Any successful method of jointing backs and tops without power jointer or planes?

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Neal Carey
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Re: Any successful method of jointing backs and tops without power jointer or planes?

Post by Neal Carey »

Greg, a #6 or even better a #7 would do a fine job. There are YT videos on 'restoring' old planes, flatten it as best you can, polish up that blade and most importantly build a proper shooting board. The time spent on building a shooting board is well worth it! I have tried all the methods discussed here and the 'worst' by far was trying to use a power jointer. I used to believe (when I was a beginner and more than a little naive) a machine had to be able to do it better. But the more I use hand tools, the more I discover that "those olden day guys" really knew what they were doing :-)

Now I have a really nice plane (Lie-Nielsen Mitre Plane) which my wife gave to me for Christmas this year, and I spent a day in the shop building a decent shooting board, with a UHMV strip applied along flat for the plane to ride in. Glides very nicely. The ramp is angled so that the blade cuts on a bit of an angle and you're not always using the same spot on the blade. The best thing about this approach is you can build the board to suit any plane you get (I used to use a #7 until I got this one) and for any length you need.
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Shooting plane with angled shooting board
Shooting plane with angled shooting board
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Stephen Neal Saqui
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Re: Any successful method of jointing backs and tops without power jointer or planes?

Post by Stephen Neal Saqui »

Neal, that looks nice. Would a longer extension at either end of the ramp keep the plane on solid ground at the beginning and end of the stroke?

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Bryan Bear
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Re: Any successful method of jointing backs and tops without power jointer or planes?

Post by Bryan Bear »

That UHMW is a good tip Neil thanks! I just picked up a no. 6 for this very job. I had been using a number 4. This was my only bench plane for a good while. It did an okay job but when I finally got a number 5 and used it to shoot the seam on plates it worked so nicely that I realized a number 6 would work even better. I figured it being a couple inches shorter than a typical plate to be jointed was just about perfect. Do you find the number 7 a big advantage? It would be longer than most of my back sets.

The number 6 is a bit of a strange duck. A bit too short to be a real jointer but unnecessarilyong for most other tasks. It seams about berfect for this one particular operation. I doubt I will ever use it for anything else in my shop. I'm actually thinking of making a handle specifically for using the shooting board. I'm thinking a single handle somewhere near the frog tilted at a 45 degree angle to the sole. That is where I usually hold a plane on the shooting board but there is no real comfortable spot to grab.
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Neal Carey
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Re: Any successful method of jointing backs and tops without power jointer or planes?

Post by Neal Carey »

Stephen, I think you could make the ramp whatever length suits you or your project. In fact, at some point in the near future I'll be building a much longer shooting board for a harpsichord soundboard I have to joint out of ~5 pieces of spruce. It ought to be interesting! But for for this particular plane, this shooting board fits nicely. It wouldn't hurt to have it longer on the starting side, but there really is no need to have it longer at the end of the cut, as the blade never really passes much beyond the cross-piece.

Bryan, for this kind of jointing I'm not sure that there would be that much difference. But generally, the longer the better. This mitre plane has a handle on the side specifically to grasp it in a convenient location for shooting. Basically it has a slot in it and a set screw to tighten against the side of the plane.
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Hot dog handle - Lie-Nielsen Mitre plane
Hot dog handle - Lie-Nielsen Mitre plane
"Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted." - John Lennon

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Bryan Bear
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Re: Any successful method of jointing backs and tops without power jointer or planes?

Post by Bryan Bear »

Thanks Neal, I have seen those "hot dog" type handles on the hump of Stanley bench planes. I always wondered if they were comfortable. I was thinking of a handle closer to the shape of a tote. Perhaps I'm over thinking things. . .
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John LaTorre
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Re: Any successful method of jointing backs and tops without power jointer or planes?

Post by John LaTorre »

Barry Daniels wrote:Greg, make sure that your method didn't round off the joint in the sideways axis. This can happen when working freehand. The joint may look light tight, but can still have open places in the joint that can result in subsequent joint failure.
That can be prevented by sandwiching the soundboard or back halves between two thicker pieces of wood, like 1" (which is actually 3/4") pine board. That keeps the edges of your halves from becoming rounded.
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Darrel Friesen
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Re: Any successful method of jointing backs and tops without power jointer or planes?

Post by Darrel Friesen »

I believe some people are confusing flat top plate jointing methods with those required for archtop wedges at ~1 1/4' thick "each". Some are translatable and some aren't.

Michael Lewis
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Re: Any successful method of jointing backs and tops without power jointer or planes?

Post by Michael Lewis »

Ya know, if you don't have any tools you are going to have a difficult time of making a guitar. I'm not saying you need a lot of tools, but you do need some to do specific jobs. You can make the center seam joint of an archtop (or back) with a sanding block and a scraper. It might take a long time but it can be done and very accurately. You do your best effort to make one gluing surface as flat as you can, then rub chalk on that flat surface and press the other piece against it. Don't wiggle it, just press the pieces together and pull them apart. The high spots on the unchalked surface will now have chalk on them. These are what you scrape away, and do it again, and again. You will need to reapply chalk several times in the process, and just keep taking down the high spots until you get a chalk print evenly over the whole surface. Then wipe both surfaces clean and glue them together.

I am going to assume you have made the 'inside' surfaces flat. These surfaces become the gluing surface that mate with the linings and sides when all else is trimmed and carved away. Only after these inside surfaces are flat should you make the center joint.

Stephen Neal Saqui
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Re: Any successful method of jointing backs and tops without power jointer or planes?

Post by Stephen Neal Saqui »

As a matter of fact, Michael's description above will give you a near perfect joint for archtop guitar plates. And there are many other applications of using chalk or even a china marker. Plus, it's fun to do!

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