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Less Stressful Way to Make a Center Seam?

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I'm just wondering if there is any easier way to go about it. I've been making my center seams the traditional way with hand planes and instead of getting easier over time it just seems to get more stressful. My last one nearly gave me an aneurysm.

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4 hours ago, zdalton13 said:

I'm just wondering if there is any easier way to go about it. I've been making my center seams the traditional way with hand planes and instead of getting easier over time it just seems to get more stressful. My last one nearly gave me an aneurysm.

From what you say, I think something must be wrong with your preparation & method.

It would be useful to know how you are preparing each side of the wedge, how you hold the wedges while planing, and how you hold the wedges while rubbing the glue joint, if you are trying to warm the wood before gluing etc.
Also useful to know what tools and equipment you have there.

A very common error is to assume wedges stay flat when putting them in a vice. If not prepared correctly, they will twist to an extent, and when released from the vice will no longer be true.
The thickness of the glue matters a lot. Very important it is not too thin (for strength), but if you have it too thick, it will become very difficult to rub and squeeze the excess out, essentially just turning to gel.

Almost all of my wedges are not pre-cut, and after sawing them in two, I will leave these for weeks or months for any stresses in the wood to dissipate, before proceeding to joint them. It's important to let things acclimatise to the workshop humidity levels too, otherwise you can be working against natural movement of the materials.

Getting worked up and frustrated isn't going to help you do good work, so a good method and mindset is important to feeling confident, and getting the job done without tears.

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Stress can be avoided by using a method that eliminates or lessens the likelihood of things going wrong. You just have to think through the process and sort that out.

For what it's worth this is what I do, and why.

The Plane. You don't need a big plane. A number 4 bevel-up block is what I use. Sharpen it straight, no camber. Very sharp should be the aim. Adjust it so that it projects evenly out of the mouth. Not too fine, you want a positive cut.

Make a shooting board out of MDF or ply. Screw down a platform about 15 mm thick to support the wedge. Glue a few thin shims to the underside of the wedge and sand them flat so that it doesn't rock when placed on the platform. Then screw some blocks at the side and each end of the wedge so it can't slide. When planing you could just use hand pressure to hold the wedge flat. With the plane laid on its side the edge of the wedge will be about central to the plane blade.

Plane the edges and use a straight edge (important) to make sure they are flat and straight. Hold the wedges together in front of a strong light to check for gaps. If your plane's sole is flat they should match. If the surface is high in the middle use a small block plane to flatten it, then use the bigger plane to complete another full length stroke. And check again.

Prepare fresh hide glue. Soak the beads overnight. Make sure you use the right ratio of water to glue. I go by weight. There's plenty of advice  on Maestronet about ratios. Don't overheat it, just below boiling point in a water bath pot.

Put plenty of glue along each edge and slide them together. Make up your own mind about how to manage that. There are examples on Youtube. Some hold a wedge in each hand, others fix one in a vise.

Hide glue is incredibly strong. It will start to cure and dry instantly. It will contract in the process drawing the sides together. There is no need to use clamps. Misaligned clamps will cause problems. Many makers do use clamps but I know there are others who do not, including myself. You can prove this simply by edge joining two pieces of wood,  and testing it after a day or two. Put one half in a vise and hit the other with a hammer. You might split the wood, but if you have done it properly the glue line will not fail.

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A picture of your shooting board would be helpful.  Here is mine.  I agree with all of the above but what is missing is... practice, practice, practice ..  Like anything else, ...  also stay with a method that works for you.  It is like sharpening, a lot of woodworkers keep changing their sharpening methods before they master the old method.  

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A well-tuned power jointer is about as low-stress of a method there is.  But then, getting the jointer perfectly adjusted and keeping it that way can be even more stressful.  And some folks are just stressed about power machinery anyway.

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  A power jointer  with spiral heads cutters is the perfect and the most stress free method.           Straight blades are not the best because of chatter ,spiral blades are a must.

