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Forum topic by boyce523 posted 05-07-2021 06:01 PM 1312 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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boyce523

72 posts in 125 days


05-07-2021 06:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip trick cherry maple walnut milling

I’ve been thinking about this a lot as beginning woodworker and that is sourcing my lumber. While all the projects done up to now are using products like 2×4’s, plywood and other scraps I’ve had laying around for a while, I’m now starting to get into more intricate builds with various joinery and solid wood. So far, I’ve bought surfaced wood from the big box stores, but about to make the switch to lumber yards. As I’m doing my research on many different aspects of woodworking, I’m learning the ability to mill wood can have some great advantages and to buy from lumberyards often means buying rough cut products. This is a lot to say I’ve decided to move into milling.

I have a router with router table that came with shims to allow using the table as a joiner, so I just ordered a DeWalt DW735X 13 inch 2 speed bench top planer. That’s all well and good and there are a ton of YouTube videos on how to mill, but what’s lacking is wisdom on what lumber to buy. Terms like 4/4, 5/4 etc I’ve learned what they mean, but how does one decide which one is the best for their projects? I’m learning other terms such as RGH and S2S that must also be considered with 4/4, 5/4, etc to understand what the true thickness will be. With all this in mind, how does one put all this together to make the best selection?

FYI, I will be doing projects like end tables, bathroom cabinets, vanity around pedestal sink, etc. So mostly projects around improving my home and home furnishings.

-- Tom, East Tennessee


34 replies so far

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

2239 posts in 720 days


#1 posted 05-07-2021 06:27 PM

Lots of things to get from here to there. What size does the project call for? How much twist or wind in the stock? Can you resaw to get two pieces out of one? In the end you don’t want to mill a bunch of wood into shavings just to get that thickness you are looking for. As I get deeper into this hobby I no longer mill a board to a set thickness unless I am trying to match another board. Even then I am not looking for a round number. I was hard breaking the 3/4”, 1”, 1.5” way of thinking.

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BigMig

631 posts in 3732 days


#2 posted 05-07-2021 06:34 PM

Welcome to LumberJocks, Tom!
Where to begin? I guess it’s with “value” woods from your local lumberyard. With a DW735 – you can not only thickness plane, but you can also joint the broad faces of rough lumber using a home made sled and shims – placed selectively under sections of your wood.
I don’t have experience jointing using a router table, but certainly others on this board can help there.

As far as species – stick to lower cost species like poplar, soft maple, alder… and again, others will weigh in with great ideas. This is a forum with so many knowledgeable woodworkers.

I keep a thick spiral bound notebook with drawings, ideas, website addresses, reminders of “how to…”

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

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boyce523

72 posts in 125 days


#3 posted 05-07-2021 06:40 PM



Welcome to LumberJocks, Tom!

As far as species – stick to lower cost species like poplar, soft maple, alder… and again, others will weigh in with great ideas. This is a forum with so many knowledgeable woodworkers.

- BigMig

Thank you, glad to be here! While only here a short time, I agree! I have found the people here filled with exceptional knowledge and a willingness to to help.

-- Tom, East Tennessee

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Dave Mills

80 posts in 518 days


#4 posted 05-07-2021 06:43 PM

Tom, you can of course measure existing cabinetry to get typical sizes of wood. Most cabinets, vanities, end tables, bookshelves, etc, will be 3/4” thick wood for the case. Shelves inside, unless they need to hold a ton of weight, I make 1/2” thick as I find 3/4” is pretty clunky.

So, where do you get 3/4” or 1/2” wood? 3/4” is easy. A 4/4 cut board, planed down smooth, will net you about 13/16” thick if you’re lucky, and 3/4” is pretty much a given. So whether you buy a 4/4 Rough (RGH) or smooth on some number of sides, it will yield 3/4” of smooth wood – AND BOTH ARE CALLED 4/4 at the lumberyard. So the choice of rough or smooth depends on whether you have the tools to make rough wood smooth, and the time to do it. If you buy wood that’s smooth on a couple sides (typically you might find one face and one edge smooth), then your new planer can smooth the other face, and your table saw can smooth the other edge – no jointer is needed if you’ve picked out a flat board to begin with. That’s what I’d recommend since you don’t have a jointer. Smoothing off the first face of a rough board without a jointer is going to be a project.

