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    I thought of that but couldn’t figure out how I’d plane so high, almost my height. I guess I’d have to step on a stool?

    Standing on a stool is sometimes required…see attached pic

    But for something that isn’t 6 feet tall, I agree with the above suggestion of just putting some support underneath it so that it’s at a comfortable height, and then having it abut against your workbench (or other immovable object), and you should be able to plane comfortably


    Hey Ed!, long time!

    There’s obv several ways to produce them, but the cracking makes me think one of the methods mentioned above might have been employed. It’s possible the originals were hand–carved and the pictures show replacements applied later, but without the provenance of the house there’s no way to be sure.

    To produce them today, the easiest thing probably is, as mentioned above, to just buy them.
    Next easiest depends if you have a CNC or not. You could then either have it make the mold for mass production via the methods mentioned above or have the CNC make them directly out of your preferred material.
    If no CNC, you could buy some casting resin and other mold-making supplies and make your own mold. This would be inexpensive, but given the cracks, would take some touch-up work after the fact, and if you’ve never done that kind of work, might take a few tries to get an acceptable result. This obv depends on being able to remove one of the pieces intact, which is not a sure thing.

    Most challenging, but imo the most rewarding would be to learn to carve them yourself. Again, the pictures you showed suggest to me that it’s an applique, so perhaps that will make carving them slightly less challenging.



    I’ve worked with a California variant — the Coastal Live Oak. Absolutely beautiful stuff, but it weighed so much that you’d want to carefully consider a piece of furniture of any size. A slab-top dining table or etc of this stuff would really be daunting to move.

    It was a PITA to work. It was a locally harvested slab, so perhaps I’d feel differently if it had been some carefully selected free from a professionally-managed lumber concern, but the grain was wild, it had tons of internal stresses and it moved as much as any wood I’ve ever used. Add on top of that the hardness — all work has to be done in very small increments with freshly-sharpened tools and takes much longer than you expect.

    If you’re new to hand tools, and don’t have access to any machines, you might want to pass on this opportunity for a while, especially if you’ve not worked with very hard woods yet. OTOH, if you’ve done a few projects with, say, hard maple and you didn’t find it problematic then perhaps you’re ready to try live oak.


    I’ve done some veneering, sometimes with Titebond, and it works great. If you have a thin veneer which happens to be from a porous wood, it’s not a good idea as the vacuum will sometimes lift the white glue up through the pores and to the surface of the wood — not an attractive result. Found out about that the hard way. However with non-porous woods or thicker pieces I’ve never heard of it to be a problem nor experienced a problem.

    I’ve also done vacuum bagging for making surfboards, kayaks & paddles with epoxy, polyester or urethane resins. I do almost all my veneering in the bag except for really small projects, where I’ll just use a hammer veneering technique because I’m too lazy to break out the bag and set everything up.

    As has already been alluded to above, at greater thicknesses atmospheric pressure is insufficient to correct warped boards. This is where mechanical presses become necessary — closing reluctant gaps in wood surfaces that aren’t sufficiently flat. You can watch this video for 20 seconds to see one in action: https://youtu.be/B5VGsZyXy60?t=417

    So in my limited experience the answer is: it depends. If your boards lie flat against each other, or have gaps which will close with just light pressure, then your bag will get the job done. If the gaps need considerable force to close, then it won’t. If you don’t have sufficient clamps, maybe look into building custom cauls for the project. I have a very small clamp collection compared to most woodworkers and often build clamping cauls instead of using a blizzard of clamps.

    Polyurethane glue is preferred by some of the most high-end furniture makers in the world for veneering. Craig Thibodeau uses it for veneering and sometimes marquetry on pieces which sell for 6 figures, such as https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ymr3EAJ7Mmo
    Craig recommends it unreservedly over any other option for veneering, and he vacuum “bags” (actually he doesn’t have a bag, he has a vacuum table, but there’s no real difference for this point) all his veneering work.

    I’ve used epoxy in woodworking where glue lines needed to be invisible and had the same success as PVA glue, although now that I think about it they were always done in dark woods — walnut, wenge or katalox, so maybe a lighter wood might show a glue line from epoxy. But if you don’t need the increased open time, gap filling or joint rigidity, there’s no advantage to epoxy, and generally PVA glues are cheaper, so might as well save the money and measuring / mixing time.


