the bookcase #6

fighting snipe – one board at a time

For those who don’t know, snipe is a deeper than desired cut a wood planer sometimes makes at the leading and trailing end of a board as it passes through the planer.  I’ve watch several videos and read many blogs and articles regarding many attempts to address this issue and, although some seem to work better than others, it seems that each planer may have its own issues that just have to be worked out.

planer snipe.  notice faint line at pencil tip

planer snipe. notice faint line at pencil tip

The boards that I had previously joined had glued up pretty straight but a light pass through the planner would be necessary to get them dead flat.  Before running the boards through the planner I decided to cut them down to length just slightly larger than final dimensions.  This, so I thought, would help me handle the boards a little easier as they were each eight feet long.

Red oak can result in slight tear out in the planer but my biggest disappointment was the snipe I experienced at the leading and trailing ends of each board – about two inches from each end (see planer snipe photo above).  I tried several different techniques to avoid this but none worked well.  I even tried to feed the boards through consecutively (end to end) so that only the leading end of the first board and the trailing end of the last board would experience the snipe, but since the boards were now shorter, I couldn’t manage to get them fed into the planer fast enough – even with the help of my daughter.  [Note to Self: I think next time I’m gong to leave the boards longer and allow for the snipe to be cut off after the planning.]

tool anxiety

If there is any one tool that I have any apprehension about using it’s the router table.  Not because I’m afraid of it (woodworking tools can be dangerous – just google woodshop accidents) or because I don’t like using it, but because of the time I spend setting up the cuts.  I have previously noted that when I bought my new router I didn’t opt for the router lift system (and additional $600 add on), so fine tuning bit height means opening the cabinet, unlocking the router, lifting the router (to take the weight off the height adjustment screw) and adjusting the height.  This endeavor can take most of my router table time – depending on the complexity of the cut – especially for rail and stile bits. (insert collective “awwww” here)

fears unfounded

As it turns out, the snipe I had experience on the panels that I ran through the planner were easily sanded out – whew!  Now I can sleep better – but I still don’t like it.

step 1, step 3, back to step 2, then step 3 again

I finished up the routing of the panels and cut the 45° angle on the rails (I did this so that the corners where the side and front frame, and the side and back frame met would look seamless) and then did a dry fit of the panels.  Suddenly I realized that the long panels were too long (didn’t I mention above that I had left them a little long?)  so they had to be re-cut and re-routed.  Once that was done, I realized I had done the same thing to the smaller panels – ugh, back to step 2.

With all that behind me I matched up all the rails and taped them together so I wouldn’t end up forgetting one or cutting two of the same thing, and to help me keep the pieces organized – getting old you know…  The photo below shows the top and bottom side panel rails.  If you consider just the top taped up pieces, going from left to right and counterclockwise, you see the front left frame, the side panel right rail, the side panel left rail, and the back left rail (confused yet?).  Note the 45° cuts – this is to make the corners look like a solid board (you’ll see what I mean when it gets a little closer to being done).

side rails (top and btm) -

side rails (top and bottom)

cutoff hording

We’ve been in this house longer than any other house my wife and I have lived in.  Prior to that we must have moved every two years or so  (4 houses in 15 years – the current house we have been in for 9 years, you do the math).  Moving is a wonderful way of purging stuff you hadn’t used in a while (or in my case, stuff you have gotten tired of moving time and time again – whether you need it or not).  My wife and I can pack up a house in a week or so, but it takes months, if not years, to unpack (I recently go rid of a box of old woodworking and do-it-yourself books that had been boxed up (and never unboxed) for the last three moves).  I noticed when unpacking my garage after the last move, that I had managed to purge any unnecessary things from my life except of course, wood.  It seem that I may suffer from “cutoff hording” – an insatiable desire to keep any scrap of wood with the thinking that it might be just the piece I need on a future project.  For instance.  The cutoff from the 45° cuts to the side rails – I know there has to be a good use for these…, right?

45° cutoffs

45° cutoffs

now for something completely different

The entertainment center I had previously build was stained very black.  I used the Minwax PolyShades Classic Black stain.  I like black and this stain left enough of the wood grain to meet my approval.  The problem turns out to be that it is very dark and since this is a book case and I don’t necessarily want to hide the depth of the shelves, I elected to do something a little different.  So I purchased some tongue and groove wall slats from my local big blue home store with the intention of staining them “not black” with the hope of lightening up the shelves.  These slats will replace the back panel of the shelf sections.  I used the same router bits for the back section rail and stiles but I had to widen them just a bit on the table saw to accept the boards.

tongue & groove wall slats

tongue & groove wall slats


2 thoughts on “the bookcase #6

    • I wish I could figure out a good way to handle this. I have several pieces that need to go through the planer. I’m considering building a sled (of sorts) that will extend all the way through the planer for the pieces to ride on. The sled wouldn’t travel – just sit there for something for the wood to slide across. I don’t know – I’m grasping here.


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