Many moons ago, when I first moved into my old apartment, the first order of business was getting my sturdy dining table ready for clamp on workbenches. Two years later, I’ve moved, and now that I have the space for an actual workbench, it was time to get my sturdy dining table ready for use as an actual dining table. That meant stripping the finish and reflattening the tabletop.
And also replacing the plywood shelf with ash.
Ash is quite porous, and the tabletop had soaked in quite a bit of steel slurry and rust particles over its life as a quasi-workbench. Plus, the Danish Oil finish had fully cured. As a result, there was nothing to do but have diamond plates on hand for frequent sharpening. Two hours, half a garbage can of shavings and about ten resharpenings later, the tabletop was tried and true.
Fun fact: this rug was supposed to be under the table in my old apartment.
It had been a long time since my No. 4 1/2 got a decent workout. I ordinarily use it only for panel smoothing. All that resharpening allowed me to work on the blade geometry a bit, getting it mostly straight with a slight camber at the edges (as opposed to a full camber across the entire edge). When it was time for final smoothing, though, I re-instituted a continuous camber.
This was sharpening #11.
Ash being a fickle mistress, there is significant tearout at one corner (far right, above), but I’m not so concerned. It’s meant to be a rustic piece. Before I refinish the tabletop, however, I will give it a once over with a tool I haven’t used in ages: the random-orbit sander. Half an hour at 150 grit should clean up any remaining traversing marks that didn’t come out from smoothing. I also dressed the long grain edges of the tabletop, just because.
The top is actually glued down, long grain to long grain. No splits yet.
I can’t wait to show everyone the new workshop (spoiler alert: it’s larger than a dining nook). I’ve been making new kitchen cabinet shelves for the new place (the old ones were warped and gross), so it’s high time for a real furniture project. But everything in due time.
RIP old shop.