Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Meanwhile... Back At The Ranch
On the heels of the FORP, I returned home empty-handed. My tools and bench (parts) were still in Barnesville. I had a nightmare where the truck delivering my bench drove recklessly into an abandoned quarry, launched itself over the edge at full throttle, descended silently to the floor 200 feet down, flattened like a pancake and exploded in a fireball of oaky smoke. Sort of like this.
My shop was a mess from the frantic days leading up to the build. I was itching to put my own bench together, but the only French Oak I had was a festering sliver in the middle of my left palm.
But last Friday my shipment arrived and I could virtually relive the FORP all over again in my own shop. And working solo, I was reminded how easy we all had it at Bo's. "Hey Justin, gimme a hand moving this 400 pound side of oak." But Justin is gone. And so is everyone else. Back to sweating it out the old way. Gosh I wish I could feed my planer right from my forklift.
I had the fun task of assigning everyone's top at the FORP, which meant off the bat that I got the runt of the litter. I wanted a one-piece top, and I didn't much care how wide it ended up. I was hoping for around 20". The Woodmizer is a great machine, but it doesn't cut perfectly square. My edges were out by 3/16" over 6". That's a lot of material to remove by hand. In oak. Dry oak. I thought perhaps because it was French Oak it would be softer, and would yield more easily. Not so. It's days like this that my 16" Northfield jointer earns it keep.
One pass over the first edge and two over the second and it was done. It took three of us to do it. Two grown men working the infeed and fence pressing, and one 10 year old pushing with all his might. The edges were dead square, and dead parallel. My bench will be 17-3/4" wide. Narrow? Yes, a bit. But I like it. It reminds me of Rob Tarule's Roubo, which is only 17-1/4" wide.
This particular top will carry some memories. It was the very first top to come off the Woodmizer the Saturday before FORP. I had earmarked it for someone else who had planned a dog strip, but they changed their mind midstream. I'm so glad, because I love this top with its waney back edge. To get enough purchase for the one rear leg, I scabbed on a piece from the top's end section I cut off. It's hard to see, but its let into the waney edge in a tapered dado. After the joint is done, I'll carve away its hard edges to give it a more natural look.
I left the shop tonight with the base dry fit and ready to scribe the double tenons onto the top. Now the real work begins.