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Preparing a board without a thicknesser-planer-jointer

The question is asked frequently … how does one go about preparing a board without a thicknesser or power jointer/planer (I get a bit confused about the names these tools are given by different countries)?

I took some photos as I worked today and I thought that these could be turned into a pictorial essay. This sequence is a little different to the process shown in the LV Scrub Plane review.

I do own a thicknesser, a 12 ½” Delta which I bought 18 months ago. It has been used about two or three times. I hate the noise and dust . The noise is exacerbated by the 2 hp dust collection system to which it is connected. I do not own a jointer. I shall likely have to purchase one in the not too distant future, as well as start using the thicknesser, as forthcoming additions at home will use recycled hardwoods.

Up till this point I have been comfortable preparing boards with the minimum of power tools. I do own a large tablesaw (with sliding table), but it lies mostly hidden under piles … uh … it stores vital tools which are arranged strategically on top of it … once this was the center of my workshop. Now it is rarely used. In its place I turn to a bandsaw. It is a 14” with 6” riser and 1 ½ hp of power – on the small size but sufficient to resaw the hard Australian wood I feed into it.

This afternoon I was preparing the boards I will use in a presentation box. The wood will come from a single rough sawn She-oak board that is 5” wide x 2” thick and about 5’ long. This wood is very hard and brittle, and has interlinked grain that will lead to tearout when planning unless careful. Once finished it is a beautiful wood and well worth the effort that goes into preparing it.

Since this board was thick and stiff, I decided to clamp it between my face vises. If it had been thinner or flexible I would have worked with it on top of the bench. But this way I did not need any additional clamps.

The first step was to roughly flatten the top. Since the surface looked reasonably flat I decided to use a jack (a Stanley # 5 ½) with a moderately cambered blade rather than a scrub plane. Planing was done at about 45 degrees.

As the surface cleared it became apparent that the board was very slightly cupped and in one spot had a moderately deep hollow.

To get rid of this I used a slightly deeper cut (switching to a different plane, a LV LA Jack – just because it was sharper than the Stanley), planing the board in both directions …

This did the trick. So, with a roughly flat surface it was time to check out how much twist was present, and where. This involves using Winding Sticks.

The idea here is to begin with them at the further ends of the board and move them closer together, progressively planing out any high spots …

I then used my 30” jointer to level the surface …

and checked it with the jointer edge …

before smoothing it with a Veritas BU Smoother. This did a terrific job in taming a few sections of severe tearout.

With a face completed, one edge was jointed.

This is where it started and ended …

Now the board could be dimensioned for width. This was marked with a cutting gauge …

jointed on the second edge, and again we check the result …

If you look carefully, you can see how the grain frequently changes direction.

With three sides completed, the board is moved to the bandsaw for re-sawing. I aim to end up with 3/8” thick boards, so I allow extra thickness for planing the faces.

Here is a board fresh off the bandsaw …

Now plane the bandsawn surface before re-sawing the next board.

And here are two forming a right angle. It is reassuring to see straight edges and sides.

Now we can start on building the box …

Regards from Perth


January, 2008

Post script … the box that I made ….