Poplar shoe rack #2: The makeshift mill

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Blog entry by JSOvens posted 03-05-2014 07:49 AM 1985 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Putting the first shoe forward Part 2 of Poplar shoe rack series Part 3: Cutting the joinery »

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

3 comments so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 3889 days

#1 posted 03-27-2014 01:41 PM

I think the idea of doing projects and then buying tools to match the need may be a better way than buying a whole bunch of tools in a guess as to what you’ll find suits you projects and style of work. You’re making progress!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View GrandpaLen's profile


1651 posts in 2449 days

#2 posted 03-27-2014 04:31 PM

You have employed a work-around for flattening your stock, which shows the perseverence of many start up wood shops and you broadened your skills at the same time.

I agree with Mark’s recommendation of fleshing out your tool assortment as the need arises based on project demands. I would venture to say, that is the the way most shops develope and evolve.

Keep the LJs site at your fingertips and you will likely find answers to most of your questions as you grow your skills and experience.

Best Regards.
Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View JSOvens's profile


78 posts in 1833 days

#3 posted 03-28-2014 04:08 PM

As a fairly new woodworker, I have often been taken aback by what basic tools it seems I need to make any project (e.g. it seems for most projects people make they have a minimum of a planer, jointer, table saw, router table and band saw) and sometimes paralyzed by the question “I can buy one of them, but which one?” I am very grateful for the many resources online, showing off ways of going about things with what you have. Hopefully one day I WILL be able to have all of those tools, but until then I don’t want to limit what kind of projects I will attempt just because I don’t have them.

Thanks for the comments and encouragement! I’ve really been enjoying what I’m doing!

-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada

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