(This post was rather long, so I decided to split in twain, making it a double post day!)
I've been debating how I should tackle this project since I have decided that I would like to woodwork without the use of power tools. Even if I decided to not use power tools, this project would still be marred by the fact that it had been touched by power tools, actually I was procrastinating because I wasn't certain how I wanted to cut the back panel. Let me rephrase that, I wanted to cut it square...I just wasn't sure that I was capable of that. I finally settled on cutting it close to dimension using the circular saw and planing it down.
I was so excited! I was anxious to plane. I've owned planes (a whole 3, including the one from the last post), but was never interested in sharpening them. My planing past is not something to brag about. I've since learned how to sharpen and was ready to try my hand.
I've tried many different set ups to sharpen: a slow grinding wheel, a fast grinding wheel, my grandfather's grinding wheel (serious). Nothing has ever made me feel good about sharpening. Then I read about the 'scary sharp' system.
At first, I thought the scary sharp was some sort of costly $500 gadget. I was seeing references everywhere I was looking. I was shocked to find out it was only sandpaper on a sheet of glass. Are you serious? I can sharpen my tools with this?? Why the heck didn't any one mention this to me before! Here I am working with dull tools because I can't sharpen to save my own life (I use disposable razors).
So I decide to use the scary sharp system to sharpen my #4 jack plane's blade, I really want to use this thing. I had a variety pack of sand paper, that should work and figured i would go get some spray adhesive and some glass at Lowes.
I head out on the town on my way to Lowes. Traffic is as only holiday season traffic can be, "are you serious, people?" mode. Soon, I find my driving happy place, the "I don't care how fast you think you should be going, I am not letting you get me in an accident" place. I get to Lowes safely, in once piece and head inside to find some spray adhesive. About 200 paces inside the store I realize that I left my wallet at home. "I guess I didn't really need glass or spray adhesive at this time," I think to myself and head back, avoiding the holiday crash derby.
Laying a sheet of sand paper on the work bench, I hold the sheet with one hand and move the flat of the plane iron over it. I had colored it with a permanent marker to check for low spots, and when I picked it up to see how flat the flat was....hmmm, this might take some time. What did I expect? The plane was a gift for a Harbor Freight shopper and was made in India, the sticker told me so. Even so, I would persevere!
I sanded on the work bench (ie, solid core door) surface, then upped the grit to 100 and then again to 60 (normal people people go the other way, not me, I'm special). Still worried about uneven surface of the work top, I tried sharpening on the wall mirror I have in the shop (don't ask). Yep, I held the paper to the mirror and tried that...that didn't last long, how did I think I was going to use the honing tool up there. I finally decided to find some old picture frame and use that. Searching the house I found my old bartender certificate behind a sheet of glass. Triumphant, I returned to the shop.
Flattening out the flat side of an iron sucks.... really. After getting it flat, I honed the other side and made a second bevel and then tried it out. OOOOOO, I was liking this. I tried it on end grain and it worked great! Proud of myself, I finally stopped procrastinating and cut the plywood.
Using a saw guide and circular saw I cut the plywood to length, leaving about it about 1/16 proud. Then I had to figure out a way to cut the length. I didn't have a rip saw yet, so that wasn't an option. My clamp guide was only 50" long so I couldn't use that either. I pieced together a couple of scraps to make an impromptu panel gauge and laid out the last two cuts I needed. I also cut them proud to allow a margin of error and would plane it down to its final dimension.
Here's a shot of my planing set up; a couple of wooden 8" clamps held onto the work bench with quick clamps. (and a beer)
...and a shot of the plane making some really good shavings.
After shaving it down, I fit it in, making minor corrections with the plane. I was ready to glue up!
I put the glue on, and set the back panel in place. I measured the corners to make sure it was square and used brads to hold it in place. Well....I used brads. My use of brads seems to mean that "holding" is optional. Some of my brads missed since I had planed the board so thin. In the end I put some clamps on it, cleaned up shop, and called it a night.
Here is the end of the day's efforts. You can see the impromptu panel gauge sitting on the lathe cabinet.