Should I try it with a hand plane?

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I would suggest trying one board, or maybe one side of one board. Then consider that a surface planer will do a nicer job in 8 seconds. I think you will rather get the oak dinensioned at the shop and spend your energy on the construction of the cabinet. B
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(snip)

-------------- Why not use veneered MDF for the large bits and solid wood for the edges? Unless someone is going to attack it with an axe they'll never know.
Many, many, moons ago I made a coffee table from rough oak and mahogany. No access to power tools as it was a school project and everything had to be done by hand, so to speak. Anyway, the bottom line is that it is do-able, but you need access to a whole range of good hand-tools. Or, resort to pre-engineered product that will give the desired result with less pain.

-------------- That has to be a big plus. I'm in a similar position, although the cost of my tools is starting to feed the inbuilt demand chain of the wife. Nevertheless, there are some power tools I just don't want as I consider them to be a little too dangerous for the occasional dabbler such as myself. Others I simply don't have space for. But I reckon we can size rough lumber accurately without too much kit, or herculean effort, with a decent saw and a router - and a few jigs.

--------------- I don't think you'll do the wood,or yourself, justice by attacking it under-tooled.
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Finding two boards 5+ feet long that are the width of the sides of the book case could take some searching. Finding two that size that don't have a significant twist, bow, crook orcupping is not trivial - and "significant doesn't mean Obvious - doesn't take much of any of them to make for trouble along the way or at assembly time.
(if you want to experience "kickback" just start ripping stock that's cupped, bowed, twisted or crooked.)
But there's a bit of work and more than a bit of knowledge and skills, along with several planes, needed to get 5 foot boards flat on both faces, both faces parallel, two parallel straight edges square to the top and bottom faces.
Do you know how to check a board for cupping, twists, bowing etc. so you know where wood must be removed? A flat surface bigger than your board is needed as a reference against which you'll check your progess and identify where you need to work the board some more.
Do you have a way of holding the board on edge so you can plane one straight and square? You can get the other edge straight and square on the table saw after you've got your good edge. But you need one straight, squared edge.
Do yo know how to read the grain so you know which direction to plane in order to avoid tear out, splitting etc., especially on the face of a board that's probably not quarter sawn?
There's a lot to know if you want to Neander, in addition to the physical work involved. You can learn it on project wood, but I wouldn't recomend it. Try a box or a small shelf or cabinet first.
Though I put the following together assuming power tools, if you adjust for hand planing, the info may be helpful (alll one line)
http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/CabProcess3.html
charlie b
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You know what Billy? If it weren't for the wonders of the internet and newsgroups like this, you'd have just gone ahead and grabbed your hand plane and given that oak a shot, wouldn't you? Sure you would have - you'd have said to yourself, "self..., let's see what this plane will do", and you'd have kept on talking to yourself until you had that board planed down. Then you'd have said to yourself, "self, I bet I can do the whole thing this way" and you'd have given it a whirl. You'd have probable bungled a couple of things up, but you'd have figured out what you did wrong, fix it and move on. That's the beauty of giving it a try, and just going for it. One of the things the internet (and certainly not the worst thing...) has done is to give too much opportunity to worry about it too much. Too many opinions available, too much advise. The heck with what experienced woodworkers would try. Heck - most of them only try what someone else recommended or what they became comfortable with over time. Try what makes sense to you. It is after all, supposed to be a pleasurable thing. Grab that plane and get into that wood.
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Mike Marlow wrote:

I 2nd the motion. You might want to make a shooting board first though, it'll make jointing easier. I just finished doing the same sort of thing to a bunch of red oak in the hallway. My wife says that you'll enjoy it more if you're younger than me and have a better back. It will tighten up your forearms though. Make some curlies. Dave in Fairfax
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Mike Marlow wrote:

I agreed with this approach for the most part, until it came to the table saw. With a handplane, you may screw up some wood while you learn. With a table saw, especially with unprepared stock, you can screw up some wood AND yourself. Tear out in wood isn't good. Tear out (or amputation) of body parts is more undesirable. With some types of trial and error, the error may involve a trip to the emergency room.
Hand tools operate at human speed. Power tools operate much faster. You can feel when a handtool being used is starting to have a problem - and stop. With power tools, things go bad before you can react.
When a woodworker gives you advice on shop safety, count his or her fingers AND eyes before deciding if youll use the advice.
But back to Mike's advice - there are a lot of things in woodworking that seem too hard and complicated. Often they're not as hard to do as they first appear, coopered doors for example. And sometimes what seems easy and straight foreward isn't - knife hinges for example. (all one line so watch the line wrap) http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/CooperedDoors/CooperedDoors0.html
PRACTICE ON SCRAPS FIRST!
charlie b
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calmly ranted:

Speaking of which, have you seen this month's copy of Woodsmith? They cover door coopering in it. JIT, eh? <gd&r>
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On Fri, 19 Nov 2004 14:37:16 -0500, "Billy Smith"

Not stupid at all. The first time I tried to handplane rough stock, I had no idea how to do it, and it still managed to come out ok. After a little practice, it's easy as pie. After all, people made furniture long before there were power planers or jointers, and I have a hard time imagining that they got their stock S4S from the lumberyard!

