Panel discussion in a parallel universe

With the table base in the finishing room getting a daily coat of wipe-on poly, and the light box finished and delivered, it’s time to get to work on the table tops. The two main tops will be 30″ wide each, with a 24″ extension leaf (4′ side to side for all). That means about 18 rough board to be milled: crosscut, ripped, face jointed, thicknessed and edge jointed. As I started to joint the face, I noticed that I was getting an uneven cut, leaving me with a thick and a thin edge to the board. Not good, as I wouldn’t have enough thickness left after planing. After some discussion of the problem on the Fine Woodworking Knots forum and a careful examination of the jointer, I realized that it was in desperate need of new knives. No problem, I had some on hand, ready to go.

Jointer knives are held in by square gib screws. Small ones. I tested wrenches until I found the size that seemed to fit them; 8mm. A couple obliged by loosening, but the others would not budge. The fact that the wrench was such a small one didn’t help matters; not much leverage. I decided to soldier on with the knives as they were, and managed to get all of the boards ready for the thickness planer. I spritzed some penetrating lubricant on the screws to work while I thcknessed the baords, ending up with a good 1″ thick top. The next day, I got some more advice on dealing with stuck screws from Eric Mattson, the Fine Woodworking teacher here at Rio. So I gave it another shot. First, I double checked the screws with a caliper, seeing if an imperial wrench would work, and, what do ya know, they were 5/16″ on the nose. So, with a change of wrench (still small, but now perfectly snug), and a few judicious taps with a wooden mallet (works much better than the hammer that I had tried before; less bouncing. Thanks, Eric!), I managed to get ALL of the screws loosened, and the knives changed. O so much better!

With the boards for the top milled to size, it was time to decide which one would go where; who worked best next to who; and which ones would gave me the right width for the three panels. I had already decided on the top side during the milling process. So I had to spread them out against the wall workbench, all 7+ feet of them. I settled on a pleasing, harmonious arrangement, and got ready to glue. Instead of trying to glue too many at the same time, I broke it down into 5 glue ups: 2 per main side, and 1 for the extension. That lessened the risk of warpage during clamping, and reduced the frantic level.

Once all the glue ups are finished, I will get to work on the ebony butterfly inlays.

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