This afternoon I was planing some cherry dulcimer fretboard blanks flat and true. These pieces of cherry had been rough-sawn, squared up and left a little oversized quite some time ago. The wood has had plenty of time to release stresses and further season before becoming part of a dulcimer.
Wood is designed to keep trees alive and trees don’t always think of how they will be used after they die. This can be annoying because sometimes a perfect piece of wood will be difficult to work. “Take that!” says the dead tree.
These cherry fretboards had some interlocking grain. This means there are areas on the board where grain direction is almost irrelevant. These areas are hard to plane smooth without some spots of grain tearing out.
To the rescue comes an old #12 scraper plane.
This tool holds a scraper square and true and allows for fine adjustment of the angle and depth of cut. This scraper plane will take off fine shavings regardless of grain direction and leaves a smooth, flat surface in it’s wake.
Here’s a shot of the setup I use for planing or scraping fretboard and fingerboard stock. The heart of the setup is an oak beam that is planed true and flat. It has a bench stop at one end and clamps to the bench top. This gives me a true surface for planing and also raises the height of the work a few inches to make planing more comfortable.