Forgive me blog readers, for I have lapsed. It's been... ahem... two months since my last post.
January and February run a bit busy around here but I found a way to get back in the workshop last weekend for the first time in a couple months. I was cleaning up the house and getting ready for my son's ninth birthday party when I realized the cutting boards needed to be resurfaced. "What a shame", I thought, "to have a nice, clean house but such shabby cutting boards". Actually, I thought it was an excuse to take a break.
After clearing all the dust and cutoffs from the top of the bench I secured the planing stop to my right and placed a cutting board up to it to allow me to plane across the grain. When I made these cutting boards a year or so ago I didn't pay much attention to the direction of the grain. This wasn't too much of a concern at the time because I finished them with a random orbital sander, although I did get a little tear-out with the electric planer. This of course plays hell with the hand planes.
If you're concerned about tear-out when hand planing wood it really helps to apply alcohol or, with cutting boards, mineral oil. Besides, it's good for the hands. And I'd imagine it helps to keep the planes from rusting. But probably the most helpful with preventing tear-out today was using a hand planing method called traversing. This is when you plane at a right angle to the grain of the wood.
Using my no. 3 (Stanley with Hock irons), I traversed the walnut, cherry and maple laminations resulting in a much improved surface and showing a very slight scallop, compliments of a cambered plane blade. I also made some diagonal passes. I did try to plane in the direction of the grain for some finishing passes but that only resulted in more tear-out. So, more traversing.
While traversing results in a much better surface than one with a lot of tear-out I wanted to even things out a bit more. So, I pulled out my cabinet scraper and made a few passes.
After the scraping I took the boards back into the house and slathered-on the mineral oil. Just like new. Try that with a plastic or glass cutting board!
The birthday party went well. And even though none of the cutting boards were used, or even seen for that matter, I'm convinced it was time well wasted.