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Dimensioning Rough Lumber

by paratrooper34
posted 10-12-2011 01:30 AM


27 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile (online now)

chrisstef

11347 posts in 1729 days


#1 posted 10-12-2011 01:36 AM

Well done, i have trouble planing pine but you seemed to make it look easy. Ive only had to do it by hand once and its a chore, but one that i kind of enjoyed. Every now and then i feel the need to sweat out some poison. Ive got to get all my planes up to snuff and build myself a new bench that doesnt rock around so much. One of these days ill put away that noisy planer.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View BTKS's profile

BTKS

1971 posts in 2187 days


#2 posted 10-12-2011 06:09 AM

Nice job. Looks like you got some holdfast holes bored in the table top.
Amazing, like chrisstef said, you make it look easy. I really need to invest in a couple good planes and blades to match.
Thanks for the post.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3312 posts in 1377 days


#3 posted 10-12-2011 03:20 PM

Very good setup on your bench.

I mill by hand and don’t see the purchase of a power-jointer in my future. Since you have two jointers, try this out for size…do a slight camber on your wooden jointer and keep the steel jointer blade straight. Squaring an edge with a cambered jointer is so much easier than any other method, and if it needs to a glue joint take a fine shaving with your straight blade and you are good to go.

With the jack…are your planing with the grain or across it?

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View paratrooper34's profile

paratrooper34

760 posts in 1674 days


#4 posted 10-12-2011 06:38 PM

RG, thanks for the tip. I actually have three jointers, the two in these pictures and a #7 as well. The wooden and #8 jointers have cambered blades for the reasons you pointed out. My #7 has a straight blade. I agree it so much easier to square an edge with a cambered blade.

For dimensioning on this pine board with the #5, I went at a 45 degree across the board. Pine is pretty soft so it was conducive to that angle which also minimized tearout that the straight across the grain planing would have done. I didn’t try it, but I assume edge jointing would have gotten rid of any tearout, but it was pretty easy to plane that board. Now I have some hard maple to try next, I don’t think that will be as easy.

Thanks again!

-- Mike

View yrob's profile

yrob

340 posts in 2375 days


#5 posted 10-12-2011 06:43 PM

Yes, I also do all my dimensioning with hand tools. With sharp tools, it is not that bad and I save money on the wood, get a good workout in the bargain.

-- Yves

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paratrooper34

760 posts in 1674 days


#6 posted 10-12-2011 11:44 PM

Hey RG, great work on those blogs! Very impressive and informative. I wish you had done that stuff about 5 years ago. Would have saved a whole bunch of money spent on books! Keep up the good work.

-- Mike

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3312 posts in 1377 days


#7 posted 10-13-2011 03:57 AM

Thanks man. It’s been a heck of a lot of fun. The first board I dimensioned in the class is pretty narrow, which tends to nullify any benefit from cross grain planing, but we will get there…especially on the table top.

One other way to decrease or eliminate the tear-out on cross-grain planing is to plane a camfer (one or two strokes with the jack depending on how brittle the wood is) on the exit side of the cut. Doing that saves some serious time. If you then make the exit side your true edge, you eliminate your chamfer when you edge joint.

Yrob. I so agree with you.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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krisintoronto

8 posts in 1520 days


#8 posted 10-13-2011 07:11 PM

It goes MUCH faster when you get a scrub plane. I got the one made by Veritas and it is a pleasure to use.

Planing pine with it is quite easy and very fast. Then I tried some ash. It goes fast as well, but requires much more sweat:)

The Essential Woodworker is a great resource for anyone who wants to work mostly with hand tools.

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3312 posts in 1377 days


#9 posted 10-13-2011 08:16 PM

^That’s just a good book in general.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View DS's profile

DS

2132 posts in 1143 days


#10 posted 10-14-2011 06:58 PM

OK, I enjoy working with hand tools as well as the next guy, but, I am having difficulty getting my mind around why this is advantageous to dimension large panels with hand tools.

From what I can tell, dimensional accuracy pretty much goes out the window and unless I am needing to raise money to get my electricity turned back on, I cannot see myself foregoing my thickness planer, jointer and table saw in favor of the process you just outlined.

