I only want to work each surface of this benchtop once. The slab weighs enough (approximately 115 pounds) that I have to struggle with it to get it in and out of the vise and onto the benchtop.
So every move with the slab is planned with care so I don’t end up injured or (at best) embarrassed at having to ask a friend to help me get the benchtop off the floor.
Today I dressed the two broad faces of the benchtop: the underside and the benchtop itself. Both have to be fairly flat and free of twist in my experience. Of course, this slab turned out to be a weird one. Typically the bark side of a slab will be concave across its width, and the heart side will be convex. This slab was reversed.
So I started on the convex face. Normally when I dress a rough convex face I remove the hump in the middle using with-the-grain strokes with my jack. But because I had a lot of wood to remove (about a quarter of a thumb), I used a different tactic. I traversed the hump alone at first and stayed away from the long edges of the benchtop. Traversing allowed me to take a bigger bite with the jack plane.
Once the hump was gone, I checked the top for twist. It was indeed twisted. So I used my jack plane to work away the two high corners, which were diagonal from one another.
When the underside was flat (according to the winding sticks), I dressed the entire underside of the top with the jack to leave a consistent and tidy (if scalloped) surface.
Then I flipped the benchtop over to work on the concave side.
Because I knew this surface was also twisted, I began working away the two high corners straightaway. After bringing all the corners into the same plane, I dressed the surface with a jack. I’ll probably dress it with the jointer in the morning and leave it like that until after assembly – that’s when I’ll clean up the leg joints protruding through the benchtop and tooth the surface with a toothing plane.
I also managed to rough out the legs on the band saw today and hope to turn them on the lathe tomorrow.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it’s not. I have logged only two full hours of shop time. How much more time I’ll log will be determined by whether I decide to build an opossum or an arachnid.
— Christopher Schwarz