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ShopCam HiLites for Thursday, 10/20/00
"Parts is Parts"

Friday started early with getting the ShopCam online and sending the URL to a few people for testing. By 8:00 AM, I was in the shop and ready for work. The first step of the day was cleaning up the panel assembly from the day before and getting the two parts joined properly. After the glue is scraped off the back side, each half was run lightly across the 18" jointer.

You'll notice, with a picture grabbed every five minutes, you don't exactly get an action photo with any relevance. And you miss entirely the subsequent important processes of planing the two parts and jointing their mating edges. On the up side, you don't see me tucking in my shirt tail either...:)

The next decent picture came when biscuiting the two panel edges. Without the option of running the assembly through the planer again, (it's too wide!), using biscuits helps to align the middle sections of the edge. I didn't biscuit near the edges for fear of exposing the biscuits during panel-raising.

A picture was missed of me NOT gluing the biscuits in the slots. I didn't think it necessary since the butt joint alone is sufficient to hold the wood together for the life of the panel.

Nor were the double-pipe clamps used since their advantage comes when edge gluing several pieces at once. For just one joint, inexpensive, regular pipe clamps are more than adequate.

Now it's time to return to our other parts for final dimensioning. Each piece is sighted for any bow. Since we still have 7/8" thickness, most of any bow that remains is removed with a light pass on the jointer. After everything is flat again, it's time to run all the faces through the planer for the last time.

In the picture at right, you can see me feeding the short pieces through the planer butted end-to-end. Even though you have to work fast, this is the best way to minimize snipe.

Once all the faces are flat and the thickness is 3/4", the edges are similarly examined and lightly re-straightened on the jointer, if necessary. This leaves most of the parts with one straight edge and in variable widths still about an 1/8" oversized.

It should be noted that all during the milling process, careful attention is paid to grain direction to inhibit wood tearout during planing and jointing. Determining grain can be done many ways - looking at the slant of the grain, looking at the direction of hanging fibers on rough boards or examining the wood's pores. Sometimes, a pass on the jointer is what's needed to grasp the best feed direction for any one piece. This is called trial and error.

When the wood is smooth, it's pretty easy to look at the pores and see which direction is best. On slanted grain, where proper feed direction is most critical, the pores in course-grained wood, like walnut and oak, are fat on one end and taper to nothing at the other. Feed it the fat end first to get the smoothest edge.

From here, there are many options for final sizing of wood parts. Many folks go to the tablesaw and rip the parts to size, then sanding out any saw marks. Others will rip oversize and then return to the jointer for final smoothing of sawn edges. Not me...

Sanding sawn edges takes twice as long as sanding planed edges (or it should!) And the planer beats the jointer every way for leaving your parts sized exactly. If you don't want to waste hours hand-fitting every piece in a large assembly, planing is the way to go.

Many woodworkers are under the impression planing edges is a dangerous procedure for fear the boards will flop over and kick back, or the edge won't be square. So far, I've found no substance to this belief. The action which causes a board to flop over comes from the piece being fed to one side of the planer mouth and the feed rollers tilting and gradually pushing the board over. The key is finding the level center of your feed rollers for planing the edge of one piece, or feeding multiple pieces on each side, which also holds the feed rollers level.

Since I have slightly variable widths, the first pass through the planer is with one piece to each side of the planer mouth with several inches in between. You can only do this with parts which are the same length and you can't gang them together (two or more side-by-side) for fear narrower pieces will bounce around under the rollers and snipe.

For subsequent passes, where the parts are the same width, I gang them together, further insuring they will stay square. Normally I would send a gang of six (picture at right) through the center of the planer but a bullet was found during face-planing which left a nasty nick in the knives. Not wanting to swap out the knives, I split the pieces into two gangs of three and fed them down the side where the knives are still sharp. Something to think about the next time you tack a target to a tree...:(

Now that all the grunt work is finished (Hurray!!!), it's time to start the fun stuff. One feature Mr. D added to the design was a shallow arch in the faceframe above each of the four shelf bays. The radius was plucked off the CAD shop drawing and I set up a trammel to draw the arc on one of the pieces.

From there, the arch was roughed out on the bandsaw and the saw marks were evened out with a spokeshave working from the outside towards the middle. (Downhill in grain-speak...;)

Then I attached a couple strips of sticky-back sandpaper to the offcut from the arch and used it to further smooth the edge of the first piece.

Once the first piece is shaped to size, it's used as a template for trimming the other pieces to shape with a router and flush-trim bit. These pieces are then set aside until after the carcases are assembled.

Let's call it a day, OK?

Onward to the next Installment

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