A mirror darkly

Sitting here looking at my reflection in a wooden mirror. It's not a very _good_ mirror, needs a _lot_ of light on my face to see the reflection but by golly I can see it.
It all started out with an old (in both senses--I've known him 20 years and he's in his 80s) friend asking me to help him move. In his new digs he wanted to hang a clock on the wall. It's an expensive clock and fairly heavy and there wasn't a stud where he wanted to hang it (it's in a little alcove with studs at the corners 10 inches apare but none in the middle). I suggested putting up a board between two studs and hanging the clock from that. He liked the idea, so I allowed as to how I'd bring over a board next time, thinking about a piece of red oak that would match the cabinets and trim. Well we got to talking about other things and the chime on his clock sounded, almost inaudibly, and that got back to the board. We decided that something hard would be best. I jokingly said "Well, I could probably scare up a piece of lignum vitae". He asked "what's that" and I told him about it, and he says "YEAH, I WANT THAT."
So went home and checked the lumber rack and while I have some cutoffs that I use for this and that I couldn't get enough width out of them to make a square surround in the width needed. So, off to cwg for a couple of pieces of LV. 20 bucks later I have two board feet, planed to 7/8 and jointed on one edge. Took one, ran the other edge through the jointer (the much maligned Delta benchtop jointer), the edges that cwg had done had some toolmarks, so took 1/32 off of those, cut 3 pieces a little over length, and glued them up with T88. Let it sit overnight then ran the result through the planer, then sawed it square and a hair over the finished dimension. The dust had an interesting odor, not at all unpleasant but very noticeable and quite distinctive.
Now came the fun part. I wasn't sure which side I wanted to have out--one had some torn out grain that I wasn't sure I could sand down and the other had a couple of wormholes and a little bit of sapwood, so decided to finish both and then decide. Took the ROS and some 60 grit and went over both sides and all edges (there was some slight tearout from the planer--grain in the stuff went all over the place), then 100, 150, 220, 320, and 600, rubbing with a paper towel between grits and tossing the towel. Next went to Micromesh disks (been looking for a reason to play with that stuff) and went on from 1500, through the progression to 12000. Around 3600 started getting oil or wax or something coming out of the wood in small patches, by 12000 most of the surface was doing it. Next put a buffing pad on the ROS and went over it with no abrasive or wax or anything. And by golly I could see myself.
Never handled LV with its "natural" polish before. Feels more like Corian than wood.
I had planned on routing an ogee on the edges but I think I may leave them square. The flat surface with the high polish looks nicer than I expected. Wish I could leave the end grain visible but where it's going it will be hidden--even that buffed up.
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On Sat, 28 Oct 2006 22:14:32 -0400, J. Clarke wrote:

Every once in a while we get a reminder of why we do what we do. As I work a nice piece of wood I am constantly aware that I am the first human being to ever see the grain that is being revealed. The thought puts a sense of wonder and amazement into a pile of shavings.
Glad you got a chance to play with that LV. I can still recall accidentally burnishing my first piece of African Blackwood.
Bill
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