Handtool Project - Shaker Style Table
This handtool challenge thing sounded interesting, but I felt like pursuing my own project. I decided to do one of those shaker-style tables (the 4 legged kind, not the turned candle stand).
I started this last night. First thing was to select some stock. My wife scavenged a 3 foot hunk of 12" diameter walnut log 5 years ago. I used half of it for parts of a Windsor chair, and the other half spent 5 years being shuffled from one inconvenient spot to another in the garage. I have tripped over these for the last time.
I use hand tools a lot (not exclusively, but I do more by hand than by machine...) and I know that I do not relish the idea of resawing this much wood by hand. If I was starting with rough sawn lumber this might not be such a problem, but this wood is 6 inches thick where I want to cut it. The alternative is to split off the stock I need. This is what Roy Underhill calls "the workmanship of risk". It's WAY faster to split the wood than to saw it. But you can never tell what surprises await you when splitting. Knots, wavy grain and such will deflect a split and ruin your stock. But when I compare the hours I would spend sawing with the minutes I would spend splitting it's no contest. So I took the froe and started whacking off planks.
The first plank was a disaster. A small embedded knot and a bit of curving grain left me with a plank that would maybe give me a couple of aprons, but no stock for the table top. I split off a couple more and managed to get decent pieces (whew!).
Then I took the hatchet and trimmed away as much waste as I could to get the plank reasonably flat and straight. Again, the use of a coarse tool is much faster, but riskier. I use hatchets all the time to trim or shape wood, so I don't consider this too much of a risk. Then I put the plank on the bench and started scrub planing to get it level and mostly flat.
I switched to a jack plane and, using a straight-enough edge (I don't have a machinist's straight-edge, just a bar of aluminum that's straight enough for woodworking) and winding sticks, proceeded to finish the flattening job. By this time I knew which was the better face and I started putting face marks on the stock. All measurements are done from the face side and face edge. Here is a picture of the winding sticks in use.
I didn't make the off side flat, just knocked enough humps off to let the plank lie on the bench without rocking. I usually end up with offsets on a panel glue-up so I figured I had to plane it all down anyways, so why do it twice? I crosscut the planks to 16 inches, and then squared up the edges. Glued and clamped, then set aside to dry.
Time to work on some leg blanks. The first split I tried yielded one blank too big and one too small. That quarter of the log has some weird grain in it. I managed to get a second leg blank from the other quarter log, and one nice thick wide plank. The plank would make a pair of legs, but it was not big enough to safely split, so I had to saw it. Thankfully, it was only 2 inches thick and 2 feet long. I used a drawknife to roughly square up the two split legs. Next up is some serious planing to get the legs all about the same size.
By now the table top could come out of the clamps. I took the scrub plane, jack, and jointer to the off side of the top to level it off, then started planing down the face side. There is a knot with a chunk of wood missing next to it. Ugly. Looks like I have a lot of planing to do to get rid of that divot...
Tomorrow I should be able to square up the legs, and if I'm lucky I can split off some stock for aprons too.
or maybe I will be so sore from today's work that I'll just lie on the couch and watch football all afternoon...
Last edited by Lost in the Woods; 01-16-2009 at 10:37 PM.
Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User