Workbench disclaimer: A traditional workbench makes many tasks easier. Please read that sentence again with the emphasis on the last word. Easier. While you can build anything with nothing, things are easier with a traditional bench.
Today I dressed the carcase of a tool chest, which was quick and easy with the help of my legs.
Use a Sawbench. Here I’m leveling the end grain of the tails. The traditional sawbench, when paired with a heavy bench, makes many carcases an easy job. Add a moving blanket to protect your work. Note in the photo above how I am using one leg to push the work firmly against the bench. For bigger cases, I put the moving blanket on the floor – no sawbenches – and push the case against the leg of the bench.
Use the End of the Bench. I like narrow workbenches because they allow me to sleeve the carcase over the benchtop. The benchtop prevents the case from deflecting while you plane it. Again, my leg keeps the case in place against the benchtop.
On Tippy Toes. Leveling the ends of a carcase can be difficult because they can rarely be sleeved over the bench. Even over this short span – about 18” – the board will deflect when you plane it, making it difficult to make it true. When possible, I put my leg into the carcase (note the rag protecting the work) and push up with my knee to support the panel while planing it.
This honestly and truly works. Try it before mocking.
When I cannot wedge my leg into the carcase I use a “goberge,” also called a “gobar.” Essentially I wedge a heavy stick inside the carcase to support and push against the panel I’m planing. Big cases sometimes need two goberges.
Last trick and I’ll let you go: Grab some shavings. Usually I am trying to plane a carcase square and flat so I can add mouldings, skirtings, whatever. But sometimes the panel doesn’t have to be dead flat, it just has to look flat.
When that’s the case with a case, You can use a few shavings to help plane that last little hollow in the board that is giving you fits. While the carcase is sleeved over the bench, put a couple shavings between the carcase and the benchtop right under the hollow spot. The shavings will deflect the board right into your plane’s mouth. Thank you Robert Wearing for that trick.
— Christopher Schwarz