Thicker boards are possible then, by buying 5/4 (net 1-1/16”), 6/4 (net 1-5/16”) 8/4 (net 1-3/4) etc. You will not (that I’ve found at least) find anything thinner than 4/4. So how do you get that 1/2” board for the shelves? You either run your 4/4 wood through your planner a bunch of times, or you buy something thicker and resaw a 1/2” slice off it. I usually start with 4/4 and just turn 1/4” of it into sawdust.

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boyce523

72 posts in 125 days


#5 posted 05-07-2021 06:46 PM



In the end you don t want to mill a bunch of wood into shavings just to get that thickness you are looking for. As I get deeper into this hobby I no longer mill a board to a set thickness unless I am trying to match another board. Even then I am not looking for a round number. I was hard breaking the 3/4”, 1”, 1.5” way of thinking.

- controlfreak

I agree! I’m not looking to do this either and I suppose it doesn’t matter as long as the final thickness is consistent for each project. So if 4/4 is essentially 1 inch, if I need 2 inches I go with 8/4 or 10/4, right? 3 Inches would be 12/4? So pick the right size to meet the needs.

-- Tom, East Tennessee

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boyce523

72 posts in 125 days


#6 posted 05-07-2021 06:51 PM


That s what I d recommend since you don t have a jointer. Smoothing off the first face of a rough board without a jointer is going to be a project.

Thicker boards are possible then, by buying 5/4 (net 1-1/16”), 6/4 (net 1-5/16”) 8/4 (net 1-3/4) etc. You will not (that I ve found at least) find anything thinner than 4/4. So how do you get that 1/2” board for the shelves? You either run your 4/4 wood through your planner a bunch of times, or you buy something thicker and resaw a 1/2” slice off it. I usually start with 4/4 and just turn 1/4” of it into sawdust.

- Dave Mills

This makes sense. I’ve seen a couple of videos on how to use the router table as a jointer using the shims so that’s why I elected not to buy the jointer first (as several YouTube videos suggest). My dad left me a jointer, but its almost a 3 hour drive from me and I’ll have it when I retire!). Thank you for your guidance!

-- Tom, East Tennessee

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controlfreak

2239 posts in 720 days


#7 posted 05-07-2021 07:00 PM

Sometimes you may also find yourself at the suppliers mercy. They may have 5/4 but you need 1/2” which they don’t have, but with the right tools you can make it work.

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

3890 posts in 2917 days


#8 posted 05-07-2021 07:26 PM

Your builds and projects will take longer and possibly suffer from good tight joinery until you add a jointer to mill lumber. A jointer make a square edge to a flat face quickly. This is the reference surface that’s built from.
My suggestion is a long bed jointer is better then a short wide one.
Good Luck

-- Aj

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northwoodsman

588 posts in 4865 days


#9 posted 05-07-2021 07:58 PM

EDITED.

-- NorthWoodsMan

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northwoodsman

588 posts in 4865 days


#10 posted 05-07-2021 07:59 PM

You are off to a good start. A planer will get your boards to a uniform thickness. But… if you put a warped board into the planer, a warped board will come out of the planer, just a little thinner. The typical first step in milling lumber is to run one face across a jointer, the longer the bed the quicker and easier the process. Most of us own jointer that are 6” to 8” wide, but some better equipped shops will have larger. The purpose is to get one side of the board flat. Now it’s ready to be planed to thickness. At this point it’s typical to run one edge across the jointer, this will give you a nice straight edge. Then it commonly goes to the table saw to be ripped to the proper width. In many case the freshly cut edge is then run across the jointer to give you a nice smooth edge for gluing or finishing.