    I agree with davidr — if your tools are shaving hair, the reason for the differences between your results and Pauls are not due to a failure of sharpening on your part. While improvement is always nice, if, again, your tools are shaving sharp, you’re probably past the point of diminishing returns and it would seem to me that your best path forward does not involve focusing on sharpening.

    Also, even if one of us had the images you want to see, I don’t think those images would offer any insights into your sharpening procedure unless you had your own images, taken at the exact same magnification, from the exact same angle, with the exact same lighting, etc, etc, etc.

    Just for idle interest, Brent Beach has some images on his website you might find interesting:

    Good luck!


    @etmo, with only 3/4″ on the side of the wheel, how much of the back can you flatten? Just the end?

    Yes. I imagine you could angle your blade and flatten quite a bit if not all of it (depending on the blade), but I don’t know if there’s any point to that. As with almost any chisel or iron, you wouldn’t flatten / polish the entire back and often do maybe 1/2″ or less since as you know, with the back of an iron you only need to flatten then polish a bit at the end in order to set the stage to achieve a sharp edge.

    I’ll borrow a picture from e-bay, but imagine you bought a Stanley #45 and got 20+ cutters where the backs all looked like this (or worse):
    rusty #45 cutters

    How long would it take you to get the backs of all 20+ of those cutters ready to work? By hand, it would take a long time. But with the CBN wheel, you’ll have the backs of all the cutters ready to go to your stones for polishing in 20 minutes or so. And at that point, you’re just replacing scratches so it’s relatively quick work.


    Presumably, hollow grinding is not an option for those who follow Paul’s method of using diamond stones? Only ask as I don’t know.

    Hollow grinding has nothing to do with which method of sharpening you prefer. It’s done on a grinding wheel before the sharpening process. Hollow grinding your bevel saves tons of time when it comes to sharpening, and since you’re on your stones far less time, it thus also has the side benefit of greatly reducing wear on your stones. It also makes it much easier to keep the correct orientation when sharpening by hand, as you have two bearing surfaces on which you can balance, as opposed to only one with a flat bevel.

    Works on your plane irons, chisels (don’t think I would recommend it for mortise chisels), router plane irons. Night and day difference in time to a perfect edge over any other approach, obviously. I’m sharpening about half a mm of steel compared to … well even the thin old Stanley irons were over 2mm, so sharpening an old Stanley iron represents 4 times the surface area.

    I have a CBN grinding wheel on a high-speed grinder — it takes no time to hollow grind an edge. Here’s the entire process in real time:

    And that will cut your sharpening surface area by 3/4 on a Stanley plane iron (with a far greater reduction on other tools) for months and months. Think about how much faster you’d be sharp if you had at least 75% less steel to deal with. You don’t need a CBN wheel or even an electric grinder — hand-cranked grinders with inexpensive wheels work just fine and get results just as good, it just takes a bit longer as you need to cool the steel when grinding.

    However, a CBN wheel such as I’d recommend (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GG5GIGC/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1) has another nice advantage — the CBN wraps around onto the flat machined surface on the side of the wheel. This is done intentionally so you can use that perfectly flat surface for grinding. It wraps about 3/4 of an inch. So if you buy, e.g. an old chisel, and you need to grind down past the pitting and flatten the back of the iron before sharpening, well you can do that in about a minute. That saves a ridiculous amount of time, not to mention wear and tear on your stones. I went through a phase where I avoided vintage tools because of the time involved in the restoration process. Now I jump at them. This is especially pertinent if you’re considering a set of vintage planes.

    I only wish I had known about CBN wheels sooner, between flattening backs and hollow-grinding to a wire edge they are complete game-changers when it comes to getting a perfect edge.


    though the Quangsheng blades are a lot thicker and take much longer to sharpen/hone.

    That’s why God invented hollow grinding


    Using pallet wood — just a really bad idea, imo.

    Imagine a pallet used to transport leaky drums of pesticide from China all the way to the EU. Soaking in all that toxicity for weeks on end. Then it’s re-used to transport chlorine pellets to a manufacturer of sanitation products, then fertilizer to your local garden center, and then it sat in a dark warehouse, rotting and serving as a home for rats and worse.

    Then you decide to bring it into your workshop and cut it into pieces, with your face mere inches away? To each their own, but imho it’s a terrible decision. There are no health standards for pallet wood, no safe storage requirements, and no laws regarding disclosure prior to transfer to an unsuspecting user like the OP.

