The London Plane Project - 3. Working with Lacewood & London Plane timber

Lacewood can be difficult to work and often traditional hand tools are most helpful in converting and shaping the wood into furniture and objects. The medullary rays leap in all directions and working the timber with machines can pull the fibres up and out - leaving deep unrecoverable tears. During the making of the pieces for the project I used a wire brushes, rasps and files, a cabinet scraper, a travisher, a spoke shave, bevel and gouge chisels and hand planes and hand saws.  However, where the character of the timber was less tricky I have used hand routers, router tables and the CNC machine for my final experiment.

 

Edges, Facets and curves

When shaping the dressing table in (mostly) wild lacewood, the hand tools came to the fore. I wanted to bring out many of the visual characteristics of London Plane in one furniture pieces. As well as hand cutting and chiselling the dovetailed drawers I used various hand planes to finish the edges of the top and hand carved and gouged certain areas to add a textural dimension.

 

Using the spoke shave

My favourite tool is the spokeshave, a squat two handed plane that removes material in a localised area. They come in both a convex and a concave profile. I use a convex profile to scoop facetted depressions into boards and legs.

In this video I am using the spoke shave to shape a curved facet on the inside leg of the dressing table.  I mark out accurately the area to work and with a very sharp blade, position correctly and held tightly.  I start removing material from the centre of the facet and work outwards from the centre towards the extremes, eventually working the whole length to create an even and smooth finish.  As I cut through the medullary rays at roughly 45 degrees, facets expose another weight of lacewood figure that looks halfway between the wild lacewood on the front face and the regular London plane on the outside face. 

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