Cutting the panels

I know it shows to lay out each panel and then cut, but would'nt it be easier to cut one panel, then trace the cut piece to make sure it is the same?  Also, I was told to cut about an 1/8 th inch outside the lines, then use  a planer to cut down the rest.  Can I just cut it right on the line or is this method done for error in measurements?  Thanks for your help.

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RE: Cutting the panels

Clamp or staple two sheets of plywood together and then cut both panels with a single cut. Don't try to cut exactly on the line, as you are bound to cut into the line at some point. Planing to the line is quick and easy with the Stanley low-angle plane that CLC sells. -Wes

RE: Cutting the panels

Thats good advice and will save time, however, when do I plane down the panels to exact size?  I assume before I wire them together?  Also, the bottom panel will not have any markings to plane to the line, so I assume I keep the panels together after cutting them, them plane them together?

RE: Cutting the panels

After you cut the panels, clamp them together and plane them to the line together. Then separate them and plane bevels on the edges of each panel separately before wiring them together. This is easier than it sounds. You can see photos of the process and lots of hard-learned tips on my blog site at -Wes

RE: Cutting the panels

greatly appreciated. I'm going to start this weekend and am nervous, as the measurements seem so "exact", 1/8th's and 1/16th of an inch....thanks again.

RE: Cutting the panels

Kiz --

Twofootartist has given you some good advice; follow it.  Maintaining that 1/8" safety margin for the initial cut is important, although the actual dimension (the 1/8") isn't.  Once you've done that, I suggest that you use hand tools to bring the panels down to the line, such as the plane Twofootartist suggests, and a handheld sanding block with a pretty coarse grit paper.  Work slowly, work carefully.  And double check throughout the process to make sure that the top and bottom pieces are aligned correctly. 

Before you start, make sure your lines are fair.  If they are, and you're fairly close to the line with your first cut, and you're right on -- but not beyond -- the line with your trimming, and the opposing panels are identical, you're in great shape.  Don't worry about *minor* deviations from the line, as such errors will be filled by epoxy later on. 

The work is easy, and it goes pretty quickly even if you're taking your time and being careful, so don't rush. This part is critical.  Do it right, and nearly everything else follows smoothly almost automatically.

  -- Jim

RE: Cutting the panels

Thanks for the feedback, it helps!

RE: Cutting the panels

FWIW, I cut my bottom panels out (1/8" from the line) and hand planed them to size... wasn't difficult, but was taxing on my old body.  For my sides, I cut them the same way but took them to the line with a belt sander... a heavy tool but very accurate (if you're accostomed to using one) and quick!  Turned a 1 hour job into about 20 minutes with excellent results!

Also, in addition to the low-angle Stanley block plane (which is excellent), I recommend getting a Micro-Plane (google it), it's like a rasp only designed like a fine cheese grater... makes quick work of removing lots of unwanted wood and leaves a very nice surface.

Good luck in whichever method you choose,


RE: Cutting the panels

Caution: If you're not adept at using a belt sander but want to go that way, get enough practice on scrap to be sure you can use it effectively, because if you're not careful or not practiced in its use, it can remove a lot more wood than you want to, and a lot faster than you might expect.

RE: Cutting the panels

Jim C...,

You're absolutely right and perhaps my use of the word "accustomed" was a tad light....  I've seen wood (especially plywood) ruined from the aggressive nature of belt sanders (and mine's very aggressive!).  I guess my point was that you can concentrate on the verticle hold and use light pressure, thereby getting a slow, consistent removal of wood.  I had no issues getting right to the line, without going under.  Again, I'm 'accostomed' to it.  Other's MMV

Thanks for adding the caution.  I'd hate to be responsible for a belt-sander catastrophy post!


RE: Cutting the panels

When I cut the panels for my Night Heron S&G, I cut the first panels, glued them together, sanded them perfectly, then used them as templates to draw and sand the second panels. I got two panels that mated exactly which helped me build a NH without flaws. However way you do it, follow the advice previously given, it works.

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