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.