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Curious about dressing slabs.

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Forum topic by M2D2 posted 04-09-2018 11:01 PM 673 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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M2D2

26 posts in 472 days


04-09-2018 11:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dressed planer slab

Hey All,

I’m perhaps a little daft on the matter. My logical brain is telling me that when you buy rough lumber, its already sliced, and as the saw goes through, it leaves a straight cut line. So…my brain wants to know….

I’ve done some research, and apparently it is customary and perhaps even “required” to dress lumber.

SO, if I have this slab…30 inch wide, by 72 inch long, by 3 inch thick. It should have a fairly flat surface already? no? and thus levels of sandy maybe required, either via belt or orbital . To make it smooth.

Am I completely out to lunch? My intention is simply to purchase the rough lumber and smooth the top out, before finishing, further, I have a friend of mine who likes his DIY projects, but anyway, he suggested to me, that if your staining and sealing wood, no sanding beyond 120grit is really needed, since your touch sense doesn’t extended beyond the top coat of varnish/lacquer, or stain.

Maybe having a planer just reduces the amount of sanding? I wouldn’t really be expecting large peaks and valleys in the wood, as the saw would have left a straight edge…

For consideration: the wood species, could be, ash, maple or oak.

Thoughts / opinions / (just no flaming please) LOL.

Thanks


18 replies so far

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Aj2

2321 posts in 2214 days


#1 posted 04-10-2018 12:01 AM

All the slabs I’ve bought and cut to dry my self need to be planed before I would call them flat.
Usually there will be a twist bow or crook. Equal amounts of wood should be removed from both sides to balance the dance. If I’m buying a slab I do look for one that will give best yield.
If you can find large slabs with a low Mc inside that’s a good start.
Then you will have some piece of mind that it will behave and stay flat after you spend countless hours working it.:)

-- Aj

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msinc

567 posts in 920 days


#2 posted 04-10-2018 12:31 AM

I have a saw mill and I saw logs. I also build a lot of stuff out of much of the wood I saw. My saw mill is actually a “band mill” that is to say it is a horizontal band saw on a big track. It’s a Hud-Son and it has dual bearings on the wheels {most do not} and also blade guides just like a precision vertical band saw. All this means that I get a very flat accurate cut if the blade is good and sharp, I don’t force the saw and I take my time with the really hard hardwoods. All that said, unless you are doing a project that includes showing the milling marks then you will need to plane and sand the wood.
Rough cut mill lumber is just that, it is rough and it is “roughly on size” thickness wise. You will buy or have milled to a thickness according to the finished size you are shooting for. So, if for example you want 3/4” finished dimension boards then you would tell me to saw your log to a full 1”. Now, many sawmills are still using circular blades. This tends to leave your wood even rougher and it also costs somebody some wood because a circular mill has a typical 1/2” kerf whereas most band mills cut 1/8” or maybe even less.
I mentioned the brand of mill I have because it really does an excellent job of making boards that are pretty flat and uniform and on size. Many band mills are “home made” or so called “off shore” manufactured. They are “cost effective” but not near as accurate and lack the dual bearings, also lack the blade guides and just cannot produce as accurate of a cut. They can do an acceptable job though in the hands of a miller that knows what he is doing. Nevertheless, you will have to plane or face join the lumber to use it coming off of the best mill, so you can be guaranteed you have to do it with those mills.
As to the 120 grit being all you will need to go down to…..get another opinion…I don’t know what it is that you want to build, but even when I leave the mill marks in certain boards for different projects I still sand the rest well finer than that. Best of luck and don’t hesitate to ask questions on here…there are a lot of very knowledgeable folks that are very helpful on this site. I am just not one of them in the knowledge dept.

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M2D2

26 posts in 472 days


#3 posted 04-10-2018 01:21 AM

ThThank you both for your knowledgeable council. With respect to (@msinc) the projects are multi-fold.