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I don't use a shooting board and I've often considered a tabletop jointer to rid myself of the stress and ~3hrs it takes to get a seam. My method that I've been using is this: I use a Stanley #5 to get the edges of the boards square after that I use a block plane to make the edges flat. With one wedge in the vice, I match the other up to to find the high spots and then with a block plane, finely tuned to take scraper-like shavings off, I level both edges. I do a rub joint and I've heated the wood in the past but don't find it makes a difference for me. The most stressful part of this whole process is trying to get the wedges initially square without taking off too much material. Too often the wedge is ever so slightly out of square or the surface becomes twisted as I plane it so I end up taking more and more material off to get it square. After I have squared the wedges, I can get them flat pretty quickly and easily. 

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7 hours ago, Dennis J said:

Stress can be avoided by using a method that eliminates or lessens the likelihood of things going wrong. You just have to think through the process and sort that out.

For what it's worth this is what I do, and why.

The Plane. You don't need a big plane. A number 4 bevel-up block is what I use. Sharpen it straight, no camber. Very sharp should be the aim. Adjust it so that it projects evenly out of the mouth. Not too fine, you want a positive cut.

Make a shooting board out of MDF or ply. Screw down a platform about 15 mm thick to support the wedge. Glue a few thin shims to the underside of the wedge and sand them flat so that it doesn't rock when placed on the platform. Then screw some blocks at the side and each end of the wedge so it can't slide. When planing you could just use hand pressure to hold the wedge flat. With the plane laid on its side the edge of the wedge will be about central to the plane blade.

Plane the edges and use a straight edge (important) to make sure they are flat and straight. Hold the wedges together in front of a strong light to check for gaps. If your plane's sole is flat they should match. If the surface is high in the middle use a small block plane to flatten it, then use the bigger plane to complete another full length stroke. And check again.

Prepare fresh hide glue. Soak the beads overnight. Make sure you use the right ratio of water to glue. I go by weight. There's plenty of advice  on Maestronet about ratios. Don't overheat it, just below boiling point in a water bath pot.

Put plenty of glue along each edge and slide them together. Make up your own mind about how to manage that. There are examples on Youtube. Some hold a wedge in each hand, others fix one in a vise.

Hide glue is incredibly strong. It will start to cure and dry instantly. It will contract in the process drawing the sides together. There is no need to use clamps. Misaligned clamps will cause problems. Many makers do use clamps but I know there are others who do not, including myself. You can prove this simply by edge joining two pieces of wood,  and testing it after a day or two. Put one half in a vise and hit the other with a hammer. You might split the wood, but if you have done it properly the glue line will not fail.

Should I glue the broken plate back together with the same glue?

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Zdalton,

3 1/2 hours is way too long. Take the time to get a no. 7 plane on its side on a shooting board. It will take time to get it set up properly. Make sure everything is solid, flat and square. Are you sure your can sharpen a blade properly?

Hide glue needs 145 F. Buy a thermometer at the hardware or grocery store. 

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My blades are always sharp enough to shave with. I don't have any issues with the glue itself. It's just getting a square wedge where I have issues. It seems to me the consensus is to use a shooting board. Unfortunately, I live in a small apartment and don't have room for power tools to make a shooting board and I don't really trust a hardware store to get the cuts straight enough to be accurate for a shooting board. Are there any suggestions as to where I can buy one?

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8 hours ago, Dennis J said:

Make a shooting board out of MDF or ply. Screw down a platform about 15 mm thick to support the wedge. Glue a few thin shims to the underside of the wedge and sand them flat so that it doesn't rock when placed on the platform. Then screw some blocks at the side and each end of the wedge so it can't slide. When planing you could just use hand pressure to hold the wedge flat. With the plane laid on its side the edge of the wedge will be about central to the plane blade.

This sounds unnecessarily complex and convoluted, sort of like a violinist applying colored tape strips on the fingerboard to know where the notes are.

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I was thinking I'd forgot how to use my big  low anlge Veritas jack plane until I held a straight edge to the bottom and found it was quite badly not flat anymore. After having a flat bottom again (that's another story) all the above problems went away and joining is now fun again . Check that plane !

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26 minutes ago, zdalton13 said:

Oh... Well, my plane is so out of flat that I can see a gap of about 1mm between the sole and a straight edge... 

Well, there is the problem. 

