ScrollSaw Information and Resources #67: Wood Thickness Rant

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Blog entry by jerrells posted 03-10-2015 01:24 PM 1450 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 66: American Girl Furniture patterns Part 67 of ScrollSaw Information and Resources series Part 68: Should I quit or not »

In my woodworking, either scroll saw or just regular, I strive to be as accurate as possible, perhaps obsessive. One of the things that is driving me nuts lately is the inconsistence of wood thickness. I purchase wood from either the big box hardware store or the two woodworking store in town. What I find, in general, is that if you select two pieces of wood that are marked as the same thickness, they are not. Sometime even 1/16 of an inch difference.

Now if I had even a bench planer this would solve the issue. However the wood I purchased is planed before it reaches the store. Why is there not some consistence and control in place.

This is not the same as the 2 by 4 issue. All or 99% of us know that a 2 by 4 has never been 2 by 4. However when I purchase a piece of walnut or maple that states it is one-half inch thick – then why is it not one-half inch. Or why is there not better control.

For now I have solved this issue in my limited woodworking business. As long as the local cabinet shop will supply me with hardwood leftovers I can make thickness I want. Yesterday I was making one-half inch square pieces to within plus or minus .010. That is good enough for me.

Now when I am able to scrape together the money for a bench top planer I will control this issue even tighter.

Again, call me obsessive if you wish, you will not be the first.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

4 comments so far

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 1982 days

#1 posted 03-10-2015 01:38 PM

Yup I had the same problem. I invested in a bandsaw (Grizzly) for resawing and a thickness sander (Proformax) for thicknessing materials.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View MrFid's profile


906 posts in 2710 days

#2 posted 03-10-2015 01:50 PM

I understand the frustration there. I found a great deal on a DW735 on craigslist ($225!) and have been glad that I did. I think the reason it happens is not always quality control at the mill, but rather that they are cut to size, but given humidity changes and shrinking and swelling factors they may change. 1/16th differences for thickness feels like a lot to me though, probably more than wood movement would do by itself. Get a planer and convince yourself (or your wife, as the case may be) that you’ll save money in the end by being able to buy rough lumber rather than surfaced.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View kepy's profile


293 posts in 3079 days

#3 posted 03-10-2015 01:58 PM

I would be lost without my planer. I often change the thickness depending on what I am cutting. I’ve become very fond of 5/8” stock for scrolling.

-- Kepy

View shipwright's profile


8570 posts in 3604 days

#4 posted 03-10-2015 05:57 PM

I buy my hardwood from a supplier who sells primarily rough material. They do sell planed stock but they make an effort to keep it as thick as possible while removing the saw marks. It would then be sold as “one inch, planed” or similar. (never as 4/4, 5/4 etc. .. must be a Canadian thing.)
If a “boutique” hardwood seller buys this stock, they may mark it as some nominal thickness close to the actual measure but not exact. I think the assumption is that they are selling to woodworkers who want as much “clean” wood as possible and who have the ability to make it smaller if that’s what they need. It’s a lot harder to make it that 1/16” bigger.
This is not a criticism of your point, just an attempt to pose a possible explanation.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

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