Best method for finishing the surfacing on tree rounds

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  • #137570
    Steve Beck
    Participant

    Three 30 ft. white burch trees were cut down on our property(lost to four yrs. of Calif.drought). I cut some the trunks into approx. two inch thick by 12 inch rounds.I have allowed the wood to air dry for five months. Then used a belt sander to remove chainsaw cuts. I plan to use the wood for cutting boards and the wife makes table center pieces. I want to plane the surface smooth. Using a no.5 Stanley plane I get chatter and shards of material. The slower I run across the surface the the more difficult the cut and actually stalls the plane. I have retracted the iron but I just less chatter and smaller wood shards. I tried a low angle block plane and those cut were no better. I’m thinking a cabinet scraper would serve me better and faster. A orbital sander did a nice job of removing the chatter marks, but I would like to complete the wood surface with hand tools. Also, is this cut considered “end grain” planning. New to hand tools and techniques, always been a power tool person.

    from No.California

    #137574
    Matt McGrane
    Participant

    This drought really has been tough. This is the first story I’ve heard of trees biting the dust, though.

    If I understand correctly, then this is definitely end grain planing and that can be tough. Recently I’ve read things about wetting the surface with alcohol or linseed oil to make the planing go smoother. I haven’t tried this. Make sure your plane is sharp sharp sharp! That makes all the difference with end grain.

    I’m surprised your rounds are good enough to make cutting boards. I would have thought they would crack quickly from the circumference in towards the center of the round.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    #137576
    BrianJ
    Participant

    I have done a walnut section that was cut on a bias, and a very sharp shallow set cabinet scraper was the best method i found. Due to the ever changing end grain i didn’t expect it to a good finish, but did good enough to get to 180 then 220 sand paper. Im not sure there is a ‘way’ to to it, i found kinda going around parallel to growth rings instead of from edge to centre worked for the piece i had.
    BrianJ

    Ontario, Canada

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by BrianJ.
    • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by BrianJ.
    #137579
    David B
    Participant

    I have often found that planing in a more circular pattern on end grain can yield better success. That said, a #5 plane might be a bit large for something that is usually done via relatively small circular motions. And not to state the obvious but I would consider re-sharpening your iron just to be sure you’re giving yourself the best edge (no pun intended).l

    #137580
    Derek Long
    Participant

    Yeah, that’s going to be tough going. Planing large areas of end grain isn’t fun in my experience, but doable. I’d go for a smaller soled plane like a #4, just to prevent getting too fatigued. Then like David said, use circular cutting motions at a skew to lower the effective blade angle, with a light set.

    If you’re getting chatter and shards of wood coming off, your iron probably isn’t sharp enough and you may have too heavy of set. Make sure your iron is razor sharp. Sharp enough to take hairs off your arm. And touch it up on a fine stone and strop often because the end grain is going to take the edge off that iron much quicker than ordinary use.

    Oh, and keep a nice tall glass of ice water handy for yourself. Ha!

    Derek Long
    Denver, Colorado

    #137581
    David Perrott
    Participant

    I vote for a cabinet scraper. You could try with a finely set smoothing plane, but if you do get some tear out, its a lot of work to remove it. You wont run the risk with a cabinet scraper.

    #137586
    Steve Beck
    Participant

    Gentleman, thanks for the informative replies, I appreciate the comments and it give me some direction.

    Matt, I took several of the rounds, put them in paper bags and let them sit in the garage for several months. No real serious splitting, just a few small checks. The bark separated in several places, so I mixed a little glue and sawdust and filled in the gaps. Of course, the logs setting outside are splitting on the ends and I’m hoping I can still get some decent pieces out of them. If not, into a camp fire. The cutting board are the wife’s idea(those would look great on a picnic table for cheese and bread) so there I am learning a new aspect of woodworking.

    Yeah, drought in Sacramento area has taken its toll. We also loss a Japanese maple and two holley bushes, front lawn is now drought tolerant plants. I spoke with an arborist and he said so much ground water is being pumped the alkaline levels in soil are becoming dangerously high and killing the trees. Native oaks and maple don’t seem to be affected.

    Derek, over 100° today and works done, think I’ll open that bottle of ice water, you know the one with the barley and hops. Ha! Maybe Two!!

    Thanks again for the advice,

    Steve,
    Sacramento

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