Patience is the easy way out

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Blog entry by ackychris posted 05-18-2010 11:11 PM 1075 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My current project is an end-table with a maple top, two wide pieces edge-glued. I’ve been working on flattening it, using a long sanding block and some 60 grit because the troublesome grain played havoc with my planes. I finally gave up on the planes after tearing one side all to hell and putting some serious divots in the other side. I picked the lesser of the two evils, and scraped all the divots out. Of course, scraping just transformed the badlands into gently rolling hills and valleys. Sanding block time.

Last night, I finally had the top close enough to flat that I decided to take a break and random-orbitize the other side (the bad side), just to get rid of the worst of the tearout. Twenty minutes later, I brushed the dust off this bad side and promptly kicked myself. Well, not literally. But I did kick the workbench. Where the glueline showed on the “good” side as a very slight color shift, it was freakin’ invisible on the “bad” side. I had arranged the two pieces carefully to hide the glue line (and of course, to alternate growth rings), and then completely ignored this arrangement when I chose which side to flatten. I got impatient to finish, and just chose the shortcut, which unfortunately runs directly across the wrong side of my tabletop.

Of course, it’s nothing unsalvageable—just an infuriating waste of hours of hand-sanding. I’m working on the correct side now, and I’ve learned a valuable lesson: pay attention to grain at ALL times, not just during the glue-up. Okay, I’m off to work now. I’ve got a short shift tonight, so in five or six hours, I can get back to hand-sanding. And more hand-sanding. And maybe some light scraping. And then more sanding. And then, maybe, a beer.

-- I hate finishing. I never manage to quit while I'm ahead. --Chris

3 comments so far

View RBWoodworker's profile


442 posts in 4359 days

#1 posted 05-19-2010 04:54 AM

I’m not sure if this will help or not, but if there are any larger cabinet shops in your area, you might want to see if they have a wide belt sander that they can run this through for you..I am very fortunate to have access to a 52” timesaver wide drum sander where iI run all my tops or glued up boards thru..just a thought..

-- Randall Child

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4584 days

#2 posted 05-19-2010 05:26 AM

View ackychris's profile


103 posts in 4020 days

#3 posted 05-19-2010 09:02 PM

Thanks, guys! RB, I’ll probably just keep on keepin’ on till it’s flat—it’s fairly close now, and I absolutely hate making phone calls. I’m gonna keep that in mind, though, especially if I start a bigger project.

Jim, thanks! I actually watched that video yesterday—it’s a solid gold ace up the sleeve. It’s always good to know how to get out of a jam. Actually, I don’t think it’ll be a problem now—by the time this thing is flat, I think I’ll have sanded far enough down that glue residue around the joint shouldn’t be a problem. It should stay fairly close to the surface of the wood, shouldn’t it?

Anyway, it’s time for another cuppa coffee and a little quality sawdust time.

-- I hate finishing. I never manage to quit while I'm ahead. --Chris

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