Steve Ramsey's chess board #4: Getting somewhere, no going back form handplanes

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Blog entry by Jake posted 12-28-2013 08:52 AM 1474 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Slippery slope of handplanes Part 4 of Steve Ramsey's chess board series Part 5: Paying stupid tax »

Alright, from last entry I have done a few things, including decided on the end design, and new glue-up of the chess board itself.

Also, I am now in the dark abyss of handplanes – no coming back. Bought a stanley sharpening kit (angle holder) which made a world of difference for me, I am getting such lovely shavings that I can’t bear to throw them away, this is crazy, but I love it.

Anyhow, this is just a post of a lot of pics and also progress report. In the process so far I have learnt that my equipment is not very good, my table saw is quite inaccurate and I don’t know if this is my cross cut sled or my saw in general, but it seems to be the saw. So I get to do a lot of handplaning, but it is nice, I just leave a 1/8 extra everywhere, so I can handplane it down to uniform if I need to.

So far I have completed the new glue up of the ches board and also glued the chessboard to plywood, also routed grooves into the sides for the chess board. Today I am hoping to finish my 45 degree sled and make and glue the edges of the chessboard.

I am loving it, I can somewhat see the finish line now!

Set up for new glue up:

new glue up:

Pattern glue up:

Creative clamping learnt from Mr Ramsey:

After glue-up:

I thought I took more pics, but evidently I did not. I will make new pics after I finish the glue-up of the top. Hopefully that will be by the end of day today.

Additionally 2 questions:,
1. Reccomendations for the finish? I think I am going with linseed oil to bring out the grain and colour, but I need a fast curing laquer or similar. I need to put on about 5-8 layers and sand it down to gloss, and i probably will only have 2-4 days maximum for that. So any reccomendations would be highly appreciated.

2. What angle should my hand plane blade be ground to? I have been grinding it to 35 degrees, but I don’t know if this is correct or not? What is the difference in angles, what does a steeper angle do?

Thank you all for the knowledge you have given me and enjoy the holidays!

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

3 comments so far

View JayT's profile


6424 posts in 3297 days

#1 posted 12-28-2013 01:26 PM

Ahhh, another convert to the dark side of hand planes! You are right, they are a slippery slope.

Progress is looking good. For a fast drying gloss finish, lacquer is a good choice, but I wouldn’t use linseed oil underneath. Not that it won’t work, but it can take a long time to fully cure so that you can topcoat with something else. Even one coat thinned with mineral spirits is going to need at least a day or two, depending on environment. Hopefully someone with more finishing experience will chime in with some ideas.

Hand plane sharpening, however, I can be a bit more help. On a typical bevel down plane, the frog is at a 45 degree angle to the sole. Since the back of the iron is the leading edge for cutting, that 45 degrees is also your attack angle. What the bevel angle does is allow for the wood fibers to spring back a bit after being gone over by the cutting edge. So essentially, the bevel is just a relief angle. For this purpose, you need at least 10 degrees, according to the experts I’ve read or listened to, so any angle from 35 degrees down will work. I’d say that 25 or 30 degrees are probably the most common bevel angles seen, but you should be fine with 35, as well.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Jake's profile


850 posts in 2717 days

#2 posted 12-28-2013 01:34 PM

Ok. So i am going to skip the oil. The schedule is tight on this project so I can’t take any chances.

Thanks for the input on the plane, need to sharpen it again soon so I am going for the 30 degrees, test how that works out. Well thanks for the input I have got to get back. Got some planing to do. ... :D

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

View sgmdwk's profile


308 posts in 2959 days

#3 posted 12-29-2013 03:36 AM

I recently completed a chess board made of maple and walnut. I chose a gloss poly for the finish. It won’t yellow and alter the beautiful color of the wood, and poly is very hard, when cured, so it will last through a lot of use.

-- Dave K.

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