Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

Going against the grain

Category: Milling

Roubo Legs: Squaring End-Grain

There’s a bit of stigma when it comes to squaring end-grain.  It really isn’t all that difficult.  Just follow the same rules you do for long-grain and make sure you have a sharp plane iron.  The real trick is ensuring exact, crisp layout.

Knifing in the line

Knifing in the line

Start by knifing in your line using an accurate square.  Assuming your board is 4-square, your line will be perfectly perpendicular.  Here are some tips to ensure your layout lines meet perfectly as you move around your board:

  1. Always reference your square against your true face or true edge.
  2. Ensure that you’re holding your square securely against your stock.  I like to place my thumb in the center of the square stock and a finger on the blade.
  3. Start your knife line with two very light passes, followed by one or two heavy passes.  This will ensure that you establish your line without applying too much lateral pressure to your square.
  4. Ensure that the bevel of your knife is towards the waste side of your board.
  5. As you move from one face to another, place your knife in the previous line and slide the blade of your square up to the knife.
Increase visibility with a mechanical pencil

Increase visibility with a mechanical pencil

Create a trench using a chisel

Create a trench using a chisel

Once I’ve established my knife line, I like to go back over it with a fine mechanical pencil.  The effect is subtle, but makes the line more visible.  I then follow up by chiseling out a small grove on the waste side of my line.  This will give my saw a small groove in which to ride, and makes the cut easier.

Kerf in your line with a small back saw

Kerf in your line with a small back saw

Once, I’ve chiseled out a groove, I establish a saw kerf all the way around the stock with a fine backsaw.  This will help keep the cut square when I move to a more aggressive panel saw.  From there, I complete the cut on my sawbench with a panel saw.

Squaring the end-grain with a low-angle jack

Squaring the end-grain with a low-angle jack

With the waste removed, I start truing up the end-grain with a low-angle jack plane.  I work in from the outsides to avoid tear out.  I approach this exactly like I would long-grain.  I check everything with a square, mark the low spots, and plane the high spots.  I repeat until satisfied.  Once I’ve squared up one end, I mark the leg to final length, and repeat on the other end.

A good glue joint should break along the grain, not the glue line

A good glue joint should break along the grain, not the glue line

I like to test my offcuts for a good glue-joint.  The offcut should never break at the glue-line.

Next up, I will cut the tenons for the legs.  I will show you how to do this two different ways.

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

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Roubo Build: How to Joint Wide Edges Dead Square

Jointing the wide edges of the beams that will be used for the Roubo benchtop

Jointing the wide edges of the beams that will be used for the Roubo benchtop

Jointing wide edges can be tricky. Fortunately, I did my research. It was time consuming, but not difficult.  If I can do it, so can you.

Before you joint an edge it’s important that you establish a reference face that is flat, straight, and free of twist. I covered how I accomplished this here: Milling the large beams for the Roubo bench top

Once you’ve established a reference face, it’s important to assess the board.

  • What are the major defects?
  • Is there any significant bow along the length?
  • How out-of-square is the edge?

I don’t worry too much about minor cupping. This will be remedied, by running both sides through the planer.

Checking for straightness along the length of the beam

Checking for straightness along the length of the beam

In my case, there was some significant bowing. I measured about 1/16th of an inch in the middle of the board using a 48 inch straight edge. The edge was also significantly out of square. I chose to tackle the bow first. I removed the high-ends of the board by taking overlapping diagonal passes with my No. 7. When I was close, I started taking overlapping passes along the length of the board. Start from the outside and work your way towards the center of the board. I continued until there was less than 1/64th of error.

When jointing along the length, take overlapping passes starting from the outside

When jointing along the length, take overlapping passes starting from the outside

With the bow removed, I started working on getting the edge square to my reference face. I reassessed the board and mark the low spots with a pencil. Take a shaving from each edge, being careful to avoid your pencil marks. Then work your way inwards taking full-length shavings. Reassess the board every couple of passes. If you’re lucky, one side will be high for the entire length of the board.

Checking for squareness of the edge using the face as a reference

Checking for squareness of the edge using the face as a reference

Stop planing just before you reach your low marks

Stop planing just before you reach your low marks

In my case, the board was square for the first 6 inches on one end, high on the right side throughout the middle, and high on the right side for the last 6 inches. Here is how my routine went.

  1. Take a stopped shaving on the left side until I reach my low spot.
  2. Take another shaving on the left starting just after my low spot on the far end
  3. Take a stopped shaving on the right until I reach my low spot on the far end.
  4. Work my way towards the middle with full length shavings.
  5. Reassess the board and repeat
Mark out your edge with an arrow that points to your reference face once you achieve a square edge

Mark out your edge with an arrow that points to your reference face once you achieve a square edge

It sounds complicated, but I can assure you it’s not.  Just go slow and check your work frequently.  Don’t hesitate to ask any questions.  Feedback is welcome!

