Everyone knows that practice makes perfect. Well, maybe not perfect, but a reasonable fax simile.
One of the recent lessons in the Hand Tool School is making bench hooks. There was a practice lesson that leads up to it on flattening boards which I had dutifully completed on an off-cut of walnut. I had some trouble with plane tracks from my jointer, so I decided to do it again
After nicking off the corners on my jointer plane and a sharpening session on my jointer and smoother, I started by hollowing out the middle of that same walnut off-cut with the jointer and then proceeded with the flattening and then checking with the winding sticks. Thankfully, there were no plane tracks to deal with. Happy day!
Satisfied, I moved on to my smoothing plane and after a couple of trial passes, I had the blade carefully centred and was happily taking the thinnest of shavings.
3-4 passes later, I decided to double check the flatness and saw something I had never seen from hand planing or from sanding. I had been looking at a fairly low angle and lost it when I moved away.
Picking the board up again, I sighted down the board and I happened to have a bench dog in view just beyond the end of the board. Here is what I saw.
Yep, a reflection of the bench top and the dog in the face of the board. I'm guessing that people have seen this before, so I'm not going to compare it to the feeling one gets when they see the Mona Lisa in a cheese sandwich, but I was pretty impressed that one could attain this level of finish without actually even applying a finish!
So, while I may not always do the rough dimensioning by hand depending on timelines, I am a full on convert to finishing with a hand plane whenever possible. Just think of the possibilities on applying a film finish. French polishing requires a completely smooth surface. Even applying poly might take less coats with a surface prepped like this. Too bad this will become my sawing hook, ha!
Tell me about the revelations you've had in your woodworking journey. Let's discuss!