Almost had myself convinced

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Robert166

robert166
Senior User
Thought I would save a large amount of money by purchasing rough cut lumber. Boy was I wrong! Few things I learned in the process.
#1 This requires the correct machinery
#2 My DC is not up to snuff
#3 Just because it looks good on the outside doesn't mean it looks good on the inside
#4 Almost convinced myself I just needed bigger and better tools.
#5 Unconvinced myself that I needed bigger and better tools (because you are not as skilled in woodworking as think)
#6 Decided that purchasing the lumber already to size is going to be cheaper, and easier.
#7 After destroying 50% of the (money saving rough cut) a light bulb appeared over my head, and I came to the conclusion that saving money buying rough cut, for me is not saving money.

So the search for "project" lumber begins.

Which type of wood shall I purchase to learn and improve my woodworking skills? A maker of fine furniture I definitely am not. Bookshelves, honey bee boxes, small things, think I will start there. Guess that narrows it down to pine, cypress maybe some cedar.

Okay got that off my chest, I feel better now.
 

Bas

Recovering tool addict
Bas
Corporate Member
Processing rough cut lumber definitely requires some tools. You can go cordless of course and use hand planes, but that requires considerable skill (sharpening!). With power tools, a jointer, planer and dust collector will easily set you back a grand. And there is a lot of waste when dealing with cupped/ twisted/ bowed boards, knots, splits, and cracks. But, when you run a rough board of cherrry through the planer and it comes out all smooth and fresh, that's pretty darn special. Plus, buying presurfaced lumber means you're limited to what you can find at the home center, and typically only 3/4" thick.

(Some of us also like buying tools... Let's face it, I didn't go into woodworking because of all the money I'd save on kitchen cabinets, dressers, end tables etc.)

The real secret is the "boat" secret. You don't want a boat, you want a friend with a boat. Likewise, you want a friend with a well-equipped shop, excellent dust collection and a 24" jointer. Who will also serve refreshments. And has a trailer for delivery.

If you're buying lumber at Lowe's/ Home Depot, your best bet is probably red oak. Cypress/ cedar is very soft, it's good for outdoor projects but less so for furniture/ boxes. Some of the sawyers listed here on the site will surface lumber for you for an additional fee. And you can also get surfaced lumber via mail order. For smaller projects the shipping costs would not be too bad.
 

Jeremy Scuteri

Jeremy
Staff member
What do you currently have to process rough lumber? Maybe you can do this with what you have already purchased. Processing rough lumber (hand tools or power tools) is the only way to go if you want wood that is straight, flat and square. Working with lumber that is twisted and bowed is not fun and it does not yield good results. For me this rules out buying pre-dimensioned wood at the big box stores. Just my 2 cents.

Wear a good dust mask to protect your lungs and almost any dust collector will help keep a lot of the chips off the floor. You don't need to drop serious money an a top of the line dust collector to do basic woodworking.

In the end, different strokes for different folks. Do what makes you happy.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
I bought my first lunchbox planer in 2005. It was a used Craftsman, paid $90 for it, sharpened the blades, set them in the drum, adjusted them and never looked back. Have only worked with rough cut wood since then. Saved tons of cash, built up a nice reserve of working lumber, built some nice things for my family...

Maybe you just need a little help sorting things out to get up to speed with the process?
 

Robert166

robert166
Senior User
Maybe you just need a little help sorting things out to get up to speed with the process?[/QUOTE]

This is a true statement.

Short history, was giving some rough cut cedar, beautiful wood very few knots. Neighbor had a planer, said he would plane it down for me free. When I got it back half of the thickness was gone and none of it was the same thickness. Lesson learned.

Bought a lunchbox planer, bought some rough cut cypress, I am good to go right? Negative, cypress too much for the lunchbox, unless I was willing to run each board through 20 times, another negative. Took that to a local wood shop and pleaded for the use of the planer and jointer. Afterwards and about 100 bucks later I had some workable cypress.

So I figured I needed a bigger planer and jointer, bought an antique delta planer that weighs 200 lbs, replaced the blades, belts and changed the oil in it ( yes it has oil in the gearbox) and thought, heck I am in business. Negative, cypress is tougher than I thought. Maybe only have to run it through 10 times per board.

