Tips for first purchase from Saw Mill (Type of wood for Dining Table)

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Forum topic by Noahkix posted 05-11-2020 08:43 PM 640 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 448 days

05-11-2020 08:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cherry oak planer tablesaw milling joining modern traditional question

Hey lumber folks,

Novice wood worker here. Hoping to build a very simple dining table (approx 36×60” inches long, using three 12×60” and biscuiting them together). I’ll likely go with a fairly modern, inexpensive leg pairing like these: Metal H Table Legs.

A couple questions -

- the saw mill that i'm going to has white oak, little bit of Walnut ( he said his stock is ‘hollow’, is that bad?), cherry, and sycamore. What’re your thoughts on which type of wood? I’m kinda leaning toward cherry if the cost isn’t crazy. I also can’t shop around – this is the only mill I currently have access to.
- what exactly am i looking for when I visit the saw mill and inspect? Moisture, whether it’s been dried (kiln vs air), overall quality, lumber cut type (is quartersawn grain more better for dining rooms?), and overall straightness?
- I’m planning on getting s4s with a table saw and planer, so hopefully the initial cuts will be fairly straight, but i should still inquire about their milling options right? May save me a lot of headaches to pay a little extra for more precise cuts I’m thinking

Is there any other obvious things i might be missing?

Appreciate all advice and guidance.
Thanks everyone,

-- - Noah

3 replies so far

View Phil32's profile


1496 posts in 1065 days

#1 posted 05-11-2020 09:50 PM

The main considerations for you as the craftsman, and you as the end user, would likely be grain appeal and ease of working with the wood, and lastly – price.

-- Phil Allin - There are woodworkers and people who collect woodworking tools. The woodworkers have a chair to sit on that they made.

View JCamp's profile


1379 posts in 1712 days

#2 posted 05-11-2020 10:58 PM

Price and quality of the lumber. I’d buy as dry as I can but I don’t know if any of my local mills that have a kiln. Several do air dry tho. U can build with whichever but I’d do cherry if the price is pretty close to even, totally personal preference tho. Also I’m not sure why ur talking about with “precise cuts”? I highly doubt the mill will cut the lumber custom for u so you’ll likely b buying whatever boards u can then dimensioning it however u wish

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View KYtoolsmith's profile


226 posts in 1022 days

#3 posted 05-12-2020 12:13 AM

Keep in mind that sawmill cut lumber milled out to S4S will loose a lot of width and thickness. My own lumber that I mill with a similar band mill as shown in your link shifts during drying. Boards may be bowed, cupped or even have slight twist. This flattening and edge straightening must be considered in whatever you buy. Most of my lumber starts at 5 quarter (1 1/4”). When in final S4S it may be 1” or 7/8” actual thickness. You mentioned three 12” wide boards joined for a 36 wide table… If that’s what you want, be prepared to buy 14” wide 4 quarter or 5 quarter lumber from the mill to allow for straightening and flattening. Wide perfectly clear lumber is hard to find. Quarter sawn lumber that wide is even rarer. Flat sawn in that width is more likely. You may need to buy more than just 3 boards to get what you need in quality. Most mills cut at no less than 8’ lengths when cutting for “grade” so you’re going to have some loss there also.
My $.02
The Kentucky Toolsmith!

-- "Good enough" is just another way of saying "it could be better"...

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