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Finishing the Drawers

This weekend I returned to the Lingerie Chest to flush the drawers fronts and seal all with white, dewaxed shellac (Ubeaut). I scraped off the oil finish on the fronts as it was too bright. The shellac provides a more even tone as well.

The drawers are now complete (coplanar) save for the drawer handles and waxing .. which will be done this coming weekend. And then it will be time to start the top section.

In the end I did not use sandpaper to level the drawer fronts, but simply marked off the high spots and planed/scraped them.

It is difficult to see the bow fronts in this photo.

The figure on these drawer fronts was both a source of pleasure and frustration. I love the wildness of it. On the other hand, it was important to achieve a flow from board-to-board, and I only had just enough of these boards to make these drawer fronts. If I screwed up one, I would have had to start all over again with fresh timber.

The Jarrah fronts were also difficult to work. Very hard wood, with grain that went all over the show - reversing ... even end grain showing through. Planing these boards really demonstrated the value of the double iron as they were less affected by grain direction. It was necessary to scrape at the end since I needed to level small areas, and fortunately the scrapers worked very well.

Earlier, I did a lot of planing throughout with a double iron. This planed against the grain without tearout, leaving a good finish. It still required some scraping to produce an even surface ...

It is relevant to clarify that the aim of this session was to level (make coplanar) the 8 drawer fronts. Although I worked to lines traced from a template I used for all the drawers, it is not possible to produce exact replicas with hand planing. There will always be some variation. This is most noticeable where the drawers join, where the levels did not match. In other words, the drawer fronts required fine tuning. Some needed a little removed in spots, and others (such as displayed) required flattening across the width.

Traversing with a LV Skew Block plane to level the faces ..

The small HNT Gordon Palm Smoother came out now to concentrate on smaller sections. For the most part it did a good job, but it was obvious when it hit reversing grain - as one expects not just from Jarrah, but also as the boards are bowed with the grain, effectively altering the grain direction.

This is the type of tearout from this plane (which is a fantastic very small smoother) ..

That was when the coarse scraper came out. This was smoothed off with a card scraper, then sanded, and then scraped again.

The sanding I did was with a hand block, NOT a power sander. It was used to refine the surface.

The sanding was quick: I ran through 120/220/400 grit. The Abranet grits are amazing. With the vacuum cleaner connected, it is extremely efficient. There is no waste dust to clog up the sander to slow things down, and an Abranet sheet, itself, lasts and lasts.

But even 400 grit is not as clear as the scraped finish (below), and the reason why I scraped after refining the surface with sanding.

My preference when sanding is to roughly double the next grit in the sequence. Consequently, I went 120/220/400. The Abranet/Mirka mesh really is superb. It lasts many, many times longer than anything I imagine you have used. You owe it to yourself to try out what I show here. I think that you will be so impressed that you will not go back. It is not expensive. The sander was around $25. The Abranet mesh stays sharp, and you can jump grits as I do.

I try to do as much with a plane as possible. If it was possible, all would be done with a plane. Sometimes a scraper is added. Rarely is a sander (I have a Festools ROS in a cabinet that has not been used in a decade. Indeed, mine is called a Festo, the name that predates Festool). The Mirka/Abranet combo is a new addition to the tool chest, purchased at the end of last year, and the plan was to use it for this very situation.

The situation is complicated by the issues in refining a curved drawer front. A flat drawer front is a different kettle of fish - a plane has no difficulty maintaining registration with the grain over an end. The problem with a curved face is refining the ends of the drawers without rolling the edge. I want crisp ends. Think of a handplane on a curved surface being like a round bottomed spokeshave on a flat surface. It is difficult to maintain registration. It is even harder to smooth drawer ends with a scraper.

A flat and long sander can cover the ends and does not lose registration. The ends of the drawer stay crisp.

Regards from Perth


April 2016