Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shop Goings-Ons

I was looking at the maple I selected for my planned cabinet, and it looks like it has a couple flaws in it. Sigh. I just don't know if this cabinet is ever going to happen. It seems the time is not right for it now in any case.

For the time being I have gone over to the dark side and decided to work on a slab table. Not the catalpa I was thinking of earlier, I have some crotch elm pieces, each roughly 29 x 37". I think two of them, bookmatched end to end might be an interesting piece. I guess the test will be if my wife agrees to let it out of the basement rec room or not when it's done!

These pieces are too large to run through my 24" planer, so I set up a simple flattening jig on top of my tablesaw using a couple of 2x4's and a router with a 1" bit. It worked well enough, but was rather tedious, extremely messy, and caused some kind of temporary damage to the nerves in my hand. Thick gloves are in order next time I do this!

Also managed to get down to the beach and take six slabs from an alder log. Normally alder is not that exciting a wood, quite soft and an unremarkable light brown colour. This one had some amazing colour streaks, spalting, and even some ray flecks.

I finally got the load in the kiln dried, conditioned, and unloaded. Hooray! As I had feared, the wide oak slabs were splitty. Oh well, 15" wide 2"+ thick oak still has lots of possibilities! Another load of odds and ends will be in there soon, possibly the last one for a while.

I went to a show put on by Coast Eco Timber. Wow, they have some very impressive slabs and do nice work with them. They have a similar ethos to mine about salvaging downed logs, they just do it on a much bigger (and hopefully more profitable!) scale.


  1. Yes, cool looking alder. I set up my router this past weekend - similar to what you did, but on a much smaller scale. I know what you mean about tedious.

  2. Great looking wood as usual... Man, am'I jalous!
    As for flatening large surface, what about using hand planes, with winding sticks? That's what I use, it takes some time but probably not much more that the router set up... By the time you get all the rigging up and runing and all the dust managmant and the noise... I'll keep using my hand planes!!

  3. David,

    You may be right, I think I'm spending almost as much time vacuuming my shop as I do running the router! I've only got one of the two pieces completed so far and I will need to blow my shop out with compressed air afterwards as a super fine dust has settled everywhere.

    On the other hand, I use my planes a lot for fine work, and they will be involved in the finishing of the surfaces of this table. I guess each of us makes the machine/hand work tradeoff differently.

  4. Dan, I'm with you... I use the tools I use because they are the only tools I have... No power tools in my small basement shop!!