Cross-cutting is done in very much the same way, but it may be well to note that the wood when nearly sawn through must be held up near the saw, otherwise it will probably drop, and in doing so break off a splinter from the edge of the other piece. The splinter, of course, can easily be sawn off, but then the break in the other cannot be so easily repaired.
To rip with the wood on the bench top the screw holdfast (p. 104) will be found very useful, indeed indispensable, unless some one can be got to hold the wood, or it is secured by hand-screws, firmly. If the board is a long one it is best not to let the end project too far from the bench, so that the saw may work fairly close to the top. If it projects too far the board yields too much, bending under the pressure of the saw. This, and the resulting spring upwards when the saw is brought up, make the work awkward. It is an easier matter to alter the position of the board as the sawing progresses.
When using trestles the edge of the saw is generally towards the worker, but in the way now being described the reverse is the case. The sawyer follows the saw, the handle of which is held in both hands. But very likely some readers who have only seen the other method adopted may be inclined to think that this is not the proper way. To such I can only say that any way which is practised by skilful craftsmen is 'proper,' even though it may be unknown to the general public. That good and clever makers do make use of this method very largely when ripping is well known to every one who knows anything about cabinet-making, though strange to say I do not think I have ever seen mention of it in any publication. Those who prefer it, claim, and not without reason, that it has many advantages over that which is regarded as the ordinary way; it is, therefore, entitled to a trial. If a saw binds or works very stiffly, the sides may be slightly greased with advantage. When using the smaller saws, the procedure is much the same, limited by the backs, which of course will not allow one of them to make a long cut through. The bow saw is worked perpendicularly.
Planing is of more importance than sawing, so far as the actual finish of the work is concerned, and will probably present more difficulties to the learner. These are reduced as much as possible by the length of the planes first used, allowing the blades first to remove those portions which are highest, and gradually working down to a level surface.
The jack plane is first used if the wood is very rough and uneven, but in much of the machine-planed stuff which is often met with there is little occasion for it, and the planing may be begun with the trying or even with the smoothing plane. Everything depends on the state of the wood, and there is no better guide to the plane to be used first than the judgment of the worker. The jack-plane iron may project as far as it can consistently with easy working; but if too far, instead of shavings being cut pleasantly the tool will chatter and stick. To set the iron properly, the plane is turned over and looked along the bottom from the front end, so that the extent to which the edge projects can easily be seen. Perhaps the best way for the novice who has no experience will be to fasten the iron so that its edge is just within the mouth, when of course it will not act. Then tap it on top till it projects to the smallest extent and try it on the wood; it will probably then plane a little, but not sufficiently, so a few more taps should be given to the iron till satisfactory shavings are removed. The worker will easily be able to tell when the iron projects too much, and careful observation will be worth more than a bookful of directions. It will be well to note that should the iron project more on one side than on the other - that is, not lie evenly across the sole - it may be rectified by tapping it on the side edge near the top. The setting may also be modified by tapping the back or front end of the plane if more or less edge is required. Tapping the back gives more, while less may be got by doing the same at the other end. Hard blows should not be given, and in a very short time the novice will be able to set his plane irons by this means. When planing a long board, it may be found at first that the tendency is to take more off one part than another, and it will probably be at the end of the board near the stop. This and any other bad habits must of course be watched against, as it is of course necessary that the wood should be levelled equally, and kept at the same thickness throughout. It may help the beginner to suggest that he may almost try to plane hollow at first. This with a long plane he will find almost impossible, but the endeavour will counteract the tendency in the other direction. Of course, if a man tries deliberately to plane hollow he may do so to some extent, but it is by no means intended that he should do this.
The jack plane will somewhat level the wood, but the marks of the iron will be clearly visible, and may be removed with the trying plane, which will be finer set than the other. After the trying plane the smoothing plane is used when necessary, and it should have so little edge that only fine shavings are removed. If not carefully worked it may be well to point out that owing to its short length it is quite possible to plane hollow, especially towards the centre of a long piece of wood, or otherwise spoil the level surface. The truth of the surface can be tested from time to time by means of a straight-edge. Lay this on the board and notice whether it touches equally wherever it is placed - across, lengthwise, or diagonally. By having the straight-edge between the worker and the light a very small error may easily be detected. Try to look under the edge, along the board as it were, and the light showing through will at once proclaim any inequality. I don't know whether it may be necessary to say that as the object of planing, unless with the express purpose of reducing thickness or width, is merely to level and smooth the wood, and not to make shavings, any work beyond what will do so is superfluous.