    Given the crazy prices I see for lumber in some parts of the world I don’t blame anyone for considering any free source of wood, but it’s not free after you factor in the resulting ailments and the doctors to diagnose and treat them.


    Is it a futile attempt to resaw stock that is 3/4″ thick by let’s say 6″ wide by 12″-20″ long if you don’t have a band saw to get it down to 1/2″ thickness?

    Definitely not. That’s a very straightforward approach, and if you stick with woodworking with hand tools, you’ll do it many, many times.

    Having said that, if you just want to take off 1/4″ on a hardwood board that size as quickly as possible, you can probably scrub it off faster than you can resaw it. I just did something very similar — I had 12 hard maple boards, 6″ x 36″ x 3/4″, and I needed them all down to 1/2″.

    Bevel the far side so you don’t blow it out, sharpen your #40, and scrub it right off. Hard maple is tough, my thickest shavings were .07″, so just over 1/16th. Most were around 1 mm thick. If it was something soft like poplar or pine, I’d have been taking off closer to an 1/8″.

    So about 5-6 passes gets you to depth, multiplied by thickness of the blade (a bit over an inch), 5-6 * 36 passes of the plane per board, and you’re done. That leaves a bit for the jointer so you have a perfectly flat face.

    Had them all done by the afternoon. The downside is that the 1/4″ is wasted, so if it was some special wood, an exotic, or even if I just wanted the resaw practice, I’d have resawn them instead. Figure the kerf on your D-8 (or whatever you’re using) is about 1/8″, and you want to leave 1/32″ safety margin which you’ll plane perfect afterwards, so the end result, if all goes well, is a piece of veneer. So you’ll get your boards down to thickness, and you’ll have some veneer sheets for use elsewhere in the project or on some future project, which is a great thing to have.

    So there are pros and cons to each approach, pick whichever works for you.


    Looks great. Are you going to omit the cornice? That part was an especially good learning experience for me. Like you, I used some scrap in mine, too, but it’s just a tool cabinet, not going to hold the Queen’s china.


    To clarify the question: Chris Shwartz roundly dismisses aprons because they prevent clamping to the top of the bench top. Which activities do you find such clamping absolutely indispensable?

    Do you have a link to the article where Chris Schwartz says this? I have to wonder if something hasn’t been misunderstood. I can’t see Chris making that statement with no qualifying context as you present, because Chris knows better than any of us how useful holdfasts can be.

    Holdfasts are awesomely useful, they clamp workpieces to your benchtop (or to your apron), and the presence or absence of aprons does not interfere with their use. I will say that the presence of aprons in a design might infer a much thinner benchtop, and at some point a benchtop is too thin to support the use of holdfasts, which need …I’m guessing here…about 1.75 inches of thickness or so.

    Maybe Chris was only referring to “clamping” in the sense of using, for example, an F clamp, and only on the face of the bench which featured an apron (because you could still clamp to the top of your bench from either end of your bench, where there is no apron)?

    Assuming so, I wouldn’t worry about it. Chris has been woodworking since color TV was a novelty. He has developed his way of woodworking the way he likes it, and he prefers situations or equipment which allow him to work in his way of doing things.. As beginners, we’re much more adaptable, we don’t have “our way” of doing things yet, we’re still learning even the most basic way of doing some things.

    Look at Paul — he never clamps anything to his benchtop. “Paul’s way” of doing things, which is just as effective as Chris’ way, doesn’t need F clamps to the benchtop or holdfasts. Eventually we’ll all develop “our way”, but in the meantime, it’s probably best to not worry about one way or the other, try all available ways, because you never know what will really resonate with how your brain is wired to solve problems, and ultimately that will guide all your choices and lead you to find what is “your way”.


    I’m pretty confused by the verbiage in the OP, but the bottom line is that excellent workbenches can be made with or without aprons.

    For an example of workbenches with no aprons that have stood the test of time and seen generations of heavy use, you can peruse the style of workbenches at the Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts. Here are some detailed pictures taken by a woodworker who visited: http://lumberjocks.com/topics/123778

    When Fine Woodworking made their dream bench, it was this style of Shaker bench they chose, and they obviously could have chosen any style whatsoever.

