Another New Fangled Workbench #3: Lessons from the planing beam

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Blog entry by MichaelW posted 04-20-2008 06:57 PM 4234 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Installment one, Thanks to the trailblazers and some basic layout and preliminary thoughts Part 3 of Another New Fangled Workbench series Part 4: "...doing all that planing." »

I think the blog series will be in order from here forward. I haven’t had a lot of time to allocate to the workbench project lately, but was able to get the additional plane blades and sharpen and hone them. Much more pleasant to have a couple extras at hand and take nice shavings. It is such a great feeling to have a plane well tuned and work a piece of wood.

visible above is a shot of the planing beam as I finished up one side. I have a combination square resting on it and got the sides, top and bottom all eventually registered square and also used a straight edge across the length of it. As I got closer to square, I kept the measuring tools close at hand to check my progress and it involved a lot of going back and forth, in some cases over correcting for compensation, but I can see how spending time with it you start to develop a feel for it and can even detect rises and twist by touch. Great fun.

I thought I would also feature my present planing setup. The irony I have read is that it takes a bench to make a bench and I have made due with having all my stock loading up a pair of sawhorses with just about 8 – 10” free on one side. I then clamped a block at about the height that the board comes to rest against my present (non-planeable) workbench to support the end of the piece. It is a riff off of the idea of the clamping wedge that will eventually be a part of the NFWB. On the day that my bench is complete, I will enjoy planing without having a load of stock just next to the planing run with sticker blocks to run my knuckles into, in the meantime it focuses the mind on where the plane is going and keeps me in check from getting to carried away.

Here then is the planing beam in place in the clamping set up. I have thus far found that I can pretty much plane the board in the direction heading towards this clamped piece. for the last 6” or so I have pulled the stock back from the clamping block and stretched one leg back on the stock to hold it on the sawhorses, undignified perhaps, but it got the job done.

I was able to finish off the planing beam and wiped it down with a thin coat of shellac for now. It will still have to be final cut for size and have openings cut to fit the clamps, but it is ready for those operations. My stock is not 100% knot free and it does have some rough spots yet from tear out below the working surface from the knots. I am leaving them be for now as I don’t think they will hinder the operation of the planing beam and are more or less cosmetic issues. At some future point I may find a better piece to replace the present one, or cut a scarf join and supplement it with additional stock. For now though I am satisfied.

-- Michael, Seattle, WA

2 comments so far

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4807 days

#1 posted 04-23-2008 05:26 AM

Sounds like you have a handle on things so far -

I like the machinist’s case I see (and saw in the prev. posts)...I have one very similar.

Keep it up!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View MichaelW's profile


30 posts in 4558 days

#2 posted 05-01-2008 10:03 PM

Thanks for the encouragement Dorje.

I haven’t had much to show for posting lately, a lot going on with the last stages of the pregnancy and only more pictures of planks and shavings for now. I did score the machinists case from a garage sale in my neighborhood here in Seattle. I replaced the felt in it and cleaned it up some. The bottom tray that should fold up in front is missing so one day I hope to build a repalcement for it, but that is many projects down the road.

-- Michael, Seattle, WA

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