So I figured well might as well buy a jointer, found a 4 inch Rockwell in CL. Replaced the blades, bearings and pulley. So I am ready to joint some stuff right? Another big fat negative, have not figured out why it will not produce a flat edge. Still studying on it though.

Well what is a wood working shop with out a table saw? CL provided the answer with a Craftsman 10 inch contractor saw. After the smoke escaped from the motor, and you know it has to have smoke on the inside not the outside, rebuilt motor was the next item on the list. Okay motor fixed, now lets get down to business, new saw blade, motor, belt. Hey this thing won't cut a straight line for nothing. Okay let's work on the fence, sheesh, tighten the fence, check it against the blade, everything looks good. Let's cut 3 pcs and see if the are the same width. Negative, but I figured heck just use it and do the best you can.

Brother works for a company that buys old buildings, so I figured hey, how about some of that old thick pine you got laying around bro. Sure he says here is a few 2x6's. Now when I say 2x6 I mean it. So I think this is a good plan for my planer and table saw. Free wood, old wood, real wood! He said all the nails were out, join me in saying negative ghost rider. Well there went my favorite Freud saw blade. And I learned old pine is hard and brittle.

So after much consideration a lot of sawdust, and very little usable wood to work with. Maybe I should pay more up front for nice stuff.

I dont say all of this to be crying the blues, actually it is a bit amusing to me. I like woodworking I really do, wish my projects would come out like I plan.

But I will not be defeated by a mere piece of wood, I don't think I will be defeated, at this point it is still undecided who will be victorious.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
You say lesson learned but are you learning the correct lessons?

Never leave work to be done by someone else unless you KNOW they are competant and experienced, you have explained exactly what you want and they fully understand.
I would have stayed with the neighbor and checked the thickness as he worked. All boards should be same thickness if they are to be glued up into panels or used in same project as matching boards... How do you get them the same? Run each board through the planer in sequence, one after the other, run all boards at same setting for the final cut.

Cypress is not all that hard, was the wood much thicker than needed? Maybe should have resawn first?

Lunchbox planers typically take off 1/32 inch per pass and up to 1/16 on soft wood like eastern white pine or red cedar.

Was your cypress really 20/32 = 10/16 = 5/8 too thick? Assuming 1/32 per pass.

Are the knives sharp?

Most places charge 25 cents per linear foot to surface wood that you buy from them. Did you have 400 feet of cypress? Did they over charge? Was your work an inconvenience to them?

Bigger old Delta? What size? I sometimes run a board 10 times or more if the grain is wild and I only take off 1/64 per pass.
Not unheard of nor too much.

4 inch jointer? Short bed could be problem or beds are not coplaner (in line with each other) and can be adjusted.
Remember you are going to get one edge straight then cut the other edge on the table saw.

Craftsman table saw seems to have problems. Check to see if the blade has movement from side to side, could be bearings worn. Could be other things but sounds like you adjusted the fence. Maybe fence still moving? Does it flex when you apply pressure to the side?

Used wood always has nails and screws no matter what anyone tells you. Always check with metal detector before cutting or use an old blade for first rough cuts.

There are a few saw mills that have surfacing equipment, not sure how far you are willing to drive. Not sure who is in your area.
I know some of the lumber stores will ship and offer special UPS packages.

Hope some of this helps. Hopefully someone in your area can offer services or information on where to get surfaced lumber.
 

CDPeters

Master of None
Chris
Maybe only have to run it through 10 times per board.

What is your starting and target thicknesses? If you are trying to go from 1" rough to 3/4" finished in 2 passes, I don't think there is a planer out there that will do that. I've been using a Delta 12 1/2" lunchbox with great success for many years. I typically take about 3/64" per pass (1/2 rotation of the height adjustment on mine), and then a 1/64" pass as the final cleanup.

As far as the jointer goes, it sounds like some setup tweeking is in order. More description of the machine and the troubles you are having will help us help you with it.

If you have very thick material that needs to be reduced alot, consider re-sawing. This can be done with either a band saw or table saw - with the table saw you can do up to twice the width that your table saw maximum depth of cut is. Then you can clean up with a couple of light passes in the planer.