Lest the casual reader suspects I am just being critical, please accept this as an invitation to “convert” me to the process.

I know, for example, when I am building instruments, I do it in the time-honored methods of the masters. It’s been proven that instruments produced by mechanized means are far inferior to the completely handmade variety.

I suppose I am not seeing why casework and furniture might suffer the same issues.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

2585 posts in 1499 days


#11 posted 10-14-2011 07:12 PM

Good job on the dimensioning.

I use both power and by hand. I leave the last 1/4 – 1/8” to do by hand. If you are gluing panels, I would recommend that you keep the thickness a little heavy and after a light pass with planes to flatten, finish with a scraper plane or hand scrapers. The surface, especially hardwoods will be really nice. The scrapers and scraper plane remove tearouts with and cross grain and leave the surface smoother than sandpaper can achieve.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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dbray45

2585 posts in 1499 days


#12 posted 10-14-2011 07:14 PM

And a lot less dust

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Dan's profile

Dan

3543 posts in 1603 days


#13 posted 10-14-2011 07:49 PM

I will sometimes surface all 4 sides with hand planes but I will admit my power jointer/planer gets used often… If the rough sawed board is rather clean and straight then using hand planes is pretty enjoyable… A big warp or twist and hand planes is not so fun anymore…

Also depends on how much lumber I need to surface… If I only need a board or to then hand planes is ok.. However if I am doing a lot of BF then the power jointer and planer is a true savior.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View stevenmadden's profile

stevenmadden

174 posts in 1812 days


#14 posted 10-14-2011 08:01 PM

For what it’s worth, I use both hand tools and power tools to get the job done. Sometimes power tools can’t do what hand tools can do, and visa-versa.

Steve

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3312 posts in 1377 days


#15 posted 10-14-2011 08:17 PM

DS251.

One key advantage is cost. With a simple set of planes you can dimension any size workpeice (whether it is 2 feet wide or .5 inches wide) a top shelf set of bench planes (smoother, jack, jointer) would cost about 1200, but compare that to a top shelf 24” jointer/planer and you still come out way ahead. This cost mathing reallys starts to add up when you compare a fully equiped hand-tool shop vs a fully equiped powershop.

The shavings are a non-waste item in my shop…they just get used in the winter time to start fires to warm my home. I can’t way as much for the sawdust made from a power tool.

Oh, and for my time in the shop…it’s a heck of a lot more fun to take a peice of lumber through it’s paces queitly by hand, than to have to worry about the noise, dust and danger of powertools (not to say you can make a trip to the hospital with a misplaced chisel or hatchet…but the damage is certainly far less).

That’s why I do things the way I do.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Brit's profile

Brit

5284 posts in 1565 days


#16 posted 10-14-2011 08:22 PM

... and you save money on gym membership too :-)

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3312 posts in 1377 days


#17 posted 10-14-2011 08:24 PM

This is true. But that’s more attributed to my use of my 4 1/2 tpi Disston…whew.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Don W's profile

Don W

15420 posts in 1290 days


#18 posted 10-14-2011 08:53 PM

If it’s over 13” its hand plane.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View DS's profile

DS

2132 posts in 1143 days


#19 posted 10-14-2011 09:04 PM

I’ve built my share of cabinets spanning the entire range from apartments to multi-million dollar estates. I am also no slouch when it comes to furniture making.

What I’ve come to rely on, is modern millwork techniques for casework and panels and hand tools for the finer details. e.g. trim, carvings, applied details, embelishments, etc.

I can lease a CNC by the hour at my local cabinet shop and bust out the casework for a large kitchen in just a few hours, then finish the details in my garage (shop) with my meager power and hand tools. What the client sees are the handmade flourishes against a flawless casework.

Another example; a CNC router can cut a substrate for a dining table in seconds. Then I can stitch/press the veneer top, make the foundation and aprons by hand and get a stunning result.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Brit's profile

Brit

5284 posts in 1565 days


#20 posted 10-14-2011 09:46 PM

DS251 – If I did this for a living, I would undoubtedly take the same approach as you do because it is about ensuring that you can achieve repeatable quality and customer satisfaction in an acceptable timeframe in order to put food on the table and pay the bills.

