Looks kindof cool with no back, but that is not so functional. All the envelopes and stamps and paperclips this is meant to be stuffed with would fall right out and then when the Roomba came to sweep the floor, it would jam and play some weird chimes. So what about the existing back?
It suffered the same fate as the drawer bottom. The veneer had started to delaminate and the intermediate boards were warping and rotting. Kindof interesting, here, to see that the boards were held together with tape. This must have been a pretty classy outfit (not being sarcastic, it is a good idea, I guess?). I'm still unclear if this double-veneer sandwich would be considered plywood or not, but since it has tape in it, which lends an air of handwork to it, I will not use the p-word.
Here you can see a bit more of the damage, as well as the rot setting in.
I didn't have any more of the nice, wide Doug fir to throw at the back, but I do have a pile of cedar fence boards. These things are about $1.50 each and usually really wet and full of knots. I cherry-picked a pile some time ago, however. If you spend enough time, you can get several almost-clear boards, so long as you politely re-stack the pile. You can see here how furry they are. Good enough for a fence, maybe.
Enter my shameful friend. Since this piece was obviously produced in a factory (albeit a cool, old-timey factory with hand-taped veneer panels and drilling jigs for dovetails), I will not mar it's spirit by using my trusty thickness planer. I just put some new knives in, and kindof regret that since there are indeed some knots in these boards... but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Dust-collection archeological strata from bottom to top: Doug fir, cherry, walnut, cherry, Doug fir, and cedar. Every sack of junk has a history. The walnut, being an allelopathic plant, sadly renders this pile of shavings useless for the garden-- I would generally use these to cover paths or prepare long-term soil beds, but instead it will go to a friend with a burn pile. Wouldn't it be cool to have a dedicated planer for toxic species, and another machine which would just spit the shavings right into a compost/mushroom growing pile?
The boards look pretty good when they are done. A bargain if you have the time to let them dry out before you plane them (at least a year or more, around here)
They need to be jointed on the edges, they come pretty rough. Here you can see the sliding deadman in use. It helps tremendously to have the support in the back.
Square is as square does!
The goal here is to shiplap to boards, so that they can overlap to block light and material, yet still have some room to expand and contract. This is like copout tongue and groove. Where a tongue would normally fit into a groove (being "2 tongues"), shiplapping is having just tongues, but flipping every other board so that the tongues nest.
The first step is to lay out the line with a cutting gauge. A pencil won't work here because what is needed is a tool track. Very powerful stuff, the tool track.
Since shiplapping is essentially creating a rabbet, one might reach for a rabbet plane. An adjustable fence, a depth stop, and a skewed blade would be really nice. Since this is along the grain, a plough plane with an iron wide enough to hit the edge would be fine, too. But in this case... since the scale is so small, it is time for Li'l Shoulder to make an appearance.
The corner on this bad boy is ground to a sharp 90 degrees, so it registers right into the layout line. It should be clear now why you need a physical cut line, and not just a pencil. The plane clicks right in, and it does not take much effort to steer it down the track. It is started with an angle, around 45 despite what is shown above.
This deepens and widens the cut, creating a fence for the subsequent stroke. One of those things which gets easier and easier with each pass. It becomes possible to do the later passes without looking. Please look, though, because you might otherwise plane your fingerprints off.
Nice spiral shavings emerge, which are great packing material for an artisinal Etsy shop. I keep them in a velvet pouch waiting for the day when I have an artisinal Etsy shop.
There we go!
That is what we were after... nicely shiplapped boards. They will be installed with a bit of a gap between them, so that they can expand (close the gap) and contract (open the gap) but still have enough overlap that light and postage stamps are blocked from passing through.
It helps to number the boards as they are laid out, but number them on a face you won't see, unless you want to plane them off later.
I didn't measure a thing. I centered the first boards, and worked outward towards both sides. On the final edge boards, I make a mark where they need to be trimmed, cut a tiny bit (like one plane stroke) fat, and then plane down to the mark.
Bam! This handtool stuff is nice.
Using dividers is a good way to capture the location of the blade on top of the drawer. The backing boards will be nailed into this.
The prick from the dividers serves as a handy index to drop the marking knife into. A square is held up against the knife, and a line is marked. On a fine piece, I would then drill, and then plane off the layout lines. Since this is the back of a sortof unfine piece, I think I will keep the layout lines as a reminder that a person refurbished this at some point.
Still todo: reinstall the hardware and continue with the surface refinishing. Current plan is a dark shellac and some dark wax, but some time must pass before the tung oil is cured.