Tear-out is a common problem when working with figured woods because the grain runs in many directions at once and it becomes impossible to plane "with the grain."
You can reduce tlx- chances of tear-out by keeping your tools razor slurp, so they'll shear the wood fibers instead of ripping them. The following techniques will also help control tear-out
Cut rough sawn stock into individual parts before planing. By cutting the figured wood into smaller pieces you have more flexibility when choosing how you'll feed the stock through the planer and jointer, minimizing tear-out.
Hand-plane parts before assembly. This helps you avoid cross-grain planing where, for example, the end of a rail meets a stile. Planing at an angle to the grain will also reduce tear-out.
Make two cuts instead of one. For example, when thicknessing stock in the planer or routing a profile on the edge of a piece, take two passes, with the second one being a very light cut that cleans up some of the tear-out from the first cut.
When in doubt, use a scraper. This tool is a sure thing for producing tear-free surfaces.
thing that was a little more in charactcr with the aesthetics of the frame. So I decided to make a framc-and-pancl assembly consisting of two thin cherry back panels held in a mortised and tenoned walnut frame. (See Fig. 2.) A Vi-in. thick tongue cut in the walnut
There's one other step that will help rcducc tear-out on highly figured woods: When you send out your planer blades for sharpening, have the shop add a backbevel. (See drawing.) The bevel changes the cutting angle from the usual 30° (ideal for softwoods) to holds the mirror against the bird's-eye frame. (See Fig. 1.)
I started with VB-in. stock and formed the outside edge of the tongue with a cut on the tablesaw. Then I assembled the back frame and used a router and straight bit to form the inside edge of the tongue. Thin strips of fell glued to the tongue prevent scratches where the tongue touches the back of the mirror. (See Fig. 2.)
I decided to hang the mirror on mating beveled strips (sec Fig. 1). so I made the top rail of my back assembly % in. wider than the sides and bottom parts to give me room to form a 45° bevel that would fit a corresponding hanger strip. (See Fig. 1.) If you opt for a plywood back, you could use standard mirror hanging hardware instead.
As a finishing touch, I lightly
»5°, an angle less inclined to tear wood when cutting against the grain. This works well on jointers too.
If you make this modification, you may want to keep a spare set of "regular' blades since the trade-off for smoother cuts is a reduction in the ability to take very deep cuts.—R.C.
scraped the face of the frame to remove tear-out and then sanded the scraping marks.
I finished the frame with Wateriox, a wipe-on oil/varnish blend, that I thinned with naptha (about 20 percent) and applied in thin coats until I achieved a good build-up
That's all there is to it. I assembled the parts, hooked the mirror on the wall hanger and then stood back for a moment of reflection. ▲
r i c hanisch is an architect an J designer living in Pennsylvania.
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Have you ever wanted to begin woodworking at home? Woodworking can be a fun, yet dangerous experience if not performed properly. In The Art of Woodworking Beginners Guide, we will show you how to choose everything from saws to hand tools and how to use them properly to avoid ending up in the ER.