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Wood or the saw... Which came first?

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Forum topic by EMathison posted 12-30-2015 04:09 PM 537 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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EMathison

4 posts in 348 days


12-30-2015 04:09 PM

Hello everyone,

I’m starting to get back into woodworking and planning on tackling many new things. I never really got a chance before to have a proper shop, mainly just used my grandfather’s and he always had wood on hand in his basement. Never the less, I never got a chance to ask him where the wood came from and how he prepared it. So, here are my questions.

Given that I am planning on starting a new shop (not many tools yet and no wood).

1. What should I concentrate on first, wood or tools? I have done a slew of research already and I know which tools I need to purchase first. But no one really talks about wood. The only information that I can find is that if you either buy wood from the big box stores or a lumberyard, you still need to acclimate the wood to around 6% EMC for indoor furniture. Whether this be by a kiln (for fast results) or store it in your acclimatized shop.

How do the big boys do this?

How do the hobbyists do this?

I most likely wont have the ability to have a huge shop right off the bat, so storing wood will be an issue.


11 replies so far

View WoodNSawdust's profile

WoodNSawdust

1417 posts in 642 days


#1 posted 12-30-2015 04:33 PM

I’m not sure if I would be classified as a “big boy”, a “hobbyist”, or ??? But here is my take given the assumption that you are committed to woodworking:

Buy the best quality tool you can afford. There are plenty of woodworkers, including me, that bought a cheep tool and later needed to sell it to buy a better one. So start with the best you can afford.

Select a project and buy whatever tools you need to complete it. Save remaining wood.

If I am purchasing wood for immident use I plan on giving it at least a week to adjust to my shop. The longer the better. If it is a common wood that I usually work with (Red Oak, Maple, Walnut) I will buy about 20% more wood than what I need and put it on the shelf and pull older wood off the shelf for the project.

I have relationships with local sawyers (people who own their bandsaws), wholesale wood lumber yards, specialty lumber yards that sell to the public, and big box stores. As a company I find that I can get a discount off of list price. I think the lowest discount I get is at Lowes which is 5%. I tend to look for wood in the order I listed. A couple of sawyers even e-mail me with a list of what is coming out of the kiln.

Hope this helps.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

6575 posts in 1616 days


#2 posted 12-30-2015 04:46 PM

Craigslist is a good source for finding wood in your area. There’s not much in the way of sawyers on craigslist near me, but occasionally people sell off their wood that they have sitting around for years and don’t use. Those are usually what I end up finding.

The best advice is to find a project you want to do, and buy the wood and tools needed for that project. For wood, I typically like to buy 25-50% more than I think I need. Twice what I need if I can. This will cover waste, as well as help build my wood stash for future use.

Since you’re just starting out, the best projects are shop projects. Build a workbench. Build storage cabinets. Build a router table. Tool racks. Things like that. That gives you experience working on things, and who cares if you mess up and it looks ugly? It’s shop stuff. Replace it later if you need to. Get your mistakes out on the shop stuff so when it comes to furniture you have learned how to avoid those mistakes.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View EMathison's profile

EMathison

4 posts in 348 days


#3 posted 12-30-2015 05:12 PM

Good information, thank you both.

As far as storing left over wood, would it suffice if it just stored in a non-insulated shed? From what I can find, you can expect the wood to be around 10-12% MC. (Similar to air dried) I suppose I could sticker it inside the house for a week or two to help before I cut it.

FYI, my shop unfortunately will not be air conditioned or heated. I have a limited supply of electric available to fork there unless I plan on paying a ton to an electrician and playing code politics with the city.

View jdmaher's profile

jdmaher

384 posts in 2045 days


#4 posted 12-30-2015 05:18 PM

Wood, wood, wood. Then you should get some wood. Okay, don’t go that crazy. But do at least think – wood. That’s what its all about.

Think what you want to build. I urge you to look around the house and say “I need an end table there” and “I need a bookcase there” and “I want a wall cabinet there” – all of which should EXACTLY fit the space and context. That will lead you to a type of wood (cherry, maple, pine, etc.). [Start looking online for designs/plans that you like.]

Find lumberyards and craigslist sellers and big box stores and other sources in your area where you can get wood. Go visit each and every one – with no intention of buying. Look at what they have and compare it to what you want to build. If you’re as fussy as me, you will NOT easily find what you like. That’s okay; save your pennies and go look at the next place next weekend. Keep doing this, and be fussy about the wood. You’ll learn a lot just looking and thinking.

Despite your best intentions, you’ll also wind up with a good-sized stack of wood. It just kinda happens. Wait until someone (it might be you) says “I gotta use of some of this wood”.

THEN, figure out how you’re gonna cut it.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 946 days


#5 posted 12-30-2015 05:35 PM

Both. Lumber is getting more expensive and really nice lumber is getting crazy expensive. I would always be on the lookout for lumber and strike when the opportunity comes along.

I never buy hardwood from the box stores.

I recommend checking the local hardwood suppliers in your area and get a feel for what they carry.
I have found in my area very difficult to get anything but S3S.

Also, I would find a couple sawmills in your area and see what they carry. I think this is the best bet.
Oftentimes you can find boards cut from the same tree. Most of the time they will sell small amounts to hobbyists but sometimes they do have a minimum bf amount.

