preparing wood #1: MILLING 101 , a TUTORIAL

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by patron posted 03-08-2010 12:49 AM 8176 reads 19 times favorited 58 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of preparing wood series no next part

here is the process called ’ milling ’ .
i was asked to explain this in a PM , and did so ,
but the written explanation was to confusing ,
so i did this and took pictures and wrote this explanation .
it was so well recieved , i was asked to share it with others ,
that may have questions too , but might feel ’ dumb ’ asking ,
( there are no dumb questions ) , especially here on LJ’s
so here goes .
milling is taking rough or twisted/warped lumber and making straight and parallel stock out of it .
in using rough stock , it maybe called say 4/4 , but that is rough , finished it will be 13/16 or 3/4 ( in inches ) ,and it is still called 4/4 ( thats where it came from ) .
if it is 8/4 ( 2 inches ) it might mill to 1 3/4 inches .and still be considered 8/4 .
i used a particularly warped , cupped and twisted board for this demo , and even curved the edge , so you could understand the process .
this is the board , notice the cupping .

this is a JOINTER , its job is to flatten and straighten .
the knives are on the bottom ,and cut INTO the work ,

this is siting down on the JOINTER with the ’ crown ’ up , so it has a firmer base , and doesn’t rock around .
notice it is raised up in front , as i use the push handle to firm it to the table , this is good , it will go thru without
bouncing around , and after 3 passes , will leave me a flat , straight ’ face ’ .

this is one pass ,notice it cut only the edges , the middle is still cupped , but now it sits firmer on the table

this is the flat face . it is turned to you to show you the finished face ,
it will be turned around for the next step .

. straight and flat too .now i will put the flat face to the fence , and holding it to the fence , it will joint the edge 90 deg. , and make it straight too .this is 1 pass so you can see the curve and the new flat edge .

now the completed face with a square edge , this i refer to as my ’ reference ’ for all future work ,
it is my true flat 90 deg corner . here i rip the other edge on the table saw ,
the ‘reference ’ face ’ is down and the true edge is against the fence

now the board has 1 flat ’ face ’ and 2 square edges , that are parallel .
this is the PLANER , it makes flat and parallel to the flat ’ face ’ and things thiner .
it also cuts into the work .
the wood goes ’ face ’ down , as the cutters are overhead on this one .
in all of these processes , we do it in stages , as whacking to much at a time can ruin the wood and the tools ,
and possibly YOU !

notice the 1st pass takes of the thick side , so 3 or more passes will bring it to flat and true throughout .

here is the finished board , it has 2 faces that are flat and parallel , and 2 edges that are straight and parallel ,
and 4- 90 deg, square corners .
i always make my stock a little longer , and after the milling process , as this is where ’ snipe ’ can be removed .
snipe is when either tool can ’ jump ’ the ends , and leave a divot .

so there you have it , for ’ milling ’ , it takes a jointer , a planer , and a table saw ( or band saw ) ,
they are the ’ trinity ’ to get stock that can be used with confidence to build whatever you like .
just assuming that your wood is straight and true , can lead to costly mistakes and frustration ,
and it lets you buy cheaper wood , as the mill doesn’t have to do it .
enjoy !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

58 comments so far

View jack1's profile


2150 posts in 4827 days

#1 posted 03-08-2010 12:52 AM

Nice concise explanation.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View moshel's profile


865 posts in 4483 days

#2 posted 03-08-2010 12:56 AM

Great tutorial! I would also mention the direction of the grain (especially when going through the planer) to reduce tearout, and also putting some diagonal lines on the timber with soft pencil or crayon to see when its really flat.

-- The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep...

View patron's profile


13707 posts in 4141 days

#3 posted 03-08-2010 12:57 AM

thank you jack , have a good one .
i’m on my way to dinner ,
and to grade my
nmkidd .

he’s been up to something ?

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4103 days

#4 posted 03-08-2010 01:05 AM

wow..i always wondered what it was suppose to look like..i always though the twists uneven edges were suppose to be there..isn’t that why its called rustic…lol…...very good explanation …

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View a1Jim's profile


118079 posts in 4377 days

#5 posted 03-08-2010 01:06 AM

Thanks David
Have some lobster for me too.


View ellen35's profile


2747 posts in 4232 days

#6 posted 03-08-2010 01:35 AM

Simple, concise, great pictures… as I have said before… you should be a teacher… you are a teacher!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Karson's profile


35224 posts in 5200 days

#7 posted 03-08-2010 01:43 AM

David: Did you cone to my shop and see how I do it.

A great photo explanation.

Nice job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3991 days

#8 posted 03-08-2010 01:56 AM

Nice Demo David, you couldn’t have picked a better board.

Prime rib for dinner sounds good!!!

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View woodsmithshop's profile


1411 posts in 4345 days

#9 posted 03-08-2010 02:19 AM

good tutorial David, that is good info to have, pics were great.

-- Smitty!!!

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 4095 days

#10 posted 03-08-2010 03:51 AM

Another tutorial well done David.
Thanks !!


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View donjoe's profile


1360 posts in 3831 days

#11 posted 03-08-2010 03:56 AM

Very nicely explained David. Great show and tell.

-- Donnie-- listen to the wood.

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4008 days

#12 posted 03-08-2010 04:05 AM

Had I seen this tutorial first, I could have skipped 4 or 5 books and countless hours searching on the internet to “get” milling wood. You are a gifted teacher.

View lew's profile


13143 posts in 4555 days

#13 posted 03-08-2010 05:42 AM

Should be required viewing for all those just starting out- and some of us old guys that forget the basics.

Thanks, David!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View patron's profile


13707 posts in 4141 days

#14 posted 03-08-2010 07:58 AM

i sure hope so mario ,

we all take what we know for granted sometimes ,

and talk technical stuff that beginners don’t understand sometimes ,
and are intimidated to ask .

why go out and buy a planer ,
if you don’t know what it does ?

moshel ,
right you are ,
with lines , this would have been even more self explanatory .
never crossed my mind , until i saw your comment .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 4230 days

#15 posted 03-08-2010 08:15 AM

As someone that has started with too many warped and twisted boards.(pallets) Your pics and explanation was wonderful. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

showing 1 through 15 of 58 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics