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