Patching over a Knot

In a previous post, I mentioned how I had to create a patch, or inlay, to cover over a knot. Now the first question you may be asking yourself is why I didn’t use another board for this particular piece. In this case, the selection of lumber was pretty slim and I just decided I had to make do with what I had. I really did think that this defect was far enough away from the edge to be hidden by the cove trim that was to be applied to that face. But I was wrong. By the time I routed the profile along the edge, the knot would be visible on the finished project.

I had to resort to some training I received from Tim Rundall, owner of The Woodchip Shop. Tim taught me how to carve and the proper use of the tools, so I dug out my carving tools. The first order of business was to make an inlay. I happened to have a scrap piece I had cut from the same board. I used a gouge and straight chisels to form the shape of the inlay. I used a saw and the disk sander to finalize the shape of the inlay.

The next step was to use the inlay as a pattern to lay out the recess for the inlay. I used a sharp knife to trace around the inlay. Then I took the same gouge to form the rounded part of the recess. Using a detail knife and some other carving tools to deepen the recess, I kept working at it until the inlay was a tight fit.

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After gluing the inlay in place, I started working it flush to the workpiece with hand planes. While the glue was still wet, I sanded it to its final shape, smooth with the surrounding profile.

After the project was finished, you’d be hard pressed to find the patch. The color and grain match did a great job of disguising the patch.

Don’t be afraid of using hand tools

I grew up watching my dad building projects and doing a lot of remodeling on our home. He’s a master at using power tools and has built some fantastic-looking pieces. But I never recall seeing him use a hand plane all that much. He learned how to tweak joinery and thickness a workpiece using sanders, jointers, and planers. And if he needed to nibble the end of a workpiece for a tight fit, he’d do it at the table saw.

I remember dad having an old hand plane in his basement workshop. One day after school, I picked it up and tried to use it. After a few swipes and not getting any results, I gave up.

Fast-forward about 15 years. He showed up one Christmas with a paper bag. “Here. I found these in my shop. You can have them.” Inside was a No. 4½ Stanley smoother and a No. 78 duplex rabbeting plane.

I did a lot of research on the internet to figure out how to restore, tune, and sharpen these old planes. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I took those first few swipes on a piece of scrap wood and discovered the magic. I was able to get thin, whispy shavings.

That day changed my woodworking forever.

I learned how to use a hand plane to remove machining marks left by a jointer or planer. I learned how to tweak the fit of a joint using a hand plane. I was bitten by the bug. Next thing you know, I was shopping on eBay for old planes.

Have I given up on power tools? No way. I use the right tool for the job. And sometimes, a hand plane is the right tool.

Rob Porcaro wrote a blog post over on Fine Woodworking’s web site about his philosophy of using hand tools. I agree with everything he says.

It’s nice to drive to the mountains and even drive through the mountains, but it’s not as nice as hiking them. Power tools drive you there, but hand tools walk you through.    –Rob Porcaro

Another reason to like my No. 3 Stanley hand plane

In a previous post, I mentioned the bed rails I was making for a couple to replace their broken ones. I created a slot for the bed rail hooks by laminating 1/8″ Baltic birch plywood between two layers of poplar hardwood. This worked great except that the slot was visible on the top edge of the rails.

I cut some thin splines from a scrap piece of poplar to fill the gap. I glued them in place then trimmed them with a small gent’s saw, like the one you see here.

Crown Brass Back Gent’s Saw
Manufactured by Crown Hand Tools, these saws keep a thinner blade stiff
by reinforcing it with a brass back.

Crown Brass Back Gent’s Saw

Crown Brass Back Gent

I left them a little proud so I could trim them flush with a hand plane. Continue reading “Another reason to like my No. 3 Stanley hand plane”