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Face Jointing Without a Jointer

Over the weekend, I started on a project I’m building for my folks: a wall-hung desk that holds bills, pads of paper, rubber bands, stapler, etc. etc. The front folds down to make a writing surface, and then folds up flat against the wall when not in use. The desk tapers from a little over 6” deep at the bottom to 4-1/2” at the top.

Anyway, I’m making it out of birch: solid for the top, and sides, and birch ply for the bottom and front/writing surface.

When I cut the solid birch pieces, they didn’t sit quite flat—they had a very slight twist to them. For the top, no problem—I just flattened them on my 6” jointer. But I couldn’t do that with the sides, which are wider than my jointer’s capacity. I could run them through the drum sander, but it tends to act like a planer—the pressure rollers press the twist out just long enough to sand, then when they let go, the board goes back to twisting.

I contemplated hot-gluing the low corners to a carrier board and shimming the high corners to keep the sander from pressing the twist out, but I wasn’t thrilled with that, either.

So here’s the manual-labor fix.

I put a couple strips of 100-grit self-stick sandpaper on my tablesaw top, then pressed down on the two low corners of the workpiece while rubbing them fore and aft on the sandpaper. You can see how the top right and lower left corners of the sandpaper are getting all the wear in this photo.
Sandpaper on TS

I just kept sanding until all four corners touched the tabletop, then I ran the boards through the drum sander with that face down until the top face was sanded parallel.

Worked great!


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