Granted, working with rough lumber can be frustrating, even for experienced folks. But once you get comfortable working with it, it can be very satisfying (and much less expensive!).

WRT getting an idea of what material you are considering buying might look like, I take a block plane with me so I can smooth a small area to see what the grain pattern look like.

HTH, and know we are hear to answer any questions you may have!

C.
 

CDPeters

Master of None
Chris
One other tip. I always try to reduce my stock length to about 2" more than final length needed for a specific project before dressing it. A shorter board is MUCH easier to true up than a very long one!
 

Robert166

robert166
Senior User
Cypress is averaging 1x8x8. Will try standing it on edge and running it through my table saw. Band saw not wide enough. Lol, I didn't even tell you about my bandsaw story. Another day perhaps, but it went pretty much like the other ones.

Final question and I will leave you guys alone, other than pine, what would be an economical choice in wood to hone my skills? I really want to make a old farmhouse style dining room table. Nothing fancy, considering oak maybe?
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
I really want to make a old farmhouse style dining room table. Nothing fancy, considering oak maybe?
Scott Smith will sell you some beautiful quarter saw oak, the likes of which you most likely won't be able to duplicate. Sometimes, you have to do what you are good at and leave the rest to someone else.
 

Robert166

robert166
Senior User
Very true statement junquecol, I have done more mechanic work than woodwork. And I learned that using quality tools will make a huge difference in the ease and quality of work.

But before I would spend a large amount of money on a hobby that I wasn't sure I would continue, I started down the path I am on.

I have always had the mindset that if someone else could do it, so could I. Since I have had no teacher it has been mostly trail and error. I firmly believe if I had quality tools, mistakes would be less and quality higher. But the price of that equipment is the problem. Buying used had its pros and cons.

Many will probably say "I don't have expensive tools and produce quality products" which I am sure is true. But the difference is knowing how to do it and learning how to do it.

The first time I removed a motor from a vehicle it was difficult, the second, third became easier. I learned which tool works best and which ones I needed and which ones I didn't.

Like going to Sears and buying the 300 piece tool set, in the beginning one would think, good deal. In hindsight you find out only 25% of those tools are used and needed.

I think that is where I am at. Once I figure out what I need and don't need things will become easier.

That is why I am asking the questions I am. To learn what others have done and gain advise on what not to do.

I want to thank everyone for the knowledge you have shared.
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
Easiest motor removal I ever saw was bunch of saw mill laborers. The took every thing loose, laid some quilts on top of pile of shavings, and rolled car over so motor fell on quilt. Then a couple of them picked up motor and put it in back of a pick up truck.
 

Jeff

New User
Jeff
Bookshelves, honey bee boxes, small things, think I will start there. Guess that narrows it down to pine, cypress maybe some cedar.

Ok, that's a good place to start. I also don't have the $ or space to have a lot of the "absolutely necessary" equipment to make fine furniture or a bee box.

1. Lowe's and HD have a limited selection of "Appearance" boards in red oak, poplar, eastern white pine, and red cedar. They're expensive and ready to go, but pay attention to the finished dimensions listed. Construction grade lumber is often spruce, pine, fir (SPF) or southern yellow pine; 2 x 4s, 2 x 8s, 2 x 12s, etc. are fine for some projects so don't trash the idea of using them.

https://www.lowes.com/pl/Appearance-boards-Lumber-composites-Building-supplies/4294402499

2. Rough cut lumber is sold by the board foot and waste is a given when processing it into usable lumber so how many tons of dollars do you save after you buy all of the equipment? I pay $1.00/bf extra for S4S surfacing (both edges and both faces square and parallel to each other).

https://hardwoodstore.com/lumber-prices

Example: A rough sawn 4/4 board is 1" thick so I may specify a finished thickness of 7/8" or 3/4" coming in my door.

A rough cut 6/4 board is 1.5" thick and you could order a finished thickness of 1.25" coming in your door for your farmhouse table.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ8wT6Z6pQQ
 

Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
Welcome to the wonderful world of woodworking!! Some observations:

Thickness planer: as Mike said, it works best with multiple light passes. Also generates tons of chips, so have a big trash can handy to keep emptying the chip collector.

Rough to finish dimension: I keep hearing people telling me that they buy 4/4 lumber and finish it at 3/4. I have never had that result. The wood may have been 4/4 when it was sawn, but after drying out its more like 7/8s, and after getting out the defects, twist, cup, etc, usually ends up 5/8. Used to be. "4/4" rough cut was actually about 1 1/8" off the log. That worked as advertised. Now it seems the mills want to squeeze every last drop, and some actually consider the kerf part of that 4/4!. If you can find a good place to get an honest cut, stick with them. A little more per board foot will actually come out to your favor. I actually bought a chainsaw mill attachment and did my own slabbing out for a while. I am now running out of all the stock I cut, so now have to decide to buy, or go looking for more logs. Turning 70 this year, guess I will be looking a saw mill. (Unless I want oak, and then its off to Scott Smith's for certain).

Wood to learn on: I started by taking SYP (Southern Yellow Pine) construction boards and planed, flattened, squared them into dimensions I needed for projects, furniture included. Works well for training yourself, as it is rarely straight or flat. Way back when, SYP was available in all widths, including 2x4. Now you almost have to go with a 6 or 8" width to get SYP. Everything else is SPF (Spruce,Pine or Fir) which doesn't have as much strength and does not finish as well. Once you get somewhat proficient with SYP, you will find it is actually easier to work with harder lumber like oak and walnut, especially cutting dovetails, mortises, etc.

Jointers: I once had a little 4" table top craftsman jointer. I quickly learned that as far as power jointers are concerned, bigger is better, especially in table length. If the infeed/outfeed tables are short, you are best served by adding additional support to both ends to keep the lumber in the same orientation when passing it over the cutter. Jointers are also very critical on the table set-ups. My solution was to learn how to use hand planes. More time consuming, but less $$$, less noise, and less aggravation (to me). I usually use hand planes to initially flatten one side and square an edge. Then its to the thickness planer to get all the pieces uniform thickness, and table saw for the width. Using a sled, you can also use your thickness planer to flatten the first side. As already stated, 1/32 per cut works best, so it still is many passes through for most rough lumber.

The biggest difference between hand tools and power tools? With hand tools, you can usually catch a screw-up before its too late to fix it. With power tools, you screw-up at the speed-of-light.

Good luck, and I feel your pain. LOL

Go
 

CLetts

New User
Carl
I noticed that you live in Pikeville. I live off Hwy 13 about 3/4 mile North of the new bypass. I have a garage full of woodworking tools and I've even been known to make a few things. I'd be glad to help you mill lumber, build a piece of furniture, etc. PM me if you're interested. :thumbs_up
 
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ehpoole

Administrator
Ethan
Rough to finish dimension: I keep hearing people telling me that they buy 4/4 lumber and finish it at 3/4. I have never had that result. The wood may have been 4/4 when it was sawn, but after drying out its more like 7/8s, and after getting out the defects, twist, cup, etc, usually ends up 5/8. Used to be. "4/4" rough cut was actually about 1 1/8" off the log. That worked as advertised. Now it seems the mills want to squeeze every last drop, and some actually consider the kerf part of that 4/4!. If you can find a good place to get an honest cut, stick with them. A little more per board foot will actually come out to your favor. I actually bought a chainsaw mill attachment and did my own slabbing out for a while. I am now running out of all the stock I cut, so now have to decide to buy, or go looking for more logs. Turning 70 this year, guess I will be looking a saw mill. (Unless I want oak, and then its off to Scott Smith's for certain).

Rough dimensions can vary widely depending upon the sawyer. Many sawyers will take shrinkage into consideration when slicing the green wood into rough boards, and from them you will typically get 4/4 boards that are reasonably close to 1" in thickness (e.g. +/- 1/16" typical). Your 7/8" is essentially the lower acceptable limit for 4/4 lumber and any thinner should be sold as 3/4 (target=1/2") lumber. So it can pay to visit various sawyers and suppliers as you may find that you get more usable lumber from one source than from another, and sometimes the slightly more expensive board foot price may come out being cheaper in actual use if you get more finished board feet out of the slightly more expensive lumber. Similarly, much of my 8/4 lumber is very close to 2" in the rough but can vary in width over its length(it may be 6-1/2" at one end and 7-1/2" at the other, but nearly 2" thickness, typically skip planed, over that length). But I can very often get a good deal of 3/4" lumber from my 4/4 rough lumber. Of course, if it turns out to be a better deal for you, then one can always opt for 5/4 lumber if their supplier tends to have undersized 4/4 lumber so as to ensure you can reliably get 3/4" boards out if your lumber -- whatever gets the job done!

