I finished the frames for the doors of the tool cabinet project the other day, meaning that the only wooden pieces that I hadn’t made were the panels for the doors and the rear. Panels, of course, mean that I have to use the frame saw, which is never terribly enjoyable, but since this is pine, it at least didn’t take forever to go through the near-11″ wide board that I used (maybe 20 minutes, not sure).
Cleaning up the newly-resawn panels, however, meant that I had to dig up my low-profile bench dogs and try to get things as flat as possible. And that’s how I eventually lost my mind, because panels have still been a bit fiddly for me because my bench is, how shall we say, “not very flat.” The top had been sagging in the center by quite a bit for some time now. Because the panels I needed to plane are very flexible, it was getting hard to position them to get good contact with the plane.
After whacking away at a panel for a while with my deeply-cambered jack plane, I took the panel off, looked at the corner of the bench I was using, looked at the plane again, and started planing again without the panel:
Then I tried planing the panel again:
Ooh–much, much better. The flat bench let the Taiwanese plane really shine when smoothing those panels.
With these panels flattened, I sat back for a while and thought about the bench. I was expecting horrible tearout when I planed the top, because it’s basically a bunch of little blocks finger-jointed together and edged-glued. (I’m sure they don’t take handplanes into consideration when they make these things.) But to my surprise, there was very little, even with that blade taking out thick shavings.
I’d been avoiding flattening the bench because the top isn’t so thick in the first place, anyway. But even though I am considering making a new bench soon, this was just getting ridiculous–the sag was more than 1/8″. I took out the blade of the jack plane, gave it a good fresh sharpening, and set for a really deep cut. Then I cleared all of the crap off the bench and got medieval on the entire benchtop:
When I decided to call it a day, I had a huge pile of shavings, a blade that wasn’t exactly sharp anymore (funny what beech with a lot of glue will do), and a nearly flat workbench. I’d say that it needs a little more work with a fore and/or jointer plane, but after I do that, this should be much less of a headache for the immediate future.