After a couple of weeks of working with the legs for this new workbench, I am certain the material is not pine.
Yes, I know. Shocker. The good people at Home Depot were mistaken.
What is it? Heck if I know. My best guess is that it’s Douglas fir or hemlock, based on my experiences working with the stuff out in California one year. However, while the stuff is stringy and sassy like Doug fir, my boss (who lived in California) thinks it might be aspen.
Why? Because some of the curly figure in these legs looks aspen-ish.
What I do know is that this stuff is no fun to plane. I trued up the legs with a sharp 50Ã?Â° jointer plane. That tool might as well have been a lawnmower because the wood ripped up like I was planing Silly String no matter which direction I stroked.
In cases like this I always do stupid things. No, I didn’t sand the legs. I decided to use a plane with a really low pitch and see what happened. So I fetched my Wayne Anderson ebony miter plane, a tool that I have a long history with. It’s a bevel-up plane with the bed somewhere sweetly south of 20Ã?Â°. I reground the iron at 25Ã?Â° and put a small micro-bevel on the edge.
As I have written before, this tool is like a long-time girlfriend. No matter how long I’ve been away from this plane, when I wrap my fingers around the brass body we pick things up like my fingers have never left the sidewalls.
You can, in fact, read the whorls of my fingerprints on this tool, which are pasted all over Wayne’s name on the port sidewall.
The miter plane trued up all four legs in short order. It planed out the tearing around four nasty knots. It restored order to some reversing grain. It sliced out a wack-nasty patch of tearing that all the high-angle tools couldn’t touch.
All this gives proof to a maxim that I’ve always thought was true: When conventional wisdom fails (high angles reduce tearing), slam the gearbox into reverse and see what happens. Sure, the transmission might appear in your rear-view mirror. Or you might just end up with glimmering surfaces that are smooth as glass and as deep as a Caribbean lagoon.
– Christopher Schwarz
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