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

Roubo Build: Jointing Wide Edges Dead Square

Jointing Wide Edges by Hand

Jointing Wide Edges by Hand

Jointing wide edges can be tricky. Fortunately, I did my research. It was time consuming, but not difficult.  If I can do it, so can you.

Before you joint an edge it’s important that you establish a reference face that is flat, straight, and free of twist. I covered how I accomplished this here: Milling the large beams for the Roubo bench top

Once you’ve established a reference face, it’s important to assess the board.

  • What are the major defects?
  • Is there any significant bow along the length?
  • How out-of-square is the edge?

I don’t worry too much about minor cupping. This will be remedied, by running both sides through the planer.

Checking for Bow Along the Length

Checking for Bow Along the Length

In my case, there was some significant bowing. I measured about 1/16th of an inch in the middle of the board using a 48 inch straight edge. The edge was also significantly out of square. I chose to tackle the bow first. I removed the high-ends of the board by taking overlapping diagonal passes with my No. 7. When I was close, I started taking overlapping passes along the length of the board. Start from the outside and work your way towards the center of the board. I continued until there was less than 1/64th of error.

Take Overlapping Passes from the Outside to the Center

Take Overlapping Passes from the Outside to the Center

With the bow removed, I started working on getting the edge square to my reference face. I reassessed the board and mark the low spots with a pencil. Take a shaving from each edge, being careful to avoid your pencil marks. Then work your way inwards taking full-length shavings. Reassess the board every couple of passes. If you’re lucky, one side will be high for the entire length of the board.

Check the Edge for Square Using a Jointed Face as Reference

Check the Edge for Square Using a Jointed Face as Reference

Avoid Your Low Marks

Avoid Your Low Marks

In my case, the board was square for the first 6 inches on one end, high on the right side throughout the middle, and high on the right side for the last 6 inches. Here is how my routine went.

  1. Take a stopped shaving on the left side until I reach my low spot.
  2. Take another shaving on the left starting just after my low spot on the far end
  3. Take a stopped shaving on the right until I reach my low spot on the far end.
  4. Work my way towards the middle with full length shavings.
  5. Reassess the board and repeat
Don't Forget to Mark Your Jointed Edge

Don’t Forget to Mark Your Jointed Edge

Jointing wide edges sounds complicated, but I can assure you it’s not.  Just go slow and check your work frequently.  Don’t hesitate to ask any questions.  Feedback is welcome!

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

Lamination without Lamentation

Laminated Assembly in Clamps

Laminated Assembly in Clamps

This was the first time I’ve ever attempted laminating boards for a bench top. To say that I was a bit nervous would be an understatement. What if I experienced delamination? What if I couldn’t get the boards aligned properly? What if I ended up with miscellaneous items accidentally glued to my laminated assembly?  In the end, my fears were put to rest, and careful planning resulted in a successful lamination.

With the individual boards ripped to width, I just need to finish milling them.  Most of the boards were quartersawn with little cupping or twist.  I didn’t see much benefit in jointing a face, so I just ran both sides through my lunch box planer.  I marked grain direction on the edge of each board, so that I could ensure the grain would run in the same direction for the entire assembly.  Next, I did a dry run to figure out the best location for each board.  I wanted the outside boards to bow inwards, so that I would end up with a spring joint.  I also wanted to make sure that I could close up any gaps by hand.

After a deliberate rehearsal, It was time to get started. I double checked to make sure that everything was in its right place. I made sure that my workbench and floor surfaces were protected. Then, I laid out several clamps, placed my boards on top, and made sure they were in the correct order. Next, I wiped down the surface of each board with acetone. This will remove any resin and help the glue penetrate better. Using a small 6″ paint roller, I carefully rolled on Titebond Extend wood glue on one face of each board. I carefully aligned the boards and started clamping down the outermost clamps. I proceeded to add clamps every 6″ or so, alternating top to bottom. I ended up using 12 clamps total. The only thing left, was to wait.

I decided to leave the assembly in clamps for approximately 24 hours. I was terrified that I would release the final clamp, only to have the assembly explode in a shower of splinters and sawdust. Fortunately for me, this was not the case. Everything held up very well. The glue lines are nice and tight on both sides.

There are only two things I will do differently for the next assembly. I will apply glue to both faces of every joint, and I will scrape the excess glue off before it fully hardens.

Stay tuned.

