approach to the dados for the shelves, partly because of grain direction (rabbets run along the grain, dados run across it) and because the rabbets do not run the length of the workpiece. The rabbet for the kick runs into the bottom dado, but the rabbet for the kick is stopped, which brings with it a few challenges for the handtool worker.

I cut the rabbet for the kick first, as this is easier than the stopped groove for the rail. Because the rabbet for the kick runs into the shelf dado I was able to prepare a first class cut and gently saw the walls, being careful not to overcut the workpiece, or to kink my saw on the opposite wall of the dados. I warmed up by sawing the inside wall of the rabbet, which won’t be seen once the kick is installed, and then cut the show edge second. With the walls cut I then weakened the waste by chiselling across the grain, and then popped it out with a half inch chisel working bevel up. Once I was close to the final depth I moved to the router plane to clean the bottom of the rabbet.

There are several ways to cut a stopped rabbet. Where the end of the rabbet will be hidden then sawing the walls can be very quick. However I did not want to leave signs of overcutting on the bookcase as the end of the rabbet will be visible. So the approach I took was similar to chopping a mortise. After scoring deep layout lines with a marking gauge to define a clean edge for the rabbet, I chopped across the grain with my 1/2″ chisel, followed by gently paring the edges with a 2″ wide chisel. Paring the edges is delicate work, as hitting the chisel hard can cause the grain to split. But after a few rounds of chopping across the grain, paring the side walls and popping out the waste in between, the rabbet was ready for the router plane to bring to final depth.

With all of the joinery cut I tested the fit of each shelf individually, and used a large shoulder plane to adjust the fit of the shelves where needed. Then it was time to do a dry assembly of the maim casework. After processing stock since April, this was the first time that I had seen the components come together and indicate how the finished piece will look like. The dry run also helps to identify any potential difficulties for glue-up.

Next weekend I will clean up the interior surfaces of the bookcase and then glue up the main assembly.

Dados for Days

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Marking the rebates with the Veritas mortise gauge

I like dados for fitting shelves to casework – its an easy joint to cut, and especially when paired with cut nails, makes for very solid joint. The boarded bookcase calls for three pairs of dados to house the shelves, and a rebate for the top rail. Because I use dados quite frequently I keep thinking about picking up a 3/4″ HNT Gordon rebate plane, but cutting dados the way I describe in this post is quick (each dados takes less than 20 minutes) and fun, so a dedicated plane feels like an extravagance, no matter how pretty they are.

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Setting a marking gauge from a chisel provides a quick and repeatable setting

I started by laying out the dados on both side pieces, ensuring that all layout was done from the reference edges. Once the shelf dados were layed out I placed the two sides against each other to check that each layout line was in precisely the same place on both pieces – this prevents layout errors and wonky shelves at a later date. The top rail is set 1/2″ in from the rear edge of the sides, and instead of using two marking gauges (one for each side of the rebate) I used the Veritas mortise gauge, with the two beams set to define the edges of the rebate at the appropriate distance from the edge of the side. The casework also features a kick underneath the lowest shelf. I don’t think Chris fixes this into a rebate when he builds the bookcase, but while I was in a grooving mood I decided to layout a rebate for this element too.

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Deepening the layout lines

Once I was happy with the layout on the inner faces of the sides, I transfered the dados onto the front and rear edges so that the depth could be marked out. Where possible I like to set my marking gauges by reference to an object of known thickness rather than trying to line up the cutter with graduations on a ruler – this can be a component of casework, or in this instance a chisel of the right width. This reduces the opportunity for error, and makes for a repeatable setting.

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Preparing the first class cut

To cut the dados I use my Bad Axe Bayonet saw, filed hybrid. This saw has been specifically designed for cutting joinery, and the 14″ saw plate and fine kerf make it ideal for dados and other fine joinery. You can read a more detailed review here. Reaching straight for the saw might work, but you may also find the saw plate wandering across the workpiece and marring the surface, which is less than ideal. In the Anarchist’s Design Book, Chris describes using a batten and push stick as a guide for dead nuts straight dados, which is a nice approach. I go about it slightly differently, which shouldn’t be a surprise as there’s at least 17 different and effective ways to undertake any single woodwork operation.