I have a friend who is has a tree service and from time to time he alerts me to potential saw logs. I have another friend with a sawmill.

As far as tools: you can think you know what you need now, but I guarantee that will change.
My advice is 1)don’t focus only on power machines you will need some hand tools and learn how to use them. 2) Don’t buy cheap crappy tools.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

7483 posts in 1473 days


#6 posted 12-30-2015 09:03 PM

Dont buy “cheap” and think “I’ll upgrade later”...

Because 1 of 2 things will happen.
1. You’ll hate the tool, but since you paid for it, you’ll use it “for awhile to get my monies worth” and continue hating it.
2. The “cheap” tool wont do the job near as well as a good tool would have and you’ll get discouraged, thinking that woodworking was a bad choice.

Either way, you’ll regret buying the cheap one, so even if you have to wait to save up for it, buy the good tool to start with.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View MadMark's profile

MadMark

978 posts in 919 days


#7 posted 12-30-2015 09:25 PM

As an established woodworker after losing the shop in divorce, I’m just now rebuilding a shop I know I’m not going to be discouraged by a cheap tool. The table saw is the core of most shops. Get a decent saw (not Sears – they’re non-standard) and a better fence. A cheap saw with a good fence will cut better than a good saw with a crappy fence.

Buy tools as you need them. Buy cheap initially. If it breaks buy a better one, repeat until they stop breaking. If it doesn’t break then the cheap one was good enough for your use.

Wood acclimation is mostly bs. Its seldom an issue unless you let the wood warp by improper storage. Don’t store wood directly on concrete, don’t store it leaning, keep ends dry, etc. If you’re buying as you need large storage wont be needed.

Shop power isn’t usually an issue in a one man shop since you can only use one at a time (two with a dust collector running). Outlets are the key, you need ‘em EVERYWHERE!

Run your saw on 220v. Put in a dedicated circuit.

You can put a lot in a small space esp. If the smaller stuff is on wheels.

M

-- Madmark - Madmark2150@yahoo.com Wiretreefarm.com

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

7216 posts in 2841 days


#8 posted 12-30-2015 09:33 PM

In my case the wood came first and justified the tools to do something with it. A woman I work with got divorced and asked my sons and I for help moving her out of her house. In the loft in her garage we found close to 400BF of rough sawn cherry that she gave us for helping her. I owned a router at the time, but wasn’t really into woodworking yet. A Delta 36-600 compact table saw and a Grizzly 6” jointer followed shortly after. :-)

I wouldn’t go out and buy wood without having some specific projects in mind, but if you happen to stumble into a sweet deal sometimes ya just gotta pounce….same goes for tools too! The best deals usually come along when I’m not necessarily in the market.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View EMathison's profile

EMathison

4 posts in 348 days


#9 posted 12-30-2015 10:46 PM



Both. Lumber is getting more expensive and really nice lumber is getting crazy expensive. I would always be on the lookout for lumber and strike when the opportunity comes along.

I never buy hardwood from the box stores.

I recommend checking the local hardwood suppliers in your area and get a feel for what they carry.
I have found in my area very difficult to get anything but S3S.

Also, I would find a couple sawmills in your area and see what they carry. I think this is the best bet.
Oftentimes you can find boards cut from the same tree. Most of the time they will sell small amounts to hobbyists but sometimes they do have a minimum bf amount.

I have a friend who is has a tree service and from time to time he alerts me to potential saw logs. I have another friend with a sawmill.

As far as tools: you can think you know what you need now, but I guarantee that will change.
My advice is 1)don t focus only on power machines you will need some hand tools and learn how to use them. 2) Don t buy cheap crappy tools.

- rwe2156

I’ve already scouted the area and found out the best source for hard maple, red and white oak is a sawmill about 45 mins away. For Plywoods, there is a yard about 1hr 30mins away. It’s quite a trek, so I’ll probably need to get a bit more than on a per project basis.

View EMathison's profile

EMathison

4 posts in 348 days


#10 posted 12-30-2015 10:56 PM



Wood acclimation is mostly bs. Its seldom an issue unless you let the wood warp by improper storage. Don t store wood directly on concrete, don t store it leaning, keep ends dry, etc. If you re buying as you need large storage wont be needed.

M

- MadMark

So it would be okay to build indoor wall shelving, end tables, and cabinets with wood that is stored outside? Here in TN, the humidity is quite high < 65% most days, so I can expect wood to be around 15% MC. How is it best to plan for shrinkage?

I had this issue a while back when making a candle/picture desk piece for my wife as a present. I bought a nice piece of poplar which was completely finished, but made the mistake of putting it outside in the shed on a shelf. When I went to get it, it ended up cupping badly. Fortunately, I was able to bring it indoors, wet the cupped side and sticker it which leveled it out again.

If interested because everyone likes pictures, here is the desk piece.

http://i1283.photobucket.com/albums/a550/ericmathison/20141225_143750_zpsgduie4by.jpg

I ended up making it in the kitchen with a cordless jigsaw, lots of sandpaper and miter box.

View jdmaher's profile

jdmaher

384 posts in 2045 days


#11 posted 12-31-2015 12:31 AM

Me, I don’t store ANY wood outside.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

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