Chopping out pine

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RossJarvis

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Not being an experienced worker, I was wondering about techniques for cutting out housings/lap joints. When bashing into sawed out housings/laps in pine I've found too much can come out and remove material below the finished surface. this may be due to taking too large a cut, hitting too hard or having the bevel up (or down) when it should be down (or up). In my latest experiments, Ive found more control and a better finish if I "pare out" instead. I.e. cut the ends of the housing/lap and then turn the wood on its side and bear down by hand with the chisel instead of using the mallet. Which technique do you prefer for rubbish pine? (I find hard woods to be okay when bashing with a mallet).
 

Reggie

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get it as close as you dare with the saw cuts, watch the way the grain is going and judge it from there to take out the bulk, don't belt it, just hit the chisel relatively gently and see where it goes, once you've got an idea of where the grain will take it, you can take out bigger bits, if you do your marking out with a knife first, this can help to reduce the chances of going below your lines too but bear in mind that every piece of wood is different, so really it's all about knowing how the grain will behave.

Once you are close, with a just a sharp chisel and NO hammer, you should just be able to pare back to your lines slowly by hand, you're looking to take off shavings rather than knocking out chunks, establish a flat edge from one of your lines, then you can use a stabbing motion with the flat side of the chisel face down on your wood to get it nice and flush.

If you're not sure how to do this so well, I would suggest getting a scrap piece of wood and practising a few before you go to town on a work piece.
 

John15

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To avoid taking out too much material I would remove the bulk with the bevel down, and then take out the last bit with the bevel up.
Cheers,
John
 

AndyT

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The slow and careful method is to bevel the wood to be removed before doing any horizontal cuts. So with the wood horizontal in the vice, pare down at the back, at an angle. Continue working back until you have connected the centre of the top face almost with the final line. Reverse the wood and repeat on the other half. You now have wood to remove which slopes up at the front and down at the back. The slope makes it easy to get your chisel to cut, held horizontal, bevel up,taking progressively longer cuts until the final cut connects front and back at the base line.

If you want to chip off thick chunks, for speed, you need to read the grain carefully and adjust your cut, but studwork is not fine cabinet work!
 

AndyT

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Chris's demonstration is much clearer than my explanation! Do it like he does.
 

Jacob

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Several things I'd do differently from Chris's excellent video:
I'd have distinct face and edge marks and refer to them as such, not "datum" or any other term, just "face" and "edge".
I'd do a rod even for this simple project. It's only be a few marks on a board and all the marks would be taken off from this. Sounds fussy but it's good practice and if you were making more than one it'd definitely be worth the (tiny) effort. The sooner you step away from the tape measure and have things down on a board, the better.
I wouldn't bother with a shooting board - I'd cut the tenon slightly over length and plane it off after its all been glued up and dry. You'd get a much better finish than you possibly could by shooting first - and no glue blocking the end grain. Ditto with all through tenons and similar.
I wouldn't bother too much about centering the marking gauge. I'd have it near, but with a bias towards a thinner tenon in a shallower housing. Not sure why!*
Id saw the housing shoulders slightly over the gauge line by a tiny amount, as little as possible. Then you don't have to clean out the corners. (Ditto for many other joints - dovetails etc).
And to the OP I'd say practice practice - waste a lot of wood. Better to get the technique right on firewood before you spoil a nice expensive piece.

*PS I know why. What I'd do is set the gauge to say 10mm for a 20mm but not check it for centre as such. The reason being that you might be centering it on a piece which is under or over sized. It'd still work out OK until you meet another component detail (in a more complicated structure) such as a slot where it might not line up per the design. So I always set a gauge to a scale, with a known dimension.
 

Mr T

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Hi

Ross the wood in the video was poplar, a lot easier than pine!

I would agree with your comments Jacob. Regarding face side and face edge, I mentioned datum surfaces, if you go to the other video mentioned I actually call them face side and face edge. I actually have an article on my site about face side and face edge http://www.christribefurniturecourses.com/index.php/face-side-face-edge/The situation in the video is a little false as I was cutting a single joint on it's own which never happens in real life. The intention of the video was to show the actual techniques of sawing and paring which can be transferred to many other situations.