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Cutting the walls of the dado with the Bad Axe Bayonet

I use a typical approach for a “first class cut”. First I deepen the knife line with a gentle tap from a mallet on a wide chisel – I keep a 2″ butt chisel precisely for this sort of work and for paring tasks. With the line deepened, a long paring chisel can then cut a trench on the waste side of the line – the aim is to remove a small amount of waste with the layout line providing one wall of a “v” shaped trench. The trench guides the saw, keeping it running true. The first few strokes are gentle, and I keep two fingers of my off hand on the toe of the saw to prevent it from jumping out of the cut. Some lubrication on the saw plate helps too, particularly when the saw is cutting along the full width of the workpiece. A piece of blue tape on the saw plate helps to mark the full depth of the dado.

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The majority of the waste can be removed with the chisel bevel-up

Once the saw is cutting at full depth along the length of the dado it’s time to chisel out the waste. Start with the bevel facing up – this is more aggressive and will knock out the waste quickly. It is vital to work from each end of the dado to prevent spelching at the ends. If you watch the saw kerfs it is possible to gauge by eye how much material needs to be removed. As you get closer to the bototm, switch to a bevel-down chisel orientation. Once I am close to the bottom I then move to the router plane to clean up. The router plane is not a bulk removal tool, so it really does help to have removed as much material as possible with a chisel. Placing blue tape either side of the dado helps to avoid marking the surface with the router plane.

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Using the chisel bevel down is less aggressive, which is useful as you approach the bottom of the dado

I had limited shop time this weekend, so have a bit of work left to do on one side, but then the joinery will be cut and I can look at assembling the main structure of the bookcase.

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Cleaning up the dado with the router plane

The fun stuff draws closer

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Laying out the shelves to avoid bad knots and splits

I had a final push this weekend to finish dimensioning the main components for the boarded bookcase (the sides and shelves), ready for cutting joinery. This largely consisted of bringing the shelves down to the required width, and trimming all parts to final length. All straight forward stuff, although as with every step of this build I’ve found the hard maple means that every process takes longer and requires more frequent sharpening.

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Shooting the ends square

I chose to dimension the shelves to their final 12.5″ width before triming to length as this meant that I had less end grain to trim. When carrying out the same process on multiple components I prefer to undertake each  step for all of the parts before moving onto the next step. Here, that involved first planing a reference edge square and straight with the No8 jointer for all the shelves, and then marking the width with the Hamilton panel gauge, after which I ripped the excess width with my Disston D8 and then finished up with the No8 jointer plane. Batching up the steps across each board made for a very efficient process, instead of moving thorugh the full operation for the first board, and then starting again for the second and so on.

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Once the shelves were down to width I shot one end of each square using the new shooting board, and then using that end to then measure the final length and mark off the opposite end. I trimmed the excess waste using a hybrid filed tenon saw – the shooting board makes a very efficient bench hook for wide pieces which my standard bench hooks would struggle with, and then shot the end square with the Lie-Nielsen No51. The new shooting board worked very well – the track keeps the plane travelling true with minimal friction, and the fence mechanism is solid and reliable. Shooting end grain square is a critical step, but can feel like a real chore if your shooting board is fussy or unreliable, but after putting in an extended shooting session, I’m pleased to report that the Veritas hardware feels reliable and sturdy (this is not an ad – I paid full price for the hardware, etc). Having a 24″ square shooting board has also proved to be very useful for these larger pieces – yes it is overbuilt, but I doubt I’ll ever find myself complaining that the desk does not support the workpiece sufficiently.

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Dimensioned and ready for joinery

Once the shelves were dimensioned I then trimmed the sides to final length using the shooting board. These components are now lying in stick ready for the joinery to be cut. While that stack of boards doesn’t look like much, it has been a fair amount of work to glue up 6 panels and dimension them all by hand, especially in unforgiving hard maple. I’m looking forward to the fun stuff coming up (joinery!), and then gluing up the main structure of the bookcase.

Just Shelfin’

 

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This old girl is 120 years old and still cuts the line like she’s on rails

I’ve now got one shelf left to process and then I’ll be ready to cut the joinery for the boarded bookcase. Processing the shelves has been a lot quicker thanks to only smoothing the show face (the top surface of the shelf) and leaving the underside scalloped texture from traversing with the No5 plane. This approach is consistent with how the furniture record shows historic makers treating secondary surfaces, and the change in texture offers a pleasant change for those who explore the finished piece.

