The main reason I got hung up with this project, is the stock that I had chosen for the top had crazy reversing grain and produced tear out when it was just looked at wrong.
I tried everything I could think of. I sharpened my blade on LV bevel up jack plane.
I tried the 37 degree blade in that plane.
I tried the 50 degree blade, which resulted in a 62 degree effective angle on that plane, which should be enough to tame the worst wood.
I tried my #80 scraping plane.
I finally used a hand scraper over the entire top to get a top that had no tear out. The only problem with this is the table now didn't look flat.
I hated this look.
Don't get me wrong, I am extremely proud of this table, it looks gorgeous -
- In the right light.
It is difficult to photograph, but in the wrong light, it looks a lot like the following picture:
|Crazy scraper bumps. Believe me, it looks a lot worse in real life.|
I therefore paid close attention when Christopher Schwarz announced he was going to use a #2 smoother for a year, and Richard Maguire started a series on cap irons and tear out with his #3 smoother.
I decided I needed to find a small smoother with a cap iron rather than one with a high angle and a tight mouth. After striking out on eBay, I found the perfect plane at Handworks in Amana. A Stanley type 10 #3.
Planing this table top isn't the catastrophic extremity that you might think. The finish is just burnished bee's wax. That's it. If I decide to leave half of the table the way it was, the wax finish should theoretically be able to be re-applied to the table with none the worse for wear. Time to get my new secret weapon out.
I monkeyed with my new plane the other day, sharpening the iron and setting up the cap iron like the Schwarz and Richard Maguire said. Tonight, I decided to go for it and try it out on our dining table.
The secret is the cap iron being set as close to the cutting edge as humanly possible. I was getting absolutely no tear out, going either with the grain or against it.
Just to prove it, here is a photo of how wide I have the mouth set on this plane:
|This is about how far I usually set the mouth back on my jack plane for rough work.|
|About 20 minutes work.|
Until this project.
I decided that this project was worth the investment in a new vintage tool - if it worked. Boy am I glad I did.
I have a feeling that every once in a while a dedicated smoother is required, so I think that this one will be it.
The only problems I came across is that after a while, a shaving got caught under the chipbreaker. This was expected, as I couldn't quite get the chipbreaker to fully close up to the original iron.
I also found out that this table top requires the blade to be super-hyper-freaking sharp in order to work well. I did wind up with some microscopic tear out toward the end of my planing session that wasn't there at the beginning. Unfortunately I don't have my sharpening stones here, so I'll have to finish this task up another day.
I like the steel on this iron, and I have no problem with using the original thin iron. The only problem is there is only about 1/4" on the iron left until I run in to some pitting, and the cap iron isn't quite what it used to be. I am a bit undecided at what to do to remedy this. I could buy a new cap iron and blade from a company like Lee Valley or Hock, but I could also get a vintage replacement. I think a vintage Swedish blade and chipbreaker would be cool. I could also spend some time and research rehabbing the one that is original to this plane.
Anyway, here is some vintage tool porn:
The frog adjustment screw would be nice, but I figure once the frog is set, there shouldn't be much need to muck with it on a dedicated smoother. Plus, my intention is to keep the mouth relatively open.
|The money shot.|
My plan is to smooth the top until it looks good enough, then re-finish it.