Reply by Loren

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Posted on How much precision do we need in woodworking?

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10390 posts in 3646 days

#1 posted 08-23-2012 03:34 PM

I think there is too much emphasis on making wood objects perfectly
right off the machine. Even if you square plywood good panels very
square, there will still often be a little twist in a plywood cabinet
due to distortion in the material. You can learn to make things
look good and function well anyway. Perfection of the geometry
of the box is not essential to its function and good appearance.

I know from experience my jointer doesn’t have to be perfect to
be mostly effective (I had a 12” machine with funky tables
and worked around it). Wood always moves and the process
of jointing and then flipping the board over and planing the other
side to thickness always results in the balance of tension in the
board changing. I check long boards with a 78” level and
winding sticks (though my eyes alone have got pretty good).
Corrections are done with hand planes. Sometimes the smart
thing is to take the tool to the work.

A reliable thickness planer is more of an asset to me than a
large jointer. Thickness consistency from part to part is
important to me… more important than surface finish off
the tool. This is why I use a Belsaw.

I recommend a 78” level as a most useful device for making
good boards. In millwork, the long level is essential to
the way I work.

A black lumber crayon and a white piece of chalk or grease
crayon are also very useful to mark flaws in board faces
and help keep track of which side was planed last.

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