If one has boards with a good deal of twist or bowing then it often pays to cut the boards to (or near) finished length before jointing and thickness planing as such will typically yield much more useful lumber than if one tries to process the source lumber as a single full length piece.
 

ehpoole

Administrator
Ethan
Maybe you just need a little help sorting things out to get up to speed with the process?

This is a true statement.

Short history, was giving some rough cut cedar, beautiful wood very few knots. Neighbor had a planer, said he would plane it down for me free. When I got it back half of the thickness was gone and none of it was the same thickness. Lesson learned.

Bought a lunchbox planer, bought some rough cut cypress, I am good to go right? Negative, cypress too much for the lunchbox, unless I was willing to run each board through 20 times, another negative. Took that to a local wood shop and pleaded for the use of the planer and jointer. Afterwards and about 100 bucks later I had some workable cypress.

So I figured I needed a bigger planer and jointer, bought an antique delta planer that weighs 200 lbs, replaced the blades, belts and changed the oil in it ( yes it has oil in the gearbox) and thought, heck I am in business. Negative, cypress is tougher than I thought. Maybe only have to run it through 10 times per board.

So I figured well might as well buy a jointer, found a 4 inch Rockwell in CL. Replaced the blades, bearings and pulley. So I am ready to joint some stuff right? Another big fat negative, have not figured out why it will not produce a flat edge. Still studying on it though.

Well what is a wood working shop with out a table saw? CL provided the answer with a Craftsman 10 inch contractor saw. After the smoke escaped from the motor, and you know it has to have smoke on the inside not the outside, rebuilt motor was the next item on the list. Okay motor fixed, now lets get down to business, new saw blade, motor, belt. Hey this thing won't cut a straight line for nothing. Okay let's work on the fence, sheesh, tighten the fence, check it against the blade, everything looks good. Let's cut 3 pcs and see if the are the same width. Negative, but I figured heck just use it and do the best you can.

Brother works for a company that buys old buildings, so I figured hey, how about some of that old thick pine you got laying around bro. Sure he says here is a few 2x6's. Now when I say 2x6 I mean it. So I think this is a good plan for my planer and table saw. Free wood, old wood, real wood! He said all the nails were out, join me in saying negative ghost rider. Well there went my favorite Freud saw blade. And I learned old pine is hard and brittle.

So after much consideration a lot of sawdust, and very little usable wood to work with. Maybe I should pay more up front for nice stuff.

I dont say all of this to be crying the blues, actually it is a bit amusing to me. I like woodworking I really do, wish my projects would come out like I plan.

But I will not be defeated by a mere piece of wood, I don't think I will be defeated, at this point it is still undecided who will be victorious.

Reading the above, I really get the feeling that you and your neighbor or friends need to 1) become better educated in tool use and setup and 2) to better familiarize oneself and research new tool purchases. Fortunately, this site is a great source to help you address both of those issues as the knowledge is freely available just for the asking.

For your neighbor to have gotten different thicknesses on each board would suggest that he was resetting the height after running each individual board through and not taking care to either setup a proper final stop to gauge final finish height or ensured that the final pass for all the boards were made without resetting the planer height between each board (in other words, run all the boards through together without any height changes between individual boards). This would suggest he was not terribly familiar with milling lumber. Similarly, unless the boards were terribly twisted, cupped, or bowed, then there was no need to remove half the thickness unless that was the desired final thickness. However, to properly mill lumber one needs more than just a thickness planer as the first two reference surfaces (one edge and one face) are created on a Jointer, then the jointed boards are fed through the planer for final thicknessing.