Chris
 

RossJarvis

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Thanks again guys.

As mentioned I was finding it easier to get controllable cuts on this cheap pine by bearing down by hand (having turned the wood on it's side) and this seemed to take about the same time as bashing with a mallet. I'd been taught to make "relief cuts" and use these. As I've done these sort of jobs every few years, it seems I pick up the knack of chiselling with practice and then a few years later the knack has gone and I start learning again. Must bash wood much more often (hammer) .
 

MMUK

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For general construction lap joints I tend to cut as close as possible and use a small belt sander to trim off any remaining where possible. All that's needed then is a slight trim in the corners with a chisel.
 

arnoldmason8

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Hi All
Have just watched Chris's Video and I noticed that he was hitting the paring chisel with a mallet. I know he was only using light taps but I thought it was not recommended practice to use a mallet on paring chiels. Less experienced workers might think it is OK to bash away with heavy blows!!
His pine is definitely better behaved than any I use.

-------Seasons Greetings to you all-------Arnold
 

Richard T

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Rubbish Pine .... #-o

I have some stuff I occasionally think will "do" for jobs requiring a large block or form. It is a nightmare to cut with a blade. It's not so much that it is knotty - it is - it's more that its structure behaves like polystyrene; prone to rip rather than cut even with relief cuts.

So I have taken to using a shallow sweep, in-cannel gouge before smoothing with a flat chisel. A flat chisel will tear it if a corner snags, a sharp, in-cannel gouge slices shallow grooves for the corners of a flat chisel to miss. A paring gouge helps on wider cuts.

I suppose it is the chisel equivalent of prepping with a heavy cambered plane.

Of course the end - of - cut line must be chamfered down to as usual to prevent tear - out and the tools have to be more than "it'll do" sharp ... more like "it'll do very well" sharp.
 

Jacob

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I like pine.
Most of Britain's best trad joinery is redwood, and a whole lot of very decent furniture is pine. It's cheap, light, durable and pleasant to work with. Not rubbish at all.
Yes you may have to adjust your techniques to handle it (not a lot, to be realistic) but if the outcome is rubbish it's your fault, you can't blame the the wood or the tools!

Happy christmas all!
 

Jacob

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It's just cheap pine. Good for some things, not for others. It's a pity to dismiss it as rubbish. If it's not suitable for a project you are just going to have to put more effort in getting the quality you want.
Or alternatively see it as a challenge - how to make something beautiful out of cheap pine. You could look at Shaker designs for starters.
 

RossJarvis

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Jacob":2nlpn1f7 said:
It's just cheap pine. Good for some things, not for others. It's a pity to dismiss it as rubbish. If it's not suitable for a project you are just going to have to put more effort in getting the quality you want.
Or alternatively see it as a challenge - how to make something beautiful out of cheap pine. You could look at Shaker designs for starters.

Due to location and transport etc I am limited to getting what the local chains supply. I try and select out the knots and distorted wood. As you say, I do see it as a challenge and agree that the stuff has its uses. As I don't spend enough time working wood, it can be frustrating not getting stuff right first time. As I think I mentioned, I was finding that I was getting a much better finish just putting my weight on the chisel and not knocking out chunks. Maybe my chiselling/malleting technique could be improved (I'm certain it needs it) but maybe this approach for me is the best compromise in the circumstances. I discovered with a bit of work on oak, that I was getting a more controlled cut with the chisel and mallet and my ability noticeably improved over a few hours. I might have been putting more effort in for this than the pine.

Additionally this was fairly fresh CLS and I think older pine and different types probably behave differently too.

I'd love to have the feel and experience of others here on the wood-bashing (hammer) , but just don't see it happening quickly with my current resources. I'm probably "above average" in terms of wood-working, but the average Briton has probably never done more than saw a bit of wood in half and bash a nail in these days :cry: .
 

Jacob

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CLS is usually spruce, graded for floor joists and studs. Yes different from some other softwoods - too soft for many purposes, but good stuff for getting your hand in with.
NB Surprisingly, spruce is also used for top quality string instrument soundboards; it's not "rubbish pine" at all.
 
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