The shims for your router table fence are for cleaning up the edge. You may be able to remove saw marks but because the fence is fairly short (under 3’ total length) your probably not going to be using it to get your first straight edge on it, your better off to go straight to the table saw and hope for the best (or use a jig). I personally use my track saw to get my first straight edge on the board.

-- NorthWoodsMan

View MikeJ70's profile

MikeJ70

94 posts in 1066 days


#11 posted 05-07-2021 08:08 PM



Your builds and projects will take longer and possibly suffer from good tight joinery until you add a jointer to mill lumber. A jointer make a square edge to a flat face quickly. This is the reference surface that’s built from.
My suggestion is a long bed jointer is better then a short wide one.
Good Luck

- Aj2

Agreed. Yeah, you can use the router table to joint, but it is not ideal. Go get that jointer your dad left you. You will be glad you did. Also, take the time to learn how to set it up properly and your experience with it will be a lot more enjoyable.

Find a good reputable lumber supplier. A good one will have all of the knowledge you need and will be happy to answer your questions.

Stick with kiln dried lumber and get yourself a moisture meter.

Wood moves. No way around it. Try and take equal amounts off of both sides when you plane it. I usually stop about an 1/8” from final thickness and will stack and sticker it and let it rest for a few days to see how much it wants to move. Then I will joint a face if needed and plane to final thickness. Sometimes it moves too much and the only way to save the board is to cut it into shorter pieces.

Knowledge will come with experience. Live and learn.

Good luck and welcome LJ.

-- MikeJ

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Madmark2

2841 posts in 1707 days


#12 posted 05-07-2021 08:20 PM

Lumber is sized in “quarters” because at the mill that is the increment of the log slabber. 5/4, 4/4 etc with 4/4 (four quarter) being the thinnest.

Rough lumber can be considered S0S (lol). To get the number off of zero the rough needs to be “finished”, thus “finished lumber” will be thinner than the “quarter” stock it was made from but a “four quarter” piece of stock was consumed to make your 3/4” piece of S2S. Lumber is priced based on the rough stock consumed — not the finished size.

Projects list the final size like 1/4” x 2-3/8” x 8-15/16”. These are dimensions that you make as accurate as possible for final assembly.

You can get to the final thickness by planing or resawing the 1x rough or S2S down. Planing produces lots of saw dust and tool wear with no usable scrap. A full kerf blade can get two 1/4” slabs out of 7/8” S2S while a TK blade can give 1/4” and 1/2” pieces out of the same piece of stock. A bandsaw has an even narrower kerf for progressively better final yield.

Board feet in your head:
While 1 bf is defined as a board 1’ on a side and 1” thick or 144 cu in., taking the finished dimensions, multiplying the sides and dividing by 144 is not only impossible to do in your head but leads directly to the WRONG answer.

Think of the rough width of a board as a fraction of twelve. Memorize this:
  • x2 = 1/6th
  • x3 = 1/4
  • x4 = 1/3
  • x6 = 1/2
  • x8 = 2/3
  • x12 = 1

This is board feet per lineal foot for “one by” stock.

Multiply the bf per lf by the nominal thickness and then by the length in feet and poof you’ve got the correct bf answer. An example or two will help.

Q. How many bf in an 8’ finished 2×4?

Hard (wrong) A: 1.5” x 3.5” x 96” = 504 cu in / 144 cu in per bf = 3.5 bf (wrong)

Easy (correct) A: x4 (by four) is 1/3, x 2 = 2/3 bf per lf. 8 lf x 2/3 bf per lf = 16/3 or 5-1/3 bf (right)

Q. How much does a finished 7’ 1×6 of $14/bf cherry cost?

Hard (wrong) A: 5.5” x .75” x 84” = 346.5 cu in / 144 cu in per bf = 2.40625 bf = $33.69 and you’re looking like an idiot arguing with the counterman over price.