Project 1. New music making desk. I could theoretically go out and by pre-fab starting at $2500 → $10k (USD), converted to CAD add 30% for fx (foreign exchange). The actual length doesn’t matter so much. I can go with 60 inch long or 72 inch long. Although I think I will open for 60 inch, simply because, under the main desk surface, will have a slide out tray. Slide out trays are not un common in today’s day and age, but what makes this a little bit different is that, the tray will hold a digital piano. The piano is a FULL 88 keys. so its 58 inches WIDE. it has a peculiar diamond shape. Top level is about 9 inches deep, then expands to 11 1/2 inches, before reducing to its base at 7 inches, on 4 rubber feet. Theoretically, I could use an 8” x 60” (cut down to 59”), as the tray. THE legs, I have intentions to use 3/4” ID black steel pipe legs, (sch 40). The iron pipe, is strong as hell, and load bearing. I could also increase that from 3/4” ID to 1” ID or 1 1/4” ID or 1 1/2” ID. But I’m not seeing the need. The pipe will function much like wood. Turn a board on its ends, it can tolerate much more weight, than laying flat which has a tendency to put at less than 1” thickness overtime (bookshelf effect). That said, to attach the said keyboard I need to use fairly heavy duty load bearing drawer slides. I’ve found some that tolerate a weight of 200lbs (recall the digital piano is only 25lbs). So it far supercedes the weight of the digital piano, but further I’m allowing for 2 the shelf to weigh upwards of 20lbs. So total weight on those slides is now at 45lbs. Now I’m going to add me playing, and some piano pieces are rather energetic, so I have to accomodate that G-force as downwards pressure applied as weight to the drawer slides. so I took the 45lbs and quadrupled it. I could go even heavier to 400lbs, but that might be over-kill.
The specific piece of wood, I’m looking at, is 30” wide, 60 – 72” long, and 3” thick. I asked about the moisture content, and was told it was air dried, then removed to an indoor environment to continue drying. I’ll be checking the wood carefully, the vendor, is only requiring $75 CAD for a board that size, that’s either Ash or Maple or Oak, I’m not 100% sure what that specific piece will be made of. I find out tommorrow.

So the piece in question is for a desk top. That said, they’ll be a shelf wall mounted about 4 inches above the desk surface for monitors and so on.

Project 2, is very similar to Project 1, only difference, its less involved. Its a dining table. 28 – 30” wide, 48 long, Its enough for 4 people. I mean, keep in mind my abode, is only 650 sq ft. 8 floors up. HAHAHA. I need a cottage with a work shop…but I digress. SO I’m just gonna do the pipe leg theme.

The next Project, is 3 shelves for the entertainment unit. wall mounted, the tv will be wall mounted. Everything has to be space saving.

Project 4, is a little more tricky. I’m replacing my my banged up melamine table that has glass inserts that splits apart into 2 tables (its 2 L’s put together, to make a rectangle). But i’m adding some pipe design under the 4 sections of glass, to make it more interesting.

Project 5 => OI, this is a doosey. Its a bi-folding or split open closet armoir door. (HUH?) you say. Take those standard 48” sliding doors. remove them. Now take 2×24” wide bookshelfs 84” tall, and hinge them in front. Now put doors and drawers in that bookshelf. And you have VOILA….2 dressers on wheels, that also function as the closet door. Its way involved. I’ll post pictures as the projects slowly complete.

Basically I’m combining 2 styles. Steampunk (think Victoria), and what is commonly referred to as “craftsman”. So while the steampunk will lend itself heavily to an industrial ulilitarian feel, the wood combination should balance to make it warm and inviting.

Anyway, all the boards, are going to be 2 1/2” to 3” thick, I don’t have a planer. I have access to a belt sander an orbital sander. So I guess I’ll be sanding my butt off. (and god said … “Let there be vacuums” for a reason!). (joking).

So i know there will be some, that will probably say, you need this tool for this and that tool for that, how to use properly and this, and its not that those things are not without merit. Its simply time/money/space. Two of which (money and space) are in very short supply at the current moment, still the mental relaxation of woodworking, can not be denied.

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msinc

567 posts in 920 days


#4 posted 04-10-2018 01:33 AM

I understand. For the projects you have quoted I have to say that you should definitely buy rough cut mill lumber. Even if you have to pay someone to plane and/or join it for you it is still well worth every penny. Look at what you are getting compared to store bought, be it finished furniture or just the planed and sanded boards. All that said, you cannot forget that the wood you get must be dry enough to work with.
Many mills offer lumber in a variety if configurations…from your logs brought in and milled which you are typically charged by the board feet just for the sawing{least expense}, to buying rough cut that has been already dried {cost more}, to milled dried and planed ready to build boards…..either way it is still way less money and a way better finished product than buying store bought stuff that is probably really not exactly what you had in mind. Best of luck!!!!

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M2D2

26 posts in 472 days


#5 posted 04-10-2018 01:42 AM

The challange I’m having with taking it to a Mill, is from the pricing I’ve seen, they want $150/hr MINIMUM $100 to put a 30wide inch board through a planer. $100 bucks for 15 minutes? (although I may not understand just how long it takes to plane a board). I keep thinking maybe 1 or 2 passes to level it, and its done, flip it 1 or 2 passes its done again, so ya loose 1/2 to 3/4 inch in the planning process maybe another 1/4 inch in sanding. So why not just sand it smooth myself? I guess what I’m driving at it…is….IF the purpose and intent of planing a board is to flatten it, can sanding not achieve this? I mean if you plane why sand? if sand, why plane? why are both required.

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Loren

10477 posts in 4064 days


#6 posted 04-10-2018 01:55 AM

Large boards can be flattened and thicknessed
with a hand held electric planer. It will still need
work with hand planes and/or sanding to
remove the planer marks and bring the surface
to a condition ready for finishing.

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M2D2

26 posts in 472 days


#7 posted 04-10-2018 02:01 AM

@Loren, is there any reason I can’t use a hand planar (or electric one for that matter), along with an orbital sander? I mean, even if I took it to 180? (and I’m not sure 180 is required given its gonna be have a shellac finish on top), you wouldn’t feel the grain surface of the wood under the shellac anyway (is my tthought process wrong)?

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Loren

10477 posts in 4064 days


#8 posted 04-10-2018 02:06 AM

It’s doable. Be prepared to spend a lot of time holding
onto the sander.

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msinc

567 posts in 920 days


#9 posted 04-10-2018 02:15 AM


The challange I m having with taking it to a Mill, is from the pricing I ve seen, they want $150/hr MINIMUM $100 to put a 30wide inch board through a planer. $100 bucks for 15 minutes? (although I may not understand just how long it takes to plane a board). I keep thinking maybe 1 or 2 passes to level it, and its done, flip it 1 or 2 passes its done again, so ya loose 1/2 to 3/4 inch in the planning process maybe another 1/4 inch in sanding. So why not just sand it smooth myself? I guess what I m driving at it…is….IF the purpose and intent of planing a board is to flatten it, can sanding not achieve this? I mean if you plane why sand? if sand, why plane? why are both required.

- M2D2

I have to ask…where are you located? Not because I am necessarily wondering about you per se, but because if that is what they are getting there{money wise} to run a board thru a planer….I need to move to that locale!!!!!!! Either I need to move there as soon as possible or you need to not go to that saw mill!!!
Where ever you are located, I would suggest that you find someone nearby that does woodworking and see if that person is willing to walk you thru a few steps…even if they charge you it sounds like it would possibly be money well spent.
$150.00 an hour to saw logs….$100.00 to plane a board….I’d have been a millionaire long ago.

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M2D2

26 posts in 472 days


#10 posted 04-10-2018 11:07 AM

Proof is in the pudding … so or in this case…wood dust.
==================================
http://centurymill.com/site/services/
Our Shop Services
Planing/ Ripping/ Cut to size $85 per hour ($25 minimum)
Laminating (table tops, wide boards etc.) $85-$95 per hour
Wide Planer 24” up to 50” $150 per hour ($100 minimum)
===================================
How much do you charge to mill my logs?
We custom mill for clients at $150 dollars an hour plus the cost of blades. We charge a 2 hour minimum. Please https://woodslabs.ca/pricing-and-services/
====================================
i’m in the Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada .

