With the plans drawn up, it is now time to mill the rough lumber. As per the title of the series, I am using poplar for this project, mainly because it is inexpensive, and this project was meant partly as practice in joinery. I might have gone with pine, but these boards were exceptionally cheap ($20 all told) and should look quite a bit nicer. Here’s a picture of them:
Here comes the dilemma. I have no planer or jointer, nor do I have any hand planes (or even any experience using them). To add to the issue, these boards are very badly cupped, and the longer one is very twisted at the far end. I cannot afford to discard the twisted part, since my plans call for nearly the entire amount of stock that I have here. Thus I will be doing the milling solely with my table saw and router.
I began by cutting the wide board into strips as shown below. These will serve as nearly all of the criss-crossing strips in the shelves (each is long enough to provide for one 3’ long strip and a 1’ strip).
The strips are cut oversized at about 1.5-1.75” (the final dimensions will be 1.25-1.5”). The wider pieces will be the outermost strips on the shelves, whereas the narrower will be the three middle pieces. The smaller cross pieces will also have a varying width. My plan was to preserve the grain continuity of this board by taking alternating strips for the top and bottom shelves. We’ll see if this ends up happening or not in the end. To help out, I numbered the pieces:
To flatten one side of all of these pieces, I used a router thicknessing jig similar to this one. I ended up using my table saw as the surface (it’s the only thing close to a flat surface in my shop). It went alright, but was quite frustrating, so I don’t have any photos of the process. In the end, the cupping and twisting was taken care of using this technique, but I was wishing for a jointer and planer throughout the process.
Referencing the newly flattened side against the fence, I was able to use the table saw to cut the pieces to their final dimensions. My Incra mitre gauge then made quick work of cutting the boards to length. After this rather inconvenient milling process, I wound up with some very nice, ready to use pieces:
Now the pieces are ready to have their 82 half-lap joints cut into them, which is what I will be covering next time.
Looking forward to it!
-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada