Hand Tools Archive

Re: Sargent transitional
Response To:
Sargent transitional ()

Wiley Horne--So. Calif.
Hi Joe,

You're not getting much advice on the question about white oak, so I'll share my ignorance with you :) . I'm assuming the oak is quarter sawn or rift, and the beech has generally horizontal grain:

1. The 'by the book' answer is that the beech has horizontal grain and the oak is generally vertical grain, so you have a cross-grain glue-up. This is thought to be risky. Now if the beech is rift, and the oak is rift too, then the issue goes away, for reasons listed in (2) below.

2. My experience (as well as some others who have posted here from time to time) is that the seasonal movement in already-dried hardwood is way less than the percentage radial and tangential movement listed for kiln-drying-from-wet. In other words, once the wood is dry, it doesn't move nearly as much. ($5 words like 'hysteresis' get mentioned in connection with this fact.) And when the dry wood is coated with a film coat, like shellac or varnish, seasonal movement is further retarded, though not stopped. Sometimes retarded is enough, especially for tools kept in a climate-controlled space.

3. Therefore, I am prepared to make a friendly bet of $20 that you could glue on a 1/4" thick slab of oak cross-grain with the beech, coat with shellac when dry, and wax it, and you'll never have a problem if the plane is kept in a climate-controlled place. This is just what I would bet, and I could be wrong.

4. For mostly aesthetic reasons, I would prefer to use plain-sawn hard maple (sugar maple) if I had any around, which I usually do. Why? Prefer the color; grain likely more favorable, depending on how the beech is sawn; finer grain than oak, so I could probably cut a cleaner mouth in it.

5. Would I go buy a new piece of wood rather than use the oak I already had? For my own shop use--no, especially if I wanted to get to work with the plane; if I were going to try to sell the plane or send it to someone else, yes.


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