Thursday, November 5, 2009

Glue-Ups are a Zen Process, But Hogan, We Have Rules in this Camp!

Top glue-ups are always the hairiest part of any project I do.  This is particularly maddening since the degree of difficulty is pretty low on any of the three or four operations I need to perform, but get one wrong and I'm up for hours of hair-pulling.  So, as I start the assembly of Gilberte's top, I keep a few of my own rules in mind:

Start Thick
5/4" stock is only marginally more expensive than 4/4" and it gives me more room to play.  Unless I really want a dead-on 3/4" top (In which case go for the 4/4" as I don't want to awaken the internal stress monsters by removing massive amounts of stock) I let the exact thickness be determined by the way the wood is working. 

Start Long
I bring at least 12" extra to the altar of the snipe gods for every table top I pass through the thickness planer.  Someday I'll figure out the exact combination of roller height, pressure bar tension and outfeed support that ensures, every time, that there will be no snipe.  Until that day arrives, I'm happy to add an extra bit of waste into the equation.

Square and True Makes for Happy Woodworking
Any novice woodworker knows this, yet I have to constantly remind myself not to fall asleep at the switch on this first step.  This isn't jazz, its woodworking,  No exceptions.

Have A Bailout Plan
As a hybrid power/hand tool guy I have number of options available.  A friend of mine once took glider plane lessons.  Throughout take-off the instructor kept asking "What do you do if the rope breaks now?  How about now?"  I ask myself the same questions throughout the process and when things start to go pear-shaped in the surfacing process, I cycle through the higher angle/ lower angle, scraper, thickness planer, sander options (in that order.)  It is for this reason that I do a number of "sub glue-ups" all less than 15" in width, and keep the planer idling in the background.  I also work hard to make the aesthetics work within a framework where the grain is running in the same direction in all boards

There's No Crying In Woodworking
As that great philosopher Casey Kasem said, "Keep your feet on the ground but keep reaching for the stars."  I make each step the best I can do.  I have never cut the absolutely perfect dovetail or planed a dead-flat surface.  Success is always relative to your own tolerances.  This is why Anant and Karl Holtey can both stay in business.  Above all "Be happy in your work."

I've also applied the dye to the carcase and fine-tuned the drawer fit.  Things are humming, and I hope to be done with this within the week.

1 comment:

  1. You hope to be done within the week?
    Julia hopes so, too. ;-)