Do you re-dimension your lumber before building?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by Simple posted 12-31-2013 03:56 PM 1557 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Simple's profile


2 posts in 2059 days

12-31-2013 03:56 PM

Hey guys, I’m new to woodworking and have completed a workbench as well as some boxes and a small bookshelf all from designs found online. Now I am doing an end grain maple butchers block for my wife which I designed to be 20”x 16”x 2” with boards bought from a big box store. Now that i’m not following a list I’ve ran into a snag.

I have cut out 3/4 of the blocks and when I went to put them together I realized that some of the boards are actually slightly wider than they should be. So the build up between all the blocks ends up with almost 1/4” overhang at the end in some areas. I can make this work and still have the butcher block looking decent for a beginner. But I want to nip this problem in the bud before I start building stuff of my own design that aren’t rectangles.

So I wanted to know if it is common practice to redimension the lumber to suit your needs. It seems like it would produce a lot of waste to be ripping 1/2” off of these boards.

19 replies so far

View TravisH's profile


678 posts in 2387 days

#1 posted 12-31-2013 04:07 PM

Yes very common practice and one that eventually will have you looking for a new wood source and additional tools. You will save a lot of money buying from a lumber place and not a big box store. Just have a bin ready and save everything as you will find uses for it.

I give shavings and sawdust to a coworker for his chickens and get eggs in return, have used larger chips/shavings for mulch or smoker, pen blanks, scroll saw projects, small door pulls, ornaments, toys, etc….

View brtech's profile


1066 posts in 3374 days

#2 posted 12-31-2013 07:13 PM

Yes, we do. Sometimes we cut to a specific dimension, and sometimes we measure what we have and even them out (find the narrowest board for example, and then cut everything else to match). You hand select your boards to minimize this, but it happens.

View Madwood's profile


68 posts in 3503 days

#3 posted 12-31-2013 08:51 PM

I can’t recall the last time I used lumber from the big box store. I use lumber that I get from local mills as well as recycling used wood. It’s a rare occasion that I will use “standard” sizes, so I do all the dimensioning myself, usually starting with rough stock. With the proper tools and techniques, I can mill any sized boards to fit my needs.


-- In the shop making chaos out of order

View bondogaposis's profile


5492 posts in 2803 days

#4 posted 12-31-2013 09:11 PM

Yes it is a very common practice, almost all of my projects call for at least some of the parts to be some non standard thickness. A thickness planer is your friend.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 2400 days

#5 posted 12-31-2013 09:25 PM

This is why I have a planer and jointer. I buy all my lumber rough sawn and mill it down my self. What you spend in tools will be paid for quickly in what you save on wood.

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3733 days

#6 posted 12-31-2013 10:28 PM


At least get a jack/fore plane and a trying plane.

One doesn’t mill rough stock to finish stock because of material cost. I learned that on the first paid job I did when I fought out of true stock through the whole job. You mill rough stock to get true straight material to save labor, reduce waste, control dimensions, and end up with better results. Even if you only have a 6” jointer you can easily true one side of those rough dimensioned parts that are too wide for the jointer and you’re only limited only by the width of your planer.

You’ll learn a lot more about wood and its properties when working with hand tools. That’s what woodworking is all about, creating a desired product that will last because it was made to work with the properties of the material.

View knotscott's profile


8302 posts in 3827 days

#7 posted 12-31-2013 10:39 PM

Job #1 is to flatten the face, square an adjacent edge, plane the other face, and rip to width…can’t remember the last time I didn’t. Flat, square, straight lumber is a great starting point for most projects,

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2524 days

#8 posted 12-31-2013 11:26 PM

yes… yes I do.

-- Who is John Galt?

View JAAune's profile


1866 posts in 2768 days

#9 posted 12-31-2013 11:29 PM

I get lumber that is either rough or planed just enough to show the surface of the boards (referred to as hit or miss) and do the rest of the dimensioning myself.

An exception is the lumber purchased for cabinet face frames. That is delivered 13/16” thick then cleaned up in the planer before ripping into face frame stock.

-- See my work at and

View jumbojack's profile


1689 posts in 3076 days

#10 posted 12-31-2013 11:42 PM

99% of my material is rough sawn skip planed. Pretty rough stuff. The only dimension lumber I get is gifts or found. ALL of it get the jointer/planer treatment. I love flat and square.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Simple's profile


2 posts in 2059 days

#11 posted 01-01-2014 12:48 AM

lwllms* I have a No 4 kobalt hand plane which I got pretty square and sharp enough to have some good looking shavings for the 30$ I spent. It never occurred to me to hit the boards with the hand plane before I even cut them. Now that they are 2 “x 2.5” i’m thinking it might be a little nightmare to try to do it now. But I will definitely remember it next time.

Another issue I have right now is all my money for woodworking projects is tied up in big box store gift cards from the extended family. For the foreseeable future I will be buying dimensioned lumber for my projects. So I guess I will just have to factor in some extra boards for the extra waste. Thanks for the responses everyone.

View Bogeyguy's profile


548 posts in 2520 days

#12 posted 01-01-2014 01:36 AM


-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2558 days

#13 posted 01-01-2014 01:46 AM

I always buy rough and buy in massive quantities. I took a class witb Christian Becksvoort and I remember him telling me that cherry bought rough in large quantities (>1000 bdft) is the same price as finished pine purchased in small quantities from the big box store. I didn’t believe him until I tried it myself; the cherry was actually way cheaper than big box finished pine. I can get 4/4 cherry locally for $2.50bdft if I buy enough of it.

If you’re building bird houses out of pine, it won’t matter much. If you’re building kitchen tables out of cherry, you will pay for a $500 planer in the first project!

Keep an eye out on craigslist for used lunch-box style planers. People often sell them when the blades get dull. It sounds crazy but it’s true. I got mine for free because it needed a new set of blades ($30) and a new power switch (Delta OEM part was $6.00). My dad just picked up a 6inch rigid jointer and 13” planer for $250 (for both!) Because the blades on both were dull ashammers. It took him 20 minutes to change the planer blades.

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View CharlesA's profile


3383 posts in 2249 days

#14 posted 01-01-2014 05:10 AM

My two cents: I now by all my lumber from a local sawmill and mill it myself—way cheaper—as someone once told me: a thickness planer is the only ww tool that will save you money. That being said, I’ve used a lot of the stuff at the local HD and Lowes in the past. On that stuff you need to check the dimensions and squareness, but some of it can be ready to go. I built more than one piece buying oak or poplar already ripped to specific dimensions.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3683 days

#15 posted 01-01-2014 05:46 AM

I made a cutting board from maple and walnut. The maple was left over from a table top I made for a client. It was in two pieces. The walnut was given to me by a friend.

I ripped up the pieces and glued them up. Then ran the 15×24 x 1 3/4 inch board through a drum sander to smooth it out.

After routing a groove on one side and on two ends, it was treated with mineral oil. It turned out nice.

So, the short answer is yes, the material gets re-dimensioned.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics