OldTools Archive

Recent Bios FAQ

273587 Thomas Conroy 2021‑05‑04 Re: flattening a large slab
Andrew Heybey wrote:
 "We recently redid our kitchen. There is a small island in the kitchen, the top
of which is about 3’ x 3’. A friend gave us a large slab of beech to use as the
top of the island. The slab is is about 36” by 45” by 3-3.5” (it tapers from one
end to the other). It is also bowed by about 1/2” across the narrow
"- I need to remove a lot of wood. The bow is about 1/2” so to flatten it I have
to remove a total of 1” (1/2 from the top face and 1/2 from the bottom). In
addition, it tapers by 1/2" from end to end, so that’s another big chunk I have
to remove from the whole width.....
"Any words of advice? The thought occurs to me that even doing it by hand
perhaps I should rip it into 2-3 strips so that I can alternate the grain when I
glue it back together. On the other hand, it is kind-of quarter sawn because the
slab went through the middle of the tree.

"Finally, the front knob is missing from my #4 (it currently borrowing one from
my “good” #4). Anyone have a knob they would like to sell?"

Hi, Andrew,
How long is it since the slab was milled? Getting satisfactory results from
beech is dependent on its having enough time to settle down and stop warping. I
have anecdotal evidence that the traditional one year per inch is not
sufficient; probably two years per inch thickness is more like it.  This is not
a matter of moisture content; it is more likely the slow release of growing
stresses. And kiln drying is no good at all. You have to put it in a corner and
wait for it, maybe for years.
You don't want to put a lot of work into flattening and thicknessing the slab,
by any method, only to have it curl like a potato chip after you have cocmpleted
it. My instinct is that slicing it into narrow strips and regluing it won't
helep either. You just have to wait for time.
As for the front knob of your plane: Rosewood seems a mite like over-egging the
pudding for a beater #4 reprposed into a scrub. Just use anything you have
around. I had a plane where the last 2" of a leather-capped chisel handle had
dbeen cut off and used as a front knob. I've seen a golf ball used. I don't
think that I am making up the plane with a tonka-toy truck drilled and screwed
into place---though I can' remember where I came across that one. Or  a chunk of
"prime first growth winter hardened range fed american hardwood," like the late
John Lederer's file handles. After all, it's just a tool (ducking and running

Tom Conroy

Recent Bios FAQ