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

Bench Top Lamination without Lamentation

Bench Top Lamination in Clamps

Bench Top Lamination in Clamps

This was the first time I’ve ever attempted a large bench top lamination. To say that I was a bit nervous would be an understatement. What if I experienced delamination? What if I couldn’t get the boards aligned properly? What if I ended up with miscellaneous items accidentally glued to my laminated assembly?  In the end, my fears were put to rest, and careful planning resulted in a successful lamination.

With the individual boards ripped to width, I just need to finish milling them.  Most of the boards were quartersawn with little cupping or twist.  I didn’t see much benefit in jointing a face, so I just ran both sides through my lunch box planer.  I marked grain direction on the edge of each board, so that I could ensure the grain would run in the same direction for the entire assembly.  Next, I did a dry run to figure out the best location for each board.  I wanted the outside boards to bow inwards, so that I would end up with a spring joint.  I also wanted to make sure that I could close up any gaps by hand.

After a deliberate rehearsal, It was time to get started. I double checked to make sure that everything was in its right place. I made sure that my workbench and floor surfaces were protected. Then, I laid out several clamps, placed my boards on top, and made sure they were in the correct order. Next, I wiped down the surface of each board with acetone. This will remove any resin and help the glue penetrate better. Using a small 6″ paint roller, I carefully rolled on Titebond Extend wood glue on one face of each board. I carefully aligned the boards and started clamping down the outermost clamps. I proceeded to add clamps every 6″ or so, alternating top to bottom. I ended up using 12 clamps total. The only thing left, was to wait.

I decided to leave the assembly in clamps for approximately 24 hours. I was terrified that I would release the final clamp, only to have the assembly explode in a shower of splinters and sawdust. Fortunately for me, this was not the case. Everything held up very well. The glue lines are nice and tight on both sides.

There are only two things I will do differently for the next assembly. I will apply glue to both faces of every joint, and I will scrape the excess glue off before it fully hardens.

Stay tuned.

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

The Tension Builds…

Ripped and stickered

Ripped and stickered

I decided to go ahead and rip all of my 2×12 stock in half to speed up the drying process. I knew there would be some tension built up in some of the boards, but a few of them where downright scary. I had one split for the last two feet of the board. This caused one half to slide off my roller stand. The back end kicked up and hit the blade guards fairly hard. No damage was done, but it gave me quite a scare. The split shifted the cut a few inches, making one have too narrow to use for my top. I’ll save this for my long stretchers.

I sorted and labeled all of my boards, saving the best for the front and back of the top. If you’re ripping construction lumber, keep a few extra roller stands handy. Also, be prepared to clean your tools free of pitch when you’re finished. You might even consider buying an extra band saw blade for this project.  Simple Green took care of the blade and a ruler scraped the tires free of debris.

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index

Milling By Hand: Rough Milling

 

photo 3
Milling lumber with hand tools can be broken down into two distinct processes : rough milling and fine milling.  Today, I want to walk you through the process of rough milling a board by hand.  This is typically accomplished with hand saws and will prepare a board to be finished 4-square with hand planes.  It isn’t until a board is properly 4-square that it is ready for joinery.

photo 1
The process starts by roughly laying out your dimensions on the board using pencil or chalk.  You should allow for margins based on your skill level. I usually allow for about 1/16th – 1/8th depending on the board’s condition.  It’s better to leave too much, than too little.  There’s nothing more frustrating than scrapping an entire piece, because of a small error.  The goal is to make as few cuts as possible, so mark out your lines wisely.  For example, combine parts with similar lengths. 
 

 

Crosscutting Ergonomics

Crosscutting Ergonomics

Ripping Ergonomics

Ripping Ergonomics

Once you have your lines marked out, proceed to milling.  I start by crosscutting any lines that extend the width of the original board.  From there, I rip my boards to width.  Ergonomics are key to doing this efficiently.  If you don’t already have one, I recommend building a traditional saw horse.  This will allow you to use your body to hold your work piece and sets you up to make efficient, accurate cuts.  Before cutting, always make sure that your elbow is free from obstructions.  Don’t overgrip the handle and concentrate on making a straight line from your shoulder, to elbow, to wrist.
Once you’ve sawed your parts, check the straightness and squareness of your cuts.  This can be used as a guide for future operations when planning how much margin to leave.  The best way to improve your performance, is to practice regularly.  I have prepared a list of helpful tips below:
1) Always support your offcuts when crosscutting so the weight of the off cut doesn’t breakout on the backside of the cut.
2) I find that crosscutting roughly 45 degrees and ripping roughly 60 degrees relative to the face of the board is most efficient
3) When ripping long pieces, you can correct your cut by lowering the saw and gently applying lateral pressure to the saw handle in the direction of your line.  Be careful not to over correct.

Always support your offcuts

Always support your offcuts