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M2D2

26 posts in 472 days


#11 posted 04-10-2018 11:15 AM

oh that reminds me….question: I’ve been reading that some use shellac cut to 1/2 pound (i believe the combo is 1 part shellac (canned), to 2 parts mineral spirits or denatured alcohol), brushed onto the piece so it takes stain evenly, is this correct information? would it be required with something like ash / oak / maple?

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Dustin

689 posts in 1157 days


#12 posted 04-10-2018 11:49 AM



oh that reminds me….question: I ve been reading that some use shellac cut to 1/2 pound (i believe the combo is 1 part shellac (canned), to 2 parts mineral spirits or denatured alcohol), brushed onto the piece so it takes stain evenly, is this correct information? would it be required with something like ash / oak / maple?

- M2D2

This depends on what cut of shellac you start with. Something like Zinnser Sealcoat is a 2# cut of de-waxed shellac (you want de-waxed for this purpose), so you would mix equal parts of this shellac with denatured alcohol (NOT mineral spirits; denatured alcohol is the solvent used in shellac). This is usually referred to as a wash coat, and can help to even out staining for some blotch prone woods.

However, ash and oak are not particularly prone to blotching. Others may weigh in here, but if it were me, I’d just test a piece of scrap with the stain first (a sizable piece) to see if it’s necessary. Maple, in contrast, is terribly blotch-prone. IF you insist on using an oil-based pigmented stain (i.e., your typical stains you find in big box stores), you’ll want to up your pre-stain finishing schedule and go with something more effective. One of your members, Charles Neil, sells a pre-stain conditioner that most of our folks rave about (http://www.cn-woodworking.com/cn-pre-color-conditioner/). Alternatively, you might look into using a dye of some sort (Transtint, Solar-lux/Behlen’s, etc.).

-- "Ladies, if your husband says he'll get to it, he'll get to it. No need to remind him about it every 6 months."

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Nubsnstubs

1577 posts in 2146 days


#13 posted 04-10-2018 01:51 PM

M2D2, I orbit sand everything I do to 120, seal coat with lacquer sanding sealer, sand that to 220, and apply 2 lacquer finish coats of whatever sheen the customer requests. Done it for 40 years now, and have had more repeat customers than new ones, so apparently the 120 sanding was sufficient.

As far as sanding a rough slab, if you are looking to get equal thickness throughout, it would need to be sanded with a wide belt sander.

I get my sanding in Tucson for 60 bucks an hour with a $30 minimum. .............. Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson) www.woodturnerstools.com

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M2D2

26 posts in 472 days


#14 posted 04-10-2018 02:14 PM

Wow, you guys are just sooo helpful…....i’m gonna give y’all a beer! ok maybe a few more than 1.

I was gonna use the minwax stain oil based. I was also going to use the shellac as a top coat, protector. That said, how is polyacrylic stuff different? than shellac, straight cut.

I’m thinking the piece could be ash, but I won’t know for another 2 hours. So I’ll post a pics here, when I get the pieces back, also in my travels I may have a place that can plane, which if I understand the information correctly from what everyone has said, may cut down on the sanding considerable. I mean I would still need to orbit sand appropriately for the finishing process, but; that heavy sanding initially to level the board may not be present, so that might cut some time down, for sanding, if someone can verify my understanding, that’d be grand, the place incidentally is about 100kms (or 60 miles) away. I have to see if I can access there information and get details, but if its within the realm of reason I’d go for it.

Updates to follow fellas, thanks so much

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M2D2

26 posts in 472 days


#15 posted 04-10-2018 08:10 PM

So I just viewed the slabs, I pick them up on Thrursday, for the guy to plane the boards, it is $6 per minute at the place he takes them to. So if you average 5 minutes a side that’s 10 minutes, that’s $60 for 10 minutes, assuming that the operator of the planer is experienced, theoretically, they could plane 4 boards an hour (2 sides) so 8x total, effectively the planer would now make them $240 per hour. ...maybe I’m in the wrong line of work.

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