Shop Notes #17: Experimenting with Black Acacia

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Blog entry by Steve posted 04-13-2018 04:05 PM 889 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 16: Milling Around Part 17 of Shop Notes series Part 18: Wine Rack Prototype »

Some time last year, a local lumberyard cleared out the last of their black acacia for dirt cheap. The lumber wasn’t great—lots of splits and narrow pieces, but for the price, it was worth a gamble. After a few months in the shop, I finally broke out a couple of boards to make some beer flight paddles and a wine rack or two.

For the paddles, I wanted to create a flat-bottom surface for the tasting glasses. Boring a partial hole with a forstner bit would leave a score around the circumference and a depression in the middle. I don’t have a CNC machine and trying to route such a thing seemed difficult, if not impossible, to do right.

Instead, I decided to laminate a cleanly bored top to a flat, smooth bottom section. In this case, I bored out the acacia for the top, then laminated it to some jatoba and maple scraps had sitting around. It was a bit of a trick to keep glue from squeezing out into the cutouts, but I was pleased with the results.

I had planned to make all these boards a little oversized, then stick them to my template and flush trim to the final dimensions. I see this technique mentioned all the time in magazine articles and on-line videos. It’s an appealing process—simple and repeatable in theory—but I’ve never been able to make it work for me.

If you trim all the way around the workpiece, eventually you’ll come to a side where the bit is working uphill against the grain. Even with the lamination, I had significant tearout on two paddles while trying to trim them down. One broke apart against the bit. With three left to go, I abandoned the method. Two of the trimed paddles can be salvaged, I think, One, shown above has a significant “design modifications:” thinner than I wanted and the handle trimmed down.

I had planned to trim up the wine rack pieces the same way, but needless to say, I used a spindle sander instead to achieve the final size. As you can see from the photo, the design incorporates a lot of thin elements (maybe too thin!) already. The flush trim bit would have torn it up.

-- ~Steve

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