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Workhorses

Not that smoothing and achieving a perfect glassy surface is a chore, but it does take time. At the moment I’m putting a Holtey 985 through its paces in readiness for an article which will be in print later this year. Sadly the plane will then be returned to Karl, but it’s been a very interesting experience using a high-end handmade plane. If you want to know whether a plane that costs more than a family car is worthwhile, and the design process of one of the greatest plane makers in the world, then stay tuned for more details soon.

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Flawless finish on truculent maple courtesy of Karl Holtey

My process for the shelves has been to joint the boards oversized, and then once the glue has cured rip them to 1/2″ over-width using my Disston D8 (which turned 120 years old this year). The shelves will be orientated so that the widest board of each is at the front of the bookcase. The shelves are then flattened and surfaced on the show face, and then thicknessed from the underside by traversing with the jack plane. Working to the layout lines when thicknessing the shelves means that shelves will be flat and straight from traversing, so no other work is needed. Then it is a case of jointing the edges. I’ve not yet shot the ends of any of the components square yet, because I have the Veritas fence and track for a new shooting board waiting to be installed, but need to venture down to my local timber yard for some baltic ply. Shooting the sides and shelves to length should be quite a quick task once the shooting board is assembled, and then I can get on with the fun work of cutting joinery (six dados to fit the shelves to the sides). There’s not been much to write about with this build so far, which is why the blog has been a bit quieter than usual. But that should change once we get to the joinery.

If you have to ask the question…

… you already know the answer.

When I cleaned up the first panel for the boarded bookcase (which I’d glued up back in September 2018) I found a joint that was structurally sound but the glue-line for which was far mor visible than I would have liked. This panel was for one of the bookcase sides, and so would be one of the most pominent components of the finished piece.

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The bandsaw made removing the waste a precise and predictable exercise

What followed was hours of agonising:

  • Could I orientate the panel so that the glue line was in a less obtrusive place? Yes, but I’d still know it was there.
  • Would you even notice it in the context of the finished piece? Possibly not, but I’d still know it was there.
  • Would knowing it was there matter? The glue-line wasn’t going to have an impact on the longevity of the piece, but it sure was going to annoy me everytime I looked at the bookcase. Which will be every day, given that it is going to stand next to my staked desk.
  • Could I paint the exterior of the bookcase? That was definitely an option, but my original plan was to finish the bookcase with blonde shellac and Osmo to match the desk. And what happens if I redecorate my music room? Would I have to strip and re-paint the bookcase? Hiding the glue-line under milk paint feels an awful lot like cheating, and even if I can’t see it, it will still annoy me (see above).

In the end, I did what I should have done when I first cleaned up the panel and decided I wasn’t happy with the joint – I cut it down and re-jointed. Which all in all took a lot less time than the several weeks of obsessing over whether I could live with the original joint or not. If you have to ask the question, chances are you already know the answer.

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Preparing the new joint. The top-most component is over width, which makes flushing up after glue-up easier.

Having surfaced the panel and planed it to dimension, I wanted to ensure that breaking the panel down and preparing a more satisfactory joint did not result in any damage being inflicted on the finish surfaces. To remove the current joint, I ripped the panel on the bandsaw, cutting just to the waste side of the glue line. This ensured that I would preserve as much of the existing panel as possible. I then jointed both edges simultaneously with the No8 plane set to a fine cut, making sure that the entirety of the old glue was removed before test fitting the joint. The new piece being scabbed on was also left overwidth so that I didn’t have to worry about getting the faces of the panel coplanar during glue up. Once I was happy with the new joint I glued it using Titebond liquid hide glue, situating the new component so that the extra width created an overhang on both sides of the existing panel.

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Flattening the new section

Once the glue had cured, I flushed up the new piece using my No5 hand plane, with the heel of the plane on the existing panel to act as a reference surface. Once the panel was just a hair off final thickness I moved to the smoothing plane to remove any tool marks and tearout. The end result is a much more acceptable glue line, and the return of my ability to sleep at night (this week at least).

