Learning the Basics #1: Learning to mill lumber by hand

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Blog entry by postoastie posted 09-27-2009 06:04 AM 8318 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
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I’ve just started learning about woodworking and collecting tools. One thing I’ve learned so far is that I should have made a jointer and a thickness planer some of my first purchases. I didn’t. I chose other power tools I thought I needed, and now I will have to wait on the jointer and planer. Oh, well.
In the mean time, I am teaching myself to mill to dimension by hand the lumber I am using. I am making a workbench, or trying to. I want to make it with all wood and glue; no nails or screws. Just dowels, joints, and glue. Right now I am using a trestle and beam workbench combination that I saw in a magazine some weeks ago. I’ve found it surprisingly versatile.
I want to learn to make furniture. Once I realized the situation I was in without a jointer and planer I decided I was going to spend the last of my little tool nest egg on some really good planes, handsaws and measuring tools. I’ve begun on that. I bought 3 top of the line planes: a scrub plane, a small chisel plane, a # 5 1/2 bench plane, and a low angle, adjustable mouth block plane. I also got myself a variety of Japanese saws and a good engineers square – protractor – center find combination tool. So far these tools have stood me in pretty good stead.
I had some green 4×4 and 2×4 sitting around that had twisted and warped like last weeks bananas so I have begun to practice taking the twist and warp out of it using winding sticks, levels, and the planes. I’m getting faster and better at it.milling by hand

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15881 posts in 3304 days

#1 posted 09-27-2009 12:18 PM

I think you have started at the right end of woodworking. By hand planing you will become a lot more aware of how wood grain affects planing. This experience is directly transferable to machine jointing and planing. You also bought good quality hand tools which is very smart. You will get a lot of use from them even after you buy your machines.

I see you are using the beam benches like the ones featured in FWW magazine. I have also built my version of these and have mounted them between walls on runners attached to the walls so I can slide them back an forth and also away from each other. I would have preferred your set-up, but didn’t have the space. The more I use the beam benches, the more I like them. It seems there isn’t any task they are not up to. I made my beams on the cheap using materials at hand, but I plan to make better ones like yours in the future. Meanwhile they work good enough. You can see them in my workshop photos on my home page.

Welcome to LJ. I know we will be seeing some good projects from you and I am looking forward to them. Thanks for the blog and the great photos.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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