Simple jig for planing the sides of finished boxes

comments (8) September 7th, 2012 in blogs

AsaC AsaC, Contributor
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The support board holds the case in mid-air, at a perfect planing height.
My twin-screw vise has two dogs spaced widely apart, locking the support board very solidly. Another option is to attach a thick cleat to the underside, and grab that in the vise.
When you have dividers in the way, you just notch the support board. I did that with two tablesaw cuts, with a big hole at the end to free the waste piece.
That let me put one of the other case pieces on its side for planing. For the first case piece (a chest of drawers), I just did extra notches.
The support board holds the case in mid-air, at a perfect planing height. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

The support board holds the case in mid-air, at a perfect planing height.

My goal in woodworking is not to make jigs, so my favorite fixtures are the simplest ones. This one has the highest simplicity-to-value ratio I know.

As I've blogged before, I'm hard at work on 4 stackable tansu dresser pieces. They have big tab joints at the corners. Those are pretty hard to get dead flush during glue-up, so there is some serious planing to do afterward. Trouble is, it would be impossible to plane the sides with the cases clamped atop my bench. I'd have to work 7 feet in the air! And there'd be too much flex in the boxes anyway.

So I turned to a trick I learned from Mark Edmundson, a frequent FWW author from Sandpoint, Idaho, who probably learned the trick from some guy before him. You just clamp a board to your benchtop, which hangs over the floor, fits into the box, and supports the surface you are planing. Of course, it works on any scale, for planing and fitting drawer sides, for example.

I used a big piece of cheap CDX plywood, clamped between dogs on my bench, and sized to fit into the case. It was a bit concave (aren't they all), so I put that side up, and just tapped the plywood down at the dogs to flatten it. The inside of the case butted against one end, and it worked great for planing an entire side of the case at a time, joints, pegs, and all. Edmundson did it a different way, attaching a cleat below that he grabbed in the vise. The thick cleat would also serve to flatten the board, but my way worked fine, sans cleat.

Another cool thing, as you can see, is that if you have internal dividers in the case, you can just notch the support board to accommodate them.

Bear in mind, you do need a sharp handplane so you don't have to bear down too much on the plywood. You could always double it up, though, if need be, screwing two pieces together.


posted in: blogs, Jigs, handplane, boxes, fitting, planing

Comments (8)

GarageWoodworks1 GarageWoodworks1 writes: Nice Tip! Simple and functional. Thanks.
Posted: 10:47 pm on September 13th

ctsjr ctsjr writes: I usually clamp the piece to the bench using two woodscrew clamps, and a small plywood box stand on the floor for the piece to rest on. If the case piece will fit over the end of the bench, I'll use that too. It's a "whatever works for you" method.
Posted: 10:06 am on September 12th

rsteramoto rsteramoto writes: Did I read "Tansu"?
Why not articles on this furniture style?
Posted: 6:49 pm on September 11th

oldcole oldcole writes: Learned that from Ian Kirby 20 plus years ago!
Posted: 11:29 am on September 10th

oldcole oldcole writes:
Posted: 11:28 am on September 10th

2morweeks 2morweeks writes: I guess I don't understand all the fuss. I normally set a cabinet like the one shown, on a couple of 2x4's covered with a furniture blanket, up against the bench with a couple of rags in between. Takes all of 2 minutes, and you don't waste any materials.
Posted: 11:10 am on September 8th

pabull pabull writes: Asa, very smart. I have done the same with larger drawers.

Posted: 10:53 am on September 8th

JPSzcz JPSzcz writes: Thanks for the idea Asa! I have been struggling with this one myself. I have been contemplating turning my workbench around (currently it is against the wall like in your photos), so I can sit the chest carcass on the end of the bench, but I think I will give this a try first.

Posted: 8:22 am on September 8th

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