Split Top Roubo - Part 3 - Or is that Part 2?

The last minute switch from Hard Maple to Soft Maple is proving to be worth the expense of time and money. I'm much happier with the finished product. I used the lessons I learned from the Hard Maple to improve the machining process.

Once I got the load of Soft Maple home, I stacked it up in the shop, complete with sticks for air space, to let it acclimatize. Since I was rushed I expedited the process by setting up a small fan to promote air movement over the wood. The Maple was all kiln dried and I was comfortable after a few days that it was ready to start machining. Starting to lay out the board on my assembly table to sorting, I quickly noticed how my prized board, once in my shop, weren't the objects of perfection they were in a dimly light barn. Funny how that works! Never the less, I was still confident they would work well.

The biggest change in my plan of attack was at the start. Wide boards were marked with a chalk line so they could be ripped in half with the band saw, releasing lot of internal tension in the process! Instead of skip planing everything before deciding what to joint, I went right to the jointer. My plan was to focus on the near perfect board and the really bad boards, while ignoring the ones in between. I wasn't worried so much about a bowed board, but twist had to go so in the end everything went over the jointer.

It became obvious which boards I would joint perfectly straight and which ones I would leave a bow in. The wood would just speak to me and let me know it's intentions. A few... ok, a lot... of passes over the planer and the boards were surfaced on both faces. I didn't worry about getting them perfect as I knew there would be more planing in my future. Placing my hand on the surface of the board confirmed that as it felt cold to the touch. A tell tale sign that this wood had some more moisture to release. At the end of my evening I placed on the boards on their edge with spaces in between to let them air out.

During the next few days, the boards where jointed straight on one side and passed over the table saw to rip them as wide as possible. This allowed me to choose the top side (good side) which was straightened with a few passes over the jointer. Back to the table saw to rip everything to 4 1/4" wide. To ensure everything is perfectly parallel, the boards are planed to width on the planer. During the process I kept track of the grain direction be marking the trailing end for that side.

During this whole process, I determined my jointer tables were not co-planer, which led an exercise is tuning my jointer. That will be documented at a future date.

See all the posts about the Split Top Roubo here.

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