My Roubo Bench Journey #20: Straightening Wacky Wood, Battens are my Friends...

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The big concern for me when deciding how to re-flatten the stretchers, was how am I going to secure the boards without having any vises? I briefly thought about flipping the workbench over and install the tail vise and then some dog holes. But I changed my mind and went with the following: first, I removed several of the legs to provide plenty of room for hand planing. Next, I placed a small board to span from one sawhorse to the other and rested the stretcher on top of that board. This allowed me to use two Jorgenson clamps, from underneath the bench top, to clamp the stretcher to the side of the bench top. The small board across the sawhorses raised the stretcher high enough to clear the bench top and provide plenty of clearance for planing.

I flattened the bowed side first, here is the after picture:

Here is a pic of the cupped side before planing:

Here is the after picture:

Flattening the face sides was going to require some other form of securing the stretcher to the bench top. I did not want to drill any holes in the top to use for dogs or my Veritas surface clamping vise. Then I remembered a website video using a notched batten to secure one end of the board being planed. Yup, that’s the ticket! So just two saw cuts in a scrap board and one notched batten was born. Next, I used a Jorgenson clamp across one end of the bench top to act as a planing stop. Lastly, I added one more plain batten to aid in keeping the stretcher from moving across the bench top. Here are the pics of that process:

I have read about battens before, this is my first time using them, they are freaking awesome. So simple to make and use, they are so effective, I was amazed and enthralled at the same time.
Do yourself a favor, learn about and use this simple and effective tool.

View all parts of My Roubo Bench Journey »

I sold my power planer before we moved up here to OR, I don’t miss it. My hand planes get the job done in time and I enjoy using them. It is great exercise, and I really like the quiet or being able to listen to music and not have to deal with all the noise and sawdust.
And I do go thru a lot of Aleve, it works well for me :0)

I love my power planer. LOL. Not that it would have taken the cup out of that board, but I’m just thinking about your investment in Advil stock. Hehe…

-- Losing fingers since 1969

For the most part the old hand woodworking skills are why I love spending time in the workshop. I have tons of power operated tools that I rely heavily on, then once in a while I will find an old school skill that will astonish me and never forget only hoping to pass it along to others that love woodworking. Thank you for taking the time to spread your knowledge and love of woodworking.

-- CHRIS, Charlottetown PEI Canada. Anytime you can repurpose, reuse, or recycle, everyone wins!

Excellent solution! I will remember this in the future. Having those solid beams for stretchers won’t take away from the rest of the scale like laminating boards would have. Your only consolation for those knuckle busting knots is the fact that you are almost done. Great work man!

-- CHRIS, Charlottetown PEI Canada. Anytime you can repurpose, reuse, or recycle, everyone wins!

Good solution. I’m glad I didn’t have to plane that huge knot on the stretcher. Knots take all the fun out of hand planing.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway

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