Parting of the Plank

After taking a few deep meditative breaths, I proceeded to lay out all the Honduran mahogany parts on the large plank that's been settling in the living room for a while. I needed to take care of the cross cuts before I could fit these planks into my small studio. To do that I used a jig saw outfitted with a 7" blade, which is just barely long enough to cut all the way through this 4" plank. Below, you can see the exposed surfaces of the freshly ripped plank.

There's a lot of cutting to do, so it's time to address an issue that I've had with my band saw for some time. An out of balance three slot pulley driving the band saw was the culprit. It was an extremely heavy part, so I decided to replace it with a smaller, lighter, single slot pulley. All in an effort to reduce vibration in the system. While I was at it, I also replaced the bearings that were showing signs of wear. And, last, but not least, I replaced the belt and motor drive pulley. I used a smaller size drive pulley so that I could retain the original blade speed, and I replaced the belt with a link belt which is said to reduce vibration, as well.

The repair went well and I immediately got to cutting. The machine is much quieter and steadier now! Below I have most of the mahogany parts roughed out.

Most of the plank had fairly straight grain, and amazingly close to 45° rift, so it was only the legs that required a bit of rotation in the plank.

Prior to shop-sawing the mahogany veneers for the panels, I picked up some Baltic birch plywood for the cores and began locating and cutting those parts, as well.

I wasn't able to find a local source for 9mm Baltic birch plywood, so as an alternative I went with the 12mm thickness on some and with 6mm on others. Here's my first glue-up using a mechanical press that I borrowed from a very generous fellow woodworker. I set the whole contraption on two saw horses (in our living room!). It's made up of a base that keeps the lower platen elevated so there is room for the clamping cauls, two substantial platens, more clamping cauls, and of course the clamps. For the occasional pressing of veneer panels, it's a great set-up.

In order to get the exact panel thicknesses I want, I need to include a custom thickness inner layer. In some cases it's simply a thin poplar veneer, or when the material needs to be thicker, like you see below, a grid of poplar planed to the correct thickness is used. The grid between the two outer layers of plywood forms a torsion box that helps with the stability of the panel and also keeps the weight a bit lower compared to a solid core.

As with most projects, I usually find a way to do something a bit over the top. And, as is also often the case, it's basically hidden from normal view, but I just couldn't stand the idea of the shelf support console holes being lined with light colored Baltic birch. So... I placed mahogany inserts where the holes will be bored. A bit of work to achieve it, but worth it in the end, especially since it allows me to sleep more soundly through the night!

Many more panel cores to prepare and glue up. Many veneers to cut.

Hej då and happy shavings!

Craig