But I and many others on LJs don’t do it for a living, it is just a hobby. My workshop is a little under 9ft x 9ft and once I’ve built a 6 foot workbench and a tool cabinet, there will be precious little space for machinery. It is also quite close to my neighbours and I don’t want to fall out with them. Having said that, I will end up with some machines and I do use some power tools when I feel like it.

What I enjoy about using hand tools is the peace and quiet, the challenge and the length of time it takes me to complete a project. You see if I complete a project quickly, nobody says well done here’s a cheque. Instead, I’ve got to find the money to go and buy more expensive wood just so that I can continue enjoying the process if that makes sense. I think this is what makes this site so appealing in many ways. There are people from all backgrounds, varying skill levels and different approaches to the craft. Long may it continue.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

View Don W's profile

Don W

15420 posts in 1290 days


#21 posted 10-14-2011 10:00 PM

Ditto on what Andy said.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View DS's profile

DS

2132 posts in 1143 days


#22 posted 10-14-2011 10:37 PM

Andy, thank you very much for addressing my question. This is exactly how I feel about violin making.

Perhaps when I retire, this will be my approach to casework/furniture as well.

I only discovered LJ’s a few days ago, but so far I’ve been loving this site. I hope to keep seeing you all around.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View pierce85's profile

pierce85

508 posts in 1285 days


#23 posted 10-14-2011 10:46 PM

Andy, that’s probably the best justification for using hand tools I’ve read. I’m in a similar space/noise situation as you.

View paratrooper34's profile

paratrooper34

760 posts in 1674 days


#24 posted 10-14-2011 11:29 PM

Andy, I agree 100%! I don’t do this for a living. If I did, I would do things differently for sure. But it is a hobby and I enjoy spending time in my shop working with my hands. I, like you, do not have room for a bunch of machinery even if I were so inclined. I do not like the noise of machinery. I already have significant hearing loss and don’t want any more. When my wife comes into the shop to BS with me, I can have a conversation with her. And I just put a TV in there so I can listen to the football games on Sundays. I also like that it is safer to work with hand tools. Yes, I have been on the wrong side of a chisel a couple of times, but those were patched up with a band-aid. I also don’t have to worry about dust and all the mess that comes with machines. I do have a couple of power tools, I am not 100% hand yet, but my table saw and router don’t get much use these days.

DS251, if I were in your shoes, I would also be looking for every time advantage I could find if that was what fed my family, so I admire what you do and sometimes wish that were my line of work. But, I have to settle for this as a hobby – for now :)

-- Mike

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

2542 posts in 2465 days


#25 posted 10-14-2011 11:47 PM

I stay a combination guy – it still is just a hobby, but I enjoy flattening rough lumber about as much as hand sanding a set of ballusters for a staircase.
My time between work and family is limited so when I have shop time I like to make things (tables, chairs, toys boxes etc) not boards.

I personally wouldn’t enjoy just hacking off a 2 foot board and go to town with a hand plane to make a smooth 1X12 that find it relaxing.
Dealing with wide stock becomes a different story because there isn’t a real choice for the home hobbiest – either do it by hand or rent some time at a cabinet shop with their planer or thickness sander.
I only have a 6 inch jointer, but built a sled for my planer (13 inch) so a super expensive 12 or 24 inch jointer is simply not needed. And I have yet to wish I had a wider planer.

-- "If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves." Edison

View DS's profile

DS

2132 posts in 1143 days


#26 posted 10-15-2011 01:17 AM

It’s true if I had to rely on making violins for a living I’d starve! It’s an excellent hobby though.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3312 posts in 1377 days


#27 posted 10-15-2011 03:58 AM

I don’t think I will ever be a professional cabinetmaker by industrial standards…I don’t want to be.

I enjoy the process and product of woodworking. But I will say that making furniture by hand does not have to be slow…only if you approach it from the wrong perspective. If you approach it right it can still be very fast (not as fast as machines…but I don’t want or need to be)

I think in the end you have to evaluate why you are doing this and pick the approach that suits that goal.

I would love to make a violin but I would like to know how to play one first.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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