Dark Chocolate and Sponge Cake (27)

Had a half day in the shop today, as usual on Fridays, as we have our son in daycare for the morning.

A rainy half day provided enough time to attend to a few more items on the build plan (not there is a written plan or anything like that). The battens from yesterday, now stripped of clamps, are in place, and I’m checking the fit of the sills on each side to the dovetail tenons on the ends of the battens:

It was the case on each side that 2 of the three sliding dovetail connections had a ‘just right’ fit, while one was a hair tight:

Getting the parts to come together in a trial fit required only some minor chisel tuning to one dovetail mortise, after which the sill slid on what seemed like an appropriate degree of friction:

That’s as far as I took it with those fits. I could see the parts were going to go together, and no point wearing on the connection surfaces any further. Let’s keep the sliding dovetails fit nice and tight if at all possible, and for as long as possible.

It then seemed like time to deal with the part which rests atop the battens, on their sliding dovetails, and fits within the lower frame via tongue and groove:the floor panel. This is a part I prepared close to finished many months ago power planing it to a bit over dimension and then forming the tongue along the edges. Nicely, it remains flat after stints in both the near-vertical position and the horizontal, sandwiched between batten stock and other material.

I measured it and, at 0.5080″, it was 0.008″ over the desired dimension. That extra thickness reflects my estimation at the milling stage of how much room to allow for efficient clean up of the surface to remove any defects from the power planing stage. If you leave too little, then bringing it down to size may not remove all surface defects, and if you leave too much, you are having to take too many passes to clean it up.

In order to get a panel to the required thickness, and with a very flat surface, free of defects, one needs a tool capable of precise stock removal. I happen to have such a device.

It was time, in other words, to finish plane the top with one of my kanna, at the start knowing I had a certain amount of material to work with, as noted, plus there was a defect/damage in the board surface to deal with on top of that. My hope was that I could get rid of the defect without taking the surface below the 0.500″ line. I started planing:

The defect I mentioned is a semi-circular ding right at the near-side of the board, and in fact sits roughly below where the plane is parked in this photo:

Where did that dent come from? I don’t recollect that there was a dent there before, but it was what it was and the defect had to go. I steamed the dent first, which seemed to reduce its depth somewhat. Once I had skimmed off the surface by 0.008″ , via about 10 plane strokes or so I guess on each square inch, and got the board to target dimension, the ding was most fortunately all removed. I managed to plane the VG mahogany without having any tear out too, so it was a clean surface. Nice when you get what you are looking for…

After having made a clean and flat surface, I go over it with my Rotex sander fitted with extra-fine #400 paper, which leaves a slightly smoother surface to the touch. Then I blow the dust out of the pores with my air compressor. Now is the time one might apply a grain filler, as mahogany has surface pores, if one were applying a film-forming or oil/wax based finish afterwards. I’m not that bothered by the pores mind you.

I just apply wax:

At this point, the wax has been applied generously, and I’ll let it sit a few weeks hardening before we get to finish steps with it, involving a session with #0000 steel wool.

Wax is about all I can apply on the interior of a cabinet which is for storing futon or other fabric-based materials. The other option would be to leave the wood bare, and I have considered that route. I settled on wax alone as a happy medium. Wax doesn’t offer significant protection to the wood of course, and needs to be periodically renewed, based on wear. On the plus side, wax keeps a surface a bit more resistant to household dust than a bare one I would think, and most importantly, gives the board a slight deepening of color, bringing out the grain more.

I’m not going to apply any oil or oil/wax finish to the cabinet interior. Oil-based finishes can become stinky over time in enclosed spaces from what I understand. Not what you want to smell when you swing open the front doors or pull out a drawer. Maybe with the latticed sides it would not be so much of a factor, but I’m not taking any chances in that direction.

After the panel was set aside, I started in on some of that double dovetail key fitting:

These keys have been fitted to the four post mortises, but not to the latticed frame and panel assembly. Next time.

Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way. Post 28 follows.

4 thoughts on “Dark Chocolate and Sponge Cake (27)

  1. Hello Chris, fantastic work as usual, thanks a lot for sharing.
    I wonder about this panel you’ve worked on, does sanding is a crucial step for the wax finishing or do you use is it as a time-saver after rough planing?

    1. Arthur, thanks for the comment.

      The sanding is not crucial for wax finishing, not at all. Wax would bond very well to a planed surface. I also consider the planing on that panel I did to be finish planing, not rough planing. The machine planed surface had left it sufficiently fat that 3 or four passes obtained the result I wanted.

      That said, I could have resharpened again and done another last pass, but I felt the surface was already very good, and it was at dimension. The plane had left a surface upon which I couldn’t feel any significant tool marks/ridges, however when going over the panel with #400 it did become apparent that there were some very slight ones here and there, marks that would have been apparent in flat light, which were removed entirely.

      Now, this panel is the interior floor, and i’ll probably finish the shelf panel the same way, however for the top and front doors I am planning to just plane, and let any slightly visible tool marks visible in flat light remain. It’s a plan at least.

      Someone told me recently by email that sanding can slightly grey a surface, which I’m thinking about…

  2. Hi Chris,

    Just curious on your thoughts regarding shellac as another option for interior finish. I was told that it would not have any residual smell over time, although I have never really put that to the test.

    Owen

    1. Owen,

      thanks very much for the comment.

      Sure, one could use shellac as an interior finish on a cabinet. In this case, a couple of factors mitigate against that. One is that the sides of the cabinet are latticed, and if one did the interior in shellac it would be hard apply shellac to only the interior of the lattice without it looking odd and obvious from the outside – or one would be forced to continue the shellac all over the cabinet. Second is the question of whether the interior of the cabinet is a feature in general. On a curio cabinet say, where one would open the door and perhaps spend a good while staring at the interior and contents, then a nice interior finish would be called for, but in the case of this cabinet, which stores beddings, and is nearly filled by the beddings, blocking the view of the interior woodwork, that is not the situation, and I see no point in making the cabinet interior nice and shiny, so to speak.

Anything to add?