Easy (correct) A: x6 (by six) is 1/2, times 1 is still 1/2 bf per lf. x 7’ is 3-1/2 bf times $14 per bf is $49

Next, ask me about door sizes how a 30” door is 2-6 (two-six) but a 3-0 (three-oh) door is 36”

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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boyce523

72 posts in 125 days


#13 posted 05-07-2021 08:46 PM

Agreed. Yeah, you can use the router table to joint, but it is not ideal. Go get that jointer your dad left you. You will be glad you did. Also, take the time to learn how to set it up properly and your experience with it will be a lot more enjoyable.

Wish I could go get it. Dad left a complete workshop and made me promise to let my sisters have access to it, both of whom are near by that location. He has a jointer, planer, band saw, wood lathe, even a steam box. I’m just trying to get started and learn over the next 3 years and when I retire there, I’ll have some skill to use it all. Maybe I’ll just have to take my lumber there and joint it until I can afford a jointer here. Keep the planer for warping?h

Find a good reputable lumber supplier. A good one will have all of the knowledge you need and will be happy to answer your questions.

Stick with kiln dried lumber and get yourself a moisture meter.

Wood moves. No way around it. Try and take equal amounts off of both sides when you plane it. I usually stop about an 1/8” from final thickness and will stack and sticker it and let it rest for a few days to see how much it wants to move. Then I will joint a face if needed and plane to final thickness. Sometimes it moves too much and the only way to save the board is to cut it into shorter pieces.

Knowledge will come with experience. Live and learn.

Good luck and welcome LJ.

- MikeJ70

I’ll be visiting one tomorrow. Peach State lumber. They have certified lumber inspectors by the National Hardwood Lumber Association on their team and they did say they can provide jointing and planing so perhaps I’ll have them joint it for me. But all this information is useful for me and I thank you for responding.

-- Tom, East Tennessee

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boyce523

72 posts in 125 days


#14 posted 05-07-2021 08:50 PM


Multiply the bf per lf by the nominal thickness and then by the length in feet and poof you ve got the correct bf answer. An example or two will help.

Q. How many bf in an 8 finished 2×4?

Hard (wrong) A: 1.5” x 3.5” x 96” = 504 cu in / 144 cu in per bf = 3.5 bf (wrong)

Easy (correct) A: x4 (by four) is 1/3, x 2 = 2/3 bf per lf. 8 lf x 2/3 bf per lf = 16/3 or 5-1/3 bf (right)

Q. How much does a finished 7 1×6 of $14/bf cherry cost?

Hard (wrong) A: 5.5” x .75” x 84” = 346.5 cu in / 144 cu in per bf = 2.40625 bf = $33.69 and you re looking like an idiot arguing with the counterman over price.

Easy (correct) A: x6 (by six) is 1/2, times 1 is still 1/2 bf per lf. x 7 is 3-1/2 bf times $14 per bf is $49

Next, ask me about door sizes how a 30” door is 2-6 (two-six) but a 3-0 (three-oh) door is 36”

- Madmark2

Great info for determining project cost! My dad knew how to do all this. Should have taken advantage of it when he was still with us!

-- Tom, East Tennessee

View boyce523's profile

boyce523

72 posts in 125 days


#15 posted 05-07-2021 08:54 PM


The shims for your router table fence are for cleaning up the edge. You may be able to remove saw marks but because the fence is fairly short (under 3 total length) your probably not going to be using it to get your first straight edge on it, your better off to go straight to the table saw and hope for the best (or use a jig). I personally use my track saw to get my first straight edge on the board.

- northwoodsman

Thank you. I made my decision based on this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCEWQtXB_Hk
But as I see you guys have way more experience, perhaps I let myself be swayed in the wrong direction. OK, Provolone and baloney sandwiches until I save enough for the jointer!

-- Tom, East Tennessee

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