Erasing history

Hours to carve. Minutes to erase.

Hours to carve. Minutes to erase.

A couple of years ago I saved some iroko science lab workbench tops from the landfill. They were stripped out of our school’s biology labs. Apparently the sanding wasn’t keeping up with the carving!

Weirdly they had been painted to cover generations of hand tool work by bored students. I started planing the paint off and quickly discovered the iroko would tear out in both directions. So I switched to the toothing iron in the block plane. Planing diagonally across the grain I quickly brought the surface down close to the bottom of the deepest carvings. I then put the toothing iron in the 62. It’s much narrower than the bed of the plane but the cap iron held it firmly and I set about flattening the rest of the board.

I’ll smooth it with a card scraper. The work tops will go on the wood rack to make a dedicated sharpening bench so I’m not too worried about a bit of student history showing through or a mirror finish.

Perhaps we should give the students who don’t enjoy science some decent carving gouges and a block of lime?


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