I have some quilted maple I purchased from West Penn Hardwoods, and
they rated it musical instrument quality. I've never worked with
grain this wacky before. Can anyone offer any suggestions or
tips/tricks on working with this wood? I scrape rather than sand, but
I still have to thickness and joint the wood. Any advice at all will
be much appreciated.
Not wood to be finding out IF your tools are sharp. Any routing across end
grain should have backing stock. Table saw should have a 0 clearance insert.
Try to stay away from coarse grit sanding stock personally I would use
nothing below 220. Finish it with wattco and beeswax
Right. Keep them sharp. I work with curly maple a lot. It is really beautiful
when done right.
When jointing and planing, take only light passes, and read the grain
carefully. Also, lightly dampen the wood at each pass (I mean lightly). This
will also help minimize tearout.
Don't sand it. You willnot only abrade the wood and minimize the beautiful
curl, you will also burnish the wood, preventing a finish from penetrating.
Keep the tools very sharp, take very light cuts, use as massive a plane as
possible. The only planes that really do well with me are my infills, and a few
Steve Knight wooden planes, with massive irons. Also, my one Japanese smoother
is my tool of choice for finishing it. The key is sharp, mass and light cuts.
As others have stated, very sharp tools are a must. I use
handplanes to thickness and joint the wood, and the best advice I can
give is to have them set for a light cut and be very careful at reading
the grain direction. For thicknessing with planes, I usually use a
toothing iron on really nasty grain. It scores the wood and then you
can come back with your smoother set for a very light cut to finish it
off. When jointing curly and quilted maple, I sometimes find that I
have to take a final pass or two with a smoother set for the lightest
possible cut, just to give the edge a nice smooth feel.
I normally achieve a great final surface with handplanes; usually my
low-angle smoothers. If I run into trouble with them, I try a
high-angle (55 degree) plane, and if that still doesn't do the job, I'll
finish with a scraper.
The quilted maple drawer-front in the following picture was done
with my LV low-angle smoother:
So was the curly cherry top:
When thicknessing, I dampen the wood and take light cuts with the thickness
planer. When I get close, I change to a drum sander. All tooling must be
very sharp. When routing edges, route endgrain first.
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