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50 minutes ago, zdalton13 said:

Oh... Well, my plane is so out of flat that I can see a gap of about 1mm between the sole and a straight edge... 

23 minutes ago, violins88 said:

Well, there is the problem. 

It is quite stressful to try to do the impossible:  makie a good, flat joint with a plane that is bent or twisted.  I tried it once with a huge 22" plane that I got at a swap meet, so I know.

 

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4 hours ago, H.R.Fisher said:

  A power jointer  with spiral heads cutters is the perfect and the most stress free method.           Straight blades are not the best because of chatter ,spiral blades are a must.

I actually think I got better surfaces with my straight-blade 6" jointer... but only when the HSS blades were freshly sharpened.  The stress was:  the blades had to be sharpened (and adjusted) just about every time I wanted to join plates.  And straight blades make a deafening racket.

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Shooting board and and a decent jointer plane is what you need. I really like the Emmerich wooden jointer plane with the lignum vitae sole. 

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I'm not going to make a big diagnosis of something I haven't seen, but will comment that it's essential to have a consistent and reliable method of testing and analyzing the fit of the two pieces. I spend at least as much time on that as cutting. I notice at my summer camp that the people who have the most trouble also are the most disorganized at testing, and it seems like I do more teaching of how to test than how to cut.

Currently I'm chalk fitting at the end, and doing my final fitting with a scraper. That's AFTER I'm certain I have a perfect fit by other, more usual methods.

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6 hours ago, zdalton13 said:

I don't use a shooting board and I've often considered a tabletop jointer to rid myself of the stress and ~3hrs it takes to get a seam. My method that I've been using is this: I use a Stanley #5 to get the edges of the boards square after that I use a block plane to make the edges flat. With one wedge in the vice, I match the other up to to find the high spots and then with a block plane, finely tuned to take scraper-like shavings off, I level both edges. I do a rub joint and I've heated the wood in the past but don't find it makes a difference for me. The most stressful part of this whole process is trying to get the wedges initially square without taking off too much material. Too often the wedge is ever so slightly out of square or the surface becomes twisted as I plane it so I end up taking more and more material off to get it square. After I have squared the wedges, I can get them flat pretty quickly and easily. 

I think I can see some problems in your approach. I would suggest making a shooting board. Keep the wedge flat using shims as I said. Then there is no need to do anything to the wedges as long as they are reasonably flat on the underside. Don't try to flatten the underside and make the joining edge square to it. Plane the underside surface after you have glued the wedges together. As long as the joining edge is roughly square to the underside that is all you need to do. Just plane those edges flat and straight as I described. It's alright to warm the wood if It is cold, but don't make it too hot. Planes are meant to take off nice shavings not sawdust.

 

 

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I am really not trying to be rude but if someone is having trouble with this basic task I would suggest finding some one who knows how to do this and asking them to show you. Once you have a solid  bench and a properly set up plane with a sharp blade this job should take less than 1/2 an hour and there should be no "stress" involved. That includes flattening the inside sides of the wedges. If the actual planing of the joint takes more than a couple of passes then invariably something is wrong with the plane that must be addressed before continuing.

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11 minutes ago, nathan slobodkin said:

I am really not trying to be rude but if someone is having trouble with this basic task I would suggest finding some one who knows how to do this and asking them to show you. Once you have a solid  bench and a properly set up plane with a sharp blade this job should take less than 1/2 an hour and there should be no "stress" involved. That includes flattening the inside sides of the wedges. If the actual planing of the joint takes more than a couple of passes then invariably something is wrong with the plane that must be addressed before continuing.

Ditto. Flattening and making a joint are part of the basics of woodworking. 

I won't bore you with the progression of how we learned at school, but by the time you got to jointing the plates you had already flattened and jointed a 2-piece mold, flattened and squared blocks, and so on.

Once you have a decent plane, you need to tweak it and learn how to use it. I used to use an old Stanley #8 that was persnickity, but useful once you figured the plane out. I now use a LN#8. Solid. Flat. Nearly perfect out of the box. You will say that it is too expensive, but then spend a week of your time flattening and tuning a lesser plane.

So, please consider stepping back and working on the basics. It will help, even if it is a bit boring.

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