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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Shop

Well, I was able to get some more shop time in this past week. I glued up drawers and milled the front trim and rails and stiles for the doors. I thought I was in good shape until I began to fit the drawers.  We aren't talking about really big drawers here, only about 2 inches tall, 5 inches deep, and about 6 or so inches wide.  It's been my experience that the smaller stuff is more difficult to get to fit properly.  That was certainly the case here.

With all of the drawers in place I had huge gaps between the fronts.  When the drawers are only a couple of inches tall, an eighth looks like the Grand Canyon.  Back to the jointer and planer.  I really didn't want to get into remaking these things, but with curved fronts, there was just no way to make the ones I have work.  So it's back to square one for that part.

The good news is that I did learn a new trick thanks to Shannon Rogers over at the Renaissance woodworker.  In episode 83 of the Renaissance Woodworker podcast, Shannon covers how to square up end grain after crosscutting a board by hand.  Here's the link to the episode: http://www.renaissancewoodworker.com/squaring-end-grain/.  I modified this tip to fair the curves on my drawer fronts since I didn't have a 2 inch long flush trim bit for my router, and didn't really want to buy one  right then. What I did was to mark a line on the sides and ends of my fronts after roughing them out at the band saw.  I found it was a good idea to use my marking knife to scribe across the end grain.  I then used my block plane to put a chamfer to the scribe line on all sides of the fronts.  From there, it was just a matter of using my Number 4 to remove the rest of the material until the chamfers were gone.  It worked well for me because the curve on the drawer fronts is very slight.  Two things to remember to prevent tearout: 1) work downhill when planing.  Start at the middle of the curve and push the plane down to the ends on either side.  By doing it this way, the grain is supported from underneath. This naturally means you will be planing against the grain half the time.  Just take light passes and tearout should be minimal, or if you have a high angle plane, use it.  Follow up with a card scraper to get rid of any tearout that did occur. 2) Make sure to keep the sole in front of the iron as flat to the work as possible. If you rotate the plane to the back, you will remove less material, if any at all. To do this, it's a simple matter of keeping good downward pressure on the front knob of your plane.

I guess with every negative comes a chance to learn.  As much as I don't want to remake these drawers, I will get an opportunity to practice my new hand plane technique some more. Maybe I'll take some pics to post for next time.  Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to comment.

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