Milling, Part 1

My goal for yesterday was to set up my sawhorses and saw off a piece of poplar for milling four-square. I was going to do the sawing outside, because it’s kind of messy. But by the time I got my act together, it was getting late, so I just did it in the kitchen.

At first, I tried using one my larger untuned handsaws, figuring that it “seemed sharp enough” for such an unimportant job. Ho, ho, wrong idea. After having it bind a few times and not really cut much, I decided to go back to my Jackson backsaw–not the ideal tool for the task, and not even ideally sharpened (remember, it was my first saw sharpening practice). But much, much better. So I am going to need to try to focus on sharpening a few more saws.

Then I cleaned up, watched “Cops,” and went to bed.

Today, I set about the task of flattening one face of the board. I selected my half-tuned Stanley #6 to do the rough work, did a somewhat slapdash job of sharpening the blade, then set out to work:

This image is after about 15 passes or so; there’s still a lot of fuzz in the front of the board and at the rear, and it’s still cupped. By this point, though, it was apparent that this fore plane was doing a much better job than I had anticipated. My original plan was to move to a jack plane as soon as the board was halfway flat. However, the surface left by the #6 is pretty nice and probably ready for a smoothing plane. I should have probably flattened and waxed the plane’s sole, I guess… this would have made it a lot less work.

After working up to full-length shavings, I used the plane and the ruler in the background as winding sticks to determine when the top was flat:

It’s actually reasonably flat. Not perfect, but close enough. There was now a huge pile of shavings on the bench.

I hadn’t expected the board to be this flat on the first try. I also hadn’t expected the board to be significantly thicker than one inch (it was). Because I have a goal of 3/4″ thickness, this is the part where I think that a scrub plane would be really handy right now. Alas, I do not have one. Perhaps I’ll use one of my jack planes set for thick shavings.

The question is if I’ll do this today or not. It’s still early, but I am dedicated to taking an agonizingly long time to learn how to do this stuff. Decisions, decisions.

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