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Maple is unforgiving of glue lines, but this one I can ive with

Was I being neurotic over what was at the end of the day a relatively minor imperfection? Quite possibly, but I find that if a project starts off on the wrong foot it will haunt you for the rest of the build (and possibly beyond). And when it is something I know I can get right, I feel compelled to correcting the error before moving on with the project. For what was only a few hours work, I’m glad that I tackled this issue, and can now progress with the rest of the build with a clear mind. Next up is flattening the shelf panels and then cutting some joinery.

Is this a clever joke about “straight edge”?

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I’ve not had much time at the bench over the past few weeks, due to work and family commitments. But I did steal a few hours yesterday to joint and glue up the final panels for the boarded bookcase. I find that the right workshop soundtrack is important, and because I’ve been reading Our Band Could Be Your Life recently, while I was jointing these boards I ended up with a steady stream of Minor Threat, Husker Du and Minutemen.

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Much of woodwork is practicing a technique until it comes naturally and these final edge joints went together pretty smoothly. Of course, part of the fun is waiting until the glue cures and then cleaning up the joints with a handplane to see if the glue line is nice and tight or whether it is visible from 50ft. But these joints seemed crisp without any clamp pressure being applied, so I’m reasonably optimistic. So far this project has largely been about readjusting to furniture sized work and tolerances after a year of Roubo bench-sized work, which in itself has been a useful learning experience.

Once the glue has cured I’ll get to planing up this panels and then it’ll be on to cutting some joinery. So the bookcase should start to take shape quite quickly after the stock is prepared.

Keep On Keepin’ On

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The two completed bookcase sides

I’ve been a little quiet on the blog recently, but that is not to say that I’ve been slacking at the bench. The sides for the boarded book case are now down to final dimension (save for being shot to length, but I’m planning to build a new shooting board before I do that) and ready for joinery. It is worth taking the time to get these key components right, because everything else is laid out from them, and they are the main structural elements. In a more forgiving material, such as pine, this would not have taken too long, but this maple is both beautiful and truculent. When I was at Totnes we used to say that the more beautiful a piece of wood was, the more difficult it would be to work. That is a phrase that takes me back to visions of fitting the cocobolo bridge to Esmerelda, a 3 day process which involved taking thin shavings from specific parts of the bridge until a perfect fit with the curvature of the top was achieved. Which is fine, until you start doing it in an incredibly hard and brittle timber like cocobolo. Good times indeed.

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The cocobolo bridge on Esmerelda

The maple for the bookcase isn’t as horrifying as that,  but even with sharp tools I’ve found it wants to tear out quite a bit, so going slowly and moving to a smoothing plane sooner than I would normally do, has been the order of the day. And there is something very rewarding about working slower – accepting that a job will take longer than you think and settling into the rhyth. The results are worth the work, and this should be a nice looking piece when it is complete.

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My saw benches are the perfect platform for holding rough stock ready for a day of planing

With the sides finished and put safely out of the way, I prepared the shelf components for jointing. Like the sides, I am edge jointing two pieces of maple to get the requisite width for each shelf. To provide a reference face for checking that the edge joint is square, I planed one face of each shelf board flat. These surfaces do not need to be perfectly smooth or pretty right now, just flat so that I have a datum surface to work with. The opposite face of the shelves are still in the rough, and I will work them once the shelves have been glued up. My plan for the shelves is to have the top face smooth and pretty, and leave the underside of each shelf with the tool marks from traversing to thickness with a jack plane. The scolloped texture from traversing is always a nice surprise for enquiring fingers, and traversing the shelves till be a very efficient way of bringing them down to the requisite thickness.

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Six boards waiting to become three shelves

Enjoy the Ride

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Smoothing the outside surface of the second side piece

If I’m being honest, I was in a hurry to get the bookcase underway and finished. Partly because I’m tired of picking a path between boxes of books that are in sore need of a home, and also because following on from over a year of building the Roubo bench I was looking forward to progressing (and completing) a furniture project in a shorter time frame.

