Sometimes you read old accounts of workshop practice where there’s a pot of raw linseed oil by the bench. Andre Roubo’s bench had a little swing-out pot of oil underneath the bench. Likely it was used to oil the soles of the planes or the plates of the saws to make them slide more easily.
Today I found another good use for an oil pot on the bench.
I just finished raising three panels by hand that will be dust panels between the drawers of a chest. Each panel is a single board of 17”-wide Eastern white pine. Raising the first two panels was a piece of cake. But the third one had a nasty knot on the corner.
The knot was denser than any maple I’ve worked and so raising that corner was slow going, and the results looked pretty raggy, too.
To make it easier to push my plane I lubricated the sole a few times with camellia oil. It helped, but it was like spitting on a forest fire, it wasn’t nearly enough.
So without really thinking I squirted the knot a few times with the oil. That made quite a difference, and I finished up the panel with a few more squirts and a few more strokes. Not only was the knot easier to cut, but the result looked much better, too.
I better buy another bottle of the oil.
— Christopher Schwarz
6 thoughts on “The ‘Texas tea’ Solution for Knots”
This works when turning too – juicing up a bit of rough grain or a knot with oil helps avoid tear out and lubricates the tool. If you go too far the resulting spray is a bit troublesome but it is an effective method.
Will this affect the finishing step?
I wonder if water would also work, like when you spritz water on an ornery board before running it through the planer and the water reduces tearout.
None of the non-drying oils affect finishing.
And water might also work — the only downside being the whole water plus iron equals rust.
Not sure from the picture if this was a fielded panel or not (not even sure if the pic is your panel as it doesn’t look like EWP to me). If not, you can use a toothing plane on the knot. The toothing plane works very well for bringing down knots. I use mine on knots on board faces when I can’t cut around the knot or if I’m using the board as a secondary piece and don’t care about a knot.
>I just finished raising three panels by hand that will be dust panels between the drawers of a chest.
So where will we get to read about how you did this?
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