A decent lunchbox planer should be able to handle cypress and cedar just fine -- any issues will typically relate to setup, dull blades, or an inadequately sized extension cord, any of which can starve a planer of the power it needs to get the job done. I have regularly run Purpleheart, hard Maple, and other very hard woods through my benchtop planer without any difficulty, and these are harder woods than most cedar and cypress species. Depending upon board width, wood hardness, and feed speed most benchtop planer's will remove anywhere from 1/32" to 1/8" in a single pass, with 1/16" being pretty typical. You can be even more aggressive with a large stationary planer if it is equipped with a typical 2-5HP induction motor (though 200 lbs. is rather lightweight for a stationary planer as some benchtop portable planer's are close to 100 lbs. themselves).

I do not know whether your tablesaw was really a contractor or a job site tablesaw as the two terms often get misused in conversation, but in general a true contractor tablesaw is very heavy (usually several hundred pounds) and simply a slightly more compact version of a cabinet saw whereas a job site saw is built to be lightweight (typically under 100 lbs.) and highly portable with lightweight stands. Neither is as stable or accurate as a proper stationary cabinet tablesaw, but a good contractor tablesaw can often come close if properly setup and equipped with a good quality fence and rails whereas job site tablesaws, due to their compact size and lightweight construction, leave much to be desired in terms of accuracy. I suspect you likely have one of the much more common job site tablesaws (especially if you were able to burn up the motor, which is more likely with a universal motor than the induction motor found in contractor tablesaws), but if it is really a contractor tablesaw then, provided the fence and rails are good quality and in good condition, you should be able to get the tablesaw setup to cut straight and consistently. If the blade is not parallel to the miter slots, a common issue if the tablesaw was knocked about or improperly setup, then the first thing you will need to correct is that alignment as everything depends upon that alignment being correct, but that can be an involved process with both contractor and job site tablesaws as the trunnion is attached to the underside of the table which complicates the adjustment of such.

You will find a 4" jointer to be a very limited tool due to the narrow width it is capable of face jointing and the very short tables. Initial setup is very critical for a jointer if it is to do its job as they are used to create a perfectly flat face prior to thickness planing and to establish the initial reference edge at a perfect 90-degrees relative to that flattened face. Setting up a jointer is not necessarily difficult but it can be time consuming and requires patience. You can find a guide on setting up jointers in our Articles section.

As already mentioned, free and reclaimed lumber is always a gamble and if you wish to work with such you really need to invest in a proper metal detection wand as you can almost bet on the certainty of buried metal residing in at least some of the boards and those nails can do considerable harm to your knives, blades, and cutting edges as well as create potential kickback conditions, which can be dangerous. Always scan such repeatedly for nails , both sides, while resting on a table or workbench with no nearby metal in its construction so that you may use the wand at maximum sensitivity, prior to running the board through any of your equipment. But most importantly, never look upon it as free wood as it can become quite expensive when cutters and blades are destroyed and used wood often has a lot of embedded dirt and grit that can aggressively wear your cutting edges much faster than new wood. Use reclaimed wood because you like the look and character or are big on recycling, not because it is free as it is not free by the time you finish milling it!

So please do not give up on milling your own lumber if that is important to you as you now have access to a great wealth of knowledge and teachers to help you get things right. You are no longer on your own to figure all of this out for yourself.

Best wishes!
 
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mkepke

Mark
Senior User
I noticed that you live in Pikeville. I live off Hwy 13 about 3/4 mile North of the new bypass. I have a garage full of woodworking tools and I've even been known to make a few things. I'd be glad to help you mill lumber, build a piece of furniture, etc. Let me know if you're interested. My email is cletts@nc.rr.com. :thumbs_up
Robert - I would encourage you to take Carl up on his offer - or any other place you can get some skilled direction. Personally I strongly believe new woodworkers should get some formal instruction. The best purchase for a new woodworker IS instruction - not wood or tools. Moving ahead on one's own is much easier if you know what the starting-, middle and end-states should look like. Plus the hands-on experience with tools will put you on a solid footing when you are out shopping for your own.

Plus it decreases the chances of hurting yourself.

Anyways, by all means use S2S or S4S lumber..the point of woodworking is to build something, not just dress lumber. Besides the master craftsman of yore didn't dress lumber - they had flunkies for that.

Although as Bas points out, buying tools can be fun too.

-Mark
 
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