Oh, That Sweet Smell!!

October 31, 2012

Some steps in a project are more enjoyable than others; some are downright fun! Such is the case of making tongue and groove panels from Port Orford Cedar. First a bit about the wood. Port Orford Cedar is not a true cedar, but a species of cypress that grows in the Southwest coastal range of Oregon down to Northern California. It is used locally for boat building and instrument making but I chose to use it for the bottom of the chest and drawers because of it's wonderful, ginger-like aroma. It also has beautiful straight grain that makes it easy to plane. I bought my piece of wood at the Washington, Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival last year.

It was about 1 inch thick so I resawed it and planed it down to about 3/8" thickness. It hand planes very nicely but you still need a very sharp blade to avoid tear-out in the softer areas of the growth rings. I then ripped it into about 3" wide strips and cross cut it to width for the chest and drawer bottoms.  Sometime back I had purchased a "mis-matched" set of 3/8" match planes that turned out to be more mis-matched than I thought. I needed to do a little work on the grooving plane to get the groove centered on the 3/8" stock and it needed a new wedge. After some deliberation I decided to add a small thickness of quarter sawed beech to the fence.

I cleaned up the fence area with a chisel and tried to remove any oil or wax residue with a variety of solvents. I then ripped a piece of beech slightly oversize and planed it to exact thickness. I glued and clamped it into place using Titebond.  I had a broken piece of wedge that I just copied using some beech and careful chisel work to get an exact fit.

The plane was not very usable in it's original condition and not overly rare so I do not feel bad about bringing it back to a useful life.  After sharpening up the blades and some adjusting, they were both a delight to use. Little curls of that wonderful cedar were spilling out of the mouth and onto the floor and filling the garage with a sweet aroma.

Here are two pictures of the completed bottom. I decided to just let the bottom sit on the rails and not fasten it in any way. I may change my mind but it works well. 

The next installment will take a look at the drawers. Thanks for looking!

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