The saw till

Problems in paradise

Since I had to change my approach, I decided that the best option would be to dovetail a board to the bottom of the rack. I had a laminated plank left over from the coat rack project, which I cut to length, shot the edges clean on the shooting board and sawed and planed to width.

I used a pin marking gauge to score around the board to give me a visual indicator while I planed the board to width. As soon as the plane starts cutting into that score line, the edges become fuzzy. If one end is higher than the other, you will be able to spot exactly where to start the next stroke to even out the differences, feathering in or out at that spot.

In the image below, you can see the score line running along the edge – even at the end. By this point, we are one or two full length swipes away from perfect. The end result is a “6s” plank – no matter where you measure, all edges are 90° to the meeting edges on all six sides of the board.

And then I noticed the crack!

Butterfly inlay

The “live edge” board had a crack in it that I somehow had not noticed. But it is a small one, near the top. I am going to shape the sides so that they slope inwards towards the top, but not so much that the crack would be removed.

To ensure that the crack won’t develop further, I decided to practice my inlay skills and made a butterfly inlay from some teak scraps. I drew the shape using a dovetail template and used the band saw to cut the piece to rough shape. A bit of chisel work cleaned it up.

I sharpened my pencil in my KUM automatic long point sharpener – a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and dirt cheap sharpener!!! The fine point I get on my pencil using it gives me more than enough accuracy. No need for tape and scalpel tricks…

I outlined the butterfly inlay, with the crack running through the dead center of the inlay. As you can see, the wood fibres of the inlay will run across the crack. Remember to cut the inlay with the fibres the right way!

In the images, the crack has a pencil line to help me see where it is.

I then used chisels to chop out the waste, staying away from my lines. When I reached a depth 1/3 the thickness of the board, I chopped TO the line, leaving the whole line intact.

Again, I used my marking gauge as a mini router plane to shave the bottom of the cutout so that it had an even depth. Some valleys are okay since I am going to use epoxy, but any ridges will prevent the inlay from seating properly – it could end up a bit askew.

I then cut off a piece of my inlay blank, nearly double the amount I needed. This is for two reasons: First, to have a piece that is strong enough to withstand being beaten in with heavy hammer blows (using a piece of wood between it and the hammer, of course). Second, to ensure that there’s enough wood protruding that I can reliably use a flush cut saw to trim it off. Another option is to just plane it off, but I like to practice different strategies.

To give the epoxy a bit more “bite”, I roughened the bottom of the inlay with a rasp. Epoxy is gap filling, and it is actually beneficial to have a bit of tolerance between parts. The stitch-and-glue boat builders know this very well, as they intentionally leave gaps between parts to ensure a strong connection.

Teak is an oily wood, so just prior to gluing in the inlay with epoxy I wiped it with liberal amounts of Acetone. Got a bit tipsy there for a moment, but it passed…

I used 15 minute clear epoxy glue and coated the cutout all over, including up the sides.

Using a piece of wood and my hammer, I whacked the inlay in place. I then wiped any excess epoxy with an Acetone soaked cloth.

After 20 minutes, the epoxy had hardened. Using a flush trim saw, I chopped off the excess wood from the inlay. A pass with my cabinet scraper cleaned it all up nicely.

On close inspection, I am not too happy with the result as there is a gap on one side where I must’ve copped into my line. I also had an issue on two places where a small splinter got away at the edge. Oak is rather brittle when you work it, and this was a gnarly piece of wood to boot. Lots of wild grain. If I am not mistaken, this is a plank cut from just below a big branch. The luxury of cutting your own lumber is that you usually have a good idea where the plank was cut on the tree. This gives clear advantages when working with the planks, as you can predict what the grain will do and how the wood will react.

Anyway, I cut most of that oak into quarter sawn planks. It is a time consuming process, but the reward is materials like this:

Look at that ray flecking!!! Gorgeous! Quarter sawn wood is also incredibly stable, so there won’t be any surprises.

On the next page, we’ll do some dovetailing and finish the joinery.

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