Dimensioning Lumber

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Blog entry by 18wheelznwood posted 02-01-2021 06:41 PM 688 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

One of my goals in improving my woodworking skills was to be able to purchase inexpensive rough lumber and mill it down to my desired needs. So, I bought a Dewalt 735 thickness planer and a Delta 6” Benchtop jointer to help do this. After many YouTube videos on this particular subject I felt it was time to try my hand at it. My nearby Rockler store had a nice selection of rough maple boards on sale so I picked out a nice looking one and boy was it rough. Not a square edge or corner to be found, and the thickness varied from 5/8” on one small corner of the board to over an inch thickness on other parts of the piece. I did make sure that it didn’t have any major trusts, cupping or bowing. The overall board was 11” wide by 50” long. Too wide for my little Delta jointer so time to make a planer sled. I made a bunch of shims out of off cut pieces I’ve saved. (My wife thinks I’m a wood hoarder because I save all but the smallest pieces of lumber) I attached the maple board to the planer sled with the slightly cupped side up, using hot glue and shimmed it so the board couldn’t move while going through the planer. I marked the surface of the board with pencil and began running it through the planer until about 90 percent of the pencil marks were gone. I had one corner of the board that was really thin and planned on dealing with that later on. With one nice flat surface, I removed it from the sled, removed the residual hot glue, then planed the other side. Now with the faces surfaced, I needed a straight edge. Time to use my Christmas present, my Kreg ACS saw and track. Using my newly improved layout table, I clamped down the track on my board and ripped a perfectly straight edge to my now almost perfect piece of 3/4” maple. I am so proud of how it came out. About half of the board is now part of a pair of edge grain cutting boards that I am currently working on.

13 comments so far

View Madmark2's profile


2537 posts in 1649 days

#1 posted 02-01-2021 06:52 PM

Well done. Good learning. Keep it up.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View controlfreak's profile


2007 posts in 663 days

#2 posted 02-01-2021 08:56 PM

It is funny how a simple task can turn into a whole education. I wouldn’t have said this before but now that I have gotten my feet wet hand planes I would probably elect to hand plane one side flat before setting up a sled.

View splintergroup's profile


5035 posts in 2284 days

#3 posted 02-01-2021 09:15 PM

You dove in head first!
Usually it starts with a <6> piece of wood, a pass on the jointer to flatten a face, trip through the planer to flatten and parallel the other face, then options for fixing the edges. You went with a pretzel straight to a planer sled, a technique usually reserved for the advanced class 8^)


View northwoodsman's profile


527 posts in 4808 days

#4 posted 02-01-2021 11:07 PM

I’m not sure where you are located since you didn’t add it to your profile but woodworking stores and big box stores are the most expensive places to purchase wood. Find a place that specializes in selling only lumber (and possibly plywood) and you will cut your cost in half or even better. Now that you have the equipment reap the rewards and savings. Congrats!

-- NorthWoodsMan

View Timturner's profile


3 posts in 166 days

#5 posted 02-01-2021 11:39 PM

I have been learning to make good boards from end cuts from a local mill,It can be rewarding to save bad wood, and make a project.I purchased a piece of walnut 6feetby 4in by3in 14.00. For a bowl project

View hockeyfan_019's profile


67 posts in 294 days

#6 posted 02-02-2021 03:09 PM

I’ve actually also found some great stuff from a local “salvage” yard that has loads of miscellaneous stuff around all the time. in this case, “salvage” doesn’t normally mean that it was rescued from a demo (although that is sometimes the case), normally it’s just some place’s overbuy, so you can get it from them on discount. Just be careful with salvage that you don’t have any nails or screws in there, and watch the stuff from the big box stores for staples. I’ve had a few run ins with material from the BORG lol :)

-- Most of my tools are older than I am

View 18wheelznwood's profile


138 posts in 91 days

#7 posted 02-02-2021 04:03 PM

Thanks for the great advice. I’m in the process of locating alternatives to the big box store, so any tips are appreciated.

View Phil32's profile


1360 posts in 965 days

#8 posted 02-02-2021 07:55 PM

I am surprised that you would choose maple to develop your wood dimensioning skills. Some “rough” lumber is sold that way to avoid the risks associated with milling.

-- Phil Allin - There are woodworkers and people who collect woodworking tools. The woodworkers have a chair to sit on that they made.

View 18wheelznwood's profile


138 posts in 91 days

#9 posted 02-02-2021 08:04 PM

I’m guessing that the lumber I bought was trim ends they didn’t want to bother with running through their planer. All of the pieces were of similar length. Plus it was cheap lol

View Ocelot's profile (online now)


2985 posts in 3699 days

#10 posted 02-02-2021 09:13 PM

18wheelz, if you’re a trucker, you probably pass a lot of good lumber yards on the way,. I don’t know if you are allowed to, but it seems you could stop by and pick up a few boards.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View 18wheelznwood's profile


138 posts in 91 days

#11 posted 02-02-2021 09:21 PM

Unfortunately our trucks are GPS tracked and we use electronic log equipment and the company frowns on running personal errands. I’ve got a couple of hardwood dealers in the area located, just need to go check them out.

View Ocelot's profile (online now)


2985 posts in 3699 days

#12 posted 02-03-2021 01:00 AM

Well you’ve got to follow the rules. Keep the boss happy.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View 18wheelznwood's profile


138 posts in 91 days

#13 posted 02-03-2021 04:47 AM

I know you are right about that!

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