Back Plate Profiled

Back plate profiled

This morning I got the lengthwise profile set on the back plate. This is the second defining reference, along with the perimeter height. Next will be the transverse profiles at the upper, middle, and lower bouts. Then it’s “just” a matter of fairing all the curves to a consistent and pleasing shape.

Working on Back Plate

This maple is quite gnarly in places. I’m doing a small amount each day. It’s hard on the hands, no matter which tool I use. The pull shave removed stock quickly, but it tore out a gnarly area in the lower left. I think the profile will still be fine, but I’m having to be really careful about cut direction with the small planes. Getting this plate to proper shape will take a while – perhaps a week or more of daily work in short sessions.

Belly plate outside shaped

Top plate shaped

Several days of finger plane work and lots of scraping later, and I’m provisionally satisfied with the shape of the belly plate. The profile is slightly low in the middle, but that’s the limitation of the material I started with. The scraping also revealed the crack that was noted on the original slab. If the spots become an issue, I’ll try infusing them with a bit of CA glue before final finishing.

Next up is going through the same shaping process on the back plate. It’s physically harder work because of the hardness of the wood, but I’m not in a hurry and will take my time.

Manual work started

Plates shaping 1

This wasn’t on today’s work schedule, but there it was, saying “I’m feeling ignored”. So I got out the hand tools and started removing excess spruce. The Veritas Pull Shave makes fast work of bulk removal. I was planning to add a link, but this unique item has been discontinued. Just like my workbench. Oh well, nothing lasts forever, except maybe this particular tool. In any case, the pull shave took off the major excess, then I switched to the smaller planes. Using those is a bit hard on the hand, so I stopped after doing the second phase of shaping. The pencil lines indicate areas still needing significant shaping before moving on too the small finger plane, then the scrapers.

Belly Plate roughed out

Rough plates outer
Rough plates inner

After making a few minor adjustments, I cut the belly plate today. There were no stumbles or issues. The next step is to shape the outer surfaces. That’ll be done with hand tools and templates, as is traditional.

Back Plate roughed out

Back Plate Inside
Back Plate Outside

Yesterday I roughed out the back plate on the CNC. Things went better than feared, but still requiring adjustments before I do the top plate. I also realized after it was done that I had the groove for the ribs “on” the line, not outside. The result is that the template is slightly too large. I had decided to live with the over-size, but even now that I’m committed to this approach I’ll have to make another one. I tried trimming the template on the router table, but just messed up an edge. This well delay the project again by a few more days.

Template and plates ready

There’s a lot of fiddle wood that I inherited from my father. These 2 plates were both rejected, for different reasons. The Maple back was narrow with a couple of saw cuts intruding into the required area. The Spruce top is thin, and wasn’t glued very well – there were gaps in awkward places.

I succeeded in separating the Spruce by applying quite a bit of hot water to the seam and wedging it apart. There was only a bit of wood damage. A bit of hand planing made the surfaces clean and consistent. They glued back together with no obvious gaps. There’s still a hand-written note “crack”, which is a dark line within one of the half-plates, near the peak. I suspect that once the plate is formed for the arches the level will below that mark. I’m not convinced it’s a crack.

The Maple plate was more problematic. It wouldn’t come apart, even with lots of hot water and wedges at both ends. I ended up band-sawing it apart. I inserted a Walnut centre. It’s plenty wide enough now, even with the saw cuts. “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!”