Learning by Doing — Things I Didn’t Know But Do Now!

How’s that for a blog title?, one of my favorite sayings is this: “the more I know, the more I realize what I don’t know” — does that make any sense?  That’s a saying that some credit to  Socrates.  That seems to be true for me more often than not.  For example, I didn’t realize how valuable the sliding table attachment would be to me.  For the Armoire there are 4 glued up panels for the sides that are about 17″ wide and 18″-30″ long.  Even the shop made sliding table for the Jet wouldn’t accommodate that width and you know how tricky it is trying to use just a miter gauge for a panel of that size.  Okay; patience is in order until  Woodworkers Emporium gives me a call saying the sliding table has arrived.

Punky Mahogany

Punky Mahogany

Next thing is the differences with wood even the same species.  That’s something I’ve always known but in this case it was quite dramatic.  In a previous blog (Shop Happenings) I talked about getting a piece of Mahogany locally for the top drawer stretcher and side panel.  My main concern was the coloration of wood matching the Genuine Mahogany purchased at Woodworkers Source in Phoenix.  I noticed the replacement wood was strange to plane, the shavings were very thin yet they wouldn’t clear and they’d get stuck to the bottom of the plane preventing good cuts.  Same thing when it came to cutting out the mortises.  If you look at the picture notice that the wood doesn’t  cut cleanly at all, rather it seems to shred.  I told my wife that cutting a mortise in a Jicama would probably get cleaner results!

That same piece of Mahogany is used for the side of the 3 small drawers compartment.  Again, the softness and punkiness of the wood was a challenge.  The first step was to laminate three sections together to yield the needed width.  After scraping off the glue and planing it flat a dado was needed to set the support in.  For this operation I used the tablesaw to establish the outer limits then chisel and router plane to finish.  Yet another thing I didn’t know is that the router plane had a micro knick in it that showed in this soft, punky wood.

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Flattening the Panel

Flattening the Panel

One last thing so this doesn’t get too lengthy and bore you!  The panels for the sides needed to be planed by hand and at about 7/16″ in thickness for starters there was quite a bit of flex.  This created a problem flattening them due to that movement.  When putting pressure down with the plane at the center the sides would raise up.  By the way, my arms were just long enough to plane this length!

Supporting a thin panel for flattening

Supporting a thin panel for flattening

The solution was a technique used on a power jointer that I’m amazed was in my memory bank.  I recalled that you could put a handful of sawdust under a low spot as you ran the board over the blades so I thought may be this would work for hand flattening too — it did!  I honestly can’t remember the last time I used a power jointer but it had to be when teaching at a high school in the very early 90’s!

Putting all of this together, measuring, and assembling took some doing.  Thank goodness for clamps to act as a third hand during the process and then gluing up the mortise & tenon portion squarely was a chore!  I started the dovetails into the tops of the legs and then used blocks to elevate a clamp to get it square — hope it works.




About woodworksbyjohn

I'm a retired woodshop teacher. I build one of a kind furniture pieces and custom picture frames. You can see some of my currently available work, boxes, carvings through my Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/WoodworksbyJohn?ref=si_shop Contact me about your project -- always up for the challenge of unique work.
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1 Response to Learning by Doing — Things I Didn’t Know But Do Now!

  1. Pingback: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly | Woodworks by John

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