Quercus Borealis

A week ago I commenced on a small project which I had been looking forward to. After some initial layout I started working on a curved log that will be incorporated into the roof structure. It was one of the first parts I wanted to make since it is a bit time consuming and some of the joinery of other members depend on the outcome of this piece.

This Red Oak trunk was roughly hewn about one and a half year ago without paying much attention to it’s final form. It took a lot of work to make it somewhat useable and creating a shape that used the natural curve to it’s best structural potential while reassuring the result would be aesthetically pleasing.

red oak chona

Evening out the major irregularities on the bottom surface with the chona. As you can see in the background of this picture these days my workshop is located in a favela back alley. I had to relocate my business to a place where I can actually live form the income I produce doing this sort of carpentry.

It took some sweat and a blister to shape the log to what I had in mind. While adzing the top and bottom face I constantly had to change direction in order not to produce major tearout. The grain of this log is wild and runs everywhere so attention was critical. After some small readjustments of the new handle I put on my chona it worked really well and I enjoyed chop chopping. There is still a chip in the blade since I hit a nail last summer adzing some reclaimed oak, note the reoccurring line on the surface. That is just one of the hundred reasons why I don’t like to work old or reclaimed oak. Firewood it is.

Normally I would cut a sewari (stress relief kerf) in the top of the beam but in this situation I am afraid that it will not help much in controlling the cracks that will develop over the next years. Checking had already begun and the heart center of this log runs in a S-shape true the log in both directions. Cutting a sewari that would not reach the heart center would make little difference I am afraid.



I was worried about handplaning the flat surfaces on the side because of the large amount of huge knots and readjusted my handplane to accommodate the challenge ahead. Instead of trying to fiddle around with the chipbreaker or bevel angle I installed the latest software version  Kanna 10.4 which automatically readjusts the chipbreaker and effective cutting angle to the direction of the grain. Japanese planes have a lot of microsensors build into them that can read all the information about the tree including DNA just by placing them on the wood surface for about ten seconds. It is great, I just love it, it completely takes the thinking out of it allowing me to watch my favorite series on my mobile phone while handplaning the wood. I have been watching Twin Peaks lately, do you remember those scenes with visions from the lodge?

I was really curious about the new software update, the surface the plane produced was silky smooth no matter in which direction I was planing so I pulled out my digital caliper to see what shavings I was producing.


I was not expecting micro shavings from my 65mm workhorse and Oak, porous as it is, is not the ideal wood to reduce the number to a single digit.



Nothing spectacular here but in the end it is the surface quality that counts.

handplaned surface

After close inspection of the surface no tearout was found this illustrate how important it is to keep your software up to date. One of these days I should update my finish plane too but since it is an old plane the new software might slow it down to a crawl.

Just to get an idea of how it will feel when installed I hauled it up into it’s final inclination.

final shape