Now…finally…it was time to plane the top. It was like Christmas…it seemed like I’d been waiting forever to clean up that old top, and then it was done before I knew it. I brought my jack plane to surgical sharpness and went at it. The first trip across did away with most of the old finish, the second got the rest. Then I “cruel lighted” it, as I call it. I turn out all the lights and sidelight the work with a single lamp, so it shows every ridge the plane has left. Then I start backing the iron up, go a trip across, then back it up more, until finally it’s taking an almost imaginary amount of wood. I won’t sand the top, or even scrape it. I saw some micro-photos once, showing wood that had been planed, sanded, and scraped, and it convinced me that wood dressed with a super-tuned plane is at its most reflective and alive-looking. This thing can use all the life it can get! Besides that, sanding abrades the soft grain more than the hard grain, leaving the latter raised, and it rounds off edges (at least when I do it), both of which I find objectionable. So I hardly ever use sandpaper on wood. Anyway, after about 5 long-awaited minutes of pure joy, here’s what I had.