Thicknessing Boards by Hand.

author-gravatar Timmy2Hands Jun 18, 2016

In this part I will be showing my method of reducing the thickness of some Walnut boards with hand planes.

This project needs two panels, one for the lid and one for the bottom of the box. I've chosen to use this piece of Walnut to get these two pieces from.

The first thing I do is decide what part of the board I want to use and I've decided that I like the cathedral pattern at this end for the box lid. This board is longer and wider than I need and has to be trimmed down to size. 

I begin by cross cutting the end of the board to remove any checking or cracks and then clean up the end grain on the shooting board, I then cross cut to rough length. This is the final length of both pieces I need plus about 1/4". I clean up this end grain as well.

At this point I keep the two pieces together, because both boards I need are the same width, I will be removing material from both side to make sure I keep the peaks of the cathedrals in the center of my final piece. Once I'm happy that I have the width I need I will then cross cut the two pieces to final size.

I've gone over these steps in my previous post, so I won't bore you with them here. It's just sawing oversize and planing to the line.

I really like these planing stops by Veritas. These are the 9 3/4" and the 17 1/2" options. I set them up in this configuration to create a trap for my work pieces. I will not be clamping the boards down while I plane them, I like to pick them up and look at them a lot during this process. Trapping them into this corner keeps them from moving and I can plane either with the grain or across the grain. I can also turn the board 90 degrees and plane north/south or east/west.

Each of the two boards are going to be a different thickness. The top panel is 1/2" thick and the bottom panel is 5/8" thick.

I'm working with 3/4" material, so both pieces need to be thickness planed. Part of the reason I chose to use walnut for these two pieces is not only do they look really nice with maple, but walnut is such an easy material to work with hand tools. 

I'll be using two planes for this work. A #4 and a #4 1/2" smoother. Other planes can also be used, if the stock was longer and/or wider than what I've got then a Jack plane would be a good option too.

The #4 is set up for a very rough aggressive cut. The mouth has been adjusted wider and the chip breaker is moved further away from the cutting edge. This plane will be doing most of the work.

The #4 1/2" is set up as a smoother and will be taking very fine shavings to clean things up. The mouth is set very tight and the chip breaker is very closed to the cutting edge.

I set the marking gauge to 5/8" and then 1/2" respectively and mark a line all the way around all four sides of each board.

When I say an aggressive cut, I mean it. The shaving coming off the #4 is 10 thousandths of an inch. That means I can remove 1/8" (0.125") in about 12 strokes.

I begin by chamfering both sides of the board right down to the line.

This makes it easier to see my progress as I traverse across the grain and prevents tear-out along the edge. I plane across the grain from one end of the board to the other until I'm about 1/32" to 1/64" away from my line. At that point I switch over the the smoothing plane and go with the grain, getting rid of all the planing tracks and bringing the piece to final thickness.

One final check and then I move on to the other board in the same fashion except that one has more material to remove.

I'm left with two board that are the same width and length, but two different thicknesses.

It's been a nice little workout for the evening, so I'm going to brush off the bench and go have a bourbon.

Again, if you have any questions about the tools or methods that I'm using, feel free to ask in the comment section below.


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