Surfacing rough lumber without a 16" jointer

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Forum topic by GaryK posted 01-22-2008 04:01 AM 368103 views 282 times favorited 125 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5226 days

01-22-2008 04:01 AM

Topic tags/keywords: jig planer router jointer

If you don’t mine a little extra work, you can save money on lumber by buying it rough.

This will sometimes get you a little extra wood. For example 8/4 surfaced lumber is 1 3/4”
thick because it has been smoothed on both sides. Rough lumber would be an actual
2”. Now if the board is really flat you may be able to get a 1 7/8 thick board out of it.

Anyway the problem is that most people don’t have a wide enough jointer to smooth
one surface flat so that you can run it through your planer. This is how I do it.

I finally had my workbench clear of other projects so I thought I would share with you how I surface
rough lumber without the jointer. Now this method can work with almost any width lumber. I have a 13”
planer so I use that as my limit even though you can do wider boards as I will explain.

First you need a jig. I made mine 10’ so that I could do up to 9’ boards.

It’s basically a long narrow piece of plywood with a couple of guides attached upright along the length.
I added a stop block at each end to keep from over shooting with the router. Laying across are a couple
of sticks I use when I don’t want to route the entire surface.

Here is a closeup of the hook added to the end.

Then I made a sled on wheels to mount the router on.




The slots allow me to move the router to any position from the middle all the way to the right.
Then just rotate the sled 180 degrees you get to the other side.

I use a 1 1/2’ bottoming bit

Now it time to start with your lumber. I use small wedges to keep if from rocking.
I use a level as a straight edge to try to get both ends as level as I can.

Then I use pairs of wedges to keep the piece in place while routing.

Then I set the router depth to the lowest point on the lumber. If it’s really bad I take
two passes. Then I route the entire length of the board keeping about 1” from the edge.


Then flip the router around and make a second pass along the other edge.
At this point if you board is narrow you can just surface the entire surface and you are ready for the planer.
And if you didn’t have a planer wide enough you could flip the board over and do the other side.

If you have a really wide board as I do here and you don’t want to make a ton of chips you can use
those two strips of wood I showed you earlier and use them as spacers in the two grooves you
just milled. The blue tape is to keep them in place as I move it around.

I use them like you would use a planer sled.

After you are done you have one side perfectly jointed. Then just flip it over and take it to thickness
as you normally would.

Here you can also see the Wixey planer gauge upgrade on the right side of the planer.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

125 replies so far

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 5259 days

#1 posted 01-22-2008 04:08 AM

Excellent Gary. It’s been on the back burner forever here. I’m glad you prodded me again.
Very nice cradle. Just the right size for my shop too.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5200 days

#2 posted 01-22-2008 04:14 AM

Really great instructions, Gary. Thanks for the tips.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Max's profile


55999 posts in 5511 days

#3 posted 01-22-2008 04:36 AM

This is great, thanks Gary.

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View Karson's profile


35278 posts in 5638 days

#4 posted 01-22-2008 05:38 AM

Great tips Gary. Nice job on the design and implementation.

-- 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 Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1427 posts in 5112 days

#5 posted 01-22-2008 06:21 AM

Very good idea! I’ve done something similar, but without the wheels and carrier strips. You’ve definately taken this idea to the next level.

-- -- --

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5274 days

#6 posted 01-22-2008 06:41 AM

That’s perfect Gary. I’ve read about this, but didn’t know anyone that had tried it. cool.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Rymann's profile


11 posts in 5016 days

#7 posted 01-22-2008 07:08 AM

This is brilliant. Very cool.

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 5235 days

#8 posted 01-22-2008 07:20 AM

What a great strategy!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 5112 days

#9 posted 01-22-2008 11:46 AM

That’s a heads up method for jointing and planing without multi-thousand dollar tools. Good blog.

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 5177 days

#10 posted 01-22-2008 02:32 PM

Ingenuity is a good quality to have. This is a very well explained method of getting that first surface right. Thanks for the post.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 5229 days

#11 posted 01-22-2008 04:12 PM

Best version of this jig I have ever seen… Thanks!

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View gene's profile


2184 posts in 5122 days

#12 posted 01-22-2008 04:28 PM

Thanks Gary, The step by step was great.
God bless

-- Gene, a Christian in Virginia

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 5399 days

#13 posted 01-22-2008 07:13 PM

Great tutorial Gary, along with a nice method of “jointing” a flat surface on a board. It looks like a great idea for those of use with a smaller jointer.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Sam Yerardi's profile

Sam Yerardi

244 posts in 5133 days

#14 posted 01-22-2008 07:40 PM

Good work , Gary. Nice pictures, too!

-- Sam

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 5037 days

#15 posted 01-22-2008 09:56 PM

That’s a keeper. I’m going to borrow that one real soon. I usually crosscut near-to-size then work one side dead flat with hand planes then feed the rough side to the planer on a sled. Your jig handles long boards and can easily be adapted for shorter stock. Sweet! This one will be a major labor saver on the days I don’t have the time to push a plane. Nice job.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

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