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WIP - Sofa ('C') table

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sammy.se

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Hi All,

This is my first WIP that I'm sharing here. I'm approaching this project as a bit of fun (for the Essex Makers "three piece challenge") but mainly a learning process - some things I want to try for the first time: planing up rough sawn hardwood; wedged tenons, dovetailed boards at an angle, and inlays. The C table allows me to do all three in one project. It comprises a base, a single side, and a top. It requires three pieces of hardwood. A piece of Oak, Tulip, and Sapele - all one metre long, 25mm thick, and between 200mm and 300mm wide. Good times.

I sketched out some designs on a piece of paper and sketchup, but I'm really just going with the flow on this one. I’ll be happy if I can pull off some good joints, and it stays stable (as in, doesn’t fall over). Here’s the design. There’ll be an inlay pattern on the top, design TBD.

C table v2 (1).png

C table v2.png


Step one - planing the rough sawn timber
I very scientifically lift each piece to see which is heaviest. The Oak is. That will be the base. The sapele is the lightest. That will be the top. Tulip will be the side. (Although the Oak is a much nicer wood - I may swap them around, seems a waste to put the oak on the floor)
The sapele board is bowed and slightly warped. I don’t need the whole length, so I saw the board to the length I need for the top. Less of a bow to remove in the shorter pieces.

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I don’t have a planer or thicknesser, so it’s hand tool time (which I don’t mind). I’ve only ever planed up rough sawn wood once before - it was a softwood (pine I think) and it was easy to do. This one… not so much.

No 4 jack plane did not do much good. I went at it for about 10 mins without much progress apart from smoothing down some of the band saw marks.

20200327_171601.jpg


Belt sander time. It was a cheapy (£17) belt sander I bought to restore a garden table, and it was much better.

20200327_173539.jpg


Now, I thought, I could use my plane to get it nice and square and smooth. No 5 plane. Definitely better this time. I needed to sharpen the blade, and so it was time to make that honing guide recommended on the ‘sharpening on a budget’ on this forum. Good results.

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Stropping with car polish on some MDF (a la MikeG’s suggestion) worked a treat.

20200327_182030.jpg


With a razor sharp blade I was getting terrible tearout (1mm depth) on one side of the board, and other parts were smooth as anything.
It was frustrating. I persevered for about 40 mins (sharpening another two times), trying to smooth it out, but the tearout continued.
 

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sammy.se

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20200327_174537.jpg


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20200327_191443.jpg


I realised the grain direction must have something to do with it. I was done for now. I decided to check the forum for ‘planing sapele’ and sure enough, I found Custard’s post summed it up nicely:

post953655.html#p953655

custard":2g0yfk4x said:
You're not doing anything wrong, sapele is often a really difficult timber to work because of the "ribbon grain", which as Mouppe said flips direction. A higher pitched plane might work, or google "back bevel", by and large I can usually handle sapele with a 55 degree attack angle (so a 10 degree back bevel on a regular plane), but sometimes there's no alternative to scraping or sanding.
Not my favourite wood, good luck!
A nice bit of experience gained. Tomorrow I shall try again with the other board - this time electric planing, belt sanding and ROB sanding until smooth. No hand planing. Let’s see if that works and what I learn.

(Side note: the small screw holding the handle on the No 5 plane fell out! I think the thread in the plane body has worn away since the screw won’t tighten any more)
 

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Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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This is a classic situation where a closed up chipbreaker is the answer. A high cutting angle will be hit-or-miss as Sapele has ribbons of hard and soft wood, often reversing. The high cutting angle will be less successful with the softer sections. On the other hand, a closed up chipbreaker works with hard- and soft woods equally.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

thetyreman

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This is a classic situation where a closed up chipbreaker is the answer. A high cutting angle will be hit-or-miss as Sapele has ribbons of hard and soft wood, often reversing. The high cutting angle will be less successful with the softer sections. On the other hand, a closed up chipbreaker works with hard- and soft woods equally.

Regards from Perth

Derek
+1 get the cap iron as close as possible to the blade edge and try again.
 

sammy.se

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This is a classic situation where a closed up chipbreaker is the answer. A high cutting angle will be hit-or-miss as Sapele has ribbons of hard and soft wood, often reversing. The high cutting angle will be less successful with the softer sections. On the other hand, a closed up chipbreaker works with hard- and soft woods equally.

Regards from Perth

Derek
Thank you Derek and tyreman. I shall try that. I saw your replies after I had taken the belt sander to another piece of sapele board but I still have the original piece in the pics above to try out with the closed up chip breaker.
 
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