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Forum topic by basuraman posted 01-12-2010 08:27 PM 3806 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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25 posts in 3265 days

01-12-2010 08:27 PM

At this point in my wood working hobby the only really good at making is sawdust. So here goes my question. I was thinking in investing in a thickness planer and/or a jointer so that I can take cheap wood (Free wood, 2X4, Pallet wood) and start making projects.

Am I nuts?
Any other suggestions?

13 replies so far

View mckenziedrums's profile


118 posts in 3261 days

#1 posted 01-12-2010 11:29 PM

A planer will go well beyond getting crappy wood and making it work… Rough cut lumber is less expensive than planed lumber any day of the week. So for those projects where you’d like to use figured maple or some other hard wood you can keep an eye out for folks selling the rough cut and planing it down yourself.

A friend of mine has built a few really nice things from reclaimed wood flooring… so that’s something to think about too.

View mckenziedrums's profile


118 posts in 3261 days

#2 posted 01-12-2010 11:30 PM

Oh before I forget to say it… BE CAREFUL!!!! Pallet pieces, reclaimed lumber, etc can have hidden nails in them. You don’t even want to think about what can happen if you hit one of these nails and it exits the wood and enters your body. If you use a lot of that it’s worth getting one of the inexpensive metal detectors they sell for this purpose.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3876 days

#3 posted 01-13-2010 12:21 AM

I would agree about getting a metal detector if you is going to be using pallet wood. A thickness planer is worth its weight in gold.

View bsherman's profile


76 posts in 3731 days

#4 posted 01-13-2010 12:38 AM

Yes, a thickness planer and jointer are good investments. You can somewhat make do without a jointer, but a planer is a must. For cheap wood, you can find some nice straight clear grain on the edges of a 2×10 or 2×12. That’s how I made this project.

As you get further, you probably won’t want to use this stuff anymore, but it’s a good way to get some experience without stressing out over the possibility of ruining expensive wood.

Be careful if you go this route. There can be a lot of tension built up in framing lumber. A straight rip cut can result in () or )( instead of || which can be dangerous if you are not careful.

-- Brian

View End_Grain's profile


95 posts in 3340 days

#5 posted 01-13-2010 12:46 AM

It’s not an easy task breaking down a pallet to salvage wood. Most pallets use screw type nails and they are a real bugger to get apart and out of the wood. It’s work unless I just don’t have the know how or am not using the correct tools.

-- My greatest fear is that when I die, my wife will sell all my stuff for what I told her I bought it for.

View bsherman's profile


76 posts in 3731 days

#6 posted 01-13-2010 01:04 AM

The only experience I have breaking apart pallets is for firewood in college, so I didn’t care how they broke apart. And it was still hard work…

-- Brian

View AaronK's profile


1507 posts in 3668 days

#7 posted 01-13-2010 01:33 AM

definitely not nuts! i’d suggest keeping an eye on craigslist for a planer. you can usually get a pretty good deal on one.

as far as lumber prices go, check out local sources – craigslist again, but traditional paper ads as well. I found ~select/FAS grade cherry for $1/bdft from a local guy who mills and air dries the stuff on his farm. he even threw in a board of wormy soft maple for free when i bought several boards of the cherry off him. white oak was the same price, and he had others as well.

Reclaiming does not only mean pallets either – just keep your eyes open. I got a pile of old, nice mahogany trim (door/window/baseboard) for $20 at a yard sale. you never know. then again, pallets from asia can be really sweet, i’ve heard! anyway, at those low prices you can do a whole lot more than just what pallets will give you, and practice skills on real hardwoods without fear of nails, etc.

View Jeison's profile


968 posts in 3311 days

#8 posted 01-13-2010 02:09 AM

In the fall there were a lot of new buisiness opening up in old spaces around here, I cruised around in my truck 2-3 times a week and found a fair amount of scrap lumber and plywood piled in trash bins, probably saved a couple hundred dollars over the course of 4-5 months, most of it was in poor condition but good enough to play around and practice with. If you see a remodel going on, bring a box of donuts and let the guys know you’d be interested in the old wood, many times they’re happy to give you a call and have it hauled away for free rather than have to pay a trash company to take it. (got that tip from Wood magazine and it netted me a stack of 1/2” plywood in fairly good shape when a local restaurant redid some paneling)

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

View bandman's profile


79 posts in 3593 days

#9 posted 01-13-2010 02:33 AM

There is a lot of good useable wood that gets tossed out, if you’re working with pallet wood or 2×4’s make
sure the material is good, dry and stablized before you use it. Metal can be an issue with your planer blades,
and at $30 to $50 per resharpening, that can add up quickly. Looking at local mini mill sources is a great
suggestion, small mill and kiln operations typically have quite a bit of #1 common and #2 common grade
lumber that can be used for numerous projects at a very reasonable price. (1.50 per bf or less) Most will plane or surface to meet your specs for a small 0.25 per bf upcharge. You may need to rip out some defects or imperfections
in the board to get the pieces you need for a project. A lot of smaller mills will let you put in few hours helping
to stack flitches or load a kiln in exchange for lumber for a project as well. Buying S4S lumber retail at a home
center at $4 per bf should be a last option.

Lumber prices as a whole are down significantly due to softer demand. I’d encourage you to look on
craigslist and other sources for a quality planer. A lot of folks use the dewalt benchtop planers with fairly
good results.

There is a good listing of sawmill and kiln operations under the sawyer and drying directory at

-- Phil

View mart's profile


190 posts in 3828 days

#10 posted 01-13-2010 03:49 AM

Utility companies (phone, electric, cable) are a good source for free lumber. I have used the staves from the large cable spools to build some projects. It is generally metal free and good quality pine. I agree that you need a planer but you are never going to get good flat lumber without a jointer (unless you are good with a handplane). I know there are planer sleds. I have used them and never been impressed. A 6 or preferably 8” jointer will greatly simplify making flat lumber. Here are a few pics of my latest acquisition of free lumber. The thinner stock makes good drawer sides and bottoms. The bigger spool staves make up to 3/4 to 1” stock about 5-6” wide.

Here is a dresser I built from some recycled staves.

View skidiot's profile


85 posts in 3848 days

#11 posted 01-13-2010 06:13 AM

As you can guess from my name I use pallets exclusively for my woodworking. Ya its a lot of work, but worth it if you dont want to spend a fortune on wood only to cut it 1/2” too short. Contact me with any questions about pallet wood. I dare say I know as much as anyone about it. What kind of pallets to look for where to get them and how to get them apart.

-- skidiot northern illinois

View Karson's profile


35149 posts in 4604 days

#12 posted 01-13-2010 06:25 AM

I’d also get a good Reciprocating Saw and use metal cutting blades the work great cutting nails between the boards. It’s eaasier to drive them out when they are only 3/4” long

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View basuraman's profile


25 posts in 3265 days

#13 posted 01-14-2010 01:19 AM

Thanks for the info, advice and inspiration..

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