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Starting Woodworking. #1: Ready to buy my first wood

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Blog entry by Haydar posted 05-18-2009 04:58 PM 1044 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Starting Woodworking. series Part 2: To choose a router table plan »

I was really intimidated when I first started thinking about going to a mill or lumberyard to purchase wood. I have no idea what I’m doing. I just have a plan for a router table that calls for poplar. I didn’t want to waste people’s time and I didn’t want to look like an idiot.

I watched a few videos at the wood whisperer and am feeling a little better about going to get some wood. Here is the area on the website for new woodworkers.” http://thewoodwhisperer.com/new-to-woodworking/

They had a few videos there that explained the differences between flat, rip, and quarter sawn wood. What some of the grading means and even difference in size between a raw piece of wood and one that’s finished.

I think i’m ready to go purchase some wood for my first project. Since it’s just a workshop item, I’m not really concerned with the look of the wood i’m getting. I do know that I have to get it already prepared since I don’t have a planer or jointer.

If anyone has any advise, please let me know.

—Additional Comment:

Thanks everyone for the great feedback. The videos i watched did mention the S4S and S2S desgnation so I did learn that. But I didn’t remember the FAS term but they did mention that if you can handle some knots that a lesser quality of wood could be substantially cheaper. They also mentioned that if i was going to be cutting smaller pieces and could work around any imperfections that you can save money by using a lower quality piece.

I do have an additional question though. When I went to the big box stores i didn’t see any dimensional lumber. Only construction wood like 2×4’s 1×8’s etc or plywood. I think I remember only seeing 1 thickness of MDF. I don’t know whether I was looking in the wrong area or if mine just don’t carry that material.

But the videos I watched really pointed away from the Big Box places saying that the prices would be higher even if i could find what I was looking for. Does anyone have an opinion on this?

-- Danger: Novice Woodworker here.



10 comments so far

View Jimthecarver's profile

Jimthecarver

1123 posts in 3245 days


#1 posted 05-18-2009 05:03 PM

Just Punt you will do fine!
Good luck on your project….and Welcome to LJ’s

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

115201 posts in 3037 days


#2 posted 05-18-2009 05:04 PM

Hey Haydar
Many people build there router tables out of plywood and only the trim out of soid wood. Since I don’t know what your plans call for I can’t help on the type to get. but if you don’t have a planner you’ll s4s

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3559 days


#3 posted 05-18-2009 05:17 PM

Haydar,

You made a great start so far, you joined LumberJocks and Marc puts out some easy to understand and helpful information. His “getting started” page boils down a lot of information to get you going.

Jim is right, if you do not have a planer or way to mill lumber, you will need to get S4S. That is lumber that is milled on 4 sides. All you will need to do is cut it to width on the tablesaw and cut it to length on the chopsaw.

There are a lot of projects that you can do with this type of lumber. You can find this lumber readily available at the home improvement stores and the common species are oak and poplar.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3451 days


#4 posted 05-18-2009 05:31 PM

You’re not alone, I was totally intimidated the first time I bought lumber as well. Like others have said you’ll need S4S – surfaced four sides.

You may want to just pick up the poplar at homedepot where you can buy just enough for your project as they don’t mind if you cut longer pieces down to what you actually need. At a lumber store you have to buy the whole board (at least in my experience) and it’s typically S2S.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View BethMartin's profile

BethMartin

111 posts in 2838 days


#5 posted 05-18-2009 05:38 PM

Welcome Haydar! I know it feels intimidating to go to a lumber yard or mill when you are new, but you have already gotten past the hardest part, which is making the decision to jump in to a project. :) Don’t be shy, the people here and at the lumber yard are super-nice. Just tell them that you are a newbie and ask for help, and they will be happy to – really! Most projects that anybody does will always be something they’ve never done before, we are always learning and that really is the whole point, isn’t it?

Watch a lot of safety videos, too! :)

Good luck with your project!

-- Beth

View poroskywood's profile

poroskywood

618 posts in 2824 days


#6 posted 05-18-2009 07:02 PM

I think you will be fine. You would be welcome at my yard anytime! Here is a tip. At a saw mill or distribution yard, clear lumber (called FAS) costs more. If you don’t mind a few small knots you should be able to get a better deal. Typically this lumber is called 1 common or 2 common.
At one of the box stores find a imperfect piece ( if you can use it ) Say you are willing to buy this piece if they will give you some off the price because of a little wane on the edge or some knots. I got 20% off at HD on some 3/4” MDF over some slightly dented corners.

-- There's many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.--Scott

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3451 days


#7 posted 05-18-2009 08:28 PM

I was at the lumber yard on Saturday and was wondering what FAS was. Learn something everyday.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Haydar's profile

Haydar

16 posts in 2759 days


#8 posted 05-18-2009 09:44 PM

Thanks everyone for the great feedback. The videos i watched did mention the S4S and S2S desgnation so I did learn that. But I didn’t remember the FAS term but they did mention that if you can handle some knots that a lesser quality of wood could be substantially cheaper. They also mentioned that if i was going to be cutting smaller pieces and could work around any imperfections that you can save money by using a lower quality piece.

I do have an additional question though. When I went to the big box stores i didn’t see any dimensional lumber. Only construction wood like 2×4’s 1×8’s etc or plywood. I think I remember only seeing 1 thickness of MDF. I don’t know whether I was looking in the wrong area or if mine just don’t carry that material.

But the videos I watched really pointed away from the Big Box places saying that the prices would be higher even if i could find what I was looking for. Does anyone have an opinion on this?

-- Danger: Novice Woodworker here.

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3451 days


#9 posted 05-18-2009 09:50 PM

At the big box at least my local home depot the dimensioned lumber is just a couple of small racks – poplar, redoak, and maple, and it’s grouped with the molding, limited selection for sure but should meet you needs, and yes 3/4 MDF is probably all they stock although I’m sure that varies by store as well.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Jim's profile

Jim

145 posts in 2782 days


#10 posted 05-18-2009 11:15 PM

The local box stores here (North Central Indiana) carry 2 sizes (1/2 and 3/4”) MDF, and a very limited selection of red oak, poplar, ash, and maple that can come in 1/4”, 1/2” and 1” thickness. Usually it’s 3 or 4 times what I can get it at my lumber mill, and you spend half the day sorting through warped and twisted boards. It’s so much easier to just go to the mill, pick out the boards, tell them the dimensions, and then go home happy with exactly what you need. Anymore the only time I go to box stores is if I’m desperate and the mill is closed (basically Sunday). Good luck w/the table!

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

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