Tuesday, March 26, 2019

American Trestle Table - Part VI - The Rough Trestle

This part makes my arms hurt just remembering it. I've had a big hunk of cherry rolling around for years intended for a project that I never really started. I still want to make that project someday, but today I need that piece of cherry for this project.

Unfortunately, this board is just at the limit of how thick I think it should be. The mortises in the legs are 19mm wide, and this board rough is just a hair over 30mm. After planing it down by hand, it should be just the minimum thickness to keep my mind at ease.
Let's start by crosscutting it to length.
Ripping in my shop is a bit of an acrobatic endeavor. I only have one saw bench, because there's not room for two. My compromise is ripping with the board standing up in the vise.
Ripping gymnastics.
After ripping it to width I noticed that the trestle board was wobbling on my bench top, so I got out my trusty winding sticks to see how bad.
It's bad.
By the time I plane this board square, It will be thinner than the tenons should be. I need a new board.

Luckily, American cherry wood is pretty easy to get from my local lumberyard. Un-luckily, I don't have any wheels in Munich anymore, and workdays are always bad to try to arrange a ride out there at short notice.

Enter Public Transportation.
Waiting at the subway stop with my new wood.
That's right, I took the subway out to the lumberyard. Strangely, it was faster than driving. The big problem is the board I chose was 40mm thick and 3.5 meters long.

I did take my crosscut saw with me, which made it possible to get these boards on and off the train and two buses I needed to take to get home. The worst part was schlepping it 900 meters to the subway stop.

Back in the shop, it's time to do some more ripping.
A lot like work. Work you have to do over again needlessly.
Public transport actually took me past the Dictum workshop, which has machines. Sadly, it wasn't available for me to use that day. I just got on with it and did the best I could.
Cleaning up a sawn edge.
This board was cupped, but thankfully not twisted very much.
Cupped a bit.
I pulled out my monster Swedish jack plane to bring the high spots down in no time.
Thick shavings with my Swedish jack plane.
A good bit of work doing this by hand, but it can be done.
The bench planes I am using need some fettling
The planes I have in Spain are fettled and tuned to very high tolerances. The ones I have in Munich, not so much. I haven't gotten around to getting them perfect yet. However, they do seem to work as long as the blades are hyper sharp.
Sorta close.
This all cost me one entire day in the shop. I suppose it could have been worse. The next day I called Peter at Dictum again, and the shop was available for me to use the machines. Yay! It was a lot easier taking this board that was mostly done there on the bus, and I actually walked home with it.

It didn't need much, but I felt a little better about knowing that it now has two faces parallel to each other. It's not necessary, but it didn't take long. 

The machines did create some tearout in one spot where there is the beginnings of a knot.
This tearout was pretty bad.
Luckily I was able to adjust the leg so this spot was burried in the mortise. That means I don't have to mess with making this spot look better.
Lucky me!
Just a couple swipes with a smoothing plane and this board is ready for finish.

Next up, I'll cut the tenons.

Here are links to the previous articles about this table:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V


  1. You sure are making some progress, good to see. Love the detail with the board in the subway - way to go!

    1. Thanks, Ty! Good to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words.