Reply by Loren

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Posted on Stock Maximums (and minimums) on Jointer

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10476 posts in 3676 days

#1 posted 01-11-2012 08:39 PM

You can joint an 8’ board on a 6” jointer, but there is seldom
much point to it. Most members used in furniture are shorter,
and laying out parts within boards to follow the grain is a
more elegant way to build than joining, ripping and crosscutting
all parts from boards you treat as uniform stock.

I find a 78” level the most useful tool for surfacing wood in that
I can lay it on an edge and see what I am working with. On
big boards I will use handheld electric planers and hand planes
rather than try to wrestle a board across a jointer only to find
the droop of the weight results in a curved edge. I lay the level
on faces as well.

Milling wood is a really creative activity and there are a lot of nuanced
decisions to make… but once a board is crosscut it can never be
made longer. A rip can be “healed” so to speak with gluing, but
a crosscut is forever. So it is tempting to mill all the boards an keep
them as long as possible until late in the game… but you make a
dozen compromises and more work for yourself and miss out on
the experiential quality of working with board thickness in unexpected

See, a board will have bulges and stuff in the face and sometimes
the sensible thing to do with a long board that is thick at one end
and thin at the other is to crosscut it and treat each board as an
individual with its own destiny. Play with it…. soon you become
liberated from working in 3/4”s and 1/2”s and you’ll be making boards
15/16”s and 17/32s” and, oh then you’re all building unexpected
things and becoming something more than a wood butcher.

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