Lathe Cabinet Build #2: Poor Man's Vertical Grain Douglas Fir

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Blog entry by Lazyman posted 10-17-2019 10:16 PM 1003 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Designing the Cabinet Part 2 of Lathe Cabinet Build series Part 3: Making the Cabinet Box »

Since I decided I didn’t want to just use plywood for the lathe cabinet I am building, needed to try a substitute. I wanted to try something other than the standard hardwoods and I’ve always liked the way that the vertical grain Douglas fir looks in Woodsmith magazine projects. Vertical grain is basically quarter sawn. That stuff is crazy expensive and frankly I doubt that I could even find it here in in the DFW area without special ordering it. About the only Douglas fir I could find without checking all of the high end lumber suppliers in the area are 4×4’s at Home Depot and Lowes and I had about 4’ of one left over from a previous project which I had selected because it had really nice tight and straight grain. I selected a few more with the straightest, tightest grain near the top of the stack at HD and decide to see if I could make my own vertical grain Douglas fir.

First step was to cut the 8’ 4×4s in half so that I could resaw them on my bandsaw more easily.

and then cobbled together a quick and dirty resaw guide to help keep them as straight as possible.

Even though the 4×4s are kiln dried, after resawing them I decided to sticker them as I waited a few days before milling them just in case they move a bit.

I used my crappy bench top jointer to flatten the face and then ran them through my planer to mill them down to 3/4” and then used a jointing sled on my table saw to get nice straight edges. I did a few with a hand plane and then tried using the POS jointer but finally made a quick and dirty sled to do the rest. Not sure when or why it happened, but the infeed and outfeed tables on the jointer are no longer parallel and it has no obvious way to fix that. I tried adding some shims which made it better but I could not get a straight edge to save my life.

Now, I am in the process of gluing them up in to about 2’x4’ panels. Just to make it easier to clean up the squeeze out, I decided to use liquid hide glue. I finally had a chance to use a few of the parallel clamps I bought cheap at a garage sale a while back.

It is not quite as nice as the the real thing, largely because VG DF is usually cut from old growth trees to get finer growth rings and grain, but overall it so far seems to be a good substitute. The grain orientation should at least make it more stable and less susceptible to humidity swings from season to season.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

2 comments so far

View HokieKen's profile


18438 posts in 2301 days

#1 posted 10-18-2019 11:51 AM

Personally, I would have gone with plywood. That’s way too much work for me. I’m really disappointed in you. You’re not living up to your name at all. ;-)

I can’t buy DF around here that I know of but Home Depot has some flooring boards that might save you some time if they are available at any of your local stores.

Smart call on the jointing sled for the table saw. That’s always my go-to for big batches of lumber. It’s just plain faster than my jointer.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View Lazyman's profile


7436 posts in 2550 days

#2 posted 10-18-2019 01:51 PM

Hey, I am retired. It keeps me from getting bored. Half of just about any project I take on is just to see if I can pull it off. Plus, I am cheap. When you work, time is money, but when you are retired, time is spent more easily than money. One reason I went this route is that I didn’t want to use the typical rabbet and dado joinery used with PW and the box joints don’t look great with PW. Hopefully it doesn’t turn out to be a mistake.

I checked the HD link and that flooring would have been perfect and looked better too. Unfortunately, it says in store only and they don’t carry that here. They don’t list the price and I’ll bet it would cost at least 5 times more than my 4×4’s, even more to have it shipped, assuming they will even do that for the relatively small amount I need. The couple of places I looked at, 1-by boards for flooring were priced at about $7-8/sqft or about $14-16 per 8’ board plus delivery. The 8’ 4×4s cost less than $12 each and I was able to yield three 3/4×3” boards and one 1/2” board (for the shiplap) from each one.

Maybe I should change my handle to Cheapman. “His way may not be better but it will usually be cheaper”

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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