Very Risky Wood Planing , 18th Century Style, or How to Get Out of a Self-Imposed Problem

Hello everyone:

The Bridge on the Ware Room Spinet

The Bridge on the Ware Room Spinet

So now I’m back to making parts for holding the strings in the spinet.  I’ve begun with the bridge, the curved piece of cherry seen in the above photo.  It’s long and thin, sawn from a solid slab.

Sometimes here in the shop our “tests” of technology and ourselves run from the smart to slightly weird to downright bold risks.  What follows, I think, falls into that last category.

In an effort to conserve wood and make my labor a little easier, I got myself into a situation.

The cherry board I chose could be used for a few parts, all different thicknesses, including one that would be thicker than this bridge.  Better to mark out what I needed and cut it up, as opposed to working a single huge plank.  So I rough planed the board, laid out what I needed for the proper grain orientation and then sawed out the first part of the bridge profile.

Slowly I cut away all unnecessary wood to make final planing easier for this piece and to save the heavier cherry cut-offs for other parts.  Then I refined the curve with spokeshaves and small planes while part of the larger piece.  It was easier to handle and clamp in this form.  I ended up with this:

IMG_0950

So did I say that I wanted to make the final planing easier?  Oh my.  And yes, that narrow little neck was fragile.  Yet the board was still 1/16 inch too thick.  So I inadvertently set myself a test of whether I can sharpen and set my planes to work without snapping this thing.

IMG_0951

The tools had to be razors and set fine.  Even the jack plane I’m using here had to be used VERY carefully.  I could not brace the piece up for much of the work because any clamps would stand in the way of planing.  And I didn’t want to spend time making a fancy rig.  So it was planed free, on the bench, moved around so I could plane directly against the bench stop.

Carefully planing roughed out bridge stock.

Carefully planing roughed out bridge stock.

I did brace the the upper part nearest the stop so I could periodically thickness that section across the grain with the jack plane.

The bracing for planing across the grain of the upper section.

The bracing for planing across the grain of the upper section.

I made faster progress than I originally thought.

The thin section that must be carefully handled!

The thin section that must be carefully handled!

Then everything had to be finished off with the try plane.

How sharp and finely set your plane must be!

How sharp and finely set your plane must be!

And the finish that must be there, right off the planes, accurate and good for gluing to the soundboard later.

The finished surface from my try plane on the cherry.

The finished surface from my try plane on the cherry.

Scary.  Yes.  Risky.  Yes.  But it worked.  And a good test.  Now I’ve planed it to thickness.  Next will be sawing out the other side and refining that with spokeshaves and planes.  Next time.

Trying to use my materials efficiently. And trying to think 18th century.  So it goes.  Onward.

Oh yes, those rare photos of actual me out of colonial garb were taken after closing.  We have to shoot photos before or after public hours, not during, so we snatch them when we can.  Yep, who is that man dressed so strangely?

Cheers all.

Ed

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One Response to Very Risky Wood Planing , 18th Century Style, or How to Get Out of a Self-Imposed Problem

  1. Jim Tolpin says:

    Thar be sharpness in the block-o-wood!

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