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Marking off the thickness with a Hamilton Toolworks small marking gauge

Every project, and every process, has something new to teach you, even if it is something you’ve built many times before. And after spending time at the bench cleaning up the panel I glued up last week, I’m taking a different view of the project – I’m going to slow down, and enjoy the ride. Part of this is because the maple I’m using demands a slower approach. It is lovely material, with some subtle quilting. But it is as hard as any material I’ve ever worked, and prone to nasty patches of tearout. Those properties don’t really facilitate working at pace. Very sharp irons, and high cutting angles, are the order of the day. But also, as Clive is fond of saying, slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Working at a slower pace actually gets things done, and without the frustration or needless mistakes that creep in when you’re pushing against a tight deadline. So, I’m slowing down and enjoying work on a project that is markedly different to the bench and chair I built last year. Slowing down also means I’m more receptive to the lessons this project will offer.

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That glue seam looks ok

I’m already feeling the benefit – I’ve not quite finished dimensioning the panel that will become the second side of the bookcase, but I’m much more content with my progress, and I’ve enjoyed working it a whole lot more. The shelves will be quicker in any event, because I will leave the underside with the rough scalloped tecture from the jack plane, while the sides need to be finished on both surfaces. But get the sides in good order, and everything else will follow from them. Settling into a different rhythm after the bench build may have taken a few weeks, but it’s good to be back in furniture making mode, and I’m enjoying using the Roubo bench. The extra length of the benchtop has already proved to be beneficial, as the bookcase sides would have stretched my old bench to full capacity. As it is, the Roubo can handle work of this scale with plenty of room to spare. It was also gratifying to see that the glue joint that had me chasing my tail last week turned out ok in the end – perseverance paid off.

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I also reconfigured the workshop layout so that the tool chest is at the end of the bench, where it is more accessible

You can spend money or you can build skills

“Skill is equal parts muscle memory and knowledge.”

“You can spend money or you can build skills.”

“Bloggers only show their best work.”

These have been the thoughts circling my mind while I’ve been at the ‘bench today working on the boarded bookcase, and I thought it would be useful to discuss them here. Not least because yet another description of edge jointing boards would not make for gripping reading, and also it wouldn’t be particularly representative of this week’s work. So instead, let me offer some thoughts, with edge jointing those maples boards as a backdrop.

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Skill is equal parts musckle memory and knowledge – it’s why you can’t learn to build furniture (or anything really) solely by reading or watching Youtube, although I’ve found research and reading to be an invaluable part of the building process . At some point you simply have to get into the ‘shop and make some shavings, to translate the research into muscle memory. Muscle memory takes time and practice to develop, and it can also atrophy if not  constantly. And here’s I found myself – I learned a huge amount from the Roubo bench build, including new techniques and approaches. But I’ve not prepared an edge joint for glue up since October 2018, and boy can I tell how long it has been. The knowledge is still there but the muscle memory has faded, and while it will come back with some hard work, I’ve found myself chasing my tail with the next panel glue up for the boarded book case. Getting those two edges square and straight today seemed beyond me, as the edge tilted one way then the other despite my best efforts. And so the frustration mounts because I know I can do this (the three-piece maple top for the staked desk has two long glue joints, which are barely visible).

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You can spend money or you can build skills – I’m going to admit it, there were moments today when I wondered how much a 6″ spiral head jointer would cost and whether I had room for one in my ‘shop (the answers are: “£1,119 from Axminster“, and “no I definitely don’t have the space“). Stepping away from the bench for a moment to finish my coffee, I reminded myself that it is easy to see new tools as being the answer to finding a technique difficult, but new tools also require new techniques and skills (and there are few things I dislike more than setting up machines). When I started my journey in the woodcrafts at the Totnes School of Guitar Making back in 2007 I was focused on gaining the hand skills I needed, not spending my way out of difficulty. There are very good reasons to buy a jointer, but a frustrating day trying to get a good joint is not one of them. The acquisition of skills is still at the heart of what I’m trying to achieve at the bench, and so I’m going to focuse on nailing these edge joints to the standard I have in the past.

Bloggers only show their best work – it would be wonderful to pretend that everything goes perfectly everytime I’m at the bench, and not to write about the mistakes or difficulties. But that would be disingenuous, and I’ve aways tried to be honest in my writing here. After all, to err is human (to really stuff up takes a power tool). I think there is more benefit in showing the difficult stuff and the times that work does not go to plan. Today I stepped up to the bench expecting to nail this edge joint, and it owned me for several hours. It was a humbling experience, but keeping the ego in check is good for the soul.

