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Thread: Thicknessing sides advice please

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
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    6

    Default Thicknessing sides advice please

    Hi guys, just a quick question for anyone who thicknesses their own tops/backs/sides without having a thickness sander. I know the safe t planer is an option, but after seeing them in use I really don't fancy that amount of dust and noise in my spare room/workshop.

    I surprised myself today by managing to use my no 5 Stanley to get some scrap pieces of Khaya and Walnut down from 4mm to around 1mm, thinner than I wanted obviously but just a test really.

    After a quick hand sanding they cleaned up ok, anyway my question is regarding bending the sides, as an amateur lacking experience I imagine the pieces I plane will be more likely to break when bending due to more inconsistencies in the wood than I'd maybe have if they were thicknessed by a machine.
    Is this a valid concern and has anyone experienced this or am I just being paranoid and worrying too much.
    I'm reasonably confident that with some care and attention I can do it now but before I risk ruining my wood I just thought I'd ask some advice as I'm sure some of you have had similar experiences in your early days.

    My side bender is coming shortly so I've not being able to test anything yet.

    I also have a bandsaw on route so plan to stock up on wood and resaw my own sets, would love to be self sufficient and be able to thickness my wood as needed rather than just buy a set at a time and pay shops to thickness for me.

    Any advice appreciated, thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Little River, California
    Posts
    2,774

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThomW View Post
    more likely to break when bending due to more inconsistencies in the wood than I'd maybe have if they were thicknessed by a machine.
    Is this a valid concern and has anyone experienced this or am I just being paranoid and worrying too much.
    Mostly paranoid. Some people even thin at the waist more than the ends to facilitate bending at the waist... Tip: After you plane to approximate thickness, even things up a bit with a palm sander. Some variation will occur. Not a problem.

    Don't worry too much. Bending wood is easier (most of the time!) than it appears (depending!). Just do it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Southeast US
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    132

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    I've been resawing my side boards to about 3/32 to 1/8 inch on the bandsaw. Then using a No. 5 plane get them to around 1/16. Then even out and smooth with a card scraper. Then soak for a couple hours in water, and bend on a 1.5 in steel pipe heated by a propane torch to 300-350ish F. This seems to work well for me.

  4. #4
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    Apr 2020
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    6

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    Quote Originally Posted by sequoia View Post
    Mostly paranoid. Some people even thin at the waist more than the ends to facilitate bending at the waist... Tip: After you plane to approximate thickness, even things up a bit with a palm sander. Some variation will occur. Not a problem.

    Don't worry too much. Bending wood is easier (most of the time!) than it appears (depending!). Just do it.
    Interesting, thank you for the tip a palm sander seems like a good idea I'll give it a go

  5. #5
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    Apr 2020
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoji View Post
    I've been resawing my side boards to about 3/32 to 1/8 inch on the bandsaw. Then using a No. 5 plane get them to around 1/16. Then even out and smooth with a card scraper. Then soak for a couple hours in water, and bend on a 1.5 in steel pipe heated by a propane torch to 300-350ish F. This seems to work well for me.
    Thanks for the advice. Still have plenty of test pieces so I'll have a go with my scrapers

  6. #6

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    I'm all for doing it by hand like you are. Some woods are just so tough and frustrating, though. I've made a simple thicknesser with a disc Sander, and I've done tops backs and sides on it up to tenor size. I love hand planes and working by hand, but I really love the efficiency of a machine, too.
    https://longfellowguitaranduke.wordpress.com/

    gmail me at longfellowguitaranduke

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    149

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    If you prefer to thickness with a hand plane that's fine. (Except to the extent that some woods don't like to be planed with a standard blade angle (45 degrees).) With practice and a suitable gauge, you can approach machine-level precision on something the size of a uke side. Maybe better than a standard planer, because you won't snipe the ends of the piece.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Kekaha, Kauai
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    340

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    For some decades I thickness sanded all my wood on a 6 x 48 belt sander. Last year, I converted a bench drill press to a thickness sander and love it. Does the job in half the time with an accuracy of .1 mm. If there is any interest I can repost the pics and details. Cost is around $250.
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  9. #9
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    Apr 2020
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uke-alot View Post
    If you prefer to thickness with a hand plane that's fine. (Except to the extent that some woods don't like to be planed with a standard blade angle (45 degrees).) With practice and a suitable gauge, you can approach machine-level precision on something the size of a uke side. Maybe better than a standard planer, because you won't snipe the ends of the piece.
    That's good to hear, I have a good low angle block plane which I'll try but have only really used the no 5 so far as I feel comfortable with it.
    I have some fairly plain Cherry, Pear and Ash which I'm going to try soon, I prefer these wood types and don't plan on using anything really figured anytime soon so hopefully it'll go to plan. Thanks for the comment

  10. #10
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    Feb 2019
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    Massachusetts, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThomW View Post
    That's good to hear, I have a good low angle block plane which I'll try but have only really used the no 5 so far as I feel comfortable with it.
    I have some fairly plain Cherry, Pear and Ash which I'm going to try soon, I prefer these wood types and don't plan on using anything really figured anytime soon so hopefully it'll go to plan. Thanks for the comment
    I've always found that cherry planed well. The No. 5 should be fine for that. I haven't actually worked with pear or ash, but I don't think they make the list of "notoriously hard to plane woods."

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