If, unlike this blog, you’re not stuck in the past, you may already have seen the final shot of the dresser all gussied up with hardware and a spiffy top. However, if, like this blog, you aren’t into short-form social media then you’ll have a to wait a few more posts. When we left off, I was finishing up the shaping of the top. Today we’ll talk about the final smoothing of the top. Hint: it took longer than I thought. Before even touching the surface I pulled out my secret weapon: a 38° blade for my Veritas jack plane.
[Mentally insert images of Wayne and Garth’s flashback phrases: diddly-oo-do-diddly-oo]
I naively bought this blade back in 2010 when I started my conversion from power tool junkie to hybrid novice.
At the time, I didn’t realize I could just put a secondary bevel on a 25° primary bevel. I thought I needed this blade for highly figured wood. I found this out, rather embarrassingly, when I asked a question to Chris Schwarz during a hand tool class. He let me know, politely, I didn’t need a special primary bevel. Nonetheless, the blade been an important part of my arsenal since then. It’s never failed me and always left a glass smooth finish.
[diddly-oo-do-diddly-oo-do-diddly-oo-do…back into the near present]
I sharpened up all my blades, including my trusty 38°, and set forth to smooth the top. At first I tackled the bottom hoping to get a mild cup out of the 2.5 year old glued up panel.
As I’d been reading a lot of Josh Klien’s M&T sermons at the time, I decided to forgo making the bottom look too pretty and flipped things over to smooth the top. Without taking any test passes on the show side, I went right after it with my jack plane and the 38° blade. Wispy shavings ensued.
But then the light hit the board just right and my heart inched toward my throat. Hubris. The pics below show the damage on the underside, which I took during troubleshooting. I couldn’t bring myself to photograph the show side, which looked similar.
I tried to fix the problem; at first thinking it was plane tracks. I retracted the blade, and even took a file to the corners of the blade but nothing made a difference. Finally, I realized there were a few burrs on the plane bottom. I must’ve bumped it at some point and not noticed. I called it quits for the night and retreated to my library looking for a solution. Luckily, I’d just attended a Lie-Nielsen and picked up the updated Handplane Essentials book from PopWood. I found the answer to my problems in an article about plane tracks. I was pretty nervous but ended up taking a small file to my primo handplane. It worked like a champ.
With the burrs removed, I resharpened up my favorite blade, and went for a second attempt.
With the top looking great, the next thing was to refine the end grain on the sides. I used my regular curve tools but I busted out my newest arrival: the Festool Pro 5 Ltd. It made short work of the the end grain. This was a great test and I’ll admit to loving this this little sander!
Setting aside the lessons on hubris, I’ll end with its close cousin: carelessness. As I sanded the end grain, one of the domino holes opened up. In fairness, there was really no way I could’ve predicted this in 2014 when I glued up the top. Nonetheless, it was annoying. But , at this point, I didn’t panic. I just let it go and busted out the Timbermate.
After all this, I feel more equipped to tackle these kinda problems in the future. And most importantly, the top looks amazing.