Processing some rough cherry...

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Forum topic by AlfB posted 05-21-2019 03:27 AM 602 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1300 days

05-21-2019 03:27 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Some years ago I bought a bunch of Cherry boards at an auction. Estimating it’s about 50-60 bd ft. It’s mostly surfaced and near to 3/4” but there are some rough spots, cracks, checks, knots, etc. It was cheap but there’s a good amount of usable wood there.

I would like to use this stuff for a table I am planning to build, but I’m not sure how to go about processing the pieces. Should I cut the usable material out of the boards first and then joint and plane the good pieces or should I do that to the entire plank and then follow a cut list?

I will be creating the table top by jointing boards together. All the planks are around 6-8” wide and about 6-7 feet long.

Your advice and opinions are welcome.

12 replies so far

View BobAnderton's profile


294 posts in 3186 days

#1 posted 05-21-2019 03:51 AM

Great question. Always cut the material down to the dimensions you will need for the cut list, then joint and plane. Much of the twist, bow, and cup will be removed just by reducing the dimensions of the board, resulting in more thickness remaining after flattening. Imagine an 8’ board with 1” of twist along its length. If you shorten the board to 4’ before you joint it you will have to remove 1/2 as much material to make a flat face. A common situation I encounter is a slab with a lot of cup across its width, let’s say 12” wide. If I rip that in half and then flatten each half and glue it back together I can save almost all the thickness. If I try to flatten the entire 12” width I’ll have 1/2 the thickness afterwards. I never joint or plane boards until I know what piece I’m making with it.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

View therealSteveN's profile


2882 posts in 970 days

#2 posted 05-21-2019 05:12 AM

Bob nailed stock prep for cup, twist, curl. When I read the post my mind took it to mean “rough spots, cracks, checks, knots,” that your concern was more superficial, the look of the wood, than it’s flatness.

If it is about how flat it is, stick with Bob’s answers.

If it is about the looks. My thought is a Cherry gum streak is as sexy as curly maple. A knot, sometimes solid or KNOT, yeah PUN intended. Sometimes some checks, cracks that are stable. A lot of people think wood shouldn’t have any of that….. Well maybe, but then there are idgits like me who say EMBRACE the IMPERFECTIONS.

Wood is a natural thing, Ma Nature did a lot of work on that tree to get it big enough to make lumber. Hard work. Sometimes with hard work you get dinged up. It happens, work with it.

What you want to cut out are any parts that make the wood unstable. Some folks even throw a bunch of bowties at the cracks. You must have stable, or it will soon cease to exist, beyond stable the world is your oyster. A loose knot could be unstable, or could be some super glue away from being a BIG EVENT. A complete knot hole, just invites you to look inside of something, as long as large adults can’t fall through, might break a hip. Kids, they would LOVE to fall through.

Some of the best looking work on here, someone took that dinged up board, and used it for a drawer front, yep right out front so you couldn’t KNOT see it, welcome to Punsville USA.

If God wanted you to cull out all of Ma’s hard work, he’d have just painted all the trees, and instead of species, we’d just pick our color.

That would be my radical 2 pennies.

-- Think safe, be safe

View ChefHDAN's profile


1401 posts in 3245 days

#3 posted 05-21-2019 11:39 AM

Bob pretty much nailed the answer, but I will add that at the initial stock prep step DO NOT cut to your exact dimensions, leave yourself an extra inch or two on the length and maybe a 1/2 to 1 on width. Once you’ve got the stock flat and true sticker it and leave it for a week if you can just in case there is any evil twist unleashed by the first milling and then get into final dimensions. For the top get the glue up done and then go about cutting the top to the right size. Nothing can be a bigger PITA than realizing that half your stock is too short for the project….. BTDTGTTS

Good luck & congrats on your first post!!!

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View AlfB's profile


2 posts in 1300 days

#4 posted 05-21-2019 11:18 PM

Many thanks guys for your fast responses and good advice! Now I have to lay out all that Cherry and mark off all the usable sections. Whew.

View SMP's profile


1058 posts in 301 days

#5 posted 05-21-2019 11:23 PM

To add to what Bob said about the 8’ board, use your eye and straightedge/level whatever you have that is around 2-4’ or longer. You can then see which part of the 8’ is the straightest. Might be one side or another or even the middle. Plenty of times i have put a whole end or a foot off each end in the scrap pile to get a better piece to prep.

View bonesbr549's profile


1581 posts in 3462 days

#6 posted 05-22-2019 05:39 PM

I’m coming late to this, but work mostly in cherry. I would not call that a defect and I would not cut it out but accentuate it. For those loose knots, and punky wood. Put some tape under the knot or defect. Get some cryocycolate and they make different thicknesses from super thin (I like hotshot) to a real thick for big gap filling. Use a few passes but fill it. I use a hair dryer to pull bubbles out if any.Similar with cracks. When dry it will look like pitch. I save a ton of wood that way. Another method would be to use butterfly patches.

Do it in the rough then plane down and finish up.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View jonah's profile


2075 posts in 3694 days

#7 posted 05-22-2019 08:27 PM

It shouldn’t be understated just how much easier it is to actually joint and plane shorter boards too. Trying to joint a 6 foot long board is actually quite difficult, especially if it’s thicker stock. I had to get help to joint the 8/4, 7ft long rails for the bed I made.

View WoodenDreams's profile


607 posts in 306 days

#8 posted 05-22-2019 09:04 PM

+1 for Bob. I always predetermine each board which are the straightest or best for each part of the project. Then I cut a 1/2” off each end looking for any splits you may have not noticed. You might need to rip one or more board before you cut a length, depending on the use of board before cutting to lengths, 1 1/2” to 2” longer than needed. Otherwise preplan the boards to your project. Knots are not a issue when I use the for paneled sections or backs of a chest. Or you can salvage cracked boards by ripping down the crack and glue the now crack free boards back together.

View gmaffPappy's profile


64 posts in 2426 days

#9 posted 05-23-2019 02:41 AM

Wonderful advice guys. Thanks. I’ve started looking for those pieces of wood that some would consider, “Undesirable.” I’m starting to realize the beauty of the wood, and imagine how I can craft it into something wonderful. Then I realized that others are doing the same, and those “Bad Boards” are being sold at a premium to be epoxied, re-joined, butterflied, etc. The results can be really stunning.

-- If it's easy to do, you haven't spent enough time over engineering it.

View TEK73's profile


88 posts in 103 days

#10 posted 05-23-2019 05:50 AM

Great thread and a bunch of great advices for all of us!

Alf, maybe you would like to share some pictures of the lumber with the rest of us? It would be interesting to see some exampels to better visualize what kind of imperfections we are talking about.

-- It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. - Ursula K. LeGuin

View WoodenDreams's profile


607 posts in 306 days

#11 posted 05-25-2019 07:07 AM

Was thinking of this thread after someone dropped off yesterday 38 pieces of 1”x5”x48” red wood boards. They were removed from a fence he tore down. Looks like some old barn wood with a lot of cracks… He having me put them through my planer and jointer to remove only 1/8” of material on the face and edges. He will be picking up the boards Tuesday, so he can build 3’ high planting boxes. We do see value in old cracked wood. This is a picture of a marriage box I made from barn wood.

View Robert's profile


3405 posts in 1876 days

#12 posted 05-25-2019 02:07 PM

In processing lumber, you should always rough cut to length and width first.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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