I used 12mm birch ply, which is permanently fixed to the lower stretcher and the dovetailed section will just be dry screwed. This joint will again not be visible but I stained it black to match the frame when it is ebonised.
The upper stretcher is also dovetailed, but not glued, so the entire frame can be dismantled when needed. I used 19mm thick material so it not visible under the top.
Dovetail ready to be planed flush. This dovetail was also cut by hand.
Everything is finished and disassembled. The next morning I give everything a final smooth and begin the ebonising.
The ebonising solution is made by dissolving fine steel wool in household vinegar.
After dissolving for a couple of weeks, I just strained the solution through some fine cloth and then a coffee filter. The Victorian Ash is a good wood for ebonising because it has a high level of natural tannins. Of course I experimented with several off-cuts before doing the entire frame. I wanted the frame to be a very dark black to match the pitch pockets in the slab. The results were great and better yet the process was non-toxic.
The frame is top coated with five coats of Danish Oil and ready for the slab top.
I shot some video on the day I did some final smoothing before ebonising. I am using the low slung smoothers that I make. This one is 6 & 5/8” long with an 1 & 1/2” wide blade. I find it easier and more enjoyable to push a smaller smoother. The narrower blade means that you make more passes however, with a little camber even this Ring-Porous, Victorian Ash comes up glassy smooth.