LumberJocks

Why dimensional lumber is wrong for woodworking

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by GodofBiscuits posted 05-29-2011 10:42 PM 4501 reads 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The girlfriend and I have been getting into the gardening spirit lately and planting anything and everything that will grow here in the NorthWest. With not a lot of places to plant things I decided to move to the patio for options, some planter boxes along the edge would do nicely. I scoured Google and Youtube for ideas and was disappointed with the lack of quality box plans or videos but eventually found something along the lines of what we wanted and would not cost a fortune to build. After acquiring some 2×2 pressure treated lumber and 7/16 ply bead board, I set off to make some planter boxes. I decided to make the boxes using tongue and groove (Mortise and tenon) construction so I’d have an excuse to break out my new stacked dado set and give the router table some exercise. Boy what a pain in the arse I was getting myself into. The idea was to create the mortises on the router table using a 1/2 straight but router bit and make the tenons on the table saw with the stacked dado. The idea would have been all fine and dandy if the dimensional lumber I was using had any inkling of uniformity in it’s width at all. Not thinking that the damn stuff was twenty different widths and not having a planer to run the pieces through I ended up having to cut every single tenon individually and fit them all one at a time instead of just setting up the height of the dado stack and running all the pieces through. The mortise was also a pain in the arse because my test piece was dead center, but every other piece run through ended up off to one side or the other due to the differing widths of the lumber. So my beautiful craftsmanship was all for not when it came time to assemble the boxes. Nothing lined up, the tenons were all either lose or too tight (two actuallly fit perfect) and ended up re-cutting each piece to fit.

As you can see from the pictures, the boxes didn’t turn out half bad for what they are. I definitely learned a few very valuable lessons building these boxes that I will carry on to the next project so in the end, these little garden boxes turned out to be something I can truly be proud of, but will always be a reminder never to use dimensional lumber AGAIN!!! lol.

-- Are you going to use that piece of scrap?



16 comments so far

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1444 days


#1 posted 05-29-2011 11:08 PM

Raised beds, baby! Mine aren’t as pretty, but there’s stuff growing in them!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View JJohnston's profile

JJohnston

1602 posts in 2042 days


#2 posted 05-30-2011 03:07 AM

I wouldn’t say “never use dimensional lumber again”, just understand its limitations. Look at all the massive workbenches here on LJs made from SYP and Doug Fir.

Plus, you’ll need a planer if you want to work with lumber yard hardwood, then you might as well plane your dimensional lumber.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View emart's profile

emart

297 posts in 1379 days


#3 posted 05-30-2011 03:27 AM

honestly with the right equipment dimensional lumber is fine. a lot of my projects are actually made from construction grade pine. you just have to expect that it will misbehave in some way or another and have a lot of wiggle room in your plans.

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them https://www.custommade.com/by/emeraldcrafts/

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

617 posts in 2018 days


#4 posted 05-30-2011 04:06 AM

well theres several techniques using your table saw and/or router that you can use to make sure your lumber is the same dimensions

however i think yould be surprised with what you can do with a cheap handplane

i have a stanley sb4 i bought at lowes for like $30 and use sand paper to sharpen the blades. it does a great job. you can find planes much cheaper then that at flea markets and garage sales

View WoodArtbyJR's profile

WoodArtbyJR

428 posts in 1716 days


#5 posted 05-30-2011 05:05 AM

Jeffery, why didn’t you call me and come over and use my planer??? They look BEAUTIFUL so use them in good health. Next time, call me.

Jim

-- Jim Roberts, Port Orchard Washington

View GodofBiscuits's profile

GodofBiscuits

94 posts in 1826 days


#6 posted 05-30-2011 05:21 AM

Jim, I thought about it but then I just dove in and now kick myself. lol. I will definitely give you a call next set of boxes. These three will go on the front of the patio and there will be space for a few more. I just found out about Mitchel Lumber over in Belfair and think the next boxes will be made out of Cedar instead of the pressure treated. I have Mary in the shop putting a second cote of paint and then we will line the inside with plastic and plant away. Maybe next time you’re by the stand there will be plants growing from them. :o)

-- Are you going to use that piece of scrap?

View jeepturner's profile

jeepturner

928 posts in 1543 days


#7 posted 05-30-2011 05:43 AM

With the extra winter up here this year, I don’t know if much is going to grow, as far as the edible plants are concerned.

The plants will not care what kind of wood you used, and they look fine to me. Even if it took a lot of extra effort they came out good. I do agree with you that the “dimensional lumber” isn’t.

-- Mel,

View GodofBiscuits's profile

GodofBiscuits

94 posts in 1826 days


#8 posted 05-30-2011 06:03 AM

Thank you for the comments, Mel. Actually, even with the long winter here in Port Orchard, we have squash, cucumbers, three types of lettuce as well as tomatoes and peppers. Now just because they’re growing doesn’t mean anything will get ripe enough to eat. Keeping fingers crossed.

-- Are you going to use that piece of scrap?

View WoodArtbyJR's profile

WoodArtbyJR

428 posts in 1716 days


#9 posted 05-30-2011 06:42 PM

Jeffery, I buy all my cedar from Cedar Products in Chico (between Bremerton and Silverdale). Never tried Mitchel Lumber. Give Cedar Products a try.

Jim

-- Jim Roberts, Port Orchard Washington

View Roger's profile

Roger

15348 posts in 1555 days


#10 posted 05-30-2011 11:09 PM

your projects came out very good. but, in my opinion, treated lumber is crap…... as you’ve found out. the planter boxes are awesome

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View WoodArtbyJR's profile

WoodArtbyJR

428 posts in 1716 days


#11 posted 05-31-2011 03:24 AM

Jeffery, somewhere back in the recesses of my brain I remember reading one time that using pressure treated lumber on planter boxes that were going to be used for growing plants for human consumption was a no no. If I remember correctly, the problem was that the arsnic used in the pressure treating would/could leach out into the veggies. I may be wrong here but for some reason it’s ringing a response bell. Anyone else heard of this?

Jim

-- Jim Roberts, Port Orchard Washington

View Roger's profile

Roger

15348 posts in 1555 days


#12 posted 05-31-2011 12:22 PM

I think Jim might be correct. I know you shouldn’t burn treated if you are doing any cooking over a fire

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View patron's profile (online now)

patron

13181 posts in 2092 days


#13 posted 05-31-2011 12:57 PM

i made a bunch of planters from treated lumber
but found plastic planters with little plugs in them
that you open to keep the soil from ‘pooling’ water
and made the boxes so the plastic ones just drop into
keeping the chemicals away from the soil and vegie/flowers

you can pop them out
if the weather changes
and take them inside where they don’t freeze

work’s great

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Derek Lyons's profile

Derek Lyons

584 posts in 2319 days


#14 posted 05-31-2011 09:19 PM

Hey GB, nice boxes. You can build with dimensional lumber, but as with any other lumber it’s just a starting point, you have to machine it to the dimensions you want.

I’m up in Bremerton, so drop me a line if you need to have some wood jointed/planed. Will have to check out Mitchel next time I’m down in Belfair.

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

View GodofBiscuits's profile

GodofBiscuits

94 posts in 1826 days


#15 posted 06-01-2011 08:33 AM

Jim is absolutely correct which is why I will now be lining the boxes with a heavy mil plastic liner. After reading up on the stuff, I will actually be banning the stuff from all my projects (that is unless I’m building a deck or outside structure) from now on. Besides, I now have three close by Cedar retailers so PTL shouldn’t even be necessary.

-- Are you going to use that piece of scrap?

showing 1 through 15 of 16 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

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

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase