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Stripping up the Bottom

Stripping the bottom is much like installing the cheater strips, with the major difference that you need to shape and fit both ends of the strip so the length is correct. Since I am bookmatching these strips I also need to do this while maintaining the grain alignment.

This is all done through a series of reference marks. Back when I milled the strips I was careful to draw lines across the faces of all the strips. These lines serve to align one strip next to the other with the grain lining up. I used these lines to place the strip properly on the forms, then I go to the end of the strip I am going to fit first and make a mark across the seam between that new strip and the existing strip it will sit next to. These marks are close to the end that I'm fitting so I don't need to look around to much.

I cut the strip a little over-long with some anvil cutters that are quick and easy. I then side the strip so the first end is a little over-long based on the reference mark. Usually about 1" (2 cm) extra length is plenty. I now mark the taper. This mark is not meant as the exact fit you will want to achieve, it is merely a guide to assist in the initial fit. A jack knife makes quick work of removing the excess wood, then plane the taper parallel to your mark. Don't worry yet about precision. Do a trial fit. Note where the taper binds up in the space. If it binds up at the "toe" or pointy end you will want to concentrate your planing on the pointy end, if it binds near the heel, or inside end of the taper, you will work on the heel first.

If you have a large gap start by holding the block plane to reproduce the gap and then plane away the taper until the gap is gone. If your taper is close already but it binds slightly at one end or the other, take one short cut with the plane on just half the length of the taper plus one full length cut and then try the fit again. Keep fitting and adjusting until you get a tight fit along the full length of the taper simultaneously.

If you left enough extra length your length marks between the strips should not yet line up. Use even, full-length cuts with your block plane on the taper to gradually shorten your strip until the marks ling up. Don't try to remove too much at once and keep checking the taper to assure it stays tight. With a long, gradual taper one cut of the plane can make a large difference in the length of the strip.

Once one end of the strip is fitted, you need to measure the length for the other end. Dry fit the strip in place with you new taper set in place. Use clamps to hold the strip tight in position along its full length if necessary. Make a mark between the two adjacent strips close to the unfitted end. This mark will let you remove the strip at the first end while you work on the second and still get the correct length. Fit the second end in the same manner as the first.