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Ultimately I did achieve the tight joint I was looking for, and got the panel glued up with Titebond hide glue. I’m determined to bring that muscle memory back, and so the next few weeks will be spent working on the remaining three panel glue-ups before I move on to any other stage of the build. Focusing on the process will help to revive that all important muscle memory, and will keep me humble in the meantime.

One other useful learning experience in an otherwise frustrating day was trying another workholding method on the Roubo bench. Normally I would hold work to be edge jointed in the leg vise, but for the narrower board I rested it on the bench and held it with the planing stop and a does’ foot and holdfast. This method wouldn’t be appropriate for very wide panels, but for narrower boards such as this (3″ wide) piece it was very effective. This bench still has a great deal to teach me.

“The Finest Worksong”

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Cleaning up the first edge

Now that the Roubo bench is finished I’m digging into my first furniture project in some months, not to mention the first thing which will be built at the Roubo bench – a boarded bookcase from The Anarchist’s Design Book, in maple to match my staked desk from the same book. I actually purchased and broke down stock for this build back in February 2018 with (optimistic) intention that I would have the bookcase and a matching chair completed by the summer of that year. Needless, to say after gluing up the first panel I got way laid by two stick chairs, a set of campaign stools, and the Roubo bench. All good things to be distracted by, but the pile of maple and boxes of books next to my desk aren’t going anywhere, and I’ve been looking foreward to building this project for ages. So now is a good time to get building.

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Chris Vesper is the ultimate arbiter of squareness in my workshop

When Megan teaches this project at the LAP store front it is a two day class, cutting joinery, assembling the bookcase, cleaning it up and getting acquainted with cut nails. That sounds like a good way to spend a few days. But that compressed timetable assumes the timber is dimensioned and ready for use (one of the major benefits of taking a class). Try as I might, I was unable to get maple in the 13″ widths needed for the project (the perils of using an American hardwood in the UK – I hear in the States 13″ wide maple liteally grows on trees). So before I can get to the joinery I’ve got five panels to glue up and flatten, less the panel I glued up in 2018. That’s a decent amount of work gluing and processing stock by hand. It’s a good job I enjoy using my hand planes.

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Marking panel thickness

As an easy start I have been processing the panel I glued up in 2018. The interesting thing about the process is not flattening the board – I’ve written about that process plenty of times before (a good soundtrack is advisable, and as I’ve been on an IRS-era R.E.M kick recently I’ve had Document playing quite a bit). No, what has been interesting is getting accustomed to different ways of working at the Roubo bench.

To traverse the board flat I’ve been holding it with a combination of planing stop and doe’s foot with holdfast. Rock solid work holding and simple to set up. For working along the grain, I abandoned all work holding that fixes the workpiece in one position, and worked into a batten held by the planing stop and holdfast. If you are accustomed to cinching work between bench dogs in a tailvise, this “loose” approach to workholding can be a leap of faith. But it works very nicely indeed, and an additional benefit is the increased amount of feedback from the tool and workpiece. You’ll soon learn if your plane is not sharp, because it’s harder to muscle a dull blade through the cut if the workpiece can slide out of the way. Similarly, the workpiece will tell you if you’re not applying pressure in the right places, or skewing the plane in the wrong direction, because the timber will slide from under the tool. Instead of being a hinderance this is really helpful, because if you learn from these cues then planing becomes more efficient, and you remember to sharpen more frequently. This learning curve with the bench has made a routine operation (flattening stock) a thought provoking and very beneficial experience. I’m sure the bench has more to teach me as we get acquainted.

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Planing into a batten, with the No62

The maple I’m using is beautiful stuff, but prone to areas of bad tearout. While I normally use my standard issue bevel-down bench planes for processing stock (No 5, 8 and 3, in that order) I’ve found myself reaching for the No62 bevel-up plane, which when sharpened to a 50 degree bevel tames even the most truculent grain with ease. So after traversing the grain with the No5 and a cambered blade, I’ve been working along the grain with the No62 to remove traversing marks and before finishing up with the No3 to achieve a final finish. The first panel is now ready for joinery, so I’ll be moving on to the next panel (and my first glue-up at the Roubo bench) shortly.

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Planing stop, holdfast and batten (I’m using an old fretboard blank)