I suspect a whole pile of them would- they're called Neandertals, and a lot of them do really nice work. I use a mix of power and hand tools, myself, so I guess I'm a Cro-Mag, but there's definately no reason you can't smooth a board without electricity and a ton of iron!

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Billy Smith wrote:

You're about to open Pandora's box, Billy.
Once upon a time there was a wood dorker who didn't have a planer or a jointer. He built projects out of S4S BORG lumber, or whatever he could salvage. He mostly made things that were functional, rather than beautiful, and he took pride in his work, in his ability to make something from nothing, and to make do.
This wood dorker, having in mind to make something beautiful, went to Lowe's and bought a new Stanley #4. He took it home and tried to do something with it, but it didn't work very well. He read about the Scarey Sharp(tm) system, and he finally caved in and bought one of those Lee Valley sharpening guide flummies after too many mangled edges.
He worked and fiddled, and he had a piece of steel, and he looked at this steel, and he pronounced that it was shiney. And it was shiney. He pronounced that it was sharp, and it was sharp enough to shave the whiskers off a flea's bootocks, it was. He applied this plane to a piece of wood, and it caused shavings to curl forth, and glassine smoothness to emerge from the surface.
Then this wood dorker finally made the long avoided trek to the House of Boards, whereupon came he unto the stack of Boards marked Walnut. He checked his wallet, asked stupid questions about board feet and prices, and came home with a much smaller piece of this fabled Walnut than he had intended to buy. The most glorious wood on the Earth was not cheap.
So this wood dorker came home and he put this piece of walnut into his face vise, and he proceded to cause shavings to curl forth from its surface. He pronounced that the board was flat and good, and it was. Close enough. Close enough.
Skip ahead, and the wood dorker bought a late model blue Stanley #5 from eBay. Using only the #4 and the #5, and a forlorn Skil 3400 sawdust making machine, the wood dorker produced an absolutely fantabulous walnut/maple chess box.
Now the dorker has a shelf full of these planes, and he has decreed that no lesser wood than walnut shall henceforth pass under the blades of said planes, unless it contrasts well, or unless it's free. He has a more mighty and powerful of tooth sawdust making machine (contractor's saw), and he finally bought a small mechanical curl maker (benchtop jointer) to take some of the fiddle work out of curling away the crust and revealing the glorious grain within the magnificent walnut.
He hath proclaimed that thenceforth no S4S shall be admitted to his shop, and you don't need a bunch of big iron to make stuff out of good wood. All it takes is patience, practice, and sharp steel.
Go for it, Billy! You're in for an awakening!
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On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 15:32:21 -0500, Silvan

ROFL!!! Though I'd have to say there are many fine woods less expensive than Walnut- Mahogany and Ash come to mind, along with others. :)

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On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 20:01:17 -0600, Prometheus

Where I am, Mahogany is 30% more than Walnut. <G>
Barry
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On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 11:51:14 GMT, Ba r r y

All depends on where you're at, I suppose! FWIW, I like Walnut better than Mahogany anyways.

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Prometheus wrote:

There is no other wood. Not mahogany, nor mango nor mesquite, not cherry nor chestnut nor curly maple, not birch nor beech nor balsam, not hickory, nor hackberry, nor holly. No, there is only one wood, and walnut is its name.
(Though the other woods can be used sparingly to good effect as long as they are relegated to serve as contrasting elements with walnut. :)
Speaking of holly... Holly is really expensive and rare, isn't it? My grandfather has three 70' holly "bushes" with 12" dia. trunks. He might be sitting on a fortune, mightn't he? Or not?
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Silvan wrote:

http://www2.fpl.fs.fed.us/TechSheets/HardwoodNA/htmlDocs/Ilex.html Looks like a bit of shrinkage. I seem to recall something about twisting as it dries. Joe
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On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 11:58:44 -0500, Silvan

Too bad they're not wood, you might be onto something... :)
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On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 20:01:17 -0600, Prometheus

Only that brown and white striped African crap they call try to call "mahogany" is cheaper than any walnut I've ever seen. I think Holstein or Guernsey genes got mixed in those trees somehow. It turned the trees into 90% sapwood and 10% heartwood. <sigh>
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On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 15:16:31 -0800, Larry Jaques

Hmm. The last piece I bought seemed to be the real deal, but I don't have anything else to compare it to. It's got a nice reddish-brown color with no white to speak of, and a fairly close grain. The hardwood supplier (which I do trust, after building a relationship with them) assured me that it was the real McCoy. $3.60 a bf, compared to $4.25 a bf for Walnut. The walnut is the stuff I have trouble with, actually- there is a fair amount of white on the edges of the planks. I try to work the contrast into what I'm making, but it sure isn't that consistant as far as color goes.

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I once did a project like this. I bought rough red oak and surfaced it with a Millers Falls jointer plane my dad gave me. He used to use the plane for trimming and fitting doors as a trim carpenter in the 50s. The plane is about 16-18" long but I'm too busy baking for Thanksgiving to go out and measure it accurately for you. I sharpened it to perfection and used it for almost everything after that project.
The project was to make table leaves for an old oak table. So I learned to not only surface the tops but to plane the edges so that I could glue them up properly.
Make a couple of winding sticks and learn how to use them.
Mike
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