Friday, July 31, 2009

Making the Legs - Part 1

I decided to start with the legs on my Mission style table. In my last posting, I showed the rough stock. The next step was to joint and plane it to the correct thickness, 3/4 inch or less. The process is simple in concept. You put the jointed face down on the planer bed and run the board through the planer, taking off a little wood with each pass. I took 1/4 turn on the planer handle each pass, which amounted to about 1/32 inch each time. But the rough boards were 1-1/4 inch or more thick to begin with and there were 14 boards. What that meant was a lot of passes in order to get the lumber correctly thicknessed. All told, it required about two hours to finish the job.

The biggest concerns were to avoid tearout and to minimize snipe. The reason I took such thin cuts (1/32 inch) was to hold tearout to a minimum. Snipe is another matter. I set up a roller stand to supplement the small outfeed table on the planer. While this took care of most of the problem, I still grasped each board as it emerged from the planer to hold it as level as possible. This nearly eliminated snipe on all boards.

It is fortunate that I planed a number of extra pieces. Some will be used for jigs, some for test pieces during setup of the router bit and some for extras to take care of any mistakes that occur. In addition, though, I found hidden knots and other anomalies in some of the boards that only emerged as they were planed. Thus, some of the extras will go to replace boards that now appear to be unusable as leg stock.

A word about my planer, shown in the photo. It is the entry level Sears Craftsman planer, a 12-1/2 inch planer with only two blades. Although I will probably replace it sometime, it does a very creditable job and I regard it as a good purchase when I was setting up my shop last year. I cannot see any defects in the quality of the planing it produces and the resulting surfaces are smooth, which is all I can ask of it.

Now that the planing is done, I will select which boards to use for leg stock and which for jigs, etc., and rip them to width. Then I'll be ready to make the jigs I need and to rout the edges of the leg stock, prior to gluing up.


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