    I personally prefer this style as well, and so do Lie Nielsen and Sjobergs, so clearly aprons are not needed for great workbenches. However, there are just as many examples of time-tested workbenches with aprons, such as those mentioned above. The apron design allows efficient racking resistance without the need to have a massive benchtop, and creates opportunities for easy clamping in the Z axis. Non-apron designs tend to rely on a massive benchtop and / or massive base for racking resistance. An apron blocks space that could be used for lots of drawers or shelves, but as Paul shows, a small number of drawers can still be added through the apron.

    If this is your first bench, I wouldn’t worry about it. You’ll be fine either way, and you can always just build a different bench later, and re-use the wood from the first bench in the second bench or other projects.


    The CA glue + masking tape trick works well, but I prefer just using double-sided tape. Fewer ingredients 🙂

    Something like this: https://www.woodcraft.com/products/double-faced-tape-1-x-36-yds
    I’ve heard stories about lower-quality double-stick tape releasing, so don’t buy from sketchy sources, but I’ve even used this double-stick tape for router templates and table-saw jigs at school, and never had it let go on me.

    You use very little tape when thicknessing. I was just thicknessing some small pieces, maybe 2 inches x 5 inches, and 2 1″ square pieces of the tape was actually too much. If you thicknessed down thinner than 1/8″ you would probably snap the wood trying to unstick it afterwards.

    I used a piece at the “back” (where you start planing) and a piece at the “front” (where you finish the planing stroke) each about the size of a fingerprint and it still required care to unstick the piece afterwards. A wide putty knife is a good tip, as it gives support to a broad area of the wood, and thus you’re less likely to break the wood. Obviously for power tool jigs I’d use more tape, but for thicknessing thin strips less is definitely more.

    The tape leaves no residue whatsoever, just like masking tape.


    An hour for two boards! You’ll exhaust yourself before getting to the joinery. Strongly consider making or buying a scrub plane and / or a fore plane. Having both is ideal — you’ll find for many aspects of woodworking that the Chris Schwarz approach of “coarse, medium, fine” gets you there far more efficiently. So first the rough tool to do most of the work, then the medium tool to set you up for success, then the fine tool for that perfect result.

    An example of coarse, medium, fine with sharpening stones: you wouldn’t take your chipped, rusted blade to a strop — you’d die of old age before it got sharp, right? First you go to the grinder (or coarse sandpaper, or coarse stone), then you work up the grits to the finest.

    With saws: You might buck a log with a lancetooth crosscut saw, cut boards from that log with a 2-3 ppi frame saw, dimension those boards with a 10 tpi panel saw, and do joinery with an 18 tpi dovetail saw.

    And with planes: A #40 will eat as much as 1/8″ of wood per pass in some soft woods. A fore plane can probably do 1 mm per pass or somewhere in that ballpark for softer woods. All the way down to your smoother, set to take less than a thou per pass.

    A Paul Sellers-style, converted #4 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XN5QSTaVzRQ) is more of what I’d call a fore plane (light camber on the blade), but still much better than taking thin shavings with a flat iron, and you can make one easily, as Paul shows in the video. A Stanley #40 style scrub plane is amazing in how fast it can hog off material, and will leave a fore plane in the dust. Since it’s such a rough tool, it doesn’t need to be finely tuned (just make sure the blade is reasonably sharp), so it’s an easy first plane to make, or inexpensive to buy used, since, again, it doesn’t need to be in flawless condition.

    The important thing: they’ll make dimensioning easy enough to where you won’t burn out, or start to dread the process. Lots of beginning woodworkers give up on hand tools because of the volume of work involved with dimensioning. Two of the least expensive planes, a fore and a scrub, will enable you to avoid that unpleasantness, and focus on learning the skills rather than recovering from exhausting workouts.

    If you’re always going to be buying S4S lumber from a quality lumberyard, then maybe the Paul Sellers converted #4 (or other fore plane) is enough. A good lumberyard will generally have thicknesses from 1/2″ on up, so if you need a 3/4″ inch thick board, you can just buy one. Buying lumber very close to your final requirements means less time spent thicknessing, so you can sort of do what Chris Schwarz does in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_96gNMMc_g and be ready for joinery very quickly. If, OTOH, you’re getting very rough boards, or even logs, then you’ll be very happy to also have the scrub plane, and a wider variety of saws, too.

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