Orienting Laminations Based on Ideal Planing Direction

  • 06 Jul 2019 9:42 AM
    Message # 7766448

    I have always admired dovetail joints. Being primarily a power tool woodworker, I have never attempted one because I hate the look of dovetail joints cut by commercial router jigs. I never attempted hand cutting, because I had the opinion they are very difficult, and very laborious to cut. After seeing Rob’s video, I now believe I could execute this joint and enjoy cutting it. 

    One Of the changes I need to make is I now need a workbench with vises.  Being disappointed in the commercial benches (I looked at several from $1000-$3000), I want to build my own cabinetmakers bench. I have always admired the Frank Klausz bench design. 

    One question I couldn’t answer in my research involved orienting the boards for lamination. Thinking forward to the time when the top requires flattening, I was thinking it would be better if all boards could be planed the same direction to avoid tear out.  My idea is to plane each board individually before glue-up to establish the best direction for planing. Then glue all strips together so the entire top could be planed in the same direction without tear out. I don’t know if this is possible while still orienting end grain alternating heart in/heart out. 

    Would this be a mistake to orient using ideal planing direction?

  • 07 Jul 2019 9:43 AM
    Reply # 7767245 on 7766448

    Your question wanders into the "debatable" area of woodworking.  I know that Rob seldom gives much credit to the "alternating grain" theory.  When he was gluing up the top for his present workbench he attempted to orient all the sticks with the grain running in the same direction for planing.  He has complained about the couple of pieces that somehow managed to get installed wrong way around every time he has planed the bench top.  The overwhelming number of boards glued up with no regard for "alternating" appears to have had no ill consequences but the two glued up in the wrong planing direction have caused minor aggravation.

    I suspect the answer to your question lies more in quality of the material than in adherence to the theory.  Good quality dry boards with fairly straight grain will minimize wood movement regardless which way you glue them up (especially quarter sawn lumber).  Gnarly, twisted or wet boards will mess up your project regardless of how you orient them.

    My two cents says glue up the top so that you can easily plane out any movement that occurs and leave the theories to those who like to talk about woodworking instead of making stuff.

    Carry on.


  • 07 Jul 2019 8:45 PM
    Reply # 7767710 on 7766448

    Thanks Larry. I haven’t enrolled yet in the online workshop, so I don’t have access to the workbench build. Although I’ve been considering joining, just unsure what I need to get in on.  

    I’ll look for straight grain boards